Introduction: 0.5mm Precision Solder Pencil... or Got Lead?

Picture of 0.5mm Precision Solder Pencil... or Got Lead?

Good afternoon all Makers, Tinkers, and Hackers. This is going to be a quick little tip to help you out with thin gauge solder.

I like thin solder as it is easier to work with, but alas I have been given large hands. So I was thinking up a solution to keep solder close to my work piece, with a bit more dexterity then a bear knitting with soggy noodles. I was hoping that there was a more rigid way to hold solder but still allow the fine precision of the thinner gauges and figured all would be lost until one day...

I was writing in my design notebook with a fine 0.5mm Mechanical pencil, thinking about glorious puns. Just then while hoping for the the mother of all dad jokes. I got to thinking and hoping that ideas would flow from my pencil like the leads... solder is made of lead.... If graphite will feed through my pencil then would lead feed... I wonder if they even make .5mm solder.... Huh they do and Amazon sells it, oooh I also need a vise, and some water filters.... I better write down the solder thing, so that I will remember when it arrives... Have I mentioned the ADD? SQUIRREL!!!

The day it arrived day it arrived I jammed it into my pencil, and now my soldering world will never be the same.

Step 1, Acquire stuff

  • A roll of 0.5mm solder in the composition of your choosing.
  • A .5mm mechanical pencil with a removable eraser.

Step 2, Prep the pencil, Remove the eraser from the back of the pencil and remove the graphite "lead" saving for your other pencils. Click the feed mechanism to ensure that there is no more graphite installed in the pencil

Step 3, Straighten about 5-6 inches of solder and insert it into the rear of the pencil, whilst activating the feed mechanism so that the solder will start feeding from the tip. IE click the pencil till the stuff comes out the end.

Step 4, start soldering and profit!!!

While the back actuating feed pencil worked properly, I like the ease of the side actuating pencil I can just click a couple times and keep soldering on. The only pencil that did not work too well was the rear actuating pencil with a twist up eraser it just was too short to hold properly and I could not get a decent purchase with my big thumbs on the little tube to feed my solder.

Yep it is really that easy, Pull the Eraser, Jam in the same diameter solder and let er click. A cursory check shows that they also make 0.7mm Solder in all formulas as well as 0.9mm solder. so that covers the 3 most common pencil sizes in a side click barrel.

Hope you like the tip and keep on tinkering.

Now I just need a spool holder.... and a mig welder.... and a 3D printer.... SQUIRREL!!!


kinscore (author)2015-01-28

One possible (though a bit more complicated) improvement, perhaps, would be to add a spool holder and a flexible tube to guide the solder from the spool to the pencil (but maybe this isn't even an issue).

Maybe take a spool holder like

a plumbing adapter with thread & nut to clamp onto that (probably enlarged) hole and a barb to attach to a rubber tube, which will hopefully fit on the other end to the pencil by friction, pipe clamp, tape, or glue. End result being something like

Very clever, easy re-purposing. As others are saying, one of those "Why didn't I think of that" ideas.

MoTinkerGNome (author)kinscore2015-01-29

Awesome... I was looking at making a dispenser just like the electric one you linked... Now I have an idea to start from. Thanks Kinscore.

MoTinkerGNome (author)2015-01-22

Got to try it out actually soldering today. About 10 clicks feeds enough solder to solder a pin on a through the hole board. The bar for the Dremel Vise works great for holding the roll.

Oh and the Hakko 888 Digital solder station is sweet, It replaced a cheap 25w Weller iron and I will never go back.

10 clicks solder 10 clicks solder 10 clicks solder. Done

kewrw28 (author)2015-06-25

Very well made instructable !!!

MoTinkerGNome (author)kewrw282015-06-25

Thanks it was a nice fun what if thing that I have used quite a bit since.

Chris Logan (author)2015-01-21

Whoa.... That is incredibly smart.

123cardigan (author)Chris Logan2015-01-21

awesome tip i need to use this

123cardigan (author)123cardigan2015-01-21

also squirrels rule!!!!

Yes they do. When I was 3 my Mom used to say that she was going to send me to live with the squirrels as I was a nut.

Omarsibles (author)MoTinkerGNome2015-03-10

No you're nut a not!

And thanks for sharing such a clever and wonderful dea.

Thanks guys I figured may as well toss this out there as it was a dead simple tip. I also speculate that .7 and .9mm pencils with the same diameter solder would work just as well.

yes it should work as long as the pencil doesnt have pull the whole weight of the spool

dailodai78 (author)2015-01-21

wow.. why didn't I ever think of that. my fingers don't have to smell like solder nice job.

MoTinkerGNome (author)dailodai782015-02-02

And less exposure to lead too... (if one uses leaded solder still)

ringai (author)2015-01-22

I sure wish I'd thought of that hack 40 years ago when I worked in a micro-min board repair shop. Great idea!

MoTinkerGNome (author)ringai2015-02-02

I know. I face palmed when it worked as well as it does.

jsawyer13 (author)2015-01-25

Love it, great idea!

MoTinkerGNome (author)jsawyer132015-02-02


The Juliart (author)2015-01-25

Great Idea!

Thank you

larry.rivard (author)2015-01-29

Very cool idea. I prefer small gauge solder as well.

Thanks. I always figured It is easier to add more then it is to take away. Yeah I have solder braid and all but then it is an extra step...

Coin of Gold (author)2015-01-25

Interesting idea! Now just to find a pencil that is out of graphite... :)

:) Thank you.

shaunak (author)2015-01-29

Sir, You have just changed my LIFE!

MoTinkerGNome (author)shaunak2015-02-02

You are welcome.

treyes4 (author)2015-02-02

wohohohho dude you've changed my life .... thanks a bunch

MoTinkerGNome (author)treyes42015-02-02

You are welcome. The feedback has been a little overwhelming. When Lifehacker tweeted it I was like woah cool.

I had to explain it to my mom that it was the same to me, as her having a recipe in better homes and gardens.

klee27x (author)2015-01-29

I dunno what I'm doing wrong. I highly prefer standard, thick-as-rebar (compared to the little SMD parts), 0.032" solder. For everything. Keeping up with the feed rate of thinner solder is not worth it to me, let alone the flimsy/droopiness.

I can pull out a huge length of solder at a time for doing several joints, and it keeps its shape and can even be used to hold down parts while tacking or reflowing.

YohannonH (author)2015-01-29

A friend of mine who has watched me fuddle about with solder (I, too, suffer from large hands... and ADHD, for that matter, but I digre... SQUIRREL!) ran across this and sent me a ping almost immediately. If I didn't already think of her as a true friend, this would have forced me to do so.

As other's have said, "Why isn't this already a thing??" -- the idea of adding a small spool makes me want to print something when my 3D Printer comes in February (because damn, that would ROCK!). Thank you!!

MoTinkerGNome (author)YohannonH2015-01-29

You know that is the thing. After using it extensively yesterday I was thinking Hmmm I need to get this thing powered. That got me thinking about extruders for 3d printers and printer rollers. I have been sketching up some plans for an electrical feeder like the filament feeder on a 3d printer ( was in a meeting. A small DC motor with a varistor rubber feed rollers and some tubing a small switch and a 9v battery and blammo Small solder extruder. It could probably be as small as a house burner soldering iron or more substantial like a desk mount soldering station. I have a larger project taking up a majority of my time but Ill get the power feed done next. This one as you can tell is right at the bored in a planning meeting sketch stage....

belsey (author)2015-01-22

It's always the simple ideas like this one which are the best. When you slap your head and say "why didn't I think of it before?" -- that's when you know you've had a stroke of genius. Thanks for sharing the tip!

MoTinkerGNome (author)belsey2015-01-22

I was talking to a buddy and he said that his grandfather did the same thing back at Amanna 50 years ago. And then described the holder his grandfather built to hold the roll. It seems that we all just keep rethinking the wheel. Oh well not like I am trying to sell em :D

twturley47 (author)2015-01-22

Awe (wait for it ) some!

MoTinkerGNome (author)twturley472015-01-22

LOL That was well grounded.

sway (author)2015-01-22

Wow...this is such an awesome and SIMPLE idea. I can't believe I never thought of this. I have an intractable in this contest, but I'm voting for this. I can't et over the simplicity of it. Thank You for a great idea.

sway (author)sway2015-01-22

*instructable* duh!

About This Instructable




Bio: Howdy, I am a bit of a tinker gnome. I like playing with hardware/technology along with making stuff I want out of old stuff ... More »
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