How to Solder Tin

Soldering Station
Soldering Station (Image: peninsulaartschool.com, imagesfrombulgaria.com, summerwindstainedglass.com, csel.cs.colorado.edu,)

Soldering tin metal is easier than other metals because the steel metal materials are pre-coated with a layer of tin. This layer of tin also allows tin to be soldered at a lower temperature than other metals, typically in the 150 to 200 degree Fahrenheit range. The important steps in the process of soldering tin are to ensure the metal seams are clean and the soldering iron tip is prepared properly.

Things You'll Need

  • Solder iron with copper tip
  • Wet sponge
  • 50/50 solder roll
  • Tin of resin flux
  • Resin brush
  • Lacquer thinner
  • 2 cloth rags
  • Block of wood 1 inch thick and 12 inches square

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Plug the solder iron into an electrical outlet and heat the solder iron to the point where solder melts on the tip.

Wipe the solder iron tip with a wet sponge to remove old solder and debris accumulated during last use.

Lightly touch the tip of the solder iron with new solder. This applies a light coating of solder on the tip, which allow heat to spread evenly. The solder iron is now ready for use.

Preparing the Solder Iron Tip
Preparing the Solder Iron Tip

Clean edges of tin metal seams with a file, sandpaper or steel wool. Clean with lacquer thinner using a cloth rag. This removes any dirt of oily residue that may be on the seams to ensure a good solid seam after soldering.

Dry-fit all edges to make sure the seams fit tightly. Although solder has the capability to fill in small gaps, the resulting soldered seam will not look attractive.

Coat each edge of seam to soldered with resin (an acid base), which ensures that solder chemically bonds with the tin metal evenly.

Place two tin metal seams together on top the block of wood. The block of wood acts as a heat sink to keep from over heating the tin metal being soldered.

Seams Ready for Solder
Seams Ready for Solder

Place the tip of the solder iron at the intersection point of the two edges being soldered to heat the metal.

Place the tip of the 50/50 solder at the point where the soldering iron tip is touching the metal. When the metal is hot enough for soldering, the solder will begin to melt the solder. Do not use too much solder to avoid poorly soldered seams.

Soldering a Seam
Soldering a Seam

Wipe the soldered seam periodically with a dry cloth rag to remove excess solder. This also results in a shiny soldered seam.

Continue the same process until all seams requiring solder are soldered.

Soldering Process Continues
Soldering Process Continues

Tips & Warnings

  • Practice soldering on similar pieces of metal to get the hang of the soldering tin process.
  • 50/50 Solder is 50 percent tin (Sn) and 50 percent lead (Pb). Lead-free solder is a good substitute for 50/50 solder for people who are concerned about using lead to solder their projects together.
  • Good solid solder joints are smooth, bright and shiny. Any other result means the seam must be re-soldered.
  • Solder in well-ventilated areas when working with 50/50 solder to avoid inhaling lead fumes.
  • Overheating the tin metal often results in discoloration and warping.

References

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