Picking a Soldering Iron

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Introduction: Picking a Soldering Iron

This is for the people out there who aren't sure how to get started on soldering. I know this may not please everybody, but if you need somewhere to start, here you go. You can learn from my mistakes and save money by my example.

Step 1: So You Want to Solder?

First you will need to decide what you will be needing to do with this iron. There are different irons for different purposes, however if you decide you need it portable, DO NOT get a Cold Heat
New Cold Heat soldering iron for Easter 2 years ago. Sadly, within the first 5 minutes of use, the thing burnt its tip off and i never bought a new one. I would strongly advise anybody against getting one of these due to the fact tips cost little less than a new ColdHeat. These are little more than glorified LED flashlights.
If you decide on portability, Weller makes a butane powered one. I have never used a butane iron, but i would imagine that it would have to be better than a Cold Heat.
UPDATE: Today i decided to give the ColdHeat one more go (even in its already dehabilitated state) and one entire half of the tip broke off this time. Picture below.

Step 2: Non-Portable

My first soldering iron was from Big Lots and it set my mother back a whole $2. Definitely not the best, but it did make things burn and melt. I would recommend getting a slightly better one from Radio Shack, which I sadly still use due to the backorder of my new Weller station. If it wasn't for Ibanezfoo, i would have totally forgot to mention wattage. I would recommend no less than 20w and probably wouldn't go much above 30w. That is why adjustable stations are so nice.
UPDATE: I have finally received my Weller and man is it nice. Heats up to 550 F in less than a minute. After using that Radio Crap one for so long and waiting 5 min for it to get close to heating up, this is like heaven.

Step 3: Solder

Now you need some solder to get you squared away. I use Radio Shack's 60/40 (lead/tin ratio) Rosin Core .062 dia. Some use thinner solder, but i think this is a good size. All just personal preferance really. Another thing to note is to get as big as rolls as possible. As soon as you just buy a little tube, you will run out in the middle of a project so at least get 8oz. of the stuff.

Hopefully this helped a little and get out there and solder SAFELY.

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93 Comments

this is my ks60r, it works vgud !! it's switched of that's why there's a blob of SOLDER on the tip , my tip is vvvv.shiny

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my dad says : goot, Weller, hakko have no comparison , the internet and I agree , but where I live only goot is easily available , I bought a ks60r ,cuz it was in my range :14usd, I'd reccomnd it and if u have a budget of abt 40usd buy a goot px201 temp adjustable iron

I had a really bad IRON , then bought a suoer(Chinese) , better but nt v.gud , I bought a goot original ks60r(60watt) , for 14usd(1400pkrs) , its very good ! I'd prefer it , and if u cud go up to 40 dollars buy a temp adjustable px201 , its awesome and has a v.gud grip , I haven't used it but seen videos and I've seen it on a store !!!

ya NEVER buy the cold heat the tips break real easy and there 10.00$ a tip!!! I got mine and it doesnt really turn on when i put solder on its tip!!!! If you get the connection somehow it is inpossible to do anything.!!! REPEATING... NEVER BUY THE ((COLD HEAT))

also use acid free,lead free solder (radio shack or dutchboy brand is good :-) )(lead, and its fumes can cause cancer!! ..eek!)

crap....i have the archer brand and been using the same spool since i got the soldering iron (big spool) and it has a warning you can barely see that says it contains lead

aww. that sux man. :-(. When i buy my solder, i go to the pluming section in The Home Depot, and i buy either Aluminum electrical solder, or more often 'safe pluming solder', because the safe stuff, you can use it in your pipe so its chem free ;-)

every once in a while it will put off a little smoke but i just kinda lay back on breathing kinda and try not to breath it in

ya, really ANY solder you use is bad to breath in, but lead is worse. And really i just dont use lead cause when ever i touch the soldered on item i have to wash my hands, but when i use aluminum solder i can just touch it and not worry about washing my hands ;-)

I try to do my soldering outside. Don't have to worry about the fumes and if some solder sputters away I don't have to clean it up or worry that its going to melt something

That sounds really serious... I'd look in to a little fume fan or something, they aren't all that expensive and they will save you lots of trouble, just check the link that shadymilk posted. I mean you can get a decent one that will not only recirculate the air, but clean it and cool you and your board off for like $75.