The Basics of Soldering

Soldering is an easy and commonly used practice to bind metal components together. If you weren’t paying attention during workshop lessons in school, or just want to brush up on the basics, this guide will give you the basic knowledge you need to get started.

Prepare your workspace
Before you start work, you should make sure you have plenty of space. Lay a cover around the area in which you intend to do your soldering so that it can catch any droplets of hot metal.  
Always make sure you have plenty of light so that you can see things clearly. If your windows don’t provide sufficient light, you should consider purchasing a work bench lamp and magnifier to help you. Shoplet sell a variety of other lighting fixtures you can install in your workshop.
Try to limit your time spent soldering and make sure the room you work in has good ventilation. The process produces unpleasant fumes that can be harmful if you breathe them in.

Safety first
Soldering is a fairly simple exercise, but you should still be incredibly cautious. The irons can reach temperatures of around 300 degrees, so make sure you wear safety glasses, gloves and clothing that’s not going to hang in the way.
You should ‘tin’ the tip of the iron before you use it. This will increase the lifespan of your tool and keep it working effectively. Simply apply a small amount of solder to the tip of the iron before you start heating components. Inland Craft features an excellent guide on how to care for your iron.

Using the soldering equipment
The basic tools you’ll need are a soldering iron, stand, sponge and the solder itself. Solder and flux are alloys that are composed of two or more metals: usually silver, tin or zinc. It tends to come as part of a large coil that’s incredibly soft and malleable. If you’re missing a few things, Rapid has a superb selection of soldering irons and other accessories to get you started.
Soldering irons come in a variety of configurations, but the two most popular are powered by gas or electricity from the mains. You should place the iron into the stand until it reaches its maximum temperature. When you’re ready, hold the soldering iron like a pen and press the tip against the wire and the component surface until they both reach the same temperature. After a couple of seconds, feed the solder in-between the joint so the connection is covered adequately.
Remove the solder and hot iron, then keep the joint still whilst it cools. Solder sets incredibly quickly after it has been melted, so it shouldn’t take long until the connection is secure.
It takes a little practice, but you should have a connection that resembles a small, silver molehill after you’re done.

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