Soldering can be quite intimidating – the hot iron, the smoke, the images of burned and destroyed equipment. However, with minimal tooling, and a little practice, anyone can make professional looking solder joints with consistency and ease. We’re going to walk through the tooling, skills, and techniques you need to be confident the next time a repair is needed!

What Is Soldering?

Soldering is the action of melting and bonding a typically lead and tin wire alloy, to two or more electrical components. When cooled, this process creates a solid, electrically conductive and mechanically sound connection. Solder joints are those shiny silver-gray things you see holding components onto circuit boards! Solder joints can also be re-melted or “reworked” to manipulate, remove, or replace components on a PCB (Printed Circuit Board). Rework is often more tricky than new solder joints, but is the most common task you’ll face doing in the field repairs.

Soldering graphic

Equipment, Supplies, and Safety

You can spend anything you want on soldering equipment. Nothing says that a $600 soldering iron is much better than a $50 iron. Getting started only requires a handful of affordable and easy to acquire tools. 

Before beginning any kind of soldering activity, ensure that you are aware of the extreme temperatures of the iron, approaching 800℉. Soldering can also fling molten bits of solder around the immediate area. Clipped component leads can fly across the room with great speed. Wearing appropriate protective equipment is a must, so put on those safety glasses!

Soldering Irons

The first and most important of the tools you will need is a soldering iron. Irons are available in many different styles which all have their advantages and disadvantages. They can be in the shape of a pen or a gun, some have variable temperatures, and others are fixed. Though most affordable, a fixed temperature soldering iron that plugs directly to an outlet is often lower quality and produces less consistent results. As a beginner, a basic variable temperature pen style soldering iron is recommended. This style will work for most all applications, but for a better investment at a slightly higher price, a soldering station is highly recommended. Stations like this have valuable features such as, finer temperature control, a stand for the iron when dormant, and cleaning pads of keeping the tip of your iron healthy, effective, and clean.

Soldering station Photo
Soldering iron Photo

We’ve combed through the marketplace and found a couple of soldering irons we like. For those just getting started or doing the occasional repair, we recommend our pen style soldering iron. If you’re doing more soldering, often at a desk, you can’t beat our variable temperature soldering station!


Solder is most commonly a wire shape and made from an alloy composed of lead and tin, with an inner core of flux. Flux is a cleaning agent and heat conductor that helps to scrub the connection pads clean of oxidation, as well as encourage the flow and heat transfer of the molten solder to the solder points.

Solder core Graphic


As a beginner you will find that using a thinner gauge solder will provide more control over the quantity of the solder applied to a joint, helping to prevent the application of too much solder. There are also many ratios of lead to tin, and even some lead free solders available on the market as well. The many options to choose from can be quite intimidating. We recommend a leaded 60/40 Sn-Pb or 63/37 Sn-Pb solder alloy, with anywhere from a 0.033” to 0.062” diameter, for the easiest use and introduction to soldering your first joints. Be cautious though as this does contain lead – always wash your hands after use! The lead free solders generally require a slightly higher temperature to melt and can be a bit more difficult to work with for a beginner, but they are safer to use.

Hand Tools

No matter the application, there are three tools which everybody should have for doing any kind of electrical work. The first of the tools you’ll need is a sturdy set of smooth jaw pliers. This tool provides the extra bit of control needed when moving components around and making simple manipulations and small bends. The smooth jaw keeps you from marring or crimping sharp weak points into your parts. You must also have a sharp pair of flush cutters. Other than cutting all your wires with these, being able to trim and clip any excess leads off components is essential for keeping a project neat and preventing any potential shorts. Our final recommended hand tool would be a pair of wire strippers. Though not required, as a wire can be stripped with a knife, dedicated strippers provide a quicker and more reliable way to strip wires back while maintaining the integrity of the inner core wires. You’ll likely even want a few pairs of wire strippers to cover the wire sizes you’ll be working with.

Hand Tools

Now you’re all setup to get soldering! It’s a great time to buy one of our kits and get to practicing! If soldering is new to you, our LED Candle Kit is a great place to start and a fun decoration.

Ask us your questions!