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Tips for choosing the correct soldering iron tip

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chisel.jpg
hoof.jpg
conical.jpg
solder station.jpg
I will be discussing how the choose the correct tip for the project that you are soldering. There are many different tips by many different manufactureres, some are even patented by certain manufacturers such as the z wave tip by Pace. I will be using my home setup as reference.

Guidelines for choosing a tip

Choose a tip compatible with you iron

Determine the style of tip, some tips work better than others I explain a bit more below

Determine the correct size tip, too small and heat will not be transfered well too large and you could over hang the pad and damage the board.


Tips that I use

I am not a fan of conical tips especially for beginners. Most people, when learning to solder, think that applying pressure will help the solder flow and end up damaging the board. Also any tip with a point will have a shorter life due to the amount of metal at the tip, the sharper the point the shorter the lifespan.

I prefer chisel tips, the one pictured is over 3years old. I like them especially for surface mount applicationss. The idea is to have the tip be 60% the width of the pad, this will allow the soldering process to take place as quickly as possible with the least amount of thermal stress on the compoent. Chisel tips are thicker at the tip which will store more heat. I have differnt sized chisel tips for different applications

Chisel tips are ideal for:
Through hole
Surface mount
Wire
desoldering w/ solder braid

I also use a "Hoof" tip or gullwing tip. I use this for drag soldering multi lead SMT IC packages. Drag soldering is a thing of beauty. You can solder a 120 pin flat pack in minutes. This technique can be tricky because you need to have the right amount of solder applied to the tip or you will bridge the leads. I also use this tip for "blue wiring" circuits using small gauge wire.

Hoof Tips are ideal for:
Drag soldering
soldering small gauge wires

As I stated there are many styles and sizes of tips these are just a few that I use. I will conclude this instrucable with a few tips.
Always treat tips as thought they are hot, even if you know that it isn't

Do not use excessive preassure when soldering , you can damage your tip and your project.

when you are finished soldering apply a thin layer of solder to the tip, this will help prevent oxidation

Never use the tip as a pry bar or screwdriver

Use the lowest temperature possible, this will prevent premature wear tot he tip and damage to the components

Always use a tip appropriate for the application, you can use the advice in bold as a guideline.

Turn the system off when not in use, if you aren't going to be usin the iron in the next 10 minutes turn the station off.

Keep your tip clean, I wipe my tip on a damp sponge after every solder joint is completed.

I hope that you found this informative. If you should have any questions feel free to ask.

12beav8 months ago
Where's a good place to go and get different soldering tips? For a soldering station what is a good model to get? I just have a butane soldering iron and I think a low wattage radioshack one.
ColorBomb (author)  12beav8 months ago
I generally use Hakko products, they produce a quality line of solder/rework stations at a good price. Pair that with the great customer service they offer. However for large volume production/rework I have used Metcal/Pace.

That being said, if you want to spring for a Hakko system search amazon for the FX888D it will run you around $90.00

If you want to get something a bit cheaper I bought the Xtronics 4000 series it comes with a lamp, all be it very cheap, and a variety of tips. I have been using it for over a year without issue. It is based off of the Hakko 936 unit you see above.

Hope that helps if you should need anything else just let me know.
Jayefuu2 years ago
Nice writeup. I think the most common mistake people make is using the wrong size tip for the job. Soldering large wires? That tiny tip isn't going to get enough heat into it!!! I was as guilty as anyone of this at one point.
ColorBomb (author)  Jayefuu2 years ago
yes soldering is quite easy when you have the right equipment.
I can solder with a pair of pliers holding a rusty nail over a candle. It is all in the wrist!
ColorBomb (author)  pfred22 years ago
I prefer this method, surprisingly rusty nails tin very well. ;0)
diy_bloke2 years ago
isn't a hoof tip just a round chissel tip? if not then i don't know what one of them is
ColorBomb (author)  diy_bloke2 years ago
a hoof tip has a flat angled side like a hoof. this way you can apply solder and run it across leads and drag solder. see picture 3 above, it has solder on it so you can't see how flat it is.
Thanks I figured that, but is the chissel tip then just an angled square tip?
ColorBomb (author)  diy_bloke2 years ago
a chisel is more rounded than square, imagine a conical tip then imagine slicing an angle off two sides from the tip, see image number 2 above
ok now i fully understand. Thanks
Was using a butane iron with a wrecked tip for small gauge wires (repairing a damaged speedlite) and it was hell, not being able to pick up the solder easily made the work really tricky...