Soldering Mistakes

When soldering you always want to use the tip that will give you the biggest contact area.  The more contact area means more heat transfer.  This amazing drawing shows why chisel tips are typically recommended cover the thin conical (cone) ones.  You can see that it has well over 5x the contact area meaning heat will be transferred to the joint at a rate of 5x that of the conical one.

Another option which is my personal favorite, is a curved conical tip, this gives you the precision of a thin tip while allowing good contact area that typically you can only get from the chisel type

(seriously why did i take up modding as my career when i could be a professional artist.)


When you are first learning how to solder it is common to put solder onto the iron first, then sorta paint it onto the joints you want to solder.  This is very bad practice and leads to bad joints.  When you see the smoke coming off when you put the solder onto the iron it is not the lead burning off but rather the flux.  Flux is like the scrubbing bubble commercial where a bunch of little happy scrubbing sponges cleans the joints and allows you to get a good connection.  Don't kill the happy scrubbing sponges by murdering them when you put them on your iron directly.  Always heat the joint, then apply solder to the actual joint on the opposite side, and the solder should melt using whatever you are soldering to, rather than the hot iron.  This will allow you to get shiny joints rather than cold soldered ones or boogery looking ones.   Here is a great video demonstrating this concept.

An easy technique to solder surface mount components (also known as smd) is to first clean the existing pads with solder wick if any solder is on the pads what so ever.  Then add solder to one pad only, you will then heat that pad while putting the surface mount part to it.  Take off the heat while holding the part into the pad with solder, the part should now be stuck on and you can properly solder the opposite side that has no solder currently on it.  Just heat the pad and part add solder, and you should have a perfect joint.  You can then go ahead and solder the other side properly using the same method just mentioned.  This allows fresh flux, to get to the joint properly soldering the the part.  You will soon find surface mount parts easier to solder than through hole : ).


Back to blog