Easy Step-by-Step Soldering Instructions

Soldering irons are available at many hardware, home improvement and electronics stores.
Soldering irons are available at many hardware, home improvement and electronics stores. (Image: soldering image by Bube from Fotolia.com)

Soldering is the process of joining two or more metal objects together by using a filler metal called a solder melted at a relatively low heat (so that the objects being soldered don't melt) and fed into the joint of the metal objects. This technique is commonly used for a variety of different projects, such as connecting copper plumbing pipes, computer maintenance and jewelry making.

Things You'll Need

  • Soldering iron
  • Solder
  • Clamp or small modeler's vice
  • Rag or cloth
  • Cleaning solvent

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Clean the metal items you want to solder together with a rag soaked in cleaning solvent, removing all traces of dirt or oil. Solder does not "take" to dirty parts.

Place the metal items being soldered into the clamp or vice so that the ends are touching, forming the joint that is going to be soldered together.

Ensure that the temperature of all parts being soldered is roughly the same before you begin to solder. This allows the solder to flow more easily along the joint. Turn the soldering iron on and allow it to heat up. The melting point of most solder is around 188 degrees Celsius or 370 degrees Fahrenheit.

Using the soldering iron, heat the joint while applying a short length of solder. The temperature of the tip of the soldering iron is usually in the region of 330 to 350 degrees Celsius. This heat melts the solder into the joint. When the solder is completely melted and has filled the joint completely and evenly, stop heating. This process is trial and error and requires some practice.

Remove the heat from the joint and allow the solder to cool and harden.

Tips & Warnings

  • Before using the soldering iron, it should be "tinned." This is the process of applying a small amount of solder and then wiping it clean. You can purchase special tip-tinning products from home-improvement and hardware stores.
  • Too much solder in the joint is wasteful and can make the finished joint look messy. Too little solder in the joint will cause weakness in the joint, and the joint may not hold. Practice soldering on scrap metal to learn how much solder is required.
  • Novices may want to purchase a small, clip-on heat shunt. This looks similar to a pair of tweezers and is attached to the joint. Any excess heat is diverted up the heat shunt to avoid overheating the item being soldered.

References

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