- Published: Thursday, 03 November 2011
- Written by Jon Chandler
- Hits: 5750
Soldering iron tips, that is. A clean soldering iron tip is essential for good solder joints. There are many ways and devices to accomplish this ranging from cheap to expensive. This tip is for one of the best methods available and it happens to be really cheap and simple.
This tip cleaning brush was explained to one of my co-workers at a Pace soldering seminar - I'm sure that the Pace catalog includes some expensive alternatives so it's surprising that they recommended this alternative. First, you'll need some materials which shouldn't be a problem:
- Paper towels - 2 ordinary paper towels. Nothing exotic, just plain paper towels.
- Transparent tape - actually, almost anything will work.
Got the materials? Now we can make the tip cleaning brush.
1. Stack the 2 paper towels (so you have 2 layers of towel)
2. Fold the towels in half across the short dimension (so you have 4 layers of towel)
3. Starting with the folded else, roll the towels into a tight tube - the tighter the better.
4. Wrap tape around the rolled tube in 4 places, leaving about 2" clear in the center of the length. I used blue masking tape here so the tape is easy to see (ok, it was the closest roll too!).
Finally, using a sharp knife, cut the tube into 2 lengths, cutting about half way along the length. The cut surface is the solder brush.
Use this brush to keep your tip clean. When the iron heats up, a couple quick passes with the brush will clean the tip. Wet the tip with a tiny amount of solder and you're good to go. While you're soldering, use the brush periodically to keep the tip clean, always followed by wetting the tip.
Here's my large tip that was pretty grusome after my last use.
And here it is after a couple quick swipes and re-wetting.
The brush will last a long time. When the brush gets worn out, it can either be trimmed back or a new one quick made.
By the way, most tips are plated and should never be filed or scraped with a knife blade - the plating could be damaged if you do so.
A good reference for soldering is the Soldering is Easy comic book, available in many languages.