Introduction: The 5 Dollar Solder Pot
Once again a thrift store find solved a problem for me in a most economical way. I like to tin wire ends whenever possible during my electronic projects, but touching off the ends of wires is a tedious and interruptive step, how much better things are when one can draw upon an inventory of freshly prepared wire, and a soldering pot gets that done most quickly and reliably.
Step 1: Safety First
No particular hazard is expected for this build, but during use molten metal may be present; use caution and protective gear.
Step 2: Convert the Tool
The iron is one of those great old beasts cooking up at around 200 watts in it's youth, but a measure of the current draw now puts it at 75 continuous, still plenty useable for this modification. I sawed the tip about midway down to give me a diameter of 5/8” [16mm], the copper was a threaded affair, and so was easy to remove. I chucked the keeper end in my lathe and bored a 3/8” [7mm] diameter hole 1/2” [13mm] deep, and reinstalled it into the iron. That's it, all done.
Step 3: Setup for Use
I clamp it to the side of my workbench/ shop cart with the tip just below the surface, this does two things: it's a comfortable working height, and it lessens the chance of accidental contact. I have a jug of homemade flux and several drawers full of recovered wire from old equipment, and a radio set to the oldies station, so it's actually a pleasant divergence for me.
Step 4: Parting Thoughts
I have three favored hookup wire types: insulated stranded, solid with plastic insulation, and solid with enamel insulation. I'll sit and do a batch of random lengths and gauge, both ends. When a project is underway I'll grab a wire type that is closest to my required hookup length and go. Even cutoffs are handy because I still have one end tinned, and for me the first connection tends to be the most critical, so I'm normally ahead of the productivity curve because of it.