By Ayoola Akindele
The following soldering tips will be useful for any project that requires soldering. I want to assume that you know what soldering is all about as much as how to go about it.
Tips One – Preparation
- The selection of soldering iron is very much important. Soldering Iron of the 15W to the 30W range are good for most electronics or printed circuit board PCB.
- Higher voltage may damage either the components or the board. So, it is advisable to specifically select the right iron for electronics.
- All parts, including the iron tips itself, must be clean, free from dirt and grease because dirt is the enemy of a good quality soldered joint.
- A good mechanical connection is necessary before you solder. Make sure the parts are not able to move in relation to each other.
Tips Two – Soldering
- When using your soldering iron for the first time, you need to “tin” the tip. This is also important and true after you replace the soldering iron tip. Just heat up the iron and apply a thin coat of solder to the tip. This helps to achieve good heat transfer to the item you are soldering.
- Avoid scratching and scraping the tip. You need to keep the tips clean always. When soldering, keep a wet sponge beside you and use it to clean the tip periodically while soldering. When you have finished soldering, put a blob of solder on the tip as it cools, this seals it, helping to prevent oxidation.
- Both parts of the joint to be made must be at the same temperature before applying solder. The solder will flow evenly and make a good electrical and mechanical joint only if both parts of the joint are at an equal high temperature.
- Apply an appropriate amount of solder. Too much solder is an unnecessary waste and may cause short circuits with adjacent joints. If it is too little, it may not support the component properly, or may not fully form a working joint. You will know how much to apply through practice.
- Should you need to redo a solder joint, always start from scratch. Remove the solder you just put on and clean the surface before you start the process again.
- If you need to clean solder off a circuit board, use a solder wick. Place the wick on the joint or track you want to clean up and apply your soldering iron on top. The solder will melt and gets drawn into the wick. If there is a lot of solders the wick will fill up, so gently pull the wick through the joint and your iron, and the solder will flow into as it passes.
- Don’t move the joints until the solder has cooled.
Tips Three – Safety
- You should always work in a well-ventilated area as the fumes from the soldering could be harmful to your eyes and lungs.
- Always wear eye protection to protect you from possible solder splashes as well as the solder fumes.
- Solder on a fire resistant surface
- Never leave your iron plugged in and unattended
- Never set your hot iron down on anything other than an iron stand. This is to prevent it from burning things in your work area.
- To prevent burning your fingers, use needle nose plier or heat resistant glove to hold small pieces.
Tips Four – Common Mistakes
- Most beginners tend to use too much solder and heat up the joint for too long.
- The parts being soldered is dirty or greasy, as such the solder won’t take or stick to it.
- The joints were not mechanically secured and moved during soldering.