Introduction: Soldering 102: Soldering a Jumper

Picture of Soldering 102: Soldering a Jumper

This is my second basic soldering guide from the beginner, for the beginner.
It covers soldering and unsoldering the most basic component, a jumper wire.
Never soldered before? Start with Soldering 101: Tin the Tip.

If you appreciate this instructible, please visit my blog for more ideas:

You will need:
All the items used in Soldering 101
flux paste
insulated jumper wire
pc prototyping board, veroboard (stripboard), or padboard.
wire strippers
dikes (diagonal cutters) or flush cutters.
solder sucker (desoldering pump)

**The links above are simply the place I found these items. Any suggestions for other US links would be appreciated**

Step 1: Strip the Wire

Picture of Strip the Wire

Open the strippers. Poke about half an inch of wire in a cutting groove slightly smaller than the wire diameter. Clamp the stripper closed and rotate it about a bit. Then flip the stripper over and pull the wire through.

Step 2: Tin the Wire

Picture of Tin the Wire

Twist the end of the wire to clean it up a bit.

Dip the end of the wire in flux.

Then stick the wire in something to hold it still. I used a pair of pliers.

Tin the tip of the soldering iron.

Imediately after tinning, hold your iron and solder on opposite sides of the wire. It is important that you hold everything very steady until the solder begins to flow. As soon as solder flows, quickly move the solder and iron out to the end of the wire. This should quickly coat all the metal with a thin layer of solder.

In a perfect world, Terry (my soldering overseer) says the iron should touch the wire a fraction of a second before the solder does. And of course, remove the solder a fraction of a second before removing the iron.

Move too slow and you get melted insulation, which doesn't actually hurt anything, but wouldn't pass a NASA inspection apparently. You could also get large globs of solder on the wire.

Step 3: Solder the Jumper to the Board.

Picture of Solder the Jumper to the Board.

Poke your tinned jumper end through your PC board.

Clean and tin the iron tip.

Again, hold the iron on the opposite side of the wire as the solder. Briefly touch both iron and solder to the base of the wire.

A good solder joint is shiny. If yours is foggy or dull-looking, you've got what's called a cold solder joint. This is bad. It's weak and has poor electrical connectivity. Either your iron wasn't hot enough, or you need to clean the tip, or you took too long to solder that sucker. Try melting down the existing solder again.

The solder joint should also not have too much solder. A little volcano-shaped hill all around the base of your wire is a nice "fillet" joint. A bulging, rounded hill is bad, as is a spot around the base with no solder.

Step 4: Clip the Excess

Picture of Clip the Excess

Set your cutters very close the base of the wire.

Flip the board over and cup your hand underneath. This keeps you from getting large eye-surgery bills.

Cut the excess wire off.

You're done soldering!

Step 5: Desoldering the Joint

Picture of Desoldering the Joint

In this final step of the exercise, we'll desolder the jumper.

Turn up the heat all the way on your soldering iron. The quicker we can do this, the better, and heat helps.
Also, taking too long can cause the copper pads to separate from the board and even burn the board.

Clean and tin the iron tip.

If you've never used a solder sucker before, just play with it--you'll figure it out in two seconds.

Holding the solder sucker tip very close to the solder, melt the solder and quickly suck up the solder.

You should now be able to easily pull the wire free.

Alternatives to a solder sucker include solder wick (hold the wick between the iron and the solder until it flows into the wick) and just heating up the solder and pulling on the wire simultaneously.

I much prefer the sucker for speed and ease.

That's about it. Don't forget to clean and tin the tip of your soldering iron before putting it away, and happy soldering!


collard41 (author)2008-05-20

if you use flux solder you wont need to use flux. also it is not necessary to tin the tip every time you solder. soldering is easy and should not need an Instructable to show you how to do it

jimbojones5678 (author)collard412016-02-10

I bet my bottom dollar that anyone with your attitude does it incorrectly.

Dromedary2 (author)collard412012-10-28

With all due respect, that would mean that folk like me lose out on some highly informative instructables on subjects, yes, such as tinning and soldering. Thanks for the tip on using flux solder :-) We all have to start somewhere!

jpoyner (author)2009-04-11

I don't think you ever touched on what the flux does for the work. Why do we need it? Is it absolutely necessary or just part of Terry's strict guidelines?

Colonel88 (author)jpoyner2009-12-03

Flux strengthens the connection between metal & surface, so if you are soldering to like a penny, put some solder on. In America, there a a bit of flux in the solder, hence "rosin core". Rosin is most commonly used in Flux. In other countrires however, they use separate flux, not the one inside of the solder. For exmple, Russia. 

BFeely (author)2009-09-26

Clipping the wire after soldering can cause the solder to crack or have internal stresses, which could weaken the solder joint.

Colonel88 (author)BFeely2009-12-03

Yeah, that's why when I solder, I don't cut it too much to the point.

BFeely (author)2009-09-26

Lead free solder may have a dull finish. It should still have all the other qualities of a good solder joint.

metalmarious (author)2009-08-14

also you can nails(if the wire isnt too thick)

pjax (author)2007-08-27

how do you put flux on something you can't dip in flux? like legs of ICs? and do you tin them as well?

royalestel (author)pjax2007-10-03

I'm afraid I'm not skilled enough at soldering to answer that. Though I imagine you could hold the chip with tweezers and dab on some flux with a toothbrush.

cornholio (author)royalestel2008-01-24

Generally for soldering smd's and surface mount chips, or other things you cant dip in flux you would just use a q-tip and dip that in the flux, then wipe the flux on your solder point

royalestel (author)cornholio2008-01-25

Yup. That works.

acid-burn (author)2007-11-06

nice instructable i like it.

jimepler (author)2007-10-24

very helpful pictures and instructions for this step of the process.

royalestel (author)jimepler2007-10-24

Thanks. Worked a lot on this 'ible.

Mr.Devious (author)2007-01-17

Thanks for the instructable. It's good to see that some people are willing to teach us the proper ways of things. Good for newbs.

royalestel (author)Mr.Devious2007-01-18

No problem. 'Tis always good to learn the "right" way to do a job. You gotta at least KNOW what the corners are before you can cut 'em! ;)

Mr.Devious (author)royalestel2007-01-19

Now can you tell me what I'm doing wrong, when I try to solder anything, I find that the solder sticks to the tip and I can't apply the solder without putting enough on the tip to make it drip, but that's pretty inacurrate and you could end up with solder splashes. I know that you're not supposed to put the solder directly on the tip, but rather onto what you're working on, I'm guessing it's just because it's a cheapy soldering iron. I think it's a $35 one from crappy tire.

royalestel (author)Mr.Devious2007-01-19

Checklist: 1)Your iron is hot enough to sizzle when touched to a moist sponge. 2)Your tip is clean and tinned. 3)You are using flux. Lots of flux. 4)You tinned the leads to whatever you are soldering. 5)You start your soldering immediately after tinning the tip. 6)You are holding the iron and solder steady until the solder starts to flow. 7)You are holding the iron tip on the opposite side of the leads as the solder. Are you missing any of these items?

Mr.Devious (author)royalestel2007-01-19

Well I don't have a sponge handy, but yes the solder I use is fairly heavy gauge and has rosin flux, it get's pretty smoke :-P. The tip is usually tinned. Could it be that I'm using such a heavy gauge of solder?

royalestel (author)Mr.Devious2007-01-19

Use flux--rosin core solder taint enough. Also yes, try thinner solder.

yes def use thinner solder. I use the second-to-smallest gauge that radioshack sells and it works great.

pfred1 (author)Mr.Devious2007-01-25

When you solder, don't feed the solder to the tip, use the tip to apply heat to the joint, then feed solder to the joint.

royalestel (author)pfred12007-01-28

True, true, could be that, too Mr. Devious. If you're still having trouble, perhaps you could post a video showing you soldering so we could troubleshoot your technique.

Popular Mechanics (author)2007-04-16

Here is a video on how to solder to a circuit board. Mike is quick about it, but you get a good idea of the technique. The video and accompanying text article can be found here.
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Hey, thanks!

25Kilovolt (author)2007-04-18

teeth work pretty well for that to

royalestel (author)25Kilovolt2007-04-19

Oh yea, you're right. I don't know. We just never use that method around the office. Maybe because we have ubiquitous strippers?

N5VTD (author)2007-03-02

Solder moves to the hottest point.

NessTheHero (author)2007-01-24

What is flux and why is it necessary.

royalestel (author)NessTheHero2007-01-25

I believe Flux is a kind of acid that REALLY helps solder bond to whatever you're soldering. You can solder without flux, but it REALLY makes the job a lot easier. Without flux, you struggle to get the solder onto the little bits of wire, with flux, the solder seems to WANT to cling to that lovely little wire. When in doubt, dump more flux on. I need to add this as a step, but AFTER using flux to solder, one should take a toothbrush and brush some alcohol on the solder joint. THis cleans off flux residue and helps prevent corrosion. Does that answer your question?

pfred1 (author)royalestel2007-01-25

Flux for electronics is supposed to be rosin based. Acid fluxes are mainly for non electrical mechanical connections. Even though rosin flux contains abietic acid as its cleaning agent, it is not considered an acid flux, like zinc chloride, or ammonium chloride based fluxes. The main purpose of fluxes is to shield the base metals from the atmosphere as the metals are heated up to avoid oxidization that would normally occur at the elevated temperatures soldering takes place at.

julianj (author)pfred12007-01-30

great explanation. thank you.

NessTheHero (author)royalestel2007-01-25

Yes, thank you. It just confused me because I had never seen that used in any of the other soldering tutorials on instructables and you didn't explain what it was in your steps.

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