Soldering is the process of joining two pieces of metal by using solder as the filler metal. It is a critical part of attaching electronic components onto circuit boards, connecting sheet metal roofing parts, and stained glass pieces. While soldering may seem like a daunting process at the start, with the right tools and practice, it will become second nature to you.
Below are 8 tips and tricks that can make soldering much easier and expedite the learning process.
1. Find a high-quality soldering iron
Soldering requires the use of a soldering iron, which is a hand tool that heats up to transfer heat into the parts being joined. While you don’t have to get the most expensive brand, it is worth spending the money to make sure you have an efficient and high-quality tool.
2. Choose the right tip
Soldering irons usually come with switchable tips to give you a choice for the job that you are doing. The tips help transfer the heat from the soldering iron to your work piece. Choose the widest tip possible to make it easier to get the largest contact area possible for the best heat transfer.
3. It’s all about the flux
Flux is used for many different functions in the soldering process: It cleans the metal by removing the contaminants and metal oxides; it keeps the surfaces oxide-free; and it acts as a wetting agent so that the solder spreads correctly on the surfaces.
Flux can come in different forms: organic or inorganic acid water-soluble, no clean or rosin. The best flux for your particular project depends on what you are trying to connect and what you want to achieve from the flux. Use a flux strong enough to remove the surface oxides, but is able to be cleaned off if required.
4. Apply heat properly
Make sure to sequence your steps to get the best soldering results. First, apply the solder iron tip to the joint. When the point of contact has enough heat, add solder and allow it to spread. If you hold the iron too long on an application, it can become overheated. Pull your iron away from the connection to finish up as soon as the solder has flowed into the seam.
5. Use the right solder for the job
The electronics industry will typically use lead-free resin or no-clean resin solder. A leaded solder is an option for a solder that is easier to melt. For example, leaded 60/40 solder is used for many jobs and applications but is not as popular because of the health concerns when using lead.
Try using the thinnest diameter of solder (or solder wire) you can get away with for your specific task. Using the thinnest solder reduces the chance of building too much solder into your joints.
6. Tin and clean your tips
Make sure to tin your tips which simply means to add some solder to coat the tip before making contact. And, clean your tips during your soldering sessions on a regular basis. By cleaning your tips throughout the process, it will help the iron transfer the heat as well as lengthen the lifespan of the tip.
7. Have the Proper Ventilation
When soldering, it is important to install good safety habits. If you regularly inhale solder fumes, it can be affect your health. Especially if you are using a leaded solder. Make sure you solder in a ventilated area that has a type of fan or other mechanism such as a solder fume extractor running.
8. Practice is key
While soldering is a simple process, it takes practice for it to become second nature. You can try training with simple circuits or even wire joints. Once you have soldered a few times, the process will become that much easier.
Of course, these are just a few tricks and tips to help you solder seamlessly. If you have any questions about soldering, feel free to contact our technical support team for guidance.