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One of the keys to successful soldering is having he right tools to hand to help make the job easier and to do things in the best way possible.
Obviously having he right soldering iron available is very important, but there are many other tools that can help make the job of soldering easier and enable the soldering that is done to be completed more easily and to a higher standard.
There are several items that can help. Items like good wire cutter, pliers to hold hot items as they are being soldered, or to help bend wires, and a number of other tools like "helping hands" and PCB holders or clamps to keep the work firmly in place without the components falling out.
Apart from the soldering iron itself, the next most important things are a set of tools that enable the work associated with soldering to be undertaken as easily as possible.
Some of the basic tools include:
- Wire cutters: These should be a nice quality pair. The size should be chosen to suit the type of work to be undertaken. Smaller wire cutters for PCB work, and slightly larger ones for general wiring. Small wire cutters suitable for trimming component leads might be damaged when trying to cut larger wires, and larger ones will not make such a neat job for printed circuit boards.
- Thin nose pliers: These again should be chosen to suit the type of work envisaged. Smaller ones for general circuit board work, and for more heavy duty work, larger ones may be needed.
- Wire strippers: Although there are techniques for stripping wire using wire cutters, a much better option is to have some wire strippers. Good ones can be expensive, but they make the job very much easier.
- Solder sucker: A solder sucker is a very useful tool to have - it will enable the solder to be removed from a joint so that a component can be de-soldered for rework, etc.
Often a set of suitable tools can be bought as a tool set, sometimes with a soldering iron and stand.
Helping hand for soldering
One of the most useful items on top of the basic tools for soldering is an item called helping hands. Often when soldering you need three or more hands to hold the soldering iron, solder, and components or wires in place..
As set of helping hands enables a wire or component to be held in position ready to be soldered.
The helping hands generally consists of a base with a bar with manoeuvrable alligator / crocodile clips at either end. These clips are used to hold the item and move them into the place where they are needed.
Some helping hands sets for soldering also include a magnifying glass so that the item to be soldered can be viewed more easily. There are many different types, so choose what is best for your situation.
PCB clamp for soldering
There are other instances where a complete printed circuit board needs to be held in place so that it can be soldered.
The PCB clamps come in a variety of different styles. One type that is particularly useful has a plate and a foam back to place over the component side of the board. This holds the components in place as they are soldered.
There are many different types of tool that can be used to help with soldering. It is always useful to have a small general tool set as screwdrivers, nut spinners, a few spanners and a number of other small items all come in useful.