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Recomend A soldering pencil

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Linas, Mar 16, 2006.


  1. Linas

    Linas

    Jan 6, 2005
    Chicago
    I did a search for this and i couldnt find anything although i recall a thread i read about soldering irons people like and were using, so if anyone knows of this thread, let me know. But i have been using my girlfriends fathers soldering pencil for too long and its time to step up and buy my own. Im not looking for anything super pricey, but something that is quality that will last me my life. I also dont know what wattage you guys recomend for doing guitar work. My parts for my series/paralell mod are in the mail and i would like to start this off with my new iron.
     
  2. ElBajista

    ElBajista

    Dec 13, 2005
    Sebring, FL
    I bought my Soldering Iron from Radio Shack. It's sturdy and dependable, and has the ability to switch between 15 and 30 watts.

    I don't think there's much difference between an expensive iron and a cheap one. Mine suits me perfectly, and at the $15 I paid for it, there's nothing to complain about.
     
  3. Rodent

    Rodent Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Regenerate Guitar Works
    I use a Weller WLC100 Soldering Sataion

    [​IMG]

    http://shop1.outpost.com/product/1942888#detailed

    I know a lot of hobbiests and professionals use this iron as their steady. The best iron I've ever used, always dependable, and able to handle soldering everything from a ground on the back of a pot to a 22ga connection on a PC board.

    You will not be sorry if you purchase this soldering station. After you cook a few electronic pieces with a cheaper iron and need to spend $$$ to replace them, you'll have discovered that the few extra $ for this unit would have been worth the initial investment

    All the best,

    R
     
  4. nateo

    nateo Schubie Fan #1

    Mar 2, 2003
    Ottawa, Ontario
    The biggest difference I've ever found between soldering pencils is the quality and variety of tips available. Weller is always a good name in the world of soldering. They'll sell you anything from a 15 W pencil up to a variable temperature soldering station. For guitar work just about any old pencil that produces a good amount of heat will work just fine. If you're soldering leads to the back of your pots you'll need to be able to make them fairly hot (to get a good connection) fairly fast (to avoid damage to the pot).

    Just to toss out a number, I'ma say 30 W is ideal. Smaller will work fine too, but you'll have to spend a few extra moments heating parts.

    -Nate
     
  5. +1 on the Weller. For circuit boards with surface mount these days you can't use too much heat otherwise the traces lift. For other jobs like terminal strips in amps and what not, you need more heat. The temperature control knob is a must for these diverse applications.
     
  6. Linas

    Linas

    Jan 6, 2005
    Chicago
    Just went to Lowes and baught a Weller 25 watt standard duty iron. Should this be enough heat? Its rated up to 750 degrees ferenheight.
     
  7. Rodent

    Rodent Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Regenerate Guitar Works
    it'll work for a lot of things, but you're going to need to sit on a pot cover much longer to get a good joint than you would with a 35 watt iron. in other cases you're going to need to be on/off real quick.

    this is exactly why i like the adjustability of the Weller - I can set the wattage to reflect what I'm soldering at the moment.

    practice, practice, practice on soldering at both extreme ends of what you'll be doing - 22ga wires to a pot lug and ground leads to a pot cover. it'd be even better to buy a couple of cheap (i.e.disposable) pots to practice on

    and be sure to use flux core solder and NOT acid core

    all the best,

    R
     
  8. Linas

    Linas

    Jan 6, 2005
    Chicago
    Maby ile go return this soldering iron and purchase the adjustable one online. I do want something that im going to be able to use for every soldering need for the rest of my life, i suppose a 50$ investment isnt too bad. How do i know when do use what heat?
     
  9. If you're using not enough heat, you'll know it by observing that the solder in the existing connection is only melting around the tip of the iron or not at all instead of completely melting in the whole connection. If the connection is new, the solder will not "flow" into the joint (it'll tend to remain as molten globs instead of surrounding all of the surface area of the connection and filling all the nooks and crannies. Some situations where you'll need more heat are amplifier chassis ground connections where a lot of mass and area of metal will tend to soak up the heat from the iron (or the backs of pots like Nateo said). Shielded wire braid is another one. Terminal strips and pot lugs or 1/4" jack lugs tend to require a "medium" setting.

    Where you'll run into trouble with too much heat is circuit boards, especially traces that are tiny. If you see the solder instantly melt the moment your iron tip touches the connection and start to see burnt black stuff, you're probably running too much heat. The worst thing is that traces will lift off the circuit board. Semiconductors (integrated circuits, diodes, transistors) will not take more than about 10 seconds of soldering heat before they might get damaged.

    Like playing the bass, this takes some practice :bassist:

    Hope this helps..:D
     
  10. nateo

    nateo Schubie Fan #1

    Mar 2, 2003
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Yup, just listen to the solder and you'll learn in a hurry. You want your joints to be shiny and fairly flat. If the solder peaks like a Dairy Queen ice cream cone then you're not using enough heat. If the solder joints are dull instead of shiny, you're probably not using enough heat. If the solder wads onto the contact surface like play-dough, you're definitely not using enough heat. If your components suddenly burst into flames, then you might want to back off the heat a bit.

    Just to get a feel for what solder should look like when it "flows" take a chunk of copper stranded wire and tin the end. Just heat up the wire and flow a bit of solder in (touch your solder to the hot wire and see what happens). You'll see it wick right through the strands if you've got the right amount of heat.

    They say you should always heat the joint and not the solder, so always try to put your iron directly onto the parts you want to heat, then touch the hot joint with solder. A dab of solder on the tip of your iron creates more surface area and lets you heat your joint faster than with a dry iron.

    Oh, and always clean your solder tip. I use a lightly damp sponge. Before I touch the iron to the joint I give it a quick brush on the sponge. You'll hear some fun sizzling sounds and you should see a nice bright shiny tip afterwards. Just don't overdo it because your tip will cool off a little bit with every wipe, so just clean enough to get the tip shiny. I've also used a brass scouring pad (look in the kitchen supply section of your favourite store) with great success. Just drag your tip across it a few times to clean. The advantage of the scouring pad is that you don't lose nearly as much heat.

    -Nate