The Back Pocket Soldering Kit




Posted in WorkshopRepair

Introduction: The Back Pocket Soldering Kit

As a budding electronics enthusiasts, I made alot of things on my farm autonomous. With that came the problem that my soldering skill is a bit dodgy.
Recently I had to repair a few of these dodgy solders, which means I had to disassemble and take the part with me to the workshop.
This is a 10km + drive.

So as it is said, necessity is the mother of invention.
This is my kit I can drop in my back pocket, in my cabby hole, I even have one in my sun visor.

Trash to Treasure

This is an entry in the
Trash to Treasure

Pocket-Sized Contest

This is an entry in the
Pocket-Sized Contest

Step 1: The Supply Run.

Here in South Africa we don't have altiods (which is a bummer) so I had to improvise.
I went to an antique shop and bought about five or six tins.
The other things you can pick up at a hobby shop or a good supermarket. But honestly, most things are in your scrap bin.

1. Tin (Altiod size)
2. Cigarette lighter (steal a bic lighter from a friend that smokes.)
3. Copper paper clip or copper wire
4. Bamboo skewer
5. Solder (duh kind of)
6. Magnet (optional)
7. Alligator clip (optional)
8. Magnet
9. Glue stick (optional)
10. Insulation tape.
11. Some scotch bright pads.

Well a good multi tool wil do.

If you have multiple tools:
1. Needle nose plier
2. Flathead/Common skrewdriver
3. Hammer (optional)

An bit of willpower and coffee will surely help. (you'll just have to trust me on those)

Step 2: The Soldering Iron

I've seen this around the Internet a few times. Unlike them I attached my point apart from the lighter and not in it.

So what to do?

Take the bamboo skewer, the larger the better, and cut roughly a 5cm length of it.
Then split it down the middle or as close to the middle as you can.
Take your trusty multi tool and (using it's flathead screwdriver) compress the centre a little bit.

Now to the copper wire.
Cut a piece 15cm in length. This will become your soldering tip.
Divide the wire in half over the remainder of the bamboo skewer.
Wrap both ends until you made about 3-4 windings. Trim the one end to 3cm and the other to the length of your soldering tip.
bend the non solder end 0.5cm from the winding 90° downwards. Put this bent piece onto the one half of the split skewer. Tape the other end onto them. now tape the whole thing with a layer of tape.

This ladies and gentlemen is your soldering point, congratulations. Tape this to the side of the lighter as shown.

Bend your soldering point as desired.

(Optional: Flatten the point with a hammer for more surface area)

Step 3: Packing the Tin.

This is a few things I have in the tin at all times.

  1. The tin (a tool in itself)
  2. A Scotch bright pad to clean my points
  3. Some extra points (they are interchangeable)
  4. The lighter
  5. A extra point holder (needed sometimes)
  6. Soldering wire
  7. A glue stick (to stick un-stuck stuff)
  8. A magnet and alligator clip (to hold things when hands are needed)

The other points in the tin is of different windings that holds heat a bit different. I don't have a flattend point due to personal prefrence. The kit I made for my friend had a flattened tip and he enjoys it more than the normal round one.

Step 4: The Use of Said Tin and Its Contents.

The aligator clip and the magnet go onto the lid which also doubles as a leadcatcher.

You insert and heat the coil with the lighter for about a minute and tin the tip. Then using the tip with the lead, solder your mishaps.

Don't let the lighter burn while soldering. In my experience the fumes seem to a bit flamible. Also it's a bit unpractical to do it that way.

The glue stick is used in the same way you seal a letter with wax, use the tip to melt a piece onto the part you want to bond and keep it there until it cools. I suggest you have a seperate tip for this purpose, for the finer gluing.

The scotch bright pad is to clean the tips afterwards (when it is cool).

The rest is up to you, the upgrades, the mods.

Now for a coffee break.

Step 5: Disclaimers (the Yada Yada Part)

  1. I know the skewers are wood and flammable. I used them because they are cheap and I don't plan to solder a whole project with this kit.
  2. Why insulation tape? Well it shrinks when heated(to some degree). It also does not burn long when accidentally set alight.
  3. The magnet and alligator clip is not a necessity. Add them, don't add them. This will be your kit .
  4. The cost? well the only thing that actually cost money (which i did not have) was the tin. they cost about R25 ($1). I bought 5 for R100 ($8). the rest of the supplies was either recycled or i had on hand.
  5. I do not speak English as a home language so I am rusty. I did really try and use a good spell checker.

Cheers then, and happy kit soldering




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9 Tips


Haven't built this since I already have a little kit with a real soldering iron (I do A/V installation) but I have a tip for tip cleaners: if you can fit it in your kit, a copper scrub pad works great for hot tip cleaning, although a full one will take up 90% of the altoids tin.

I should probably post a short instructable for my tip cleaner/storage tin

Yes post it. I will definitely take a look
I have one of those at my soldering station and i must say it saved my hind a few times. Usually because i use the iron for more than just soldering

Wrapping with paracord handle weave would look good and add color with survival use in mind

turks head.jpg

I presume you wrap the lighter? If so, yes. It just increases the use fullness of the kit. Thanks for the tip

You need to look into so called match solder - lo temp solder that will melt from the heat of a lighter. Also available are solder/shrink connectors - bits of heat shrink tube with a solder preform inside. put one of these over two pieces of wire to be spliced, and heat. The solder melts, and the tube shrinks, soldering the wires and sealing the joint.
Amazon has them :
I learned about these from my mechanic!

I will certainly check out the solder.
Those connectors I have used a few times. It's handy when you don't want to "NASA" splice wire.

A thin paperclip works well instead of the copper wire, too. Great little kit you have there. Bravo!

I did try a paper clip when I was prototyping. It seems that the copper ones aren't 100% (or pure) copper. They took much longer to heat up but they did hold the heat better. That's why I added the coils.

instead of tape shrink tubing will work don't need this but plan on making it thenks for a great idea

2 Questions

Nice instructable. Want some Altoid cans? I'll send you a few if you like.

I would like some :) im working on differant altoids tin kits and i ran out. This may sound pathetic but im a 13 year old home shooled boy that cant get out of the house much XD. but i love to craft things i just need supplies.

2 more answers


Sucrets cans too (in US, anyway)

How did you connect the clip to the magnet?


Yes, magnetic. I stil want to increase the clips basr size. But so far it has not let me down (yet!)


i wonder how often you thought you were going to burn your thumb by keeping the lighter flame burning. in my experience after about 6 seconds the flint wheel gets very hot. it would seem to me that it takes a good bit of time to heat the wire up to a temperature hot enough to melt solder. how long on average did it take to heat the wire to the point it would melt solder? it is a crafty way but one of the several battery irons available might be more productive.

3 replies

Douglas. Please don't try to build this. You propably burn your fingers and more, coarsing the medical care consireable costs to the comminity

i never gave a moment of thought to building this. considering there are several very good portable battery irons on the market, the ts100 being one, for $50 or less that would actually perform as an iron there is no need on my part to spend the time to build this. i would however like to see a video of this thing in use but i doubt anyone would make one since it seems ineffective on many issues plus being a burn hazard.

uh... you do know that a ts100 isnt battery powered right?

Edit: you could attach a battery pack... but thats a pain in the ass.

Sorry for double post, but you can consider a Clipper lighter too....they are refilleable.


Necessity being the mother and all that.

1 reply

Thank you.

I have one. This is my travel kit. I am not willing to use my expensive (it's a proper one) gas iron in the field. And I don't want to buy a cheap one that wil let me down when I need it in a pinch

Nice job! It'll be great back up or quick easy job. I was Technician for subcontractor for NASA and still build tools that work easier than the ones you buy for certain jobs. Going to build one for a friend for his hunting property. Good luck brother!

Wow NASA sup contractor. I guess you have built a full shuttle service kit that fits in a pen. To tell you the truth, people like you guys are the true heros. You solve problems we didn't know we had until we have your product, then the world just becomes simpler.
Thank you for building one, even if it is just for a friend.

I've had a propane gas soldering/hot air/flame through unit for som 20 years now and used it out there somewere dozens of times. Works perfect.

Sure, Your Instr. shows a "cheap" solution, however, if You need to use such a thing as in Your instr. go instead and buy a proper reliable butane solder/hot air gun.

I second this comment. Small butane gas soldering irons are reasonably cheap, and the smaller ones are not much bigger than a lighter. And they are much safer and easy to use, and can be on for a much longer time. Very well worth having if you have to solder much out in the veld. You can also get 12V soldering irons in various sizes to run from your car battery.

(Search "gas soldering iron" on Ebay or similar.)

But conductive paint is expensive and takes time to dry before you can test the circuit.

As I said on the above comment, it's cheap. I don't go out looking for problems. It just happens that my electronics in the veld get damaged, by among other, large kudu and goats. This is for when I find the problem I can fix it. To some degree.
I have seen those and have thought about buying them, just it takes up space in my bakkie that I use for other more everyday use kits.

I was just about to make one, then my wife reminded me that I actually have a butane soldering kit bought years ago for about $15 at Princess Auto store. This is not exactly pocket size but not much bigger to be able to fit inside a 8.50" bag including a big bottle of butane gas!

This kit can also be use as a butane torch as the soldering tip is removable.

Also found a battery operated soldering iron of about the same size.

I guess I just took the fun out of making stuffs...Sorry

4 replies

This is a very good set you have. Here in RSA we seldom get good, small kits. The one I have is expensive and stil bulky.

If you have a link to where I can buy this kit please tel me.

I don't have a link but you may be able to search for "Princess Auto", they are located in Canada and I believe they have a pretty good website with all products on display.

Thanks for the link. Hope they ship this way.

Fantastic, well done!