Introduction: Monster Soldering Gun

Picture of Monster Soldering Gun

Are you tired of having a dinky safe soldering gun that only puts out a measly 250 watts of power? Are you tired of your puny 40 watt soldering station taking forever to heat up? How about upgrading to a monster 2250 watt soldering gun that heats up in 2 seconds, gets red hot in about 15, and a very real possibility of melting if you hold the trigger for more than a minute. If yes, then for about $45 worth of easily available parts, you can build your own monster soldering gun.

Step 1: Parts

Picture of Parts

-A 4500 watt 240 volt water heater element

-A suitable 120 volt polarized power cord

-a metal conduit box with 1/2" threaded openings

-a 1"x3/4"x1" NPT steel pipe tee

-a 3/4"x1/2" steel pipe bushing

-2 3/8" NM cable clamps

-a 1/2" steel pipe nipple

-an SPST momentary button switch rated for at least 6 amps at 120 volts

-2 fork crimp connectors

-2 ring crimp connectors

-heat shrink tubing

For those of you who live outside of North America, I do not know your standard conduit box, pipe, and element sizes, or electrical standards, so if you attempt this project, you will have to figure out what parts will work. I am sorry. Even if I did provide metric conversions, they may not apply to the parts you can locally source.

Step 2: Tools

Picture of Tools

-A screwdriver, my particular box, clamp, and element had Phillips and flat head screws, yours may be different

-Your tool(s) of choice for cutting, stripping, and crimping wire. I used a pair of line mans pliers and crimping pliers.

-A scriber or marker

-A combination square, ruler, or tape measure.

-A center punch, I used an automatic center punch.

-A pair of channellock pliers.

-An adjustable wrench, a pipe wrench, or a second pair of channellocks.

-A lighter, heatgun, or torch.

-A drill, if you have access to a drill press or mill, use that.

-A 1/2" drill bit.

-A 7/8" drill bit, I used a step bit.

-A 1/8" drill bit or #3 center drill.

-A deburring tool or small round file(not shown).

Step 3: Layout

Picture of Layout

-Find the center of the front plate, and mark a spot about 1&1/4" from the center of the screw.

-On the back side, find the center of the box and mark a spot 1&1/2" from the very end of the threaded portion.

-Center punch the spots you marked.

Step 4: Pre-drilling

Picture of Pre-drilling

With a 1/8" drill bit or #3 center drill, pre drill the spots you marked on the front and back.

Step 5: Drilling

Picture of Drilling

Drill a 1/2" hole on the front cover, then remove it, there will be a rubber membrane underneath, you can discard this, make sure you do not lose the screws. Then flip the box over and drill a 7/8" hole in the back. I used a vise for drilling, and you should too, I just took the picture in a better lit spot.

Step 6: Deburring

Picture of Deburring

With a deburring tool or small round file, deburr the holes, be careful not to enlarge them.

Step 7: Box Assembly

Picture of Box Assembly

Screw one NM cable clamp into the 7/8" hole on the back, and the other in the threaded hole opposite the drilled side. Then install the button switch in the 1/2" hole on the front plate. Make sure the switch body is in a vertical position so that it will fit properly into the box.

Step 8: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

Screw the 1/2" pipe nipple into the top of the conduit box. Next screw the 3/4"x1/2" bushing into the pipe tee. Then screw the tee and bushing onto the box. Finally, screw the heater element into the pipe tee using a pair of channellocks or an element wrench. Make sure the rubber gasket the comes with the element is used.

Step 9: Finished Assembly

Picture of Finished Assembly

This is what it should look like up to this point.

Step 10: Cord

Picture of Cord

Separate the wires from the end to roughly 12".

Step 11: Cutting the Cord

Picture of Cutting the Cord

Lay the wire on top of the gun and cut the hot wire, not the neutral wire roughly where the switch will be. The hot side is the skinny prong, and the wire without ridges.

Step 12: Stripping

Picture of Stripping

Strip both ends of the short piece you cut, and the ends of the cord. Only strip about 1/4" and tightly twist the ends.

Step 13: Crimping

Picture of Crimping

Crimp a ring connector to the long end of the cord, and a spade connector on the short end. On the short piece crimp a ring connector on one end, and a fork connector on the other. Then remove the insulation from the ring connectors, the easiest way to do this is to crimp the plastic shroud in a couple different directions, slide it down the wire, and carefully cut it off with a pair of diagonal cutters.

Step 14: Wiring the Switch

Picture of Wiring the Switch

Fish the cord through the bottom of the box. Then put a piece of heat shrink tubing on the wire ends with fork connectors. Connect the fork connectors to the switch terminals and heat shrink the connections.

Step 15: Closing the Box

Picture of Closing the Box

Fish the ends of the wires out the back of the box. Then screw the box shut.

Step 16: Connecting the Element

Picture of Connecting the Element

Connect the ring connectors to the screw terminals on the element. Then bend the connectors back towards yourself.

Step 17: Finishing Up

Picture of Finishing Up

Finally, screw down the NM cable clamps. Be careful not to go through the wire insulation. If you'd like, cut the protruding ends off the screws.

Step 18: Usage Technique

Picture of Usage Technique

This gun is incredibly dangerous and heats up almost instantly. You should not hold the trigger down for more than a few seconds at a time. The element cools down very slowly, so you do not need to hold the trigger down. The element doesn't even need to get red hot to solder. Be careful not to hold the trigger down for very long, or the element could melt. A good rule of thumb is to hold the trigger until the element barely turns a dull red, and when it goes back to its normal color, pull the trigger again. But you can experiment and figure out your own techniques. This gun has many hazards. It gets very hot, and when the trigger is pulled, there are exposed 120 volt contacts on the back. Have fun!


dnicky2288 (author)2016-02-16

Great project! I think it can be helpful for purposes where much heat is needed. However, I do agree with others that this is a dangerous project. BUT, I think skilled hobbyists can still do this project by making it safer in these three ways:

1. Buy a shorter heating element. You can easily decapitate someone's head with that length. The degree of the worst possible burn can be reduced by that.

2. Make sure ALL terminals that lead to the mains (AC) are well insulated. That means using proper heat shrink and electrical tape. You don't want someone to get electrocuted by accidentally touching the terminals.

3. CONTROL is everything! Make a little PID controller box. Put an Arduino-relay setup in there to keep the temperature of the heating element maintained. This is not "fancy stuff" when you have a posibility of melting your heating element. Be smart and CONTROL the temperature! Speaking of control, an emergency switch could always be helpful!

I hope my feedback is more helpful than those who despise this project.

crazypj (author)dnicky22882016-02-20

Add a GFI to prevent electrocution. Plug in one's aint too expensive

jcarlson8 (author)dnicky22882016-02-16

I agree with @acabrera7, this is sums up the safety precautions should someone want to build it

acabrera7 (author)dnicky22882016-02-16

I wish Instructables can allow voting in comments, because this must be at the top!

Snowberry (author)2016-10-20

Oi, definitely hard core, looks like beefed up version of a bbq charcoal lighter that I bought. Well thought out and built. Might build one in the spirit of InsomniCAT

mosmond (author)2016-02-21

Have you considered making a larger, more powerful version - perhaps something nuclear powered?

brosati (author)mosmond2016-08-29

The R&D division is making one powered by a super collider. Hopefully we'll be able to weld black holes shut.

bravoechonovember1 (author)2016-02-21

Wow! instructables needs more of these type projects


crazypj (author)2016-02-20

Never commented so much on any project. Gotta love something this crazy ;)

Antonio C.M (author)crazypj2016-02-21

I was just thinking how nuts is this project. I didn't see a cover on the back of the element screws. What a no go DIY this is! It probably would do a good job as a mosquito zapper, if you're planing to travel to South America. Than no worries about you bring the virus with you alive. LOL!

InsomniCAT (author)2016-02-18

Come on guys, this is a totally over the top, off the wall, just because I could to see what would happen type of build. Haven't you ever made something you probably shouldn't have? Where's your spirit of adventure? Or your sense of humor? The secret is, "Be careful, use your brain, and have some fun!"

crazypj (author)InsomniCAT2016-02-20

I think I want to make one for no reason other than I can. Absolutely no idea what it would ever be used for but if I think of something, like Arnie in Terminator, 'I'll be back' LOL

aleverson (author)2016-02-18

This is hilarious and awesome. Great build man!

crazypj (author)aleverson2016-02-20

Got to agree with you, something that crazy is fantastic

ThomasK19 (author)2016-02-16

So what do you solder with that one?

ThomasK19 (author)ThomasK192016-02-16

(too bad - still no edit) I would be afraid to use it for my PCBs.

Yonatan24 (author)ThomasK192016-02-19

It would probably burn you PCB into thin air or something like that :)

Slime Eel (author)2016-02-19

love it

ventifact (author)2016-02-17

Totally irresponsible!

KrazyK4 (author)ventifact2016-02-19

Very well said. Maybe if it wasn't able to kill someone, I might make in in future

The Science Brony (author)2016-02-19

Looks safe enough

Greg03289 (author)2016-02-18

You could heat your coffee with it.

chrisagnew (author)2016-02-17

Does appear a little dangerous, great ingenuity but, looks like a catastrophe to me, just sayin

haltenfelder (author)2016-02-16

He lives in America, grew up with guns and probably know what he is doing. AND he suggested to hold the trigger just for a short amount of time, to make it hot=> so during the actual soldering he doesn't touch the trigger. You could make an insulated heat-resistant pipe of concrete, where u need to put it in to trigger the circuit/heat the gun. (trigger is on the tube, not the "soldering-club" itself, triggered by putting it in).

(did u use it to solder something, yet? How is the performance?)

Ross Workshop (author)2016-02-16

This idea came to me when I was replacing the elements in my hot water heater at home. This is more of a novelty item than a useful tool. I'm not going to use this on a regular basis. This is just a fun project I did in my spare time. I am well aware of the risks involved, and I am comfortable in my abilities to do proper work and stay safe. If you are uncomfortable with this, don't build it.

Orngrimm (author)2016-02-16

... um... w... eh... what!?
overkill is really only the start of its first name... a deathtrap waiting to kill ;)

I know "why not?" but nonetheless: WHY?!

warpspeed (author)2016-02-16

To all those looking for warnings; isn't it obvious that this project would be dangerous? Why do it? Because you can. It may inspire a more useful tool for someone else. If you aren't smart enough to apply basic safety precautions, then don't attempt the build.

nasota (author)2016-02-16

con semejante resistencia de 4.5kw deberías usar un contactor. Ese pulsador no creo q aguante los amperes q demanda esa resistencia y menos el cable q parece de 1.5 mm2 de sección. muy peligroso y muy poco aislamiento en su construcción

JesusG33k (author)nasota2016-02-16

¿Tú hablas inglés? Yo no comprendo eso.
Although I got something about it being dangerous and poorly constructed.

mrgw98 (author)2016-02-16

Just curious as I haven't read this fully... why?

JesusG33k (author)mrgw982016-02-16

Um, why not?

badideasrus (author)2016-02-16

Look people, this is..... really out there. i could think of a few uses for blazing hot metal, but this is DANGEROUS. you need to know what your'e doing, you need to be cautious. or you /will/ die. and likely burn something to the ground.

what this is NOT is a soldering gun. please for the love of god do not use this to solder things. overkill is an understatement.

i'd use something like this for loosening bolts that have rusted tight, same manner as using a blow torch.

Toms2782 (author)2016-02-16

I would need something that would be more water proof to be used in home brewing. But not sure what modifications I would need.

mwakefield3 (author)2016-02-16

Besides the lack of safety disclaimers and warnings, there is only one question..... why?

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