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Soldering Simplified..

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by ZenG, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. I have no problem soldering..except for the fact I have two hands but the job often requires three.

    I've got the gun in my right hand and the roll of solder in my left hand to feed it.

    Now I need a third hand to hold the wire in place to solder it without it slipping off.

    What's your method of soldering...?
  2. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    A soldering stand. You can find them without the magnifier. I have a huge counter clamp magnifier so mine doesn't have one. Some companies literally call their stand a "third hand". Those little clamps have all kinds of locking bolts so you can turn them wherever you want and lock them into place. So use them to hold a wire or small component in place while you go to work.
  3. mmbongo

    mmbongo Dilly Dilly! Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    Depends what I'm soldering, but I usually put the solder on the wires first so I don't have to feed it...it's already there.
    andruca likes this.
  4. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    I like the kind with the long flexible arms:

  5. RSBBass


    Jun 11, 2011
    Yep, pre-tin everything and use a soldering stand.
  6. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    All of the above, and a couple of good heavy heat sink alligator clips.
    P-oddz likes this.
  7. When I am just making one solder connection, (and I can't find one of the couple "third hand" tools I own), I will use a hemostat, or a rubber band on the grips of a needle nose pliers as a tool that will grip a wire, or part to help hold it. The weight of the gripping tool resting in a good position holds the parts in position.

    I have also just rested something heavy enough on the work to stabilize it as I solder.

    Also, for just one solder joint, and if not using a bench type soldering station, but just a pencil type tool, I will use a damp paper towel, or a rag instead of a sponge for wiping the tip.

    I keep my solder in a plastic bag to keep it clean. If I do have to use solder that has been stored in the open, I will draw it through the dry part of the paper towel to remove any contamination that might have landed on the solder.
    FronTowardEnemy likes this.
  8. Wish I had a dollar for every mic connector I soldered this way in the field when I was working full time as an audio tech. Having a soldering stand at the shop was a real convenience1
  9. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    no good.

    once you've run solder onto the two parts, the flux inside that solder has been cooked away. just holding the two pieces together and remelting them won't produce a proper joint, without fresh uncooked flux in the mix the solder won't really re-connect properly.

    the trick to get around this is to smear a tiny bit of flux onto one of the two "pre-soldered" parts before you try putting them together. that way the fresh flux "re-activates" the solder on the two pieces and they'll join properly.

    i use one of those "flux pens", essentially a sharpie with flux in it. cheap, easy, and doesn't go everywhere.
  10. jbrew73


    Dec 24, 2006
    you should always make a secure mechanical joint before soldering. basically wrap,twist, hook, crimp,etc the wire or lead to the point it connects to, them solder. that is a good rule of thumb but sometimes its hard to do wire tiny pickup wires and such.
    ObsessiveArcher, john m and walterw like this.
  11. The liquid flux dispensing pens are good. Especially for circuit board work. I Found that if I stored a flux pen in my seldom used field service tool kit, the stuff would evaporate over time. I switched to a paste type after being left high and dry a couple times by a flux pen that was almost full when I last put it in the tool kit. High temperature storage, or time in unpressurized airplane cargo areas probably accelerated evaporation after the pen had been opened. I tried storing the pens in a zip lock bag, but it t still evaporated.

    I see Hakko makes a refillable flux pen.

    I would use a "no clean" type flux pen for convenience. The flux is the consistency of water and leaves almost zero residue.

    There is a solder bearing acid paste flux (intended for soldering copper pipe) that contains powdered silver solder. I have used that to solder electrical connections, but the acid residue should be cleaned from the finished joint, or else it will promote corrosion.
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
  12. RobbieK


    Jun 14, 2003
    Blue Tack.

    I've had a few of those flexible arm things over the years, but I still come back to a golf ball sized blob of blue-tack on an off-cut of timber. I also have thin rubber matting on my bench. When you have a part pushed into the blue-tack you can spin the whole piece of timber around and solder from any angle and it stays put.

    If you skip to 8:40 in this video, you'll see what I'm talking about.
  13. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth

    Jan 2, 2015
    heart of darkness
    I guess some of these suggestions are good if you're working on components completely separate from the instrument, but if the wires you're soldering are hanging out of the instrument it's going to limit what you can do :wideyed:
  14. RobbieK


    Jun 14, 2003
    Again, blue-tack is your friend. (I'm a broken record here! :) ) It will hold pots, wires, parts in just about any situation. It even sucks a little bit of heat from them.

    Just be careful with it on the finish of a vintage instrument. Don't put it on anything you wouldn't use masking tape on.
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  15. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    First off, wires should already be mechanically attached before soldering if at all possible. When not possible, I hold the solder in between my thumb and index finger and position the wire with my ring finger and pinky.
    nbsipics, ak56, tlc1976 and 1 other person like this.
  16. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    I've got a handful of old dental picks I bought at a flea market and several are bent to make good hold downs for wire and stuff. I have also used the needle nose with a rubber band on the handle.

    For most of the soldering work on my basses I just use a set of normally closed tweezers for reaching into tight spaces on push-pull and toggle switches. For everything else I just hold it with my fingers.

    Oh and BTW, I can't tell you how much easier it is to build a control setup with a building board. It positions the pots where they need to be, then I have a small table top vise on a ball swivel head so I can position my work where I'm always soldering in the best orientation to make a good joint.
  17. EXACTLY two fingers! Those little helping hand set ups are great and are pretty cheap. You can pick one up at any of your electronic supply stores or online. I use it when switching out pickups in my guitars and it helps a lot when soldering to the back of pots.
    two fingers likes this.
  18. Axstar


    Jul 8, 2016
    East of Eden.
    One of those 'third hand' clamp stands is very useful. From personal experience you get good at soldering when you've worked on a few semi-hollow instruments. Your soldering has to be up to snuff, otherwise you get short-circuits, and mechanically sound enough to survive being bundled through an F-hole. Like everything soldering requires practice, and I know when my soldering 'chops' aren't as good. One trick would be to get some old circuitboards, potentiometers and switches and simply practice desoldering and re-soldering connections etc.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    New York
    All good advice has mentioned already. You need what's called the "helping hands", "third hand" or the "soldering stand" mentioned in the 2nd post. Besides that:

    - First you have to make sure that where you are going to solder is clean on both ends as well as the tip of your soldering iron.
    - Then, you make sure you got the right wattage. I use 25 watts for delicate electronics, and 40 watts for cables etc.
    - Then, you make sure that the tip or the side of your soldering iron has good contact in between the two components you want to solder, and you apply enough heat to both parts before you actually apply the solder. Other wise you'll get what's called a cold joint which you don't want.
  20. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    Cut an appropriate amount of heat shrink tubing for the joint (sliding it on to one side, or the other), twist individual strands, then twisting them together (sort of end-to-end lengthwise), making your mechanical connection, solder, then place/heat tubing over repaired section...

    The 'third hand' is great for bench work, but there are times where you have to improvise, depending on the item you're soldering and it's location...