Step 2: Getting ready

Once I get my tools rounded up I like to plug in my soldering iron and let it heat up while prepping my materials.

First things first, the tip of the soldering gets hot - up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit, so don't touch it. I know this seems obvious, but many people seem to burn themselves at some point while soldering.

If you're using a new soldering iron you will want to put a small amount of solder on the tip of the hot iron before you start working. This is called tinning the iron and you only have to do it with a new iron. Once you start using it will usually have some solder on it already and be ready to go.

Once the iron reaches temperature (some irons take minutes to do this and some irons take seconds), I like to clean the tip of my iron on a wet sponge. You can wet the sponge on your soldering base if you have one, or you can just use a damp sponge or steel wool. Gently touch the tip of the soldering iron to the sponge and clean off any old bits of solder that might be stuck to it. It will sizzle a bit; this is normal.

I asked Mitch, a soldering expert who works at the control tower by day and is numberandom by night, for some tips. Mitch showed me a good idea for how to hold solder wire: he cuts a piece of it off the roll, and then makes a coil at one end with a short lead at the other. This helps him hold it steady and apply just the right amount of solder. This is a way better idea than trying to hold the whole spool of solder or grab onto just one thin strand.

Next it's time to pay some attention to the material you're soldering. If you're soldering wire, you'll need to strip back about 1/2" of insulation to expose the bare wire. If your joints are going to be wire-to-wire or wire-to-lead, you can twist them together tightly before soldering. Electrical components placed on a circuit board don't need much prep work; just seat them where you want them and find a way to hold them in place with clips or by bending the leads outward slightly so they stay put when you turn the circuit board over.

Finally, place what you want to solder into the clips on the helping hand, or on a surface you don't mind getting a little burn mark on - scrap wood works well. Basically you just don't want the components moving around on you when you go to solder them. There are lots of ways to orient the wires/components so you don't have to hold them in place while you solder them. Find what works best for you.

Hopefully your soldering iron has reached temperature by now, because you're ready to solder!
<p>basic.. just like I need. thank you noahw :)</p>
<p>Why downloads are only for premium members. It would have been a great <br>service for all from u r side if u have removed that restriction for normal members <br>also.</p>
<p>Very good Instructable. </p>
<p>You will not transfer much heat to the wire joint to be soldered by just touching the bare tip to it. Instead, melt a blob of solder onto the hot tip, then touch the joint, and the molten solder will greatly help the heat transfer to heat the joint to soldering temperature. Then touch the joint with the solder wire and it will quickly melt right into the joint and flow well. You will be surprised at how much easier this makes the soldering process!</p>
<p>When exactly does one tin a new iron? Should the solder used to tin the iron be wiped off before its first use?</p>
<p>Can anyone give me some advice on which is the best soldering iron to use?</p><p><a href="http://amzn.to/1WDULoJ" rel="nofollow">This is what I am looking at right now&hellip;</a></p>
<p>I have that iron.. its not bad..but maybe its me.. the numbers on the dial are so tiny I cant figure out what temp it is at. I ended up buying a solder/heat gun station (building drones so needed heat gun as well): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01AO7SH80/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&amp;psc=1 It works very well, allows more precise (and easier to read) control of heat, and has the heat gun too. :)</p>
<p>Should add that the one I bought heats up almost instantly.. which is nice to not have to wait a minute or two.</p>
<p>Requirement list plzzz</p>
<p>nice beginner tutorial. Bookmarked!</p>
<p>Hi, I've added your project to the <em style="">&quot;</em><em style="">Beginners Guide to Soldering</em><em style="">&quot;</em> Collection</p><p>This is the link If you are interested:</p><p><a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/Beginners-Guide-to-Soldering/">http://www.instructables.com/id/Beginners-Guide-to...</a></p>
<p>what do i do when i accidentally soldered my toddler to my chair should i call the police? </p>
<p>take a picture</p>
Make sure your iron is clean, make sure your solder is clean and make sure your work piece is clean and you will have the best opportunity of creating a good solder joint.
I bought a 30W soldering iron from Radio Shack. I'm having a lot of trouble because it takes as long as 90-120 seconds for the solder to heat up. And if I don't touch the solder directly to the iron, it never gets hot enough at all. Plus, the solder doesn't flow well and it turns into balls & blobs. I'm puzzled. What's wrong?
<p>sorry for the late reply</p>
I know this is an old post, but someone may benefit. <br>There's a few possible problems, the obvious one is you're iron isn't hot enough. I prefer a 40W iron over a 30W any day. It seems 30W are the most common, but they just don't cut it for me. <br>Try a cheapo model form ebay etc for $5 or so and see how it works for you. <br>Another fix is to heat the iron up a bit with a torch. I rarely need to do this to boost heat, but I will use a torch as the heat source for the iron if I'm too far from an outlet.. <br> <br>The other problem could be thinking the flux inside the solder is enough. It is not.... At least it has never been for me. You need to flux the surfaces and be sure the surface can be soldered in the first place. <br>The surface could be coated or plated with something that either the solder or the flux doesn't like. It might also be corrosion, a lubricant, protectant, or who knows what. In those cases I clean it with a chemical such as electric contact cleaner aka brake cleaner, or even carb cleaner, but most people use alcohol. If that doesn't work then it's probably some kind of coating you'll need to remove with force, like sandpaper or a Dremel tool to break thru to the good metal. Once you've ground the bad part off, clean it, coat it with flux and try again. <br>If it's still being difficult you can try using sandpaper on it while it's coated in flux. I like 320-400 wet/dry paper, maybe 180-220 if it's really bad. Cut a small piece for sacrifice because you don't want to use it again now that it has flux on it. After you have either roughed it up nicely, or ground thru the problem coating whatever it was, clean it, flux it, and try again. <br>I prefer to coat the problem item in solder first, that way I know it'll work when it's time to attach something. Assuming the iron is hot, clean, and will hold solder (plain old rosin core 60/40 works best for me), put a little on the tip, then apply it to the surface and hold until it flows and coats your surface. If it's a large item and you can't get it hot enough you will need to preheat the item with a torch or whatever, I've used anything from little butane torches to my oven, as long as everything can handle the heat that is. (fyi; preheating also works for welding when the machine can't generate enough heat). Once it's hot enough the solder will flow nicely into the area worked on, and your problem is solved. <br> <br>If you never could get the solder to stick then you might be working with the wrong metal, like aluminum, so use the appropriate method for that metal, or simply try using a screw or bolt as a contact. If you can figure out what the base metal is, then search the net for a bolt material that will not react with it. Example; drill a hole and use an appropriate bolt/nut and torque it down good, then apply solder to the bolt's head which should be a snap. Common steel bolts are usually coated with something which probably needs to be ground off. Grind off just enough area for what you need, and preferably solder it in a way you can still use the tool to remove it if needed. Now flux your spot and apply a little drop of solder like described above. Being a bolt it's probably heavier and may need a little boost with a torch. <br>I flux/solder each piece first so I know they're both good to go, then I put them together and add a drop of solder with the iron until it flows. <br> <br>I hope this helps some people with their soldering problems... <br>
<p>Chevota</p><p>I would probably avoid using brake cleaner then applying heat, because depending on the formulation you can emit phosgene gas:</p><p><a href="http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=488740" rel="nofollow">http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=48...</a></p>
<p>Thanks, something to think about. I don't think you can buy that kind of brake cleaner anymore, plus it evaporates almost instantly when cleaning stuff like that. I do remember spraying the older stuff on something red hot and the smell was horrible. Not sure if it was that particular gas, but omg it was bad! </p><p>Speaking of solder, I lost my old solder and flux in a move so I bought this new solder and flux, some &quot;safer&quot; crap or some bs but it was all I could find. I haven't been able to solder anything but clean copper wire and that barely sticks together and often fails. It's horrible stuff. Maybe that was the original posters problem? I guess I'll have to buy some from china on ebay or something. </p>
<p>Lead free solder melts at 218 deg C where leaded melts at 183 deg C. You may need to get a higher wattage iron to work with it. That thanks to the EU which started this lead free mess.</p>
<p>I've always preferred a higher heat than what most people use, for example I won't use a 30w, only 40w at min. I don't know the exact temp but to get the same effect from the adjustable solder station at work I need 800F/426C. Others at work used 700-750F and they struggled. This was back when we used real lead and flux btw. So I don't think 218C would work at all, but whatever the case I'm well above it. I've even tried boosting the temp by heating my iron with a propane torch, but it doesn't help. My latest project needed tabs soldered to rechargeable AA batteries to renew a cordless tool batt pack. I've done this in the past with lead 60/40 and acid flux no problem, but the new stuff refuses to stick to the batts. It's like trying to solder to glass... Very frustrating. My flux might be part of the problem so I will look for a different type. I may have to spot weld the tabs like the factory does, but it doesn't help me with other stuff. </p>
<p>sand the battery contacts, and make sure the battery is getting hot enough. it's a very difficult thing to do, getting something like that hot enough without getting it too hot. also, reheating it over and over, trying to get it right, will probably negatively affect the battery life and capacity. practice on one set to know exactly what you need to do, before moving on and doing it right on all the rest.</p>
<p>Yes, I have done this many times for decades on all kinds of projects with no problems. Then I lose my old 60/40 lead and &quot;good&quot; acid flux and have not been able to solder a single battery since. I plan on trying spot welding next, unless I get lucky and find my old solder &amp; flux. This new solder makes everything much harder btw, but it made the battery thing impossible. </p>
<p>A soldering iron is nowhere near hot enough to convert a chlorinated solvent to phosgene. Think arc welding or oxyacetylene temperatures.</p>
<p>Someone brought that part up because I said I used brake cleaner to clean parts that have grease/oil on them, then if the part is too big for the iron to heat you can preheat it with a propane torch. Not so much about the part getting too hot, but putting a torch on a the surface still wet with cleaner. Not a common circumstance, nor do I believe most cleaners sold today are an issue, but something to consider. Plus if you do manage to create the gas, which I think I might have once or twice, it's too nasty to breathe anyway. </p>
<p>great instructable. thanks!</p>
<p>can i make friends on here? im a black belt at soldering </p>
<p>i will be your friend :)</p>
Thanks, I needed this for my Home Economics class!
<p>you'll fail </p>
<p>Hello! Thank you for your post. Can you comment on the use of soldering flux-types, dangers or relative importance.</p><p>Thanks.</p>
<p>Absolutely! ;)</p>
<p>Thanks for explaining things so clearly! The whole article has given me a great insight and also explained where I had been going wrong in the past.</p><p>I will leave the desert island survival tips alone for a while, but its good to know just incase!</p>
<p>Thanks for the guide! I also wouldn't recommend stripping wire using teeth. Some plastic wire insulation can contain lead. Here's a CDC account of someone getting lead poisoning from chewing the plastic: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00020984.htm</p>
<p>More of a problem with biting the insulation would be chipping your teeth, as I have done over the years of removing insulation that way.</p>
<p>He chewed the plastic wire coating for 20 years and has a slight lead poisoning in the article. That's a huge difference from biting off the tips and spitting them out. </p><p>Lets not go overboard comparing apples to planets.</p>
<p>You shouldn't twist the wire. You don't need to and its amateurish. You should just position the two wires parallel and solder them that way. That way you can make a nice tight joint and can easily fit heatshrink sleaves over the joint. Regardless of what people might think.. twisting the wires together does NOT make for a better joint. The solder is more than enough to take any stress from the wire being pulled or twisted afterwards. It does not need to be twisted together beforehand. </p>
<p>Hi I've just finished a little soldering project but unfortunately its not working, I've just read your comment about not reheating solder, which I think I did a few times, how crucial is this and could this be the reason my circuit won't work? do you think I should start again? Thank you</p>
<p>@<a href="http://www.instructables.com/member/sjones98/" rel="nofollow">sjones98</a> Hey there. Fixing that wouldn't be a problem. I've reheated solder many, many, many times on the same project while I was learning and I never had an issue. It cleans easily, remelts cleanly and often looks 10x better when I'm finished. The best advice I could give with regards to fixing your soldering is to do one small area at a time. Reheat the solder and wick most of it away, make sure you are using the right kind of solder. Find some that is specific to electronics. It will have mostly a silver base as opposed to lead and is very thin. A thin point tip on your soldering iron will help as well. It keeps the solder neat and reduces the solders habit of spreading to other holes.</p><p>When you are ready to resolder your board, only use a very tiny amount of solder. It takes barely any to make a nice solid connection. It's human nature to want to gob it in, because more is better right? In most cases, no. Just a dab will suffice. The right amount will surround the pin and be barely larger than the hole.</p><p>I hope this helps! Cheers.</p>
<p>I see that this is a bit late but the problem seems to be the soldering done on the board. There are a few areas where leads seem to overlap, which, of course, causes short circuits. I'm not the greatest at soldering myself, and I've done worse quite a few times; sometimes involving unpleasant explosions. </p>
<p>FLUX...the secret of flow</p>

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