Enginursday: Keep Calm and Solder On!


If you know SparkFun, then you probably know that we are all about soldering. Whether it’s selling kits that teach you how to solder, teaching soldering classes, or hosting soldering competitions, we love anything and everything that involves soldering. We love it so much that we believe everyone who wants to should be able to learn how to solder. As much as we would enjoy teaching our classes all over the country/world, we simply can’t be everywhere at once. Thus, over the years, we’ve tried to create the best possible guides, tutorials, and videos that help others learn how to solder, whether they’re in the next town over or half a world away.

Meet the first of many, new soldering tutorials. This tutorial covers soldering in general, the tools involved, as well as basic to more advanced techniques of through-hole (PTH) soldering. In light of creating these new tutorials, we will also be creating a new series of soldering videos. Here we have the first video for PTH soldering techniques.

Next, we will tackle SMD soldering, hot-air rework, stenciling and reflow, and electronics troubleshooting amongst many other topics, so stay tuned for more tutorials to come.


Comments 19 comments

  • P.S. Arrrgh! I be liking your new way of laying out. It be'in more blogy and remembers me of the friendly nature of your old design. Twas fond I was of that scrivening! A black spot on the naysayers, and keep your powder dry!

  • Am I the only one who wants a “Keep Calm and Solder On” T-Shirt?! I think it would make a nice addition to the Swag category :)

  • On the “tack one pin then bend into place” approach, I would add to remelt the tacked lead as the last item soldered to relieve stress and greatly improve reliability, especially with TH ceramic caps. But it applies to everything

  • Am I the only one who uses the “plug the headers into a breadboard/Arduino to make sure they are straight” trick??? For example, while soldering an Arduino shield I will put the headers into the Arduino pins then place the board onto the headers and solder the headers from there (or just tack a few pins so the headers don’t move then pull the shield off and solder the rest of them)… That way you know it will fit perfectly into the Arduino!

  • Your beginners toolkit only includes solderwick and not a suction thing. I have both, but for reference, how do you get all of the solder out of a hole with solderwick? I’ve never been able to get it out with just solderwick

    • You can attempt the slap method. I mention it briefly in the tutorial. It’s very effective once you get the hang of it.

      • I’ve seen the slap method before, but no way in hell will I be attempting that heh

        • I simply hold the board between my thumb and forefinger. Heat the hole on the board with the iron, and then pound my fist (with the board) against the table. Works every time, solder hits the table, board never gets scratched.

        • you should try it. it works amazingly well. I haven’t touched wick or a solder sucker in years.

        • What? It’s just the application of Newton’s principle of inertia, applied to hot liquid solder of course! :-)

    • I always rub the end of the wick with a flux pen. About the first inch. Also hit the hole with the pen. Solder flows into the wick so well that the hole will just barely be wetted when done.

      For suction type (Soldapult), cut a little notch in the end piece so it will fit over your iron tip and still seal pretty well with the board. Works well for same-side sucking and does not loose enough to bother heating one side using the device on the other.

    • Add a small amount of solder to the wick itself then use that portion of the wick to remove the solder from the barrel (hole). Add flux to the barrel and wick if you have some available. If that doesn’t work I would add a small amount of solder to the barrel as well. Make sure your iron is set right too about 600-700C for leaded and 700-800 for lead-free.

  • Thanks for the video, nicely done. I’m going to try that trick of soldering one leg of each cap, then pressing them flush and soldering the other leg. Cool!

  • A bit of discussion of solder itself might be worthwhile. I grew up with 60/40, gives me nice working time. 63/37 is the eutectic, freezes faster and has a little lower melting point. This new-fangled ROHS stuff takes more heat, doesn’t seem to flow as smoothly, and over time can grow little whiskers, I don’t like it but maybe I’ll come around.

    • As I was taught when first starting out, “Flux is your Friend”. Flux seems to help with lead-free’s stubbornness to do what we want it to do.


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