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How To:- Soldering

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Hi Folks,

I just thought I'd do a quick guide for anyone that needs it. It's a guide for those who aren't too confident when it comes to soldering to at least allow them to have a go at repairing things themselves. After all, if you're repairing an electrical system and are having problems with parts not working correctly, at least you'll know it won't be any of your joints, thus eliminating a variable in the fault finding equation.

Early apologies if these pics are a bit dark, I had to take on my phone and only have two hands!!

Ok, to begin with the tools you will need;



From top left we have wire strippers, top right are snips (side cutters), bottom left soldering iron and bottom right is the solder.

We're going to join these two wires together (below), I've used mains cable for the example as it's nice and big for the camera to see and the colours are distinctive enough to tell what's going on. The principles work the same on other types and gauges of wire though.

Step 1:

Using the snips cut the ends of the wires back so they are nice clean cuts (as below)




Step 2:

Using the wire strippers, strip about 1/4" to 3/8" of the insulation back off the wires, (doesn't have to be that accurate)



Step 3:

Place the bare wire between finger and thumb and twist so all the separate wires are bound together


Step 4:

Pick up the separate cables and with the two ends opposing each other place one bare end behind the other, twist the tips in opposing directions until both cables are neatly wound together



Next we need to plug in, turn on and allow the soldering iron to warm up. While this is happening, take the yellow sponge from the iron holder and rinse it under a tap, give it a squeeze out, you want it damp, not dripping wet.
(If it is safe to do so beforehand then the soldering iron could be heating up while you prep the wires.)
In this instance the soldering iron i am using wasn't left clean by the previous user, as you can see by the picture below


This is where our sponge comes in.
Once the soldering iron is heated to the correct temp just melt a little fresh solder on the end and wipe it all off with the damp sponge.

Leave the sponge in the holder for this bit ^^ because if you are holding it and you slip through the hole in the sponge you'll burn yourself. (<-----i know="" it="" s="" obvious="" but="" some="" plank="" will="" burn="" themselves="" and="" i="" don="" t="" want="" them="" blaming="" me="" br="">
Step 5:

Now we have a nice clean soldering iron tip, we can put some nice new solder on it ready to make the join.

Clean tip;


The amount of new solder needed;


The reason we pre-solder the tip of the iron is that it aids heat transfer through the cables and also focuses the heat, so you don't end up melting the insulation before you've made the join.

Step 6:

The fun and simple bit and the bit most people get wrong.

Offer the soldering iron with the new solder on it, to the underneath of the join in the wires. You don't have to push hard just let the iron sit in contact with the wires for a few seconds;


Then offer the solder from the TOP of the join;


If you just wait for a few seconds, the solder will start melting into the top of the join, it will seep through to the bottom and you'll see a slightly bigger pool appear on the iron tip.

At this point, move the iron slowly to one end of the join whilst still feeding solder in above it (follow the iron with the solder), then move to the other end so the join in the wires is now completely silver. Tip: don't feed too much solder through the top, or it will just drip out of the bottom and all over your leg, or worse, your interior!!

When the joint is completely silver, remove the soldering iron from the bottom of the joint and the solder from the top of the joint and allow to cool. Do NOT blow the freshly soldered joint to cool it as this can oxidise the nice new solder and create a bad connection or allow the joint to go 'dry' over time.

Once you are done the joint will look like this;

Wipe any excess solder on your iron tip on the sponge and switch off. now it will be nice and clean for the next time you use it.

When the soldered joint has cooled and the solder has 'set' you can insulation tape the join, or heat shrink it, just remember to put the heat shrink on the wires before you solder them, but make sure it's far enough away from the join so the act of soldering doesn't prematurely shrink it!!

And that's it! Enjoy a nice happy connection!
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