Making a Fine Tip for Your Solding Iron for SMD Soldering

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Surface-mount soldering can require a very fine tip for your soldering iron. If you only have a small amount of soldering to do, then why spend the time and money buying a tip when you can make one?

I came up with this after reading https://www.instructables.com/id/An_easier_way_to_solder_magnet_wire_to_SMD_LEDs/

The cost is pretty much zero, and you can do it in under 5 minutes!

Step 1: Get Some Copper Wire

The first thing you need is some copper wire. I have a reel of single-cored (i.e. solid) wire that has a conductor diameter of about 1.5mm - this is perfect. You might be able to use something a little thinner, but probably any thicker would be too difficult to bend.

Cut yourself about 10-15cm of wire. Use a knife to remove the insulation.

Step 2: Create Your New Tip!

Take your copper wire and wrap it tightly around your soldering iron's bit. Use a small pair of pliers to help you get it tight.

When you get to the end, leave a small piece sticking out, and cut it off at an angle. This is your new soldering tip. Cut it shorter than I did in the picture, to reduce the heat loss.

Copper is a good conductor of heat, and so the wire will quickly become hot enough to solder with. Tin it with a dab of solder on the end, and you're ready to go! You can make the point as small as you like by cutting/filing it. If it gets too oxidised, just file it off.

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24 Discussions

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vimes79

6 years ago on Introduction

That's a pretty smart but simple idea there for doing small amounts of SMD work without a proper copper SMD tip, hot air station or hotplate. Next time my copper Antex SMD tip gets to the end of its life I will give this a shot using one of the many spare tips I have never used and see how it goes. I have a huge amount of copper wire in various gages that I can strip out of electrical and communications cable that I use every day at work and never thought of doing this. There are some variations to this you could do too for even smaller work using finer copper wire, although the copper wont last as long the smaller you go.

1 reply

you have a bunch of unused tips?? I can really use a nice smt fine tip replace a lenovo charge port on a tablet. Problem is that the capacitors and resistors are in the way... I dont want to ghetto rig a hot gun with adapter and fix it into a stationary vertical position where I can slide the board underneath.... I am being patience to do the job right.

https://sp.yimg.com/ib/th?id=JN.yizhv%2bSjUBWL7nbo47oEMQ&pid=15.1&P=0

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A.C.E.

3 years ago on Introduction

I'm late to the party but I just had to say that this is a genius idea. I wouldn't have thought of it, thanks for sharing! Time to go mod some old xbox 360 controllers and consoles!

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didgitalpunk

7 years ago on Step 2

not bad but since you get it really tight, does it come really easly?

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ringram2

7 years ago on Introduction

Brilliant. And it works flawlessly. Yes I did redress with tip with a small file a few times but it did work great

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kramerr

9 years ago on Introduction

I've gone in the direction of this tutorial myself in the past. After an hour or less of soldering you're copper tip will corrode to a rough blunt end. There really is no magic substitute for a quality soldering iron.

5 replies
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MrZebrakramerr

Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

Yep, that's why I only recommend it if you have a very small amount of soldering to do - because it would be a waste of time buying a bit and waiting to have it shipped if you only have 5 LEDs to solder. Maybe I didn't make that clear in the text.

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drzcyyMrZebra

Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

yes, i have tried this before too. copper will be "amalgamated" by the molten solder, it wont last long at all. use a piece of stainless steel or aluminium (similarly fashioned) instead. it will last much longer.

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handprintsdrzcyy

Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

 what if I am just using it to make holes in plastic.?  Would that corrode the tip?

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MrZebrahandprints

Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

It will make a bit of a mess of the tip, yes - but the point of this is that the tip is only a little piece of wire, so if you mess it up you just throw it away and make a new one.

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lieuwe

9 years ago on Introduction

why would you need this? unless you have one of those soldering guns, if you do it right you won't need this :-)

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arthujt

9 years ago on Introduction

.You may try using tinned hookup wire available at your local radio shack. It lasts a little longer . I got about a weeks use before I had to replace the end (3-4 small bourds. also helps if you take a small file and dress the end to a "hoof",which allows more control of solder flow..

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Whatnot

9 years ago on Introduction

I once long ago did the same as described here, it was not a good plan because once the iron got hot the expansion of the coper made it slide off leaving a iping hot piece of metal falling where I did not want it. So if you try this keep that in mind, find a way with a clip or some sort of spring action to keep it attached, winding is NOT enough to keep it on the tip in my experience.

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ste5442

9 years ago on Introduction

Good idea if you are stuck. Also, if you have the copper wire poking straight out (rather than at an angle like shown) it will not spin around the soldering iron when you touch the component ;-)

S.

PCBPolice

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MrZebraLiporXT

Reply 9 years ago on Step 1

I've got several knives, and this is the BEST one by a long way!