soldering gun


Old 10-10-00, 08:31 AM
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I recently purchased a soldering gun. I do not know correct way to use it to keep solder on piece I am soldering. Are there any rule of thumb instructions, or basics I need to know?
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Old 10-10-00, 10:03 AM
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Heat the joint to be soldered until it is hot enough to make the solder flow. Melting the solder when the joint is cold is a waste of time and solder. When the joint is hot enough, the solder will flow towards the heat source.
Old 10-10-00, 10:08 AM
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First rule of thumb is physics. Solder flows toward heat source. Don't put the solder onto the tip of the iron in order to melt it onto the work. Heat the work and touch the solder only to the work and it will flow through the work to get to the iron, making a good bond.

2nd rule, clean & "tin" the tip (regularly). Always keep a slightly damp, clean sponge nearby. (Use cellulose, not synthetic, or you'll have melted plastic all over the tip.) Once iron is at full temp, rub & spin simultaneously on sponge. Contact should be about 1 second so you don't cool the iron or get burnt sponge all over the tip. Next you touch the tip with the solder briefly, just enough to coat the cone part of the tip. Now wipe it back off and you're ready to start soldering. The tip should look like shiny chrome. This is called tinning. (Note that if you set the iron down for a few minutes it will begin to turn black. No problem, it's natural. Just repeat the above.)

Now, hold your wire to the surface you want it to be attached to, press the iron down on top of the wire and try to tilt it to also touch the other surface so you're heating both. If you can only touch one of the two, choose the wire to heat. Give it about 2 seconds then touch the solder to the work at a point in between the wire and other surface and it should begin to flow onto both. Once it does, quit while you're ahead and move on to the next termination, which brings us to...

Rule 3: Try to avoid the temptation to solder the livin' heck out of each termination. All it requires is enough to melt a little solder onto each surface.
There is a 3 second rule that is generally (supposed to be) followed. Contact between the work and the iron should last no longer than 3 seconds. That is the theoretical time it should take to heat the work, melt the solder effectively onto both parts, and get out. With a clean, tinned tip I assume that's possible. But I can't do it. Much longer though and you will melt the insulation right off the wire. Trust me on that one!

Fourth rule is post-soldering patience. Once you have adequately soldered a termination, carefully set down the iron and hold your work perfectly still for 4 or 5 seconds while it cools naturally. DON'T blow on it. Moving or premature cooling will cause what is called a "cold solder" joint. The wire may be stuck to the intended surface and look OK, but you will have caused minute fissures which actually inhibit good electrical contact. It may work at first, but may break down in time. When your all done soldering, repeat steps for cleaning and tinning before putting the iron away.

I don't really need to tell you rule 5, 'cause you're going to discover it really soon, but here it is anyway: You need three hands to solder.

Hope that helps. JH

[This message has been edited by JuiceHead (edited October 10, 2000).]

[This message has been edited by JuiceHead (edited October 10, 2000).]
Old 10-10-00, 10:38 AM
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Rule 6: If you must hold bare wire to solder, use pliers. Like rule 5, if you don't follow this one, you'll figure out why pretty quickly . . . ;-)
Old 10-10-00, 03:42 PM
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Got to add my rules in too! Just like to add my two cents worth now and then, even if I'm right.

If you are soldering electrical you must use rosen core solder.

If you are soldering plumbing you must use silver core solder

If you are soldering two pieces of metal tegether and no exposure to electrical or potable water then you can use lead solder.

You are not allowed by the NEC to solder a grounding conductor. Hot and neutrals are allowed to be soldered but grounding conductors must have a pressure type connection.

Good Luck


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