The process of soldering wires is taking two or more wires, placing them together. Thereafter, you use heat to melt electrical solder connecting those two (or more) wires permanently.
Instruments Required for Soldering
- Soldering gun/soldering iron
- Solder Flux
- Wire stripper
- Heat shrink tubing
- Heat Gun
- Safety glasses
- Shrink tube/ cover shrink
- Damp sponge/damp cloth
Safety Precautions when Soldering
- Always ensure that you wear the safety glasses to protect your eyes in case the solder splashes
- Do not touch the Soldering gun tip when soldering because it is hot
- Do not solder near flammable materials such as near gas cylinders or near petrol
- When soldering in a car, the solder may drop to the bottom of the car, and may potentially cause a fire. Ensure that you put a material that is non-flammable underneath to prevent the solder from dropping at the bottom of the vehicle.
- Ensure you work outdoors or in a very well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling the smoke
- If you use solder that has a lead, ensure to thoroughly wash your hands as well as the workstation you are working on to avoid ingesting the lead
- Do not work on live electrical wires
The following are easy steps you need to take to solder wires together or to solder electronic equipment:
Step 1: Preparing the Wires for Soldering through Stripping
For this step, one could use an automatic wire stripper or the manual wire stripper. For the automatic wire stripper, place the wire in the stripper at the position with which you want to strip it. After that, clip the outer casing of the wire. Once this is done, the wire is automatically stripped.
The manual stripper has different gages of wire which depend on the size of the wire you place it in the stripper. Once it is placed and secure, twist the stripper in opposite directions a few times. While you squeeze, ensure that you pull off the insulation.
You want to ensure that the wires you want to solder are stripped at the same position. This makes soldering very easy and efficient. You also need to be careful not to cut any of the filaments of the wire as they may cause a fire because of increased resistance.
In case the wire is accidentally cut in the stripping process, cut the wire and do the stripping again. Make sure that you are keen at this point not to cut the wire entities.
Step 2: Choosing your Shrink Tube
Make sure that the shrink tube is not too big as it will barely cover the soldered wire. The tube should be the right size in order for it to adequately cover the soldered wires.
Step 3: Mechanical Joining of the Wires
Freshly stripped multi-filament wires need some attention before soldering. The easiest method to keep the wires together before soldering is to spread the filaments of each wire and join both wires together. Next, twist the joined wires together to form a joint wire ready for soldering.
Another method is to twist the filaments of each individual wires and then wrapping the wires to each other. Ensure that the wires are very well wrapped and the ends tucked together.
Step 4: Adding the Solder Flux to the Joint Wire
Use your finger or a utensil to add solder flux to the connection. This flux helps the solder flow into the wires, thus making the process of soldering easier and more efficient. Once you have applied the flux, use the solder gun to heat it up.
This process of heating up the flux causes oxidation hence the need for a damp cloth or sponge to wipe it out.
Step 5: Applying Solder to the Joint
With the help of helping hands, hold the wrapped wires in order to steady them before they get soldered. A pro tip here is to ensure that the alligator teeth of the helping hands are also secured with heat shrink. This is done in order to prevent the sharp teeth from cutting into the wires.
Pick up a small amount the solder using the soldering iron or the solder gun and apply it to the connection.
Step 6: Soldering of the Wires
Heat it up and ensure that every strand is coated with the solder. Once the soldering process is done, leave the wires to cool. Do not touch the joint until the solder is completely cool because touching it will cause the wires to move.
This might create cracks in the solder or air gaps, hence the poor connection. The wires should be fully joined after the process.
Step 7: Inspecting the Soldering Job
Inspect the connection after the solder has completely cooled down to find out whether the soldering was done properly. For a good soldering job, the solder wick should completely cover the filaments of the wires. No copper should be seen through the connection.
After ensuring your connection is well bound, a slight tag should be done to be sure about the strength of the bind.
Once you are done soldering, wipe off the soldering gun or the soldering iron on the damp sponge or cloth to ensure you have a clean tip at all times.
Step 8: Covering of the Joint
Once the solder is completely dry, well connected and properly inspected, pull the cover shrink to the connected part of the wires. Once in place, heat the shrink tube with a heat gun or a lighter by moving the heat source back and forth so that there is not too much heat.
One can add some silicone paste before putting the shrink tube on the soldered area in order to make it waterproof and to last longer. With the silicone, the heat should be applied from the middle moving outwards in order for the excess silicone paste to move outwards. Wipe off the excess silicone paste.
If you do not have the shrink tube on the already soldered wires, electrical tape can be used to do the job.