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We thought it’d be fun to poll Make: Online readers to collect some of YOUR top soldering tips. Please share your pearls of wisdom in the comments for those who may be new to the alchemical art of turning lead into electronics.

Here’s one tip that’s a perfect example of a “why didn’t I think of that?,” something really simple that can prove amazingly useful. We’ve posted it before, but it bears repeating. It was first posted in my Toolbox: Jigs, clamps, and helping hands”>clamps and jigs Toolbox column:

Here’s a soldering trick that was a revelation to me the first time I saw it. It’s not really a jig, more like using the material, in this case, solder as itself a jig/helper. Dave Burton, of Dorkbot DC took this picture for us and writes: “A fellow DC Dork asked for a visual aid after I was unable to describe this soldering technique via email. Basically, you coil up a piece of solder and let it serve as a jig for you, but since I’ve already proven my inability to describe it verbally, here’s my attempt at modeling it. This is a piece of Radio Shack perfboard, with my butane soldering iron, and a diode sticking out of the perfboard in the back. Note the technique of coiling the solder on the table and reaching one end upward. I can’t remember who taught me this technique (neither could my fellow dorks), but it has saved more soldering hours than every other jig, clamp, and hack that I’ve got.

More:
Camp counselor Dave’s soldering tips

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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Comments

  1. Steve Anderson says:

    I do all my soldering on the side panel of a scrapped PC case. It’s big, flat and steel, which means it will dissipate heat if you drop something hot on it (protecting the surface underneath) and you can use magnets to hold things in place. If I ever found myself in a position where I had my own workshop I’d STILL use side panels to solder on!

  2. Chris Cormier says:

    I like to create ‘solder pencils’ to be more precise with placement, I remember when I first learned to solder as a kid you could buy solder in little convenient feeder spools, this is the same idea.

    I’ll take an arms length of solder run it along the length of a pen or pencil and then start wrapping the solder tightly around the pen back over that length of solder. When you are done you can pull the solder off the pen then feed the solder out through the hollow as you use it. This creates precise little tool to dispense solder quickly.

  3. Gareth Branwyn says:

    I do something similar. I really like those little tubes of solder. I have an only, empty Radio Shack tube. I coil a bunch of solder around a pencil, slide it off, and then shove it into the empty tube and thread it through the hole in the cap. But I like your thru-pen idea. I might try that.

    1. CorcuitGizmos says:

      “those little tubes of solder”

      I have some clear tubes just like the one that you have. I purchased mine at a craft store called “Hobby Lobby”. I use mine for storing some jig-saw blades. I found two different sizes. One about the diameter of a “C” battery, but 1.5 times as tall. The other the diameter of a/an “AA” battery, again 1.5 times as tall.

      The body is clear and looks like a flat-bottom test tube. The black cap has a little “handle” or loop at the top.

      To make use of these tubes to hold solder, it would be a simple matter of altering the container by drilling a small hole in the plastic cap.

      Wrapping solder around a pencil would be the right diameter and would yield a coil that would slip into the tube and dispense cleanly and conveniently.

      1. CircuitGizmos says:

        I obviously need to review before I post: CircuitGizmos

        Should I do this and send pictures? Would you want pictures and text to make a blog post?