Soldering is a relatively straightforward process.
It’s easy to learn how to solder. But if you really want to be good at soldering, then the process becomes more complicated.
Today, I’m going to share some soldering tips and tricks with you. These tips are guaranteed to increase your soldering skills and reduce messy joints.
Choose the right soldering iron
This tip might seem obvious – and it is. Unfortunately, many people don’t follow it. When you solder anything, it’s extremely important to choose the right soldering iron. Here are some things to remember about choosing the right soldering iron:
-Irons with smaller tips won’t transfer as much heat, which makes fine tips only suited for specialized tasks involving small parts
-Solders between 30W to 40W are most popular for general work
-Avoid cheap temperature controlled soldering irons. Many of these cheaper options simply have knobs on the side which reduce heat but don’t actually control temperature. Genuine temperature controlled soldering irons will cost a couple hundred dollars.
-Play around with a few different solders to find one you like. Everybody has different preferences when it comes to tip size and heat.
Solder smaller parts first
When soldering circuit boards, the best practice is to solder small parts first. Small parts include diodes, resistors, and jumper leads. Finish soldering these parts before moving on to larger parts like capacitors and transistors – it makes assembly much easier.
Keeping the tip clean is one of the basic rules of soldering. It’s another rule that’s often poorly followed. Keep your tip clean and tinned for every joint. If you’re soldering smaller joints, then you can get away with soldering a few times in a row. However, once your tip goes from shiny silver to dark, dull, or even black, the heat transfer power has been significantly reduced.
How to remove solder
Yes, you can remove solder. There are two good ways to do that. First, you can buy solder removing wick, which is a metal wick that is placed over solder and heated with a soldering iron. It seems like magic, but it easily removes solder. Alternatively, you can buy a solder removing vacuum tube that can suck up liquid solder after you heat it.
How to use lead-free solder
Most solder comes with 60% tin and 40% lead. However, there is also lead-free solder. Lead-free solder requires more heat to melt, and in many cases, your soldering iron will not be hot enough to melt lead-free solder. When using lead-free solder, you should have a soldering iron with at least 40W of power.
Avoid cold joints
Cold joints are a common soldering problem. Cold joints occur when you move the joint immediately after application before the solder has time to cool and re-solidify. Cold joints are identified by their dull and grainy appearance, and you can fix many cold joints by reheating and applying a little bit of solder, and then allowing that solder to cool without moving it.
Remove tips to prevent buildup
Soldering iron tips get stuck over time. Oxides build up between the copper tip and the iron sleeve, which is why you should remove the copper tip every 20 to 40 hours of use. When removing the tip, slide it around to remove oxide buildup. This tip will add years onto the lifespan of your soldering iron.
Follow the tips above and you’ll be a soldering expert in no time at all!