Learn How To Solder

What Not To Do

What soldering iron should I buy?

There are a lot of answers to this question, and most of them are right. The simple truth is that when you are building keyboards with pre-soldered controllers (like the Clueboard) most any soldering iron will get the job done. Higher quality soldering irons will be more consistent in performance and will last longer, but if you're only building a single keyboard even the cheapest soldering iron will do a nice job.

Note: If you purchase anything after following the links below Clueboard will get a small kickback from Amazon.

Inexpensive Starter Kit

If you want everything you'll need to solder your Clueboard together, and don't want to pay too much, the Vastar 16-in-1 60W 110V Adjustable Temperature Welding Soldering Iron is a great set. It comes with everything you need (and a little more.)

Inexpensive Soldering Irons

If you just want a basic iron, these are both good choices under $20:

Soldering Stations

There are two main choices when it comes to professional soldering stations. The choice between them really comes down to personal preference.

What Solder Should I buy?

For most people the choice of solder will not make much of a difference. Some people advocate for their choice very strongly, but the truth is that if you are only building one keyboard any electronics solder will be ok.

Solder containing lead

The most popular choice is solder that contains lead. It flows smoothly and is easier to desolder. The downside is that prolonged exposure to lead is detrimental to your health. If you solder less than 50 times per year the risk from leaded solder is neglible.

The best choice for solder is a 63/37 blend, or 63% tin and 37% lead. Here are some good choices:

Lead Free Solder

Lead free solder is typically 99% tin. It is often chosen by hobbyists who have lead exposure in other parts of their lives (for example, Firearms or Plumbing) or people who solder on a daily basis. Lead free solder requires a little more heat, and if you need to desolder it you will need to have flux on hand to assist.

These are some good lead-free solder choices:

Desoldering Tools

No matter how good you are occasionally there will be the need to desolder something. There are two tools hobbyists use to accomplish this- desoldering wick and desoldering pumps.

Desoldering Wick

Desoldering wick is a copper braid that sucks up melted solder, allowing you to pull the solder away from a joint. Desoldering braid works in every situation, but proper technique can be tricky to apply for beginners. You can get braid of different widths, but for building a keyboard you want something on the wider side. Here are some good choices:

Desoldering Pump

A desoldering pump is a spring-loaded cylander that sucks the solder away from a joint. It is easier to use than desoldering braid, but there are some situations a sucker doesn't work in. A desoldering pump is a great tool to have, but you should buy desoldering wick before you purchase a desoldering pump.

Here are some good desoldering pump choices:

Flux

Flux, or rosin, is used in a variety of situations to help the soldering process. In fact, your solder has a ribbon of flux running through the center of it, this is where the name "Rosin Core Solder" comes from. For most keyboard soldering purposes this rosin core provides plenty of flux, so adding flux is not necessary.