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Solder & Soldering Basics

Learn about the basics of soldering with Blain’s Farm & Fleet.

Soldering is used to join two or more metal pieces together with a filler metal. This filler metal is called solder. Soldering is different from welding because in soldering, the work piece isn’t melted. Only the filler metal is melted to join the metal work pieces. It’s commonly used in plumbing, electronics and metalwork, especially jewelry.

How Soldering Works

Solder & Soldering Basics
Solder is used to join two pieces of metal, without melting the work piece.

Soldering is similar to welding in that it joins two pieces of metal. However, the filler metal (solder) is the only thing that’s melted. To melt the solder, a soldering iron is used. A soldering iron is a hand tool that heats up, using electricity. The hot iron heats up the solder, melting it so it can flow and join the two metal pieces. For alloys that require more heat to reach their melting point, a soldering gun can be used.

Applications

Soldering is used for a number of applications. Plumbing solder can join copper pipes together without damaging them, and form a watertight seal. It’s also used to join objects made from sheet metal, such as rain gutters and car radiators.

Solder is also used in making jewelry. It can be used to join pieces of metal to make jewelry accents or even to repair jewelry.

Electrical solder is used on circuit boards and to hold wires together. It’s great because only the solder melts, not the wires or connectors being worked on. Electrical current can still flow through the solder.

Soldering Safety

When you’re working with solder, you’re working with very hot metal. There are also fumes and possible debris that come from soldering. It’s important to always keep safety in mind. Wear safety glasses to protect your eyes.

Don’t touch the soldering iron tip, as it’s very hot. Unplug the soldering iron when you’re not using it. Work in a well-ventilated area and keep your head above your work. Flux in the solder causes smoke, which you should avoid inhaling. Some solder also contains lead, so it’s crucial to wash your hands after using it.

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