The 5 Dollar Solder Pot

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About: Was it you or I who stumbled first? It does not matter, the one of us who soonest finds the strength to rise must help the other. - Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

Intro: The 5 Dollar Solder Pot

Once again a thrift store find solved a problem for me in a most economical way. I like to tin wire ends whenever possible during my electronic projects, but touching off the ends of wires is a tedious and interruptive step, how much better things are when one can draw upon an inventory of freshly prepared wire, and a soldering pot gets that done most quickly and reliably.

Step 1: Safety First

No particular hazard is expected for this build, but during use molten metal may be present; use caution and protective gear.

Step 2: Convert the Tool

The iron is one of those great old beasts cooking up at around 200 watts in it's youth, but a measure of the current draw now puts it at 75 continuous, still plenty useable for this modification. I sawed the tip about midway down to give me a diameter of 5/8” [16mm], the copper was a threaded affair, and so was easy to remove. I chucked the keeper end in my lathe and bored a 3/8” [7mm] diameter hole 1/2” [13mm] deep, and reinstalled it into the iron. That's it, all done.

Step 3: Setup for Use

I clamp it to the side of my workbench/ shop cart with the tip just below the surface, this does two things: it's a comfortable working height, and it lessens the chance of accidental contact. I have a jug of homemade flux and several drawers full of recovered wire from old equipment, and a radio set to the oldies station, so it's actually a pleasant divergence for me.

Step 4: Parting Thoughts

I have three favored hookup wire types: insulated stranded, solid with plastic insulation, and solid with enamel insulation. I'll sit and do a batch of random lengths and gauge, both ends. When a project is underway I'll grab a wire type that is closest to my required hookup length and go. Even cutoffs are handy because I still have one end tinned, and for me the first connection tends to be the most critical, so I'm normally ahead of the productivity curve because of it.

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10 Discussions

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dbuckley6

3 years ago

Do you want to tell us about your experiences with homemade Flux?

2 replies
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It's easy to do, I Googled it last year and found a few recipes. I bought the cheapest violin rosin block- actually the more refined stuff is not desirable for this either, pulverized it and added it to denatured alcohol. After a few days it was dissolved but cloudy and had lots of sediment, so I decanted it two times and now have a nice clear batch for just this kind of fun. Thanks for asking.

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magnuswf

3 years ago on Introduction

When you sit between using the pot, is it always turned on? And if so, doesn't it ruin the solder?

1 reply
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BeachsideHankmagnuswf

Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

I only setup and plug it in when I plan a session of preparing my inventory of wires, like I stated, I do a bunch of random lengths which seems to cover my needs. Longevity of the solder life in the pot has been discussed on other similar Instructables, and the consensus among those professionals who use and maintain solder pots and wave machines is that no, solder does not change it's properties to any substantial degree when left in it's liquified state for extended periods. Thanks for your question.

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longwinters

3 years ago

Very cool, if you wanted it side ways you could use a 1/2 copper pipe cap brazed to the tip at 90 degrees

1 reply

I had at first thought about boring the hole at a right angle to the tip, but then knew I'd have to add roll resistance to it, so in the end vertical proved the best position for me.

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ccason4

3 years ago

Just simply brilliant.

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rpotts2

3 years ago

Man, that is too frigging simple. Genius!