Soldering Tips

Your soldering iron is perfect for connecting electronic components, plumbing repair, creating your own jewelry, and a number of other applications. Soldering isn’t difficult — even if you’re a beginner you can learn to solder without much trouble. You can finish your first soldering project in a matter of minutes with the proper materials and preparation.

There are a variety of soldering iron sizes and different wattages that are appropriate for certain applications. For example, when soldering electronic components you’ll use a thirty-watt pencil-type soldering iron. You’ll want to procure liquid flux, a small paint brush for applying flux, and clamps to secure metal pieces together as you solder; flux will enhance the flow of solder as well as deoxidize the components you’re connecting, thus enabling the solder to fuse to the metal better. You should also invest in protective equipment.

You’ll need to prepare the components before you melt the solder with your soldering iron because contaminants can undermine the soldered joint’s integrity. You’ll need to clean larger metal pieces with an emery cloth. Once you’ve cleaned the surfaces you want to solder you’ll want to handle them with care: don’t touch the surfaces with your bare hands or the oil from your fingers will contaminate the joint. You will complete the preparation for soldering by using the brush to coat the metal pieces you’re combining with the liquid flux, which will burn away as you solder. You can clamp the metal pieces in order to make soldering easier or you can use wire to secure delicate components.

Use protective clothing, goggles, and gloves when soldering; it’s very easy to get solder on yourself while working. It’s also a good idea to use cardboard to protect the working surface. Place your soldering iron on a tile or plate that is heat-resistant as it warms up. Once the iron is hot melt a little solder on the iron’s tip. After the solder begins to melt brush it on the area you’ll be joining with the soldering iron tip as if you were painting it with a paint brush. Do this until you’ve filled the entire area with solder, but be sure to keep this layer of solder as thin as possible because excess solder will cause the joint to be weaker.


George Leger has a Masters in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, worked in private industry pioneering surface-mount technology and in government research labs for twenty years, published several papers on surface-mount technology, co-authored papers published in national symposiums on accelerator technology, was past president of SMTA and an adjunct professor at the community college level, holds a patent, and is a certified microchip design partner, serving as a consultant to many companies developing electronic circuits.

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