Instructables

Wait, so why are soldering iron holders, helping hands, and solder dispensers not bundled together? I work all over the room/house/town and don't want to have to rummage about, looking for helping hands then solder then a place to put my hot, kinda crappy iron... And the soldering station was born.

 
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Step 1: Hunting and Gathering

Picture of Hunting and Gathering

I also wanted some mobility and storage--the station I designed has a hinge and latch. My meager electronics gear can then be tucked away and I can high tail it to the next pair of bare wires, wherever they may be.

Materials
plywood
scrap wood
small hinge
small latch
rod (for solder spool)
metallic ring
switch
extension cord
two small bolts and matching nuts
assorted washers
two coat hangers
two alligator clips

Tools
soldering iron
hot glue gun
super glue
drill
coping saw
pliers
vice

I made a very rough model of the station's base out of paper and duct tape. It would have been cool to have something shaped like this (trapezoids when viewed from the side and triangular from above) but the angles were too much for my woodworking abilities. I settled on a face angled at 45 degrees with a flat back and sides.

Step 2: Thou art sad; get thee a box


The first picture shows one of two sides of the box. The panel's about 5" tall, 9" long with a 45 degree angle cut as shown. I chose this inclination because it was easy to work with provided a fairly comfortable angle at which to replace the soldering iron. I guess a shallower angle would have been more natural to me but that would have decreased the box's storage capacity...unacceptable!

I used a table saw to cut the pieces. The station's width is about 6". Things are carefully balanced in the second and third images--nothing's been glued yet. Every panel (except the bottom) will be modified in some way so they need to be left disconnected and alone.

Step 3: Adding power cord and switch


A warning: playing with electricity from your outlet is dangerous...I was mildly electrocuted here and, though it went great lengths to wake me up at 3 AM, it should be avoided.

I wanted electricity from the wall to go directly to the station via an indoor-type extension cord. The cord would pass into the station and it's plug would lie flush with the wooden face. The soldering iron is plugged in here. The switch's position determines whether the extension cord is hot or not (and thus when the soldering iron is on).

The switch I used is supposed to light up when the circuit's live...this worked sporadically at first and then ceased to function. I don't know why. The light's a nice function as it lets you know immediately that your soldering iron is heating up even though the tip still looks cold. I'm fine without the light since my iron has a little ring of indicator LEDs that come on when it's plugged in.

Step 4: Making the solder spool

Picture of Making the solder spool

Solder is pulled out from the left "eye" when needed; there's a solder spool hidden behind the front, angled face. The spool simply has a rod through it and is attached to two small scraps of wood. The rod fits tightly in the holes in the wood so the spool can be changed when necessary. Simple enough...

Step 5: Iron holder


The soldering tip needs to be supported within the box to keep the rest of the iron in place. It also prevents the rather warm tip from touching things it shouldn't when resting inside the box. A little metal ring (scavenged from a printer where it kept internal cords organized) was embedded tightly in a small piece of wood. I "friction-fit" the ring as the hot tip would just melt any hot glue adhesive I used (and I couldn't find my superglue at the time). A support block was cut and the ring block and supporting piece of wood were attached together. Experiment to find the correct placement of this assembly within the box. Just put the iron (er, make sure it's turned off) in the hole on the face. Mark where the ring block should go so the tip lies within the ring and glue 'er in place.

Step 6: Make it a full-fledged box


The latch was a bit more complex than the hinge and should be done first. The two parts (I'll go with "male" and "female" here) can't both be on the lid or the mechanism just won't work...I guess that's obvious Mount a scrap piece of wood to the side of the box such that the wood is flush with the lid. A slot the same size as this scrap needs to be cut out of the lid. As you can see from the pictures, I cut my slot a little to long...but this actually worked in my favor (to be explained later, no worries). Glue the female part to top of the scrap wood and then attach the male piece to the lid.

My hinge came with screws but I tossed 'em and hot glued the sucker in place. The lid had to be slightly trimmed to help it open more easily.

Step 7: Helping Jaws

helping hands holes.JPG
in use.JPG
hand close up.JPG

They're alligator clips...alligators definitely have no "helping hands." Anyhow! The plan for constructing the helping mandibles (which are essentially tools used to hold things while you solder) is as follows:
(1) Attach alligator clips to coat hanger wires
(2) Attach the other end of the wire to a small bolt
(3) Embed nuts that match the bolts into the box (the helping hands can then be removed and put in the box itself).

Washers were attached just cause that seemed like the thing to do...it cleaned up the look of the holes too.

Step 8: Mistakes, fixes, and things for version 2.0


I guess the internal layout could have been thought through more carefully...the tip of the iron is a little to close to the switch's wiring. If one's not really paying attention, the tip could be put through the face and potentially hit the wires (melting insulation, messing up the iron's tip, possible electrocution...not good). I put a guardrail in place; it's just a bent piece of coathanger. It deflects the tip away from the wires in cases of bad aim.

Update! PKM suggested I make a wire coil to further protect the box's internals. I had seen this implemented in jaime9999's iron holder but for whatever reason never thought to implement it here. Great idea!

The "right eye" washer began sliding off after the first use of the station since the melting point of hot glue was easily exceeded by the soldering iron. That fix was easy enough, I had found my superglue by that point and used it to reattach the washer.

Remember how I cut that latch slot too long? Turns out it was just what I needed. When packing this station up you can open the top, put the plug end of the extension cord inside and then close the lid, allowing the middle section of the cord to protrude through that slot (I stuff the remainder of the cord into the box at this point). It's actually the only way to store that cord and far better than wrapping it around the station, in my mind.

Improvements
(1) Think of how to incorporate a sponge, maybe on the lid. I think we could do better than just slapping a wet sponge onto the table.
(2) Add wire and wick (desoldering braid) dispensers.
(3) Functional light switch...

Step 9: Pack up, we're done here


That's pretty much it, the amount of storage space works for me though it's very cramped.

Oh, and I realized this looked quite similar to the Instructables robot; it was pure coincidence how the eye sizes worked out. I gave him a temporary duct tape visage but might make it permanent with some paint (and a yellow body).
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nibir7 months ago
Instead of the coil, you can attach a soft drink can in the iron holder. It also helps to trap the heat of the iron.
JoSte042110 months ago
Absolute brilliance...love it. :)
park472 years ago
Thanks.... This design is what I 'm looking for, compact and have everything at hands. May be for moving around with a handle added. :)
CamoBedding2 years ago
Great idea for a soldering station. thanks for sharing.
Mr. D.2 years ago
Just an idea. Maybe use a hollow brass (or other metal) tube from the "eye" to the support block to help guide the iron.
triodo2 years ago
muy interesante
yaly3 years ago
you could add something like a drawer to put a sponge in it but pad the interior of the drawer with fiberglass or rubber to avoid the wood sucking the water.you could add a nose to the face and from the two nostrils one is for wick and the other for the wire.you may also add adjustable ears and at the end is some LEDs popping out when the lid is opened and a switch beneath the main one and a wall-wart adapter for the leds and two dimmer switches for the LED brightness and temperature control.
drawer attachment.bmp
Put two draws in side by side and electronic components that you use often use in one and the sponge in the other…
what do u do if the soldering iron gets to hot and itberns the wood then it brakes would that make a proplom with ur soldering station...???
ERROR The words itberns,proplom and ur are not recognized. Trying to read... ERROR The word brakes is misspelled. Trying to read... Meaning was not conveyed properly.
what do u mean???????
spell properly
josh1324 Derin3 years ago
whats a proplom?
i have some spelling mistakes but u can still read it lol
no i cant plus,you hurt my eyes
qballcat Derin4 years ago
wanna know what hurts my eyes? soap
 you know what also hurts my eyes...acid
The goggles. They do nothing!
druggie...
lol
A soldering iron is not going to shatter a wood holding station.
bylerfamily5 years ago
You have the same iron as I do!
yay i have the same iron as you aswell
omg me 2
lol me 3
me 4
lmfao me 5
me 6
lol i don't
 aparently that brand is cheaper
Great Job!!!
amorarun3 years ago
Nicely done. I might do one if I have time :)
R.A.T.M3 years ago
thay have that alreay
bombmaker25 years ago
A suggestion, add a potentiometer to control heat
your potentiometer will catch on fire :)
huh?
if you wire the potentiometer to the Soldering iron, it will catch on fire
odd. I did it once and it didn't even get hot.
are you talking about a light dimmer, or a regular potentiometer?
light dimmer
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