Free Replacement Tip for Soldering Guns




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I got an old weller soldering gun ( iron ) from the dump, but the tip was shot. Easy to buy a new tip, but I thought the replacement tip was too expensive for a gun that cost nothing.  But without a tip what use was the gun?   So how to make a replacement? A free replacement.  Here is how I did it.


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Step 1: Tools and Supplies


BoxCutter or Knife

Copper wire


Solder and Soldering Iron

Step 2: Procedure

It looks pretty much like the tip is made of copper wire, and I had some wire that was similar to the tip. This wire came from the salvage of romex house wiring, you can do this by clamping one end of the wire in a vise and use a box cutter or knife to slit the outer insulation. Individual strands can be stripped in a similar way. Bend the wire to shape as show in the photo. Slip the old nuts from the old tip over the wires and bend L's into the end. Screw back into the gun and you are done.  I made sure the part of the tip that would be used for soldering was well tinned with solder, this helps to protect it from corrosion. 

Step 3: Improvements

These gun irons are basically step down transformers they take the wall voltage of 100 or more volts and step it down to the range of a volt. This output now at low voltage, but high current flows through the tip and make it hot.

Old tips fail for a couple of reasons:

  1. Corrosion forms where the nuts connect the tip to the iron this increases the electrical resistance and the tip fails to heat. You can fix this by removing the tip and cleaning both it and the gun where they contact each other, the more bright metal shows the better.

  2. Corrosion on the tip where you solder increases the thermal resistance of the tip and stops your work from getting hot. Clean it off, but you may remove so much material that the tip is shot, then replace the tip.

To stop the corrosion at the soldering point it should always be coated with a layer of solder. Do this as you build the tip and forever after. Some tips are electroplated with a material to resist corrosion. When you wear this plating off the tip deteriorates much faster. I have not figured out a way to protect the tip this way, perhaps a winding of thin iron ( or other wire? )

Step 4: Testing

The iron heats up fast and hot now. Not sure how long the tip will last, but easy to make more. I was worried that this tip might greatly change the characteristics of the iron so I tested with a KillaWatt meter. The power consumption was within a few watts of the label on the gun. This is good.

Step 5: Other Ideas

Others have done this with other kinds of wire, but I think copper is the right stuff.

Here are some links related to this repair.





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21 Discussions


6 years ago on Introduction

I don't use my old Weller gun much. Modern electronic equipment needs s small iron. Back when I was working on tube equipment (yes, I'm that old) I used to use the 12-guage wire trick when a tip wore out and I didn't have a spare. What usually kills tips is the copper dissolving into the solder. You can slow this down by using a copper-bearing solder, like Ersin Savbit. Iron-plated tips last much longer and are worth it if you do a lot of soldering, but I've only used them on my little Ungar modular irons. Never clean an iron-plated tip with anything but a damp sponge. Once you scratch the plating, the underlying copper erodes fast.

1 reply

Reply 1 year ago

Now we need an instructables on plating iron on copper to complete this page.


2 years ago

Thanks, starting out and looking for advice... this instructable very helpful.

Matt Young

3 years ago

Trivia q of the day.. WHAT is this used for? And DON'T say "soldering"!!!

(-; THX


2 replies

4 years ago

I have a question.
I acquired a Wen "quick hot" soldering gun from a dumpster dive and it works just great, turns on heats up, I even was able to find some solder as well with it in the same dumpster but, the tip will not hear up enough to do anything with it. I can give more information if needed but how do I fix this so I can use it and not have to buy a new version?


5 years ago on Introduction

I picked one of these up at a yard sale and I just discovered the tip on it doesn't heat up either. It came with an extra, flat tip, but I'll clean up the contacts with some emery cloth and try your tip for making my own tips. Thanks.


5 years ago on Step 3

I have an old soldering iron that's similar. It's wen brand. It's my favorite soldering iron. Better than the new ones. It gets the tip red hot in less than two seconds.I just tap stuff and vacuum to desolder it.


6 years ago on Introduction

1) Aluminium wire is common for holding the framing for suspended ceilings. I don't much care for the way it solders. I use AWG 14 (Romex ground wire) for the 8200 Weller.
2) I also use a Weller D-550 (325W) regularly. There, a heavier wire is called for; I use Awg 8 most times, occasionally AWG 6 if not as much heat is required.
3) On the electronics bench, I purchased a couple of low end Radio Shack irons and use AWG 8 to make tips for that as well. They aren't as delicate as a store-bought tip, but work well enough for non-circuit board work. They have to be threaded with a die, so I don't use them often. Usually for larger work than the 25W will handle.
4) When I store the 140W gun (Weller 8200), I usually loosten the nuts on the end of the tips. Forgetting to tighten them causes all sorts of problems, use small pliers and loosten then retighten them to restore connections.
5) Alloys don't seem to make much difference in tip life at the amateur level. I just make up 3 or 4 tips at a time for the 8200 and replace one when it gets to looking too rough on the end.
6) As an aside, I worked on tube servo amps as late as 1981. They were still in use in certain applications by Leeds & Northrup controllers in a foundry.


6 years ago on Introduction

I have always thought that a solding tip had different material at the tip so that it heated up more than the wire part of the tip. Doesn't the wire get very hot all along it length?


6 years ago on Introduction

What i usually use is, depending on which gun you have. Either #10 or #12 copper electrical wire works well.


6 years ago on Introduction

I was using one of my Weller 8200s yesterday and it was giving me all sorts of trouble staying hot. Maybe I have some corrosion build up where the tip makes contact with the holders like you say? Those tips really do get trashed. I've bought a few soldering guns used and the tips are often in tough shape when I get them.


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

I guess tin sticks more hard on copper than iron so iron is easier to keep clean. May be nickel or chrome plating copper could be an interesting experiment to try.but nickel and chrome are toxic and allergenic and I don't think it is worth the risk of an enviromental damage . Aluminium could be entersting but aluminium wire seems to be uncommon. What is the the thick probe wire in refrigerators termostatic device made up with ? It seem to me to be aluminium. 


You want a material that that solder will "stick" to. Solder actually dissolves a bit into the surface. A flux helps. Chrome and aluminum are usually difficult.