Whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional, chances are that your craft would benefit from some type of soldering tool. Soldering tools are useful for DIY purposes, household uses, and several other projects.
It’s not practical to expect everyone to be familiar with all the kinds of soldering tools out there. Most homeowners can usually make do with a soldering iron and some soldering wires for most of their projects. While this is fine for basic soldering tasks, there are several other tools that might take your work up a notch. Without further ado, let’s have a look at the must-have soldering tools and how they can benefit users.
Things to Consider
The following are the main considerations to take into account when looking for a soldering tool. These will help you determine what kind of tool you really need, how long you need it for, and generally make a more informed choice:
Are you frequently working on small repairs and other tasks? Whether you’re working around the house or on specific projects in your workshop, a soldering iron will probably come in handy at times.
A soldering wick or soldering sucker will be useful for working inside circuits or for correcting any soldering mistakes. Take a look at the kind of work you need to do or plan to do in the future. This way, you will be making wiser investments according to your needs. If you’re interested in a making your own jewelry, for example, any required soldering tools will probably be on the small side.
Of course, if soldering projects are not your regular routine, renting might be the way to go. Try out some tools this way and then decide if they’re worth having in your workshop arsenal all the time.
The soldering tool you use should be of high quality, as is the case with any power tool. After all, these tools allow you to work with a very high heat setting. You don’t want your soldering iron or any other tool melting, bursting, or shorting out at crucial moments. Plus, a high-quality soldering tool will also make sure that you get the job done quickly, efficiently, and safely.
If you want a high-quality soldering iron or any other soldering tool, you will probably have to pay a higher price for it. However, an expensive tool doesn’t always guarantee good performance.
Practically speaking, a soldering tool might vary widely in price depending on what you’re buying and who you’re buying from. Branded tools are likely to cost a lot more than unbranded options. Since the price can go from under $20 to hundreds of dollars per unit, it’s always best to read the reviews before ordering any tools online. In case a certain soldering tool is out of stock or way below your budget, take a look at the option of renting it out.
Every user might not be aware of each brand that provides soldering tools. With this in mind, it’s best to do our research and find out the background of any brand name a certain tool is under.
There are a lot of popular electronic brands such as Weller that are known for their quality soldering irons. Once you’ve figured out a good brand, you can count on the product to be durable and of high quality.
A branded high-quality soldering tool will likely be expensive, so it’s wise to stick to brands with a stellar record for their product performance. Branded irons, tips, and other products won’t overheat too easily. They will also be easier to grip, handle, and operate, leading to higher efficiency.
Temperature control feature
Temperature control is more of a feature for professionals, though some hobbyists may also like to have it in their soldering tools. It’s a smart feature that may come in handy for neat and even results.
With this feature, a thermostat inside the tool makes it easier to maintain the right temperature. This stability allows for a better function and soldering results. Some advanced models will also have automatic on/off features to get you the right amount of power required for specific jobs.
Temperature control is one of the main safety features in professional-grade soldering tools. There may also be other features included such as soldering stands. These are important for keeping the soldering tip away from any impurities on a surface and also protects the surface itself. The stand will hold the hot iron safely until it cools down or is required for a project again.
However, the person handling the power tool is also responsible for their own safety. If you plan on buying and using a soldering iron or doing anything related to soldering, follow these precautions:
- Wear safety glasses or goggles to protect your eyes, face shields are also a good option
- Wear closed-toe shoes in case something falls on your foot
- Wear protective gloves when soldering or clipping soldering wires
- Replace older models of soldering tools or get them tested for lead to avoid lead poisoning, get new tools that are lead-free
Ease of use
The mark of a decent soldering tool is that it should also be easy to use. Of course, one should read the instructions and follow the guidelines. Once you get the hang of it, though, the tool should be fairly easy to handle. Whether you’re working on large metalworking projects or building model kits, any soldering tools you use should be user-friendly. Watching a YouTube video or any demo video may also help in the general handling of most soldering tools.
Soldering tools work on electricity, so we have to ensure that the required wattage is compatible with our available electrical outlets. An adapter might help in some cases, but contacting the manufacturer support team first will ensure your safety and the tool’s efficiency.
The warranty for any power tool is an important consideration, especially if it’s an expensive one. When you invest in a tool like this, you want to see a smooth operation and satisfying results. In case something goes wrong, the warranty will act as a safety net to protect your investment.
The exact warranty period for soldering tools will depend on the manufacturer it comes from. Some brands may only offer a warranty on workmanship for 6 months, while others may give a whole 7-year warranty covering defects in workmanship and the materials.
Soldering Must Haves: Choosing the Right Tools
If you need soldering tools quite regularly, it’s time to choose the must-haves for your kit. Here are some of the most important and most popular soldering tools that will come in handy for a range of projects:
1. Soldering Iron
This is the most common soldering tool. It has a metal tip that gets very hot. The temperature of this top can even go up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit, which is around 371 degrees Celsius.
While they might not have been widely used in the past, many DIY enthusiasts now have a light, portable soldering iron in their toolkits. They’re good for small repairs, certain installations, production works, and so on.
2. Solder Wire
These wires have a low melting point, so they can easily melt with the use of a soldering iron. There are also different types of wires for various soldering projects and temperatures. The two main choices are lead-free and lead alloy solder wires.
3. Soldering Station
This is an essential item for professionals. It usually has a main unit with some soldering tools attached to it. The controls usually include temperature adjustment, control circuitry, and temperature sensors. Some units may also have an electric transformer and accessories such as tip cleaners, holders, stands, etc.
This is a type of chemical agent that can clean the metal surfaces you want to solder together. While it’s possible to solder without using flux, this might result in weak joints that are easily broken. Flux removes oxidation from the surfaces and also prevents them from more oxidation in the future.
5. Sponge or Brass Wool
After your soldering work is done for the day, it’s recommended that you clean the soldering tip of the iron. This will remove the buildup of carbon and solder, making the tool clean and ready for use for the next session. Brass wool made from soft metal shavings is the best option here, as it’s a dry type of cleaner with a flux coating. In most cases, all you have to do is rub the top of the soldering iron into the wool until it’s clean.
6. Heat-Resistant Mat
Also called a soldering mat, it provides a heat-resistant surface and protects cables, walls, floors, and flammable materials or surfaces while you’re soldering. The best versions can even provide protection from temperatures of around 1250 Celsius.
7. Wire Cutters
When you’re working on electrical wires, a wire cutter is a must-have in your toolbox. It will cut the wires quickly and also help in stripping the wire ends.
8. Helping Hands or Clamps
Clamps, helping hands, and soldering vises can help in holding circuit boards or whatever you’re working on. There are also small soldering vises available for working on circuit boards, pieces of metal, pieces of wood, or other little objects that require work with soldering tools. This way, you can keep your hands free and also be sure of a stable piece to work on.
9. Magnifying Glass
It is mostly used in microelectronic soldering projects that require a precision level that may not always be possible without vision enhancers. With a powerful magnifying glass, you can see all the small electronic parts properly and work on them as required. The magnifying glasses may also have a stand so that they remain stable.
10. Anti-static Wrist Strap
This is a type of safety gear that you can use to prevent static electricity buildup while working with sensitive electronic tools. When you’re using a soldering iron, there might be a static charge that can result in safety issues or possible damage to the electronics. An anti-static wrist strap has conductive threads leading to a ground conductor. This helps discharge the static electricity and provides a grounding effect.
Most of the soldering tools must-haves might be available at your nearest hardware shop. For the best quality options and the best prices, though, you may have to look at a few online selling platforms. Take a look around, know what tools you need, and get at least a few in your collection to make life a little easier and more productive.