The Solder Saver (locking Cam Solder Dispensing Pen)

"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
Some tape

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

*You can safely ignore the rest of this text and just follow the labelled pictures!

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.

3. Drill 2 small holes completely through one end of the Q-tip. These holes need to be large enough to pass your steel wire. The holes should be perpendicular, and the distance between the 2 sets of holes should be about the width of the kind of solder you plan to load into it.

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.) :)



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    7 Discussions


    9 years ago on Step 3

    wow thanks :D i realy needed something like this


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Seems interesting. I use the commercial yellow container, but I have problemas: the end of the tin coil always go to the inner, and I must open the container to extract it.

    2 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Unless I'm mistaken, I know exactly what you're talking about. I call that "tubed solder." There's no reason you couldn't use this concept for other solder pens or even tubed solder. I mean, I could use a normal pen tip and the entire mechanism could be internal. For a tube of solder, all you need to do is make it bigger. Instead of a Q-tip, use a 3/16" brass tube and some brass cross pins. Then use the solder tube as the holder. Hey, some of those solder tubes are clear. You could watch the whole coil turn as you pulled. It's a fascinating motion. Kinda like Niagara falls... the whole thing is in motion, but it's almost like nothing's moving.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, I understand you. I am saying I will try your device. I speak Spanish, therefore sometimes I don't know explain myself in English.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I was going to post a instructable like that. I use a old marker pen and only solder that is twisted like a spring. No fancy stuff. Very simple. Keep it up! Jerome ps- nice workbench and thanks for the tips on the breadboard

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! I appreciate the comment. I do appreciate simplicity. But I think it goes beyond that. What I really like are things that are ubiquitous - things that are easy to build, repair, replace, or replicate. That's why I'm a big fan of the Bic pen, even though I rarely use them as intended. (They hurt my hand to actually write with!)


    9 years ago on Introduction

    It's a good piece of work - I'd initially thought you'd be using a clutch-pencil (sure I saw that 20 years ago, but maybe not...)
    I'm one of those people who holds the solder tub in his teeth...