How to Solder Like a Pro

Your first In a fast-paced world everyone needs some recreational activity to keep them going. One such hobby that people are increasingly turning to is soldering. As an artwork hobby or as a serious profession, soldering has become very popular in the country.

The rise in popularity of the activity of soldering has also led to an equivalent rise in demand for sophisticated equipment for the same. From wave soldering stations to simpler soldering machines; the Indian markets are now slowly responding to the demands. 

Further, you can purchase a  soldering station online at very reasonable prices. You can buy state-of-the-art equipment on a modest budget that will meet the needs of enthusiasts, and serious soldering experts.

Buy a Soldering Station

Typical Soldering Station

soldering stationSoldering Station with Digital Temperature Control

When it comes to serious hobbyists, soldering stations are the best bet for quality soldering. These workstations are perfect for creating intricate artwork that requires a finer finish. 

Before investing in a soldering station, it requires a certain degree of investment. It is also a good idea to invest in getting the education needed to ensure ensure optimum soldering results. 

Here’s a beginners guide to using a soldering station:

  1. Learn to take care of the iron

    The tip of the solder is iron and needs care. With iron, oxidation is a common problem and can lead to quick rusting. Subsequent damage would render the soldering station useless.

    Above all else, the soldering iron needs to be kept clean. Most soldering stations include a sponge that can be moistened to clean the iron. 

  2. Tinning 

    Before beginning the actual soldering work, the tip of the iron needs to be tinned. Tinning is when you cover the tip of the iron with solder. After excess solder is removed with the sponge, the soldering station is ready to be put to use. 

  3. Precision Temperature Control

    Before soldering, the temperature of the soldering machine needs to be set at a point where the solder can melt quickly before the soldering process can take place. 

  4. Solder application

    When the soldering process is about to begin, an important thing to remember is that the tip of the soldering gun, as well as the joint, are applied with the solder. This way, the solder settles far more smoothly, reducing error in the form of bumps. 

    The tip of the solder gun needs to be clean after each soldering session to avoid damage. 

  5. Responsibility

    Finally, one must always act responsibly with a soldering machine. As it poses a risk of hazards, soldering stations should never be left unattended. 

Choosing a Soldering Iron

Soldering irons should be comfortable to hold and designed to melt the solder that you are using for your project. For projects such as stained glass you will need an iron that is at least 60 watts and that comes with a variety of chisel tips.  The iron should also have a temperature control.

Small Soldering Station

small soldering station and ironA Soldering Iron Should Feel Properly Weighted When Held

Temperature Controlled Tips

We recommend that beginners use an iron that stays at a predetermined temperature by automatically turning off and on. As your skills increase, you can purchase an iron that gives you more control.

These soldering irons can work with a temperature controlling device that looks like a light dimmer. The dial can be set to higher or lower temperatures.  The preferable wattage level is 85 watts for this type of iron.

Ceramic Heating Elements

Ceramic heating elements use less electricity while producing more consistent temperatures.  One feature is that these irons can reach the target temperature in about 1 minute.

Tip Versatility

Soldering Electronics
soldering circuit boardA Smaller Tip is Better For Fine Work

Different applications require small or larger tips. Purchase an iron that allows for tip replacement. Smaller tips are often used for decorative soldering and creation of finer details.

three soldering iron tipsExamples of Larger (left) and Smaller (right) Soldering Iron Tips

Types of Solder

Solder is sold in solid core wire on a spool. The most common size is 1 pound. Solders are in ether a combination of tin and lead in a specific ratio, or are lead free (they also contain other metals such as copper or silver.  It is safer to use a lead free product, however the lead makes it easy to create a patina.

Solder is also characterized by the pasty or working range. This means the temperatures where the solder transitions from solid to liquid.

Flux

Flux helps metals bond by removing any oxide residue formed during the soldering process. You will need to select the correct flux for your application. They also sell organic and inorganic compounds. If you have a skin reaction to one type of flux, switch to the other type.  Flux also comes as a paste, gel and liquid.  The liquid form is the most popular since it is water soluble and cleans easily.

Professionals use equipment such as the Wave Soldering Machine.

How to Solder Like a Pro

  1. Before you begin make sure you have proper ventilation. Wear safety glasses.
  2. Clean the area to be soldered. Remove any dirt, oxidization or grime.
  3. Apply flux to the area to be soldered.  If you can, lay the two pieces together and flux the area to be soldered. 
  4. Hold the soldering iron in the same hand that you use for writing. 
  5. Use the tip perpendicular to the seam being soldered.
  6. Touch the solder to the tip of the iron, just above the point where the iron tip touches the object to be soldered.
  7. Allow the solder to flow down the tip face into the same as you move the iron along the seam.
  8. Feed a continuous stream of solder as you move down the seam.
  9. Solder at a continuous rate.
  10. Fix any imperfections by remelting the solder. 
  11. Solder the longest seam first.
  12. At the end of the seam, pull off across the face of the project.  DO NOT lift straight up.
  13. Practice makes perfect.
  14. Use a cleaner that can remove all flux and solder residue from your project such as Inland Flux Remover.  Brush the cleaner all over your project. If it can be washed in water, rinse in warm water and towel dry.
  15. For great looking lines you can use a finishing wax on the solder lines.

    Pro Tip: Work slowly enough to produce a good bead. Keep the tip of the iron clean by wiping it on a damp sponge.  After cleaning wait for the tip to reheat.

Brochures

These free brochures provide easy to understand information and pictures on how to solder.

Detailed instructions, helpful hints, safety tips and a comprehensive troubleshooting guide to soldering stained glass.
Available in a free Ebook

Easy step by step illustrated guide to how to solder.
Available in a free Ebook

References

How to Solder


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