I guess I'm just good. Been using the same Weller 100-140 watt gun since 1969, and do everything with it. No touch too fragile for me. Lot to be said for some serious heat on the small things to get that solder melted, flowed, and hardened before the components even knew you were there. Those low-power irons can be trouble.
I have a few sizes of rosin core solder I use for electrical work, from the smallest I could get to a size proper for soldering 12 guage stranded wire. I use copper braid for de-soldering work. I prefer an iron for more delicate work, and a gun for heavier stuff. I always wipe off any old solder with a wet rag after the gun/iron first heats up, and re-tin it before proceeding. For technique, I make sure gun/iron is fully heated, then touch it to one side of the wire. After I think it's hot enough, I test by touching the end of the solder to the other side of the wire, and it will either melt and flow readily and I will proceed, or I get in idea how much more it needs. When it's hot enough, it will melt and flow very quickly, so you have to be ready to feed it if necessary, or remove pull the solder away. There's some feel and judgment to it. With some experience it will become easy.
That's a bit funny, as I believe the only gun I really liked was a Weller. It's not nearby, so cannot confirm it's a Weller. It is an old red one that was my grandfather's, and works surprizing well compared to other guns I've tried. I actually use it instead of searching for my iron (unless I need something with a fine point).
Originally Posted by Tom1956
Wellers are black with a red trigger.
Hmm... didn't know they made that. I stand corrected.
Originally Posted by Truzi
OK, you can sit down now. ;)
Originally Posted by Tom1956
For small stuff.. (basically anything electronic), a soldering pencil rather than soldering gun. Clean then tin each item to be soldered (apply some solder separately). Use thinner solder, use rosin flux as it's not corrosive. Put a metal clip or something damp upstream of what you're soldering so heat doesn't flow into it and damage something.
If it's surface mount components (electronic so small the components don't even have wire leads going into the circuit board), leave that for a pro.
Refer to this video. It seems pretty straight forward.
Originally Posted by David Lyga
-Use a good quality soldering iron, about 25 to 40 watts with a small tip.
Ideally it is nice to have one with temperature control, but lots of people don't.
-Use the thin rosin core electronics solder.
-Bring it up to heat and apply enough solder to the tip to make it shiny. Shake off excess, preferably somewhere safe. It's really hard to get
solder out of cloth....like socks or pants. ( and eyes!! )
-Clean the tip by wiping it quickly on a small pad of wet cotton cloth.
-Place tinned iron to object you want to solder and hold it there until the heat from the iron heats the object. ( A tinned iron will transfer heat whereas
a un-tinned iron won't. ) This should take seconds for a small object.
-apply the solder to the heated object, not the iron.
-the whole process should be done as quickly as possible so as not to allow the soldering iron to oxidize too much between operations.
(you will see what I mean) Clean the tip, again, by wiping it quickly on a small pad of wet cotton cloth and apply a touch more solder to the tip.
-allow to cool, for a moment before moving the solder joint.
-Before you try to do this on something expensive, practice on scraps of wire or an old circuit board from some junked gadget.
The smoke from the rosin is somewhat toxic, with acid and maybe lead etc. I use a small fan to blow the smoke away from me.
Depends a little on what you are soldering. If you are working on a circuit with heat sensitive components ( semiconductors, transistors, some diodes ) then you will need to take some care. A low wattage pencil iron with a high quality thin tip is good. You can tin the components but normally if they are clean good rosin core solder will flow on very thinly. The tip of the iron should be nicely tinned, and they "cure" and get better with some use... if you are not experienced it would be a very good idea to practice on something that does not matter until you get the hang of it. You want to get the tip of the iron wedged gently into the joint so that it heats all parts that need solder, and only apply the solder when the parts are hot enough for it to flow easily... sometimes you can get the flow to "pop" or start by just barely touching the tip of the solder to the iron, but for the most part you should not be using the iron itself to melt the solder. There's sort of a knack to knowing when to apply the solder, it becomes second nature after a while but takes some practice ( I've been helping my 12 year old daughter build a shortwave radio kit, and it brings back memories from when I learned around that same age! ) Radio Shack used to sell some nice soft .022 diameter solder, I think it was 62/36/2. These days I use an even finer solder from "qualitek" for small electronics.
There are some other tricks for small neat solder joints that have to do with how you set up the components... if you are inserting a part in a circuit board, you can angle the leads so that they make good contact on the edge of the copper pad, and that will be the place to gently wedge the tip of the iron. Depends a lot on what you are doing, but the general idea is to have a point where contact is made by pressure, and not to try to use solder to bridge but have it flow neatly into the tiny space where there is contact.