Introduction: How to Solder the Easy Way!

Picture of How to Solder the Easy Way!

Hi everyone,

Here is what you can expect to learn from the instructable.

1. Basic “how to” soldering skills

2. Best practices to avoid pitfalls and brittle joints

3. Tips and tricks on how to get stubborn parts like copper pills to solder

4. Equipment and soldering supplies I recommend.

Step 1: Watch the Video

Get a quick overview of all the steps, and see just how it's done.

Step 2: The 3 "check Points"

Picture of The 3 "check Points"

Soldering is fairly easy as long as you do a few things right each time. To get the best results make sure you always have:
1. Good heat
2. Good Clean
3. Good flux

Step 3: The Basic Process.

Picture of The Basic Process.

Once your iron is fully heated wipe the tip off, and then tin the end with some solder. Next put flux on the areas you intent to solder and then tin each of the parts. You want to apply the heat to your target work piece and then quickly bring the solder to it. Once the parts are tinned simply melt them together. Most often if the pieces are well tinned you won't have to add any additional solder, but if your doing a long joint like soldering wires together, you may need some extra to get a solid joint. On small circuits you can just put a dab on your iron tip and then touch it to the part, but its better to do it the other way when ever possible.

Step 4: Good Heat.

Picture of Good Heat.

Always checking these three key points will help insure solid clean looking bonds. To ensure you have "good heat" you need to start with a soldering iron that is at least 25 watts. A 30 or 40 is better still.

Step 5: Good Clean

Picture of Good Clean

Next you need to make sure you have a "good clean", and that starts with your soldering tip. When solder remains hot it gets oxidized on your tip and this causes it to have a dull look. If your tip looks like this it wont melt the solder. The best way to clean it is by wiping it off on a brass sponge. Some people use a damp kitchen type sponge, however I prefer the brass because its more effective and doesn't seem to lower the temperature of the tip as much.
Most of the time you will not need to "clean" the component your working on, but there are some cases where it's helpful. Brass or copper parts that have been heavily oxidized are a good example. Take these brass beads. Trying to solder directly to the patinad surface is not easy. I can get a bead to sit on there, and eventually when it gets hot enough it'll stick. However if I lightly sand the surface to a shine, the brass takes solder more easily.

Step 6: Good Flux

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Using good flux will make a tremendous difference it the way that your solder flows and bonds to the metal. In most cases this will eliminate the need for any cleaning of the part. Flux will both penetrate the existing oxides and prevent new ones from forming during the soldering process, until it evaporates.

Step 7: How Do I Know If It's Right?

Picture of How Do I Know If It's Right?

A good rule of thumb to know weather or not your doing this correctly is if the joint is made within one or two seconds. If you find your self feeling the need to push hard on the work piece, it probly means somethings wrong. 90% of the time I've found this issue stems from improper heat.

Step 8: Cold Joints

Picture of Cold Joints

If the component your working on has too much mass, for the iron your using to quickly heat the surface of the metal you'll have trouble getting the solder to wet. This can also cause what is know as "cold Joints". Basically the solder will melt and sit on the work piece but either have a very poor brittle bond, or none at all. One of the more common places flashlight modders will run into this is when trying to solder a driver board to a pill. If you run into that here are some tips that can help.

Step 9: Getting Over the Hump

Picture of Getting Over the Hump

Number one is if you have a short fat tip for your soldering iron. That will help transfer the heat to the pill more quickly and also keep the tip from cooling as fast when it contacts the metal. Another thing you can do is raise the temperature of the work piece. I use either my electric skillet, or a propane torch. A heat gun could also work. Just be sure you don't get it so hot that it causes solder to melt on any attached components. Most often I heat it just hot enough that you can touch it very quickly. Once this is done you can see the solder actually bonds to the metal rather than cooling on the top of it. If your having trouble bridging the gap between the metal and the board it helps to do a little then let it cool a couple seconds then add a little more.

Step 10: Equipment

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Now that we have the basics down it's time I show you my recommendations for equipment and supplies. I use the Weller WES51 soldering station because it has a variable output up to 50 watts. For most flashlight related projects I keep it tuned to about 810 degrees. You can pick these up for around $100 dollars. If your not ready to spend that much on a premium soldering station you can still get a good soldering iron for around $20 dollars. I strongly recommend the Weller brand as a whole, accept for the large "gun" type irons. These are just too clunky for most flashlight type modding. I also DO NOT recommend buying one of the cheap soldering stations or irons you often see on ebay or many of the China websites. These look enticing because of all the bells and whistles they come with and because of the low cost of the product and replacement tips. If you solder frequently the life span of these units is about two months.

Step 11: Supplies

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Next lets take a look at supplies. I use mostly Kester products because they are good quality and Kester offers a wide range of no clean supplies. The solder I prefer is Kester 63/37 No-Clean flux core with .031" diameter, and I also use the EP256 soldering paste for re-flow soldering projects.(you can see more on that here (arrow to corner)). My choice of flux without a doubt is the kester 951 no clean liquid. For projects requiring a heavier non splatter type flux I use RF7141 tacky which is great for hard to solder joints, rework, or on nickel plating. One other thing you may want to have around if you plan to do any soldering is some solder wick. Its hadny for removing any accidental solder bridges you've made or extracting driver boards from a pill or module.The type of wire I most often use is stranded wire with a silicone outer coating. Its soft and pliable yet the shrink on the outside is much more heat resistant than pvc coated wire. I also keep Teflon coated wire around because its very tough and has a thinner diameter compared to other wire in the same gauge. It is stiffer and harder to work with so I rarely use it.

Step 12: Tools

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Finally what how to solder tutorial would be complete without a look at the necessary tools for the job. I find the most helpful of all, are my pairs of hemostats, I keep a straight and curved pair which are great for hard to reach places. I also use a jewelers peg vice to hold small parts like drivers and pills in place. I also keep a pair of wire strippers with the gauge size marked on them. For small work they are more effective than the one size strips all type.

Step 13: Your Feed Back Is Important.

Picture of Your Feed Back Is Important.

If you have any questions, or helpful hints of your own please let me know in the comments.Links for the supplies you've seen here are posted below . If you've enjoyed this instructable please like share and subscribe. Thanks for watching.

For more great instructional videos please check out
My Channel https://www.youtube.com/user/ForgivenMatt

Soldering station:https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1...
Soldering Iron:https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1...
Kester No Clean Solder: https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/...
Kester Liquid Soldering Flux:https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1...
Kester Rework Flux: https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/...
Brass Sponge: https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/...
Soldering Paste: https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/...
Silicone wire: https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/...

Comments

richtoysmusic (author)2016-12-31

Thanks for the helpful tips. I want to reword my guitars and stuff so I need better soldering skills. Very helpful.

Thankyou rich. Let us know how it turns out :)

HStiles11 (author)2017-01-03

very clear & well presented!

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