What is Soldering?
Sol·der·ing (sä-dər-ing): is a process which two metal surfaces are joined by melting a metal or metal alloy. This is done by heating the two parts to be joined and then melting solder on contact to create a join.
There are many ways to solder depending on what you are creating. Here are two common forms of soldering:
Soft Soldering: uses solder with lower melting temperature. It is often used for electrical work.
Silver Soldering: uses solder with higher melting temperature and often creates a bond that is stronger than the initial materials. This method is commonly used in jewelry making.
Basic Materials and Tools Used
Soldering Iron: This tool heats the parts and solder. It comes in a wide variety from a simple pencil to a full soldering station.
The simplest form would be the “hot pencil” tool without any temperature control. Simply plug it in and guesstimate when it is at its hottest.
Another form is the soldering station which can control the temperature of the soldering iron and accompanied with a stand with a sponge or brass mesh for cleaning.
Solder: This metal or metal alloy is melted to form the join. It comes with lead or lead-free. The combination of metals used to make the solder will determine the temperature needed to melt the solder:
63/37: melts at 183 °C (361 °F) (eutectic: the only mixture that melts at a point, instead of over a range)
60/40: melts between 183–190 °C (361–374 °F)
50/50: melts between 185–215 °C (365–419 °F)
from Soldering, Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soldering)
How to Solder
There are a lot of amazing people in the maker community who can teach you how to solder. Mitch Altman is one of them! Check out Soldering is Easy comic by Mitch Altman for an illustrated guide on how to solder. It is one of the best guides available and it’s free! Click the following link to download your copy: FullSolderComic_EN
The original, as well as translations into many languages, is available at the Might OHM
This How To Solder animated Info-Graphic from DIY Space Exploration is fantastic too:
Here is an excellent production from PACE Electronics – an old video but still a classic, and fun to watch:
While reading and watching are good resources, there is not better way to learn than by doing. LED projects make excellent soldering practice. They are cheap, easy to determine if you did the job correctly. No light, then something is not right. When it is done correctly you have a useful light.