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Yet another great soldering tutorial

Yet another great soldering tutorial

In case you need any more encouragement to learn how to solder (or want to bone up on your craft), Hack-a-Day has a really nice tut (the Grand Guru of Hardware Hackerdom himself Forrest M. Mims III even chimed in a good word in the comments).

How-To: Introduction to soldering – Link
Followup: Soldering How-To – Link


  • Soldering Tutorial – Make Video Podcast – Link
  • Soldering Tutorial PDF – Link
  • It’s Learn to Solder Month! – Link

8 thoughts on “Yet another great soldering tutorial

  1. says:


    This guy has some really bad advice:
    1) Filing the tip, this removes the iron coating on the copper tip which leads to corrosion and very short tip life.

    2) Using a thin tip, this leads to less heat transfer, longer soldering time and less accurate temperature control, meaning that the quality of the joints will be worse and components may die due to the longer heat soak.

    3) Using a 15W iron, this is too little for anything other than very small pads with good isolation, for large pads and connectors it leads to longer soldering times and that can lead to dead components.

    I’d recommend:
    ad 1) NEVER file a long life tip!
    ad 2) Use the fattest tip you can with the board your are working on.
    ad 3) Use at least a 50W soldering station with temperature control.

    My own setup comprises an ERSA RDS80 which is an 80W digital station, with 3 different tips, so I can choose the right one for the job.

  2. dragonphyre says:

    I will concur with the filing of a tip. That’s just no good at all. It takes off the protective iron and lets the copper core get exposed.

    But the ‘biggest tip’ you can get it simply not a good idea–at least it’s not a good overall idea for everybody.

    I started out soldering with a stained-glass iron. That tip was, frankly, gigantic. The iron was also so hot, that you coulden’t keep solder on it for more than a second before the rosin/flux was already burned off.

    yet I managed to make quite a few things from it. I learned tricks on how to get big fat tips to solder teensy little legs.

    As most things in life, as I grew older I put away the toys of my youth and bought the tools of a man.

    Now you will have to pry my TC solder station from my cold, dead hands. And the tip on that is almost needle sharp. I have other tips, but I find I almost never have to use them. Why? I’m not using the tip. I’m using the SIDE of the iron, which while the small tip allows me to get into the very tiny pads on SMT stuff, it also has a lot of surface area which lets the solder get to temperature quickly.

    I’m not saying this is a good practice, I’m saying what works for you doesn’t always work for everybody. I think that more importantly than selecting the right tip is getting used to the type of tip you are comfortable using. It’s good to know all those tips, but if you use the small one more often than not then you will get used to it and will work with it better than any of the others.

    And a TC soldering station is simply not in the budget for most people. You can do quite well on a ratshack iron, again–it’s all in getting used to the particular qualities of your iron.

    PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! Go to the junk store (Unique, Salvation Army, Thrift Store) and find the old stereo and other equipment there. Look for the cheapest thing, and buy it. Take it home, tear it apart, and proceed to go nuts.

    Burn up a few traces. See how long it takes for your iron to make the PCB fry. See how the thickness of the traces/solder makes your iron react. Boil off some feet of solder, and then remove it. You are learning now, and now is the time for mistakes. It also helps build your parts-bin with all these components (test them with your DMM after you remove them from the board) which will save you HUNDREDS of dollars/hours in the future.

    I can’t tell you how many times I have thought that I would never have something, and then I have it in the bottom of my ‘misc’ box. Saved my bacon many-a-times.

  3. garethb2 says:

    Thanks for these comments. I’d seen the tip about filing iron tips a number of times before, but have never tried it. Thing is, I imagine these people who suggest it have done so, and have had success with it. Tips are relatively cheap tho and you can get really small ones.

    I use the smallest tip possible (the conical or small “screwdriver” tip), on a relatively cheap (35-watt XYtronic) iron, and have never had problems. But I worked on a mid-priced Weller station recently, and man, what a difference. I’m putting one on my Xmas list!

  4. says:

    Wrt. using the largest possible tip:

    Clearly using a raingutter tip with smd is not possible, so you should use a smaller tip:)

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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