Step 1: Recommended Tools and Supplies
For solder, we recommend starting out with a lead-based solder, usually called 63/37 (63% tin, 37% lead by weight) or 60/40 rosin cored solder. Get whatever's cheaper; there's unnoticeable difference in hand soldering between 63/37 and 60/40. The rosin is a flux that cleans parts so solder will bond with them. Avoid solid wire (no flux core) and acid cored solder (for plumbing, too aggressive for circuits). We recommend solder that's about .031" in diameter for most through-hole components. Water-soluble flux is much more aggressive than rosin, and these residues must be cleaned. Lead-free solder melts at a higher temperature, and doesn't wet or spread out as readily, so it will be slightly harder to use.
- Needle Nose Pliers: Useful for pre-bending leads, pulling out components during de-soldering, and a lot of other things.
- Wire Strippers: Two types are shown: the yellow ones can be adjusted to strip any size wire (good for small 28-30 AWG ribbon cable wires) whereas the red handled ones have several fixed hole sizes.
- Flush Cutters: Used to trim leads close to the board after soldering .
- Clamps: Oftentimes just resting your board on a table will be fine, but the clamps are especially helpful when desoldering parts or soldering wires together.
- Solder Sucker and Solder Wick: Both are inexpensive ways to remove solder. The sucker is a spring loaded tube that vacuums out solder and the wick is a fine braid of flux coated copper that soaks up solder.
- Multimeter: Some multimeters have a continuity check that beeps if there is a complete circuit. This is very useful for making sure parts are connected or disconnected when there're a lot of wires and parts.
-Pink Erasor: (not shown) A pink eraser can be used to rub off oxides from older components and boards without risking damage to the parts.