View Full Version : Soldering iron tips?

09-28-2003, 04:31 PM

[This message has been edited by pgmrdan (edited 03-19-2004).]

Bruce Griffing
09-28-2003, 04:58 PM
Copper will work fine, but it will dissolve in solder over a fairly short time. Most solder tips are steel plated with something. Nickel maybe? If you can make them quickly and cheaply, I would just use copper and replace them often.

09-28-2003, 06:24 PM
Use copper and keep the temperature from rising too far, in other words, don't leave it on if you're not soldering. Brass is easier to cut threads into, either material will erode away. I think it is cadmium that is plated onto the better tips, otherwise it's nickel.

09-28-2003, 06:44 PM
Many years ago Weller (or one of the major soldering iron manufacturers) offered a gold plating over their clad tips. They cost a few dollars more than a regular clad tip but were well worth the cost.
I used the same tip for close to 4 years with the soldering iron on 8+ hours a day 5 days a week. It never degraded. One day someone decided to do me a favor by cleaning the tip with a file instead of a damp sponge... it didn't last long after that. I can't seem to find these tips anymore.

[This message has been edited by fixxit (edited 09-28-2003).]

09-28-2003, 07:04 PM

[This message has been edited by pgmrdan (edited 03-08-2004).]

09-28-2003, 10:03 PM
It may be worth checking into the home plating kits, running off an ac adapter. Gold plate your own tips.

09-28-2003, 11:13 PM

[This message has been edited by pgmrdan (edited 03-08-2004).]

09-28-2003, 11:48 PM
Take a look at the hole where the tip goes. Find the nearest oversize copper wire in the shop or at hardware store.

thread or whatever is required to get it to fit.

if copper is a pain to thread, brass will work, but bronze would be better, no zinc.

I have an old iron with a hole and a setscrew to fit the tip. I can make, out of #6 ground wire, any tip I need, even odd ones for lifting surface mount parts....works great.

09-29-2003, 12:03 AM
Commercial bronze contains 10% zinc. The best tips are steel plated. Use a voltage regulator to make the tips last longer. I use an ordinary dimmer in a box to control the temp. The best irons have a temp sensor in the stand and will keep the iron at the optimum temp without overheating. I have an iron with interchangeable elements and tips. I have been using the same super fine 15 watt tip for 15 years. I use it often and it seems it will last longer than I will. I also have 30 watt and 45 watt elements. It is worth spending the extra money for a good iron.

09-29-2003, 12:17 AM
I buy the cheap irons from the dollar store, replace the tip with #6 ground wire as Oso does....cut to size, shape it to suit with the bench grinder, tighten set screw and off I go.

The irons are cheap enough to toss when dead but last plenty long for my use.


09-29-2003, 08:52 AM

[This message has been edited by pgmrdan (edited 03-08-2004).]

09-29-2003, 01:05 PM
One of the electronics repairmen at work rigged his iron with a dimmer and he kept it in a piece of emt with a thermostat (from an electric oven i think). iron stayed hot as he wanted, when removed from oven it went to full heat, depending on dimmer switch setting. And he made his tips to fit also (per OSO)- pounded flats, points, had a depression in one tip so he could carry solder, etc, depending on what he wanted to do.

09-30-2003, 04:02 AM

I have a hakko 470 Through Hole Desoldering station - the Hakko tips are $40 each here. I have turned Hastalloy tips for reclamation work - they tranfer heat well and never corrode (ionic tranfser). You can make copper tips - iron plating (very thin) followed by tin plating is the commercial method. I have toyed with the idea of gold plate, but do not know if ionic transfer will still take place on pure Copper tip. You could try a nickle/silver brazing rod if it is the correct diameter.

09-30-2003, 06:56 AM
I have a temperature controlled soldering/desoldering station (Pace). The tips are a bit pricy, but they last years.

I run them at 300 degrees C. They are extremely fine tips. My biggest problem has been bending them if excessive mechanical force is applied (read that as dropping the tip :-) ).

regulating the tip temperature would probably help keep the tip life up. Also, clean them with a wet sponge and Radio Shack has a tin agent for tips that works well.

How long does a $2.00 tip laast? If it is one year, then that less than a penny a day.

For me, I could make my own tips, but it would be a net loss to do it since I make more money on my hobby machine per hour than I would save making my own tips.

That's my "Tip of the Day". :-)

Paul Alciatore
09-30-2003, 08:57 PM
I've worked in electronics for over 30 years and found that the cheap tips do indeed erode away quickly. Many years ago I discovered the Weller WTCP series soldering stations and have used them ever since. I have one that is over 30 years old and I'm still using the original tips. I have several because I need different sizes and temperatures (the temperature is regulated by selecting the tip). They can be left on 24/7/365 and the tips still last. So does the soldering station itself. Clean them with a wet sponge or one of the "brillo" type cleaners dry cleaners sold for that purpose. You can also dip the hot tip into a container of flux (never use acid type flux for electric/electronic work) to clean. You should never, ever use a file or any abrasives on a plated tip.

If you use a good iron with plated tips there is no reason to make your own because they last forever.

Paul A.

George Hodge
09-30-2003, 09:30 PM
Seems that I read somewhere that if you plate the tip of the copper with silver solder that it will last longer.

09-30-2003, 11:19 PM
The newer Weller soldering stations have tips that wear thru in a matter of a few months if used much or left on.

My old weller iron is going strong, but the really old one just shot craps...so no more #6 ground wire for a while...knew I shouldn't have talked about it....

Oh well, short pieces of ground wire with a light wire holder also work fine as thorn catchers for bicycle wheels...I still have a use for them.

10-01-2003, 02:19 AM
When I was in africa in 1970, I came into a weller tcp soldering station. I do a lot of soldering, so the tip lasting 25 years was nothing short of a miracle. For some reason, the replacement tip didn't make it more than a couple of years, neither did the replacement for that. Now I make my own usually from brass, and press on the sensor bud from the old tips. I put whatever shape I want on them, but they don't last long. I'm going to try silver solder tinning them. Thanks Thrud and George for the 'tip'.