Our guide to soldering
Kristina K

Our guide to soldering

First published date January 14 2014 Amended date January 14 2014

Learning to solder might seem like a bit of an ‘out there’ choice, but actually it might appeal to you more than you think. Whether you’re keen on making your own jewellery, want to fix some household appliances, embarking on a new exciting art project or hoping to make a career out of metalwork as a trade, our soldering courses are great for all levels. There are also professional courses in soldering with recognised qualifications suitable for anyone associated with the manufacturing and production of soldered electronic components, devices and equipment, from new staff that need full training to experienced welders who want to learn techniques.


Avoid common mistakes

Do you find yourself trying to fix joints only to end up using too much solder and heating it for far too long? Or that your joints are not secure and move during soldering? Learn some tricks and rules on soldering for simple home repairs and projects.  Find out why your solder jumps, why it never fills the gaps, how to make it flow property and ways to mark different types of solder to avoid getting confused. It’s important to get a good grasp of simple soldering rules so that you don’t waste time messing up your work.


Get better at your hobby

There are special soldering classes for people who are in other professions or have an interest in hobbies that might involve a little bit of soldering. Jewellers can pick up some soldering skills and techniques and learn stick feeding, soldering with pallions and sweat soldering, troubleshooting and choosing the correct solder. Classes will challenge you and give you the confidence to fabricate complicated pieces from precious metal.


Become a trained welder

If you’re hoping to carve a career as a welder, a course will definitely help get you there. Occasional shortcuts and ‘make-dos’ can often become the routine method for even the most experienced staff, and simple errors can lead to catastrophic and expensive failures. Get on industrial standard soldering courses that are suitable for both experienced metalworkers and newcomers to the industry.  Learn to carry out hand-soldering processes, understand and apply soldering techniques, recognise and rectify soldering faults, and develop a thorough understanding of the quality of the finished product.


What do you learn?

Generally speaking, soldering courses will include loads of practical work, covering topics like soldering iron types and usages, ESD implications of soldering, types of PCB finishes, solder types and composition, flux types and usage, basic soldering techniques with conventional and surface mount chip components, component identification, identification and rectification of soldering faults and soldering to IPC J-Standard.


Soldering tips

·         When using your soldering iron for the first time, you need to ‘tin’ the tip. This is also true after you replace the tip. Just heat up the iron and apply a thin coat of solder to the tip. This helps to achieve good heat transfer to the item you are soldering.

·         Avoid scratching and scraping the tip. You need to keep the tip clean, always. When soldering, keep a wet sponge beside you and use it to clean the tip periodically while soldering. When you have finished, put a blob of solder on the tip as it cools, this seals it, helping to prevent oxidation.

·         Both parts of the joint to be made must be at the same temperature before applying solder. The solder will flow evenly and make a good electrical and mechanical joint only if both parts of the joint are at an equal high temperature.

·         Apply an appropriate amount of solder. Too much solder is unnecessary and may cause short circuits with adjacent joints. If it’s too little, it may not support the component properly, or may not fully form a working joint. You’ll know how much to apply through practice.

·         Should you need to redo a solder joint, always start from scratch. Remove the solder you just put on, and clean the surface before you start the process again.

·         If you need to clean solder off a circuit board, use a solder wick. Place the wick on the joint or track you want to clean up, and apply your soldering iron on top. The solder will melt and gets drawn into the wick. If there is a lot of solder, the wick will fill up – so gently pull the wick through the joint and your iron, and the solder will flow into it as it passes.

·         Don’t move the joints until the solder has cooled.


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