Howto Articles - Soldering

This article was published May 17, 2012.

The key in soldering is two things, a clean area to solder on and as little heat drain as possible. To avoid surprises, make sure your material is secured and move it before, NOT during soldering.

  • Make sure your surface is clean before you start. Use a steel brush first and then lightly with a sandpaper to rough it up a bit.
  • You should never have metal or any other material inunder the piece you want to solder, which leads heat easily. Best is ceramics like old kitchen wall squares. You can sometimes get them even for free, if they are part of an old set or damaged in a way.
  • Position your pieces and make sure they do not move
  • Add flux and let it be for a moment (makes it chemically clean)
  • If you have other areas close by which you do not want to loosen up while you make this joint, drain toilet paper or equal with cold water and put it on each other joint you want to keep intact (they literary must drop of water). If these areas get to hot while you solder, these will start to steam and make fussing noises, so you know when to take it easy with the heat. They also holds down the temperature, while the water goes from liquid to steam.
  • Time for the torch. Sometimes really small pieces is easily done with a soldering iron, but most often you need a real torch. In most tool shops there is small mini-torches which is ok for our models. A real big torch is worse, you will add to much heat and to fast.
  • When you solder, never hold the torch still, always let it move over the area. To much heat on one spot will make the metal bend and misform.
  • Also, ALWAYS heat up the material first and THEN add some tin. Do not fall for the temptation to let the flame melt the tin. We want the tin to go really deep into the metal, and if the area is to cold it will only stay on top. By letting the area melt the tin instead of from the flame, we know the material is hot enough.
  • If you are new to soldering, you need a bit of practice. Remember, it is much easier to add some more tin then to remove all the excess you just added.. A joint doesn�t get much stronger by adding to much tin around. If all areas are in contact and the tin flows by the heat in the metal, you should get a good joint.
  • Release the heat and let it cold properly before you loosen the part. Often the heat stays a while in the metal, so let it be.
  • When done, steel brush it again and wash it with an old tooth brush, water and Wim or any other chemical used to clean kitchen floors etc with. If not, except from looking bad, paint will not attach.
  • Admire your work!