Bright Light Soldering Iron




Ever been soldering something and thought, "Hey, I can't see a thing."? Then you switch on your desk lamp, but can't quite tilt it the right way to get light where you need it. Annoying, eh?
Well, I came up with a solution.

I got 6 bright white LEDs and stuck them on my soldering iron. Now I get light wherever I want it!

Note: just in case you are interested, this project cost $26.70 - and that was the cost of the 6 LEDs.
I excluded the cost of the iron, and all the other stuff included I had lying around. If you don't want to spend $26 on white LEDs, then buy a bright LED torch for maybe $10, and get the LEDs out of that.

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Step 1: Parts

Ok, so what you need:

-soldering iron (whether it is temperature-controlled or not is irrelevant. Mine is a 25W Nicholson)
-6 bright white LEDs (Mine are 8000 MCD I think, but this doesn't matter)
-some bendable yet strong utillity wire
-normal hookup wire (not single-core)
-4 AA batteries
-wire-cutters, pliers, etc.
-an apple

Step 2: Starting Up . . .

First, get the utillity wire and bend it around the widest and frontmost part of the handle of your iron, moulding it to take that shape. Then, using solder, connect the end of the wire to where it comes round to, forming a hexagonal ring.
So you have the wire in the shape of the place where the lights will go. This is going to be your 'positive rail' for the LEDs.

Then eat the apple.

Step 3: Let There Be Light!

Now solder the anodes (the longer leads) of the LEDs to each of the flat sides of the ring you just made. Add a blob of hot glue to each solder joint if it doesn't look strong enough.
Then get a length of hook-up wire (I made made the length of my soldering iron power cable, but the length is up to you) and strip one end, revealing the copper strands. solder this end to the hexagonal ring. This is the positive lead for the power.

Next, with the left-over utillity wire form another ring and solder the ends together. This ring should be a little wider than the first, wide enough to firmly loop around the outside so that the cathodes (the shorter leads) of the LEDs can be soldered on the this ring. Make sure that there is no connection between the LED pins or the two rings. You could use heatshrink or tape to ensure this.

Step 4: Power Time

The LEDs need power now, so cut another length of hook-up wire, the same length as the first, and strip both ends and tin them (i.e. coat them lightly in solder). This is your negative lead.
Then get one AA battery, and solder the other end of its wire to its negative end. Get a small length of wire (10-15mm) and solder one end to the positive of this battery, and the other end to the negative of another. Continue like this until the four batteries are connected in series.
When that is done grab the other end of the positive wire, strip it, tin it and solder it to the positive of the last battery.
To hold the batteries and their joints together I suggest hot glue, or electrical tape, por bath. I did both, as can be seen in one of the below images.

Step 5: Just About Finished

Nearly done!
All that is left to do is to attach the ring of LEDs to the iron, and stick the negative wire in an appropriate place.
First the wire: get the spare end of the negative lead, and a small bit of tape, and stick the negative to the iron, a little from the end, but leave maybe 20mm hanging out and bend this little bit away from the iron. See the relevant picture below (the one with the lights off).

Next, the lights: slip the ring of the top of your iron (preferably while it's off) and wedge it on the place you moulded to wire to fit (for me its the hexagonal bit. Fits nice and tight). Glue or tape it down if you wish.

Last: Check the circuit and make sure that the two rings are not connected to each other, and remove any short circuiting you may find.

Then whenever you are soldering and want light just press the negative wire onto the negative ring (the one the cathodes are soldered too, the outer ring) and Wahey!! You have light!!!

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    10 Discussions


    3 years ago

    $26 for a few LED's? That's A LOT! Also, Won't they die afer a short time because of the heat?

    1 reply

    4 years ago on Step 3

    LEDs have a small angle of light but just in case they are to birght on the eyes cover the with heat shrink so it wont spread the light , or even better use sugru to make it more professional, anyhow great idea planning to do this on my 5v solder pen.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Good job, indeed. I am learning to weld with arc, and I have noticed that facilitates the work if done in full sun, because the mask allows you to see the electrode and the workpiece to be welded. So I thought it would be useful to have a high power lamp for use inside the workshop or even at night. Do you think it is possible to do something?

    4 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    It's a good idea, you could mount LEDs on the mask, and maybe include a switch that turns them off when you raise it. To take advantage of LED lighting you would want to pick a wavelength which has high transmittance, maybe red?



    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    lemonie, I think the light must be very brilliant, I don't believe LED can serve. But I don't know almost nothing about them, I have burned many leds making changes to voltage or amperage. They are very very sensitive.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Try cyan LEDs, I know you have already built this and all... But cyan is the colour our eyes are most sensitive to. But I would personally use white, colour of what you are looking at can be important.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    In my case the color isn't important, I want see only the electrode and the iron piece to weld. But the welding mask is very dark: at full sun I see almost nothing. That's why I say "I don't believe LEDs can serve."


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Sorry... your reply didn't show up till after I posted. As for the lighting, how about some CFL's? You could use several CFL's for the same amount of watts that one or two incandescent lights would take.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks cuberguy91. Please read my response to lemonie, Apr 22, 2009. 5:35 PM.