Introduction: Where's My Desoldering Iron!?

Picture of Where's My Desoldering Iron!?

Need to do a little desoldering and don't have (can't find) an iron?
The purpose of this instructable is to show how you can remove solder from a board when you're in a pinch.

Let me know what you think of doing it this way or if you have another method...

Step 1: First Things First

Picture of First Things First

Here's what you'll need:

1) Something you want to desolder
2) a piece of wire or two
3) tinning flux would be nice
4) a soldering iron
5) wire strippers
6) pliers

I'm using a strand from a piece of cat 6 cable I had laying around. All I had was solid, but I'm guessing the stranded type might work even better (like copper braid).

Strip the wire back a couple of inches and get out those pliers.

Step 2: Bend the Copper to Your Will. It Will Do Your Bidding.

Picture of Bend the Copper to Your Will. It Will Do Your Bidding.

Start with a small bend and go from there.
Be sure to leave the bend kind of open. You want a little wicking action going on (or is this capillary effect?) to get that solder away from the board.

Step 3: Tin It Up. Suck It Up.

Picture of Tin It Up. Suck It Up.

Put a little flux on your wire like you are going to tin it.

Press the shaped wire down on the solder to remove and press the soldering iron on top of that. You are basically making a copper sandwich with the board on one side and the soldering iron on the other.

Sorry about no pics for this part. This took both hands and I'm a little clumsy with a camera in my mouth. (excuses excuses)

Oh yeah, be sure you hold the wire at least three or four inches back. As it is copper, it can heat up a little quick. If it heats up too much though, you are probably keeping the heat on it for too long!

If there is still solder on the board, just snip your wire back and do it again.

Step 4: Just Like New.

Picture of Just Like New.

And there you have it!

After a press or two, the solder has cleared off the board and out of the component hole.


TheParacorder (author)2012-10-31

is that an easy button board?

whatup.dub (author)TheParacorder2013-01-16

Why, yes it is an easy button board.

mrmerino (author)2011-10-26

Buy a desoldering braid? Or a desoldering pump? One of those with the big plunger and the spring. Those springs are strong. My tongue still hurts.

building_boy (author)mrmerino2012-03-15


putty1cat (author)2011-10-14

Good idea! I will have to try this on those really old mobos, that the solder never seems to heat and melt. I really want the capacitors for a batteryless torch.

jtc10512 (author)2011-02-03

Very nice. I've wanted to do this when i need parts off of boards. sometimes, when i cant heat it up, i even bend the pins off. (not a good idea) i used to wonder what a good way to absorb solder was. there's copper braids that you can buy, but this is a good and cheap alternative.

pgd5000 (author)2010-08-04

thanks, love the matrix reference

fallenspirit123 (author)2008-11-20

Hey i have always wondered... are those weller cordless soldering irons any good?(unlike coldheat)

raykholo (author)fallenspirit1232009-08-06

DO NOT USE COLDHEAT! it can potentially damage ur components and is not a good tool to work with pcbs

im guessing that u mean the weller butane irons. The portasol is said to be pretty good and i am considering getting it.... not only is it good for soldering (using a soldering tip) but the hot air tip and blow torch tip can be used for smt work and also possibly desoldering... Adjustable flame control also allows for precision temperatures as to not burn out certain components such as semiconductors, which are very heat sensitive

Clearly, i have done my homework on this topic, so to say
these are the irons i am talking about

fallenspirit123 (author)raykholo2009-08-06

yeah I know about the coldheat ones, thanks for the info

raykholo (author)fallenspirit1232009-08-06

no prob so were u talking about the butane irons? cuz they also have battery powered ones which i dont think are good though....

fallenspirit123 (author)raykholo2009-08-07

actually any cordless

raykholo (author)fallenspirit1232009-08-07


agis68 (author)fallenspirit1232009-01-17

excellent if u do tiny jobs due to very thin soldering edge. Beautiful for detail jobs. And the batteries last long. Just remember to use 60/40 solder. Not less!!!

fallenspirit123 (author)agis682009-01-19

ok thanks!

pyro man (author)fallenspirit1232008-11-22

duh they're weller arent they?

fallenspirit123 (author)pyro man2008-11-22

yeah but usually battery powered ones arent that great

pyro man (author)fallenspirit1232008-11-22

weller ones are

pyro man (author)fallenspirit1232008-11-22

ur stirppers are on the way!!!

fallenspirit123 (author)pyro man2008-11-22

Yay and so is your wick!!!

agis68 (author)2009-01-17

hey we have the same soldering Weller of course

fallenspirit123 (author)2008-11-18

Hey where can i get some flux? does radioshack sell it ? (i haven't been to radioshack in a while!)

pyro man (author)fallenspirit1232008-11-20

1 week does not count as ''"a while:'' jullian

fallenspirit123 (author)pyro man2008-11-20

...shutup :(.....

pyro man (author)fallenspirit1232008-11-20

uhhhhhhhhhhhh lets see '''NO'''

fallenspirit123 (author)pyro man2008-11-22


pyro man (author)fallenspirit1232008-11-22

cuz i said so thats why

fallenspirit123 (author)2008-11-18

this is actually a really great idea!!! almost like a desoldering braid!!!

dg33 (author)2008-10-29

Nice idea I just heat it up and whack it against something ant it just blobs off, i do the same to clean the tip of my iron but slightly more gentle so i dont brake anything...

DanCat (author)2008-09-15

Hey! Isn't that PCB from an Easy button?

whatup.dub (author)DanCat2008-09-15

Actually, yes, it is. A soon-to-be re-programmable Easy Button.

slimguy379 (author)2008-06-30

what I do is heat up the bead of solder and blow real hard on the bead and the bead will come off (I don't know why I do this, because I have a de soldering gun)

killerjackalope (author)2007-09-07

hmm a screwdriver a jet lighter and anything solder will adher to tends to be good (obviously wicking it is best but...) I found during my early soldering days it's very possible to pick up solder with some wire as long as it stranded core (the one that frays and can withstand movement) or another good one is simply getting any fabric able to survive temps that solder melts at and absorbing it with that. finally you can also use a soldering iron to pick it up by heating the solder and picking it off with it (you may need to heat it a couple of times) as it seems to stick when there's too little flux left in it, then wipe off the tip on a block of scrap MDF. In the final days of technology coursework I was really getting rough on tactics (like making PCB jumpers out of screws and whatnot as my circuit was printed very wrong the technician who was even more stoned than me) By the way the stranded wire thing isn't me being patronizing it's just people call it all kinds of things...

The beauty of this technique is that it will work without any actual technique..:) Wicking, and other proper methods take some practise to master.. Just don't do this with expensive heat sensitive components..

Yeah with expensive heat sensitive components it gets risky, using the iron alone is dead easy and if you have a temp controlled one makes it possible to get heat sensitive components far quicker...

I've got quite a bit of experience both soldering and desoldering over the last few decades, and I still resort to dremel assistance to remove certain things..

Yeah definitely easier, if you're binning the board then you may aswell do it the easy way...

I'd say the technique in this instructable is pretty much only to be used on scrap pcbs as well.. I know I wouldn't be doing that while fixing an xbox anyhow..:)

emm well now... I had a little damage to an Xbox before and did some of the scrappiest soldering ever but it worked fine... A steel rod went through the whole thing and meant a PCB jumper was needed, the pole's placement couldn't have been luckier, if I find the board I'll get a pic...

Too bad you couldn't work around that.. Nothing would be cooler than a working, impaled xbox..:) However the heck that happened.. I find xbox mobo's themselves to be pretty heat sensitive.. I've really scored thanks to ppl trying to solder in modchips, and lifting traces etc.. Probably salvaged a dozen like that atleast.. I can see how it can happen though, they do seem flakey compared to PC mobo's I've dealt with.. I almost wondered if M$ did that purposely before I saw the newer 360's with the pertinent areas buried in epoxy or whatnot..

I probably could have got it running impaled, damn just didn't think of it at the time, it would have made a cool way to store it aswell, hung from the rod near the tv...

Yeah, I think stranded is the official term (for cat 5, 5e, 6 anyway).

uberchoob (author)whatup.dub2007-12-12

I think killerjackalope is talking about wire made up of a bunch of small strands. I'm pretty sure that cat 5 etc. cable is made up of eight solid wires, each individually insulated.

triggernum5 (author)uberchoob2008-04-20

I actually have some sheilded cat-5e, but typically networking cable isn't.. And it is 8 solid wires.. Little known fact, but those 8 wires are enough to suport 2 100Mbit network connections.. You just need to build a splitter for each end of the main cable.. Gigabit ethernet will need all 8 wires.. Stranded wire is typically for flexibility, but also reduces resistance in high frequency transmission.. Also, if you surgically remove long straight strands they make excellent ionic wind or corona anodes..

Kegtapper (author)whatup.dub2008-03-31

Actually the correct term is braided shield. And it is typically used on Coaxial, not CAT5/6/6e

Yeah for cat and coaxial cables and many intereference prone signals, they have braided shielding, I meant small stranded wires in my original comment...

blckthng (author)2008-03-19

Quite awesome man this is frankly what the soldering wick does but in a diy sense.On a completly different point- do those tiny surface mount leds work ok with 1.5 volts?

killerjackalope (author)blckthng2008-04-20

Should do some of them might be 3 volt, it current you'll need to worry about remember resisitors...

Xellers (author)2008-02-29

Pretty smart...

Zanpakutou (author)2007-09-07

A knife usually works for me

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