Christine Cox

Keep that iron tip tinned

Weller 100

Weller 100 soldering iron with tinned tip

Kris sent me some questions about stained glass soldering this morning. I’ve had similar questions in the past so I thought I’d cover it here too.

Q. Years ago I bought a Weller 100 soldering iron and always had a problem keeping the iron hot enough.  It would start out great and after a short time the solder would quit flowing.

A. If your iron is hot enough when you start, but not later, it’s probably because the tip is getting oxidized. When the tip is oxidized (not bright silver), it can’t melt solder. Here is a tutorial that might help with keeping the tip tinned:
http://www.volcanoarts.com/cart/soldering/gallery/faq.htm

Clean Solder Iron Tip
The tip of your soldering iron should always be silver. If it is any color other than silver, stop soldering immediately and clean it as solder will not stick to an oxidized tip. Normally this is done on a damp synthetic sponge while the iron is hot. If the tip of your iron becomes black and you just cannot get it tinned (silver colored) again, you can use a Sal Ammoniac Block to re-tin the tip.

Hints to Keep the Iron Tip Silver

  • Do not leave the iron plugged in when not in use.
  • Do not use the iron at a higher temperature than is necessary to melt solder.
  • Clean the tip of the iron on a damp synthetic sponge as soon as it starts to change from silver.
  • Even when heating up or cooling down your iron, check that the tip doesn’t discolor. If it does, wipe it on a damp synthetic sponge.

The tip must be tinned and fluxed all the time that you’re soldering. That synthetic sponge thing is critical.

Q.  Would it work better if I had a temperature controller? I see that you have a mini one and was wondering if this would work?

A. Your Weller 100 has a built in temperature controller. It came with a 700 degree tip and that’s plenty hot to melt solder. I don’t think a rheostat is your answer, and the iron isn’t made to work with one.

Q.  Also would like to know what soldering tips you would recommend for jewelry making.

A. Regarding which tips for jewelry making, any tip will do, even the big one that came with the iron. You tend to use only the corner of the tip anyway, but if you’d like to try a narrower tip, I’d suggest the 1/8” 700 degree tip. It’s here:
http://www.volcanoarts.com/cart/soldering/index.htm#WellerTips

In case you haven’t already seen it, here is a tutorial for photo charms:

http://www.volcanoarts.com/muse/photoframes/index.htm

I hope this helps. Hang in there. It takes time to practice keeping the iron hot and the solder flowing.

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Comments on: "Keep that iron tip tinned" (2)

  1. pat walldov said:

    INFO WAS HELPFUL, BUT I NEED TO KNOW IF THE WELLER W100P IS ONLY FOR LEAD FREE SOLDER. THE CLASS I TOOK IT SEEMED TOO HOT AND I WAS TOLD TO USE AN ADJUSTABLE DEVISE. THE INFO YOU GAVE SAID DO NOT. THEN HOW DO I ADJUST? PAT

  2. Great questions, Pat. The Weller 100P is “temperature controlled,” meaning that it maintains a constant temperature based on the TIP that you put in it. The iron comes standard with a 700 degree tip, but you can buy 600 degree tips for the iron.

    A rheostat is a device that regulates how much electricity gets to the iron. The problem is that the reduced electricity can conflict with the iron’s temperature control feature. In fact, the manufacturer specifically voids the warranty on an iron used with a rheostat.

    Regarding the solder, the Weller 100P is wonderful with lead free solder! My personal favorite is SilverGleem. It has a much brighter and lovelier color.

    We have the solder iron tips for the Weller 100P here:
    http://www.volcanoarts.com/cart/soldering/index.htm#WellerTips

    We have SilverGleem solder here:
    http://www.volcanoarts.com/cart/soldering/index.htm#SilverGleem

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