FDP Forum / Soldering for dummies/ 20 messages in thread.

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bmeredith



USA

Happiness is a warm tube amp
May 6th, 2017 03:20 PM        

I've reached the point where I want to be able to do simple wiring mods and pickup swaps without having to get somebody else to do it for me simply because I've never soldered before and don't really know how.<br /> <br /> Any tips for the novice? Are there any pitfalls I need to watch out for, or is it straightforward and simple?



Steve Dallman

Contributing Member
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Merrill, Wisconsin

Age is just a number...mine is big
May 6th, 2017 03:42 PM        

There are many good guides on the net, and on You Tube. <br /> <br /> Here's some tips. <br /> <br /> You need a soldering IRON, not a soldering GUN. Wattage determines how hot the iron will get. I use 30 and 40 watt irons. <br /> <br /> The tip should be IRON CLAD. I like a chisel shape for most work, but often use a fine cone tip. <br /> <br /> The tip has to be CLEAN. When the iron is hot, touch some solder to the tip. When the tip is clean, shiny (called "tinned") it's ready to solder. If the tip is black, it will not solder.<br /> <br /> Your work must also be clean. You should have a good mechanical connection before soldering. The old adage is "Solder is not an adhesive." <br /> <br /> Heat your work, not the solder. Put the tip on the connection and apply the solder. It should flow over your work. Only hold the soldering iron long enough to flow the solder. <br /> <br /> Your solder should be good quality ROSIN CORE solder. I like the thin stuff from Radio Shack. .032" 60/40 Rosin-Core solder is what I'm using now. We still have a Radio Shack. Kester is good. <br /> <br /> I have a tin of Rosin (NO acid/plumbing solder or paste) that I often use. Putting a little on a joint will help the solder flow. Don't overdo it. Too much rosin on a circuit board is not good. <br /> <br /> Clean/tinned tip, heat the work not the solder, good rosin core solder and you'll do fine.



catnineblue



LA , Calif

I try my best
May 6th, 2017 03:44 PM        

As long as you want to solder things' like PU's and wiring. You need to decide on a soldering iron or even a soldering station. I have just irons that are old basic types. I find a 40 watt with at least a 1/4" screw driver tip and a say 1/8" screw driver tip. You need the large one for the backs of pots.<br /> <br /> Just find what suits you needs and then try to solder two wires together and some pot's. Plenty of videos out there just don't jump into all the hype about what iron they really are trying to sell. <br /> <br /> It's all about how clean the surface is and how to hold leads in place so nothing moves. Then the tinning of the tip and just practice , it doesn't take long to get the hang of it. It's take your time and prepare ahead. <br /> <br /> Posted this during Steve posted. + 1 on his advise. I left out solder . One thing it would add is the flux, if you use to thin of solder like radio shack .062" it works yet it does not have the flux flow as the .032" diameter. <br /> <br />



vomer

Contributing Member
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Broke Down

in the Brassicas
May 6th, 2017 04:08 PM        

Go in hot and get out fast. My soldering improved when I got a solder station with a temperature LCD display, so I knew the iron was hot enough and I wouldn't try to solder if it had cooled.<br /> <br /> And, get a powerful enough iron, 25W or 40W. But not a solder gun, which generates a magnetic field so shouldn't be used near pickups, apparently.<br /> <br /> Most irons or stations come with a small sponge which you dampen and use to clean the tip of the iron in between each application.<br /> <br /> And, keep the tip of the iron 'tinned' with solder which helps it last and not corrode.<br /> <br /> 'Heat the job not the solder' is a much-heard tip.<br /> <br /> Keep things still while the work cools.<br /> <br /> Get a 'solder sucker' and solder braid to remove old solder, they really help in cleaning up previously soldered work.<br /> <br /> Some people swear by adding flux, I've always just used solder with flux in, but I'm not a pro and YMMV.<br /> <br /> Practice on scrap to get the feel of how much heat it takes to warm up a pot and get a blob of solder on it. <br /> <br /> Never take your eye off the tip of the iron, cover the rest of the job or you will eventually get a drip or a spit of solder on it, and make sure the lead to the iron has a clear path over your bench. These might sound obvious, but if you're working in a small space it's easy to get caught out.<br /> <br /> As to temperature, there are different opinions, but I feel I put less total heat into a job if I keep the iron hot, 400 degrees, and don't hang around. But it does take some practice. <br /> <br /> Edit: Steve and catnineblue beat me to it.<br />



Peegoo

Contributing Member
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I've got my own

double-cross to bear
May 6th, 2017 11:22 PM        

All good advice.<br /> <br /> I'll add a few tips:<br /> <br /> Wear safety glasses when soldering. The rosin can make solder pop and spit sometimes. A hot solder blob on your eyeball will make you wish you didn't have a hot solder blob on your eyeball.<br /> <br /> Use a small hemostat as a heat sink between the soldered connection and a heat-sensitive component. The heat sink will also prevent a wire's plastic insulation from melting.<br /> <br /> I don't use a wet sponge as a tip cleaner because it cools the tip too much. I prefer the Hakko tip cleaner that has a ball of brass wool in it. One quick stab of the tip into the brass wool and the tip is clean and hot. Shaking off the molten solder when tinning works, but flying blobs of hot solder WILL damage the finish of a guitar.<br /> <br /> Lead-free solder is harder to use that the leaded type.<br /> <br /> Practice practice practice!



Steve Dallman

Contributing Member
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Merrill, Wisconsin

Age is just a number...mine is big
May 7th, 2017 08:13 AM        

Wear pants when soldering. I'm serious.



henrycat

Contributing Member
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Ch'town, PEI, Canada

He said he was a wit. He was half right.
May 7th, 2017 08:14 PM        

Pots often have a coating on them.When soldering a ground wire to the back of a pot rough up the area to be soldered with a utility knife or sand paper. This will make the connection much easier and stronger.<br /> <br /> A hot soldering iron looks exactly the same as a cold one. Have a flat designated area away from your work where it can cool down to avoid burning things in your work area.



twangdoodles



michigan usa

May 8th, 2017 03:39 AM        

"Wear pants when soldering."<br /> <br /> Sheesh, I never get to do anything fun!



bmeredith



USA

Happiness is a warm tube amp
May 8th, 2017 06:27 AM        

Thanks for all of the replies and good advice! I guess I need to just practice on something I don't mind screwing up on just to get the hang of it.



Pinetree

Moderator Emeritus
(with many stars)

NW Pennsylvania

May 8th, 2017 08:50 AM        

All you need are a few pieces of wire and some pots or a 1/4" jack to practice with.<br /> <br />



Te 52



Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
May 8th, 2017 09:04 AM        

Two observations on the above-linked video:<br /> <br /> First, he stays on the joint too long. There is no need to sit there with everything boiling once the solder has melted. That's just a good way to melt the insulation on the wires you're soldering. Once enough solder has been applied and it's liquified, get off.<br /> <br /> Second, when he's done, the solder blob has a matte, grainy appearance, which is not good. That can give you a "cold solder joint" with internal cracks or voids and poor conductivity. The usual cause is jerking or jostling the wire in that crucial second or so while the solder is cooling and solidifying. You want the finished solder blob to have a shiny, mirror-like surface, so make sure nothing moves after you pull your iron away.



Hammond101

Contributing Member
**********

So. Cal. USA

May 8th, 2017 09:18 AM        

Another tip is that the solder will flow to the heat source. Apply the solder to the joint opposite your iron and the solder will flow through the joint making a better long lasting connection.<br /> <br />



henrycat

Contributing Member
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Ch'town, PEI, Canada

He said he was a wit. He was half right.
May 8th, 2017 01:51 PM        

Get yourself a "helping hand" to hold the pot or wire you are working on. Also you will need an inexpensive multi meter that will read voltage and resistance. You will need one of these to monitor your work and for trouble shooting.<br /> <br /> I've attached a pic of what I'm using.



henrycat

Contributing Member
**********
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Ch'town, PEI, Canada

He said he was a wit. He was half right.
May 8th, 2017 02:01 PM        

Multimeter<br />



capnhiho

Contributing Member
**********
*

Bakersfield, CA

Getting old is not for sissies!
May 8th, 2017 02:12 PM        

Practice, practice, practice . . .<br /> <br /> Then you'll get it.



Te 52



Laws of Physics

strictly enforced
May 8th, 2017 03:29 PM        

henrycat's "third hand" suggestion is a good one. My favorite is made from a Flexbar tool that I picked up at a retiring machinist's garage sale. <br /> <br /> I've also seen them made out of that Loc-Line plastic pop-together flexible pneumatic tubing.



hushnel

Contributing Member
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North Florida

A Friend of Bill W.
May 10th, 2017 11:59 AM        

On the really fine wires I like to pre-tin them, actually all of the wires, this helps cut down of the copper fliers, those nearly invisable wires that don't get soldered down, the point they may be attached too, like the back of a pot will take longer to reach soldering temperature. Once the solder flows onto the ground or post you just need to touch the pre-tinned wire to it, the hot solder will fuse the tinned wire making a good mechanical connection.<br /> <br /> I do use a heat gun for grounding to pots. It's fast so heat transfer is less.



Peegoo

Contributing Member
**********
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******

I've got my own

double-cross to bear
May 15th, 2017 02:27 PM        

Here's Big Clive showing solder assembly on a PC board. <br /> <br /> If you're unfamiliar with him--he is *great*. Very funny, great teardowns, and you'll always learn something.



huck



us

May 16th, 2017 02:27 PM        

"If the tip is black, it will not solder." <br /> <br /> i can't believe i've never heard this before. i was just getting mad that my soldering tips would "burn out" after a couple of jobs. sheesh. live and learn. and maybe try soldering again.



hushnel

Contributing Member
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********

North Florida

A Friend of Bill W.
May 16th, 2017 05:08 PM        

The tips need to be kept clean, the last thing I do before I turn them off is clean then dip in flux paste and re-tin them. They'll last forever that way. I'm still using tips I've had on the irons since I worked in Bio-Med and I retired 5 years ago. I also use seize ease paste when putting on a new tip.<br /> <br /> We also used these fiberglass eraser pens to clean solder points including grounding.



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