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Recommended Tools for Soldering and De-Soldering

Soldering is an essential skill when working with electronics. But, it is important to use the right tools so that your circuit will work reliably.
(A properly designed and soldered circuit can last for decades).

I understand that investing in tools can get expensive.
So, I’ve assembled a list of items that are reasonably priced for students and hobbyists, while still being reliable.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

“Bare-Minimum” Tools

Soldering Iron – Click to order from Amazon

You will want a pencil style soldering iron of 25-30 watts. Never use a soldering gun on circuit boards!
I recommend a soldering iron station that allows you to adjust the temperature.
Your soldering iron tip should be a point or a very thin (1/8″) screwdriver tip.

I recommend the Weller “5 to 30 Variable Wattage Precision Grip Soldering Iron Station” Part Number: WLSK3012A

Never rest your iron on a table. Always use holder or bracket designed for soldering irons.
You’ll need a wet sponge (included with the station I recommend) or brass sponge to clean the tip of your iron.

60/40 rosin core solder

Solder – Click to order from Amazon

I recommend using 60/40 rosin core solder. This solder is an alloy made of 60% tin and 40% lead.
Rosin is a substance that helps clean the soldered connections and helps the melted solder to flow more easily.

Always wash your hands with soap and water after working with 60/40 solder.

Holder Option 1: Four Hands, Basic Set, Helping Hands – Click to order from Amazon

Never use your hands to hold a circuit board or parts while you solder. The burn risk is just too high!

When using this tool, you can use two “hands” to hold the circuit board, and the other two “hands” to hold parts in place.


Holder Option 2: Circuit Board Holder – Click to order from Amazon

This tool holds the circuit board for you. You can insert your parts and then rotate to the other side to solder your connections.

However, it does not provide a way to hold parts while you solder them.

Holder Option 3: All Metal Helping Hands – Click to order from Amazon

These all metal helping hands are your best choice for splicing wires or soldering connectors. These hands lock in place and don’t “spring back” after you position them (as with the four hands set above). The magnifying glass is useful for inspecting solder connections.

If you use these to hold circuit boards, be sure to put masking or electrician’s tape between the board and the alligator clips so the board isn’t scratched.

Flush Wire Cutters

Wire cutters – Click to order from Amazon

You’ll need diagonal wire cutters to trim the leads of your parts once they are soldered.

I recommend flush cutters such as the ones shown on the left.

Long-Nose / Flat Nose Pliers – Click to order from Amazon

Pliers such as these are useful for forming parts and during the de-soldering process.

I recommend long-nose / flat-nose pliers with serrated jaws such as the ones shown on the left.

Additional Useful Tools

Liquid Flux – Click to order from Amazon

Liquid flux helps ensure clean solder connections. It is particularly useful when soldering two wires together or when soldering connectors.

Brass sponge – Click to order from Amazon

When it comes to keeping the tip of your iron clean, a brass sponge, such as the one shown on the left, is a better alternative to the wet sponge.

Brass sponges do a better job of removing material and they don’t cause dramatic temperature drops like wet sponges do.

Tip tinner – Click to order from Amazon

Tip tinner helps remove baked on residue from your tip and it helps prevent oxidation from accumulating.

De-Soldering Option 1: De-Soldering pump – Click to order from Amazon

De-soldering pumps are used to “vacuum” molten solder. They come in handy for removing excess solder from a connection or for removing a soldered part from a circuit board.

The de-soldering pump I recommend has a larger plunger for a stronger “vacuum” effect. I find that this pump is more effective than de-soldering wick.

De-Soldering Option 2: De-Soldering wick – Click to order from Amazon

De-soldering wick (also known as de-soldering braid) is another method for removing solder from circuit boards.

Heat Gun – Click to order from Amazon

This heat gun provides a stream of hot air that is perfect for heat shrink tubing*.


*Proper solder connections on connectors and wire splices should be covered in heat shrink tubing.

Soldering Mat – Click to order from Amazon

This heat resistant 13.8″ x 9.8″ silicone mat helps project your work surface from burns, scratches, and moisture. It also has built in trays to hold small parts. Using a soldering mat isn’t mandatory, but it is handy!