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Soldering Trouble

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I'm a major rookie at soldering and am running into trouble. I'm soldering wire into chains for dead eyes. I'm using rosin core solder and a ten dollar soldering iron. The first few chains went as expected, but now I'm having trouble. The solder won't melt as expected. I heat the wire with the iron, hold the iron to the wire and touch the solder to the iron. It takes several minutes before the solder melts. I thought the tip needed cleaning, but I did that and the results were about the same. I even bought new tips and still couldn't get it to melt.


I get that the feeling I'm missing something fundamental. Can anyone help?



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I suspect you have a bad soldering iron. If your iron isn't getting hot, then it cannot heat the metal you are soldering. Both the soldier and the metal you are working on have to be at the same temperature. That allows the solder to free flow over the piece. If your iron has started to take a long time to melt the solder, get a new iron. 


Chantilly, VA


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Don't know what iron you have, but often they have replaceable tips, there so you can replace bad tips and change the tips sizes to match the job. If you have replaceable tips, take it out and clean it, put it back in and have at it.


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Hi Rich,


60 watts may be a little overkill. It will certainly be too hot for small work. If you do go that large get one with a rheostat so that you can back it down when necessary.


I hope this helps.



"I Love the smell of sawdust in the morning" apologies to John Melius


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When soldering keep a wet sponge on your bench. Wipe the tip of the iron on the sponge after each application. The tip sould stay shiny and coatede smoothly with solder. If the solder beads up on the tip it needs cleaning. The soldering iron shoud not be used to melt the solder. It is used to heat the work piece until it is hot enough to melt the solder itself. Solder will not flow from a hot piece to a cooler piece. Press the iron on the work piece hard enough to transfer the heat. The more surface area of contac between the two the better.

Apply the solder as far away from the soldering iron tip as possible. If the work piece is hot enough the solder will melt and flow towards the soldering iron

Drown you may, but go you must and your reward shall be a man's pay or a hero's grave

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Just be patiente, and try different tips and tutorials... and one day you ll find that ... it simply works!




Edited by Nenad M

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

some wires have a poly coating applied to them to keep them from oxidizing.  sand the soldering location first.  if your wire is oxidized that can also keep the solder from sticking, sand it.

what metal is the wire made of.  copper is easy to solder but if your working a steel, brass or aluminum it takes more/longer to heat those up as they abosorbe heat slower and they also disperse heat faster than copper.


you should also have on hand some liquid or paste flux with any soldering work, when you heat the solder the rosin is released and will quickly turn gaseous if its under heat for more than a few seconds ( that stink you get with soldering, which is very bad for you btw so don't lean straight over your work)

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  • 4 weeks later...

The most likely cause for lack of heat is a loose tip. Many screw into the holder... grab it with pliers, loosen it, then snug it up again. I have a cheapo iron that also had a grub screw close to the handle... loosening and retightening this regularly was also needed.


Finally cured all these ills by getting a decent iron:


Pat M.

Matthews Model Marine

Model FUNCTION as well as FORM.

Get your boats wet!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Wow, lots of good ideas.

I agree with most of them. I have a couple different soldering irons which I have used for large and small projects. The smaller the job, the smaller the iron. But in all cases the tip needs to get the juice. If it is loose: tighten it. If it is bare: coat it with solder. But in all cases: use flux. I have some liquid flux that survived from the stain-glass working days and it still does the job.

I also have a cheapy iron that works very well, but I also use a rheostat to control the heat. It is home made (dimmer switch). 


I hope by now we all agree::::   Check the simple iron you have. It is not magic how they work. Don't spend more money on a new one.



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