The skill of soldering copper wires can come in handy for connecting various electrical devices. Most lamp cords and appliance cords consist of multistrand wire that is covered by a plastic insulation. These small strands can easily become unraveled when placing them under a screw terminal to conduct the electrical power, which can cause a short. You can solder the multistranded wire on lamp cords for a secure termination under the screw terminal.
Things You'll Need
- Soldering iron and holder
- Damp sponge
- Small plastic lid
- Silver solder
- Wire strippers
- Lamp cord or wire
Plug the soldering iron into a wall outlet and allow the heating element to preheat to the proper temperature. Most soldering irons have an internal thermostat to keep the iron around 600 to 800 degrees F. Place the iron in the holder to keep the hot tip away from any surface.
Wet the sponge and squeeze the excess water from the cellulose material. The sponge should be well wetted but not dripping water. Place the sponge on a small plastic lid such as a plastic coffee container cover.
Wait 3 to 5 minutes for the iron to reach temperature. Hold the handle of the soldering iron, and wipe the metal tip on the damp sponge to clean the tip. Note there will be a little amount of steam rise from the contact. This will tell you that the iron is ready to go.
Tin the end of the solder iron by touching the silver solder to the hot tip of the iron. The tip should be covered in a bright silver coating. Wipe the excess solder from the melting tip of the iron onto the wet sponge. There should be no drips of the silver solder on the irons tip. Only a slick silver finish should remain. Place the iron back in the soldering iron holder with the tip facing upward.
Strip back the insulation of the lamp wire or cord approximately 3/4 inch from the end. This should expose the bare copper strands. Use your index finger and thumb to twist the strands together to form a tight twist. Be sure no errant strands of copper are sticking out from the twisted bundle.
Grasp the lamp wire approximately 3 to 4 inches back from the stripped end in one hand. In the other hand, grab a section of the silver solder. Touch the bare copper wire to the hot tip of the soldering iron. Allow the wire to heat for 10 to 20 seconds.
Touch the end of the silver solder to the bare copper wire. You should have a three-layered section now. The hot tip of the iron on the bottom, the bare wire strands touching the hot tip and the silver solder touching the bare copper. The silver solder should begin to melt into the bare wire strands in a matter of seconds. You should observe the solder flowing into and filling the bare strands.
Allow the solder to fill the cavities between the bare strands until a small drip of solder emits from the flowing solder. Remove the sliver solder and the finished solder wire.
Allow the newly soldered end to cool, about 1 minute or less. Repeat steps 3 through 8 for every soldered end you want to make. You do not have to wait for the iron to reheat. Once the iron is up to temperature it will maintain that heat. Always clean the hot tip on the sponge and re-tin the tip between each solder application. This will make every solder joint a clean silver application.
Tips & Warnings
- Solder fumes may be hazardous to your health. Always solder in a well-ventilated area. Never use lead-based solder, as the fumes can be extremely hazardous to your health. Silver is a better conductor than lead.