"How should I preface this Instructable?" I ask myself. Seemingly, since the beginning of time, man has had the urge to stick solder into a pen and post pictures online. Well, I briefly considered delving into the larger history of the solder pen, but then lack of motivation got the better of me. So without further ado, here's the Solder Saver.
Step 1: Why Would You Use a Solder Pen, Anyway?
Though I've been keen to follow the evolution of other solder pens, I have personally found them to be inefficient. I use solder off the reel. (A homemade reel-dispenser, anyway, but I digress.)
So why make a solder pen? Well, I had broken several lengths of solder off the reel during some recent tinkering. Rather than throw them away, I decided I needed to create a way to use them up as best I could. I am also addicted to building things, and I was bored.
***The Solder Saver is designed to provide storage and precision deployment of small scraps of toxic solder which might have otherwise ended up in a land fill. It is also made with very few simple materials, including a disposable pen. These attributes make this device eco-friendly.
Step 2: What You Need
1 round tube-type disposable pen
1 scrap of 24 gauge steel wire
1 stick from a wooden cotton swab
A small drill bit
A pair of pliers
An exacto knife
If you had a complete pen, you could probably use the ink tube in place of the wooden cotton swab. It might even work better, because it would have reduced friction compared to a cotton swab. But I used what I had lying around.
Step 3: Assembly
1. Disassemble the pen. My pen was already cut, because I already used part of it for something else. So my pen is kinda small. You do not need to cut your pen, unless you want to.
2. Take the stick and roll up some tape around one end, until it just barely fits into the pen tube with a good friction fit.
- Alternative: you could probably just use the ink tube and collette off the pen, if you have a complete pen, which I didn't have.
4. Bend your steel wire into the shape of a staple. The width of the "staple" must be just big enough to slide into the pen tube. You need 2 of these.
5. Roll solder onto the stick.
6. Slide your "staples" through the holes.
7. Feed solder as shown. The last loop of solder must go over the inner staple, then go under the outer staple.
8. Slide the assembly into the pen body.
Step 4: Finished
Now you're done.
Pull on the end to expose more solder. The solder neatly uncoils itself, turning around the shaft while being straightened by the cams. The coil shape, itself, provides the stability of the tip. It doesn't rely on friction mechanisms. The exposed solder will not move back or forth, and it will never knot up or fall back into the pen!
So start saving your solder scraps from the garbage bin. And take care not to create more waste by repeatedly running a length of solder through this thing in order to admire your handy work, cuz the solder will eventually fall apart. Ask me how I know. :)
If you liked this Instructable, be sure to check out my other ones by clicking on my screen name. You will be magically whisked away to a world where time, boredom, and garbage is transformed into marginally useful STUFF. (And you might catch a glimpse of the cutest cat in the world.) :)