DIY everlasting soldering tip

Thread Starter

MikeA

Joined Jan 20, 2013
249
So a few years ago I was trying to replace the tip on my soldering iron, and instead of buying one I went the DIY route. I looked around the garage to see what I can make the tip out of, and settled on a thick masonry nail. Those nails are tough if they can punch 3" into concrete. :eek:

So I've grinded into the shape I want and have used it ever since. Years later it is still as sharp as ever. I've left the iron on for long time, used harsh rosin, etc. No delicate nickel plate on surface either. It seems indestructible.

Will Weller send an assassin now? :D
 
Ive had the same set of tips for three years now, They are from china. I use a abrasive metal scouring pad thingy to dip the tip into to clean it. After around 3 months the solder started to stick to the iron tips (I like that), The Iron is used daily for at least 3 hours, I mainly use 3 tips out of the ten different ones. So far I have seen no evidence of any wear and they are as sparkly clean as the day I got them despite me doing everything your told not to. I even use the 3.5mm pointy bit for making holes in plastic for Leds!
They were cheap and Chinese and yet have lasted well, only thing I never ever do is use a wet sponge.
Ok I know its a bit like 'my grandad smoked 100 cigs a day for 89 years and lived to 90' kind of thing, but before I got my station I used a cheap no temp sensor iron and they would last 3-4 months.
What does it prove?
ERMm nothing, but I think having a good soldering station helps
 

kubeek

Joined Sep 20, 2005
5,742
The thing is that no tip will last forever. If you care of it properly it will last a long time, but still even tips for the most expensive and high quality irons need to be replaced from time to time.
Steel is not that good material for tips, because it has very low thermal conductivity compared to copper. Two things you should do to make them last long, is turn the iron off whenever you dont need it, and not use abrasives or wet sponge to clean the tip, those brass shavings cleaners are best.
 

inwo

Joined Nov 7, 2013
2,419
I read these "tip" posts with some puzzlement.:confused:

I never keep my tips particularly clean.

If I forget, and keep iron on high for a week, I'm bummed about almost burning the house down.:(

Yet, a file or grinder and re-tinning, I'm good to go.
 

Thread Starter

MikeA

Joined Jan 20, 2013
249
The thing is that no tip will last forever.
This masonry nail tip seems like it will. :D

Steel is not that good material for tips, because it has very low thermal conductivity compared to copper.
So the tip has to be a little bit shorter. Doesn't seem like a big deal.

but still even tips for the most expensive and high quality irons need to be replaced from time to time.
That's what I'm getting at. It seems like planned obsolescence. The Weller soldering guns and irons are lifetime items. All the tips I've seen are made from copper, stuff that gets eaten away super quick.
 

tcmtech

Joined Nov 4, 2013
2,867
Given the short stout design of a normal soldering tip one being made of high strength alloy steel like a masonry nail Vs an all copper tip the thermal conductivity difference would be negligible.

The high strength steel alloy on the other hand would also have superior oxidation and corrosion resistance over the soft copper at the normal temperatures that a soldering gun works at.

On top of that being much harder material it would also have a substantially superior physical wear resistance relating to when and how it gets cleaned as well.

I might not literally last for ever but it would have a fair chance of outlasting the gun its attached too and will most definitely live longer than a copper tip! ;)
 

Metalmann

Joined Dec 8, 2012
703
Given the short stout design of a normal soldering tip one being made of high strength alloy steel like a masonry nail Vs an all copper tip the thermal conductivity difference would be negligible.

The high strength steel alloy on the other hand would also have superior oxidation and corrosion resistance over the soft copper at the normal temperatures that a soldering gun works at.

On top of that being much harder material it would also have a substantially superior physical wear resistance relating to when and how it gets cleaned as well.

I might not literally last for ever but it would have a fair chance of outlasting the gun its attached too and will most definitely live longer than a copper tip! ;)


Agreed.

I've been thinking about making some new tips out of Tungsten rods from my TIG welding days.

High grade alloys.
 
The worse ones Ive used are those super cheap soldering irons, I used them when I first started and was lucky to get a week from most of them!
I also found Lead free solder seems to eat tips quicker, now I use multi core lead solder when I can get it, its expensive but I like it
 

#12

Joined Nov 30, 2010
18,217
All the tips I've seen are made from copper, stuff that gets eaten away super quick.
You haven't heard of, "ironclad"?
I've only ruined 2 or 3 of them in 40 years of hobby stuff.
Standard Weller tips for soldering irons.
The Weller guns use bare copper and can't be trusted for a week.:mad:
 

Thread Starter

MikeA

Joined Jan 20, 2013
249
The Weller guns use bare copper and can't be trusted for a week.:mad:
I don't have a Weller iron, but do have a gun. With a pair of needle nose pliers, a hammer, and about 4" of common solid 14awg or 12awg house wire, I make any tip for the Weller gun in under 60 seconds.

Masonry nails unfortunately don't bend. :D
 

tcmtech

Joined Nov 4, 2013
2,867
Masonry nails unfortunately don't bend.
Preheat with a propane torch and don't forget to grind or draw out the tip a bit to make thinner so that most of the resistive heating comes from that point and not evenly along the whole nail.. ;)
 

THE_RB

Joined Feb 11, 2008
5,438
They are steel jacket around copper. The nickel plating is just a temporary thing to stop corrosion in storage, once in use the nickel rubs off and they are solder coated.

You must not do much soldering? :) I can wear through a weller or hakko tip in a couple of years. When irons were used all day long in the repair shop we needed to replace tips at least once a year. But they got a hard life, repair is worse on a tip than electronics assembly.
 

Gdrumm

Joined Aug 29, 2008
684
A couple of weeks ago, in despiration, I applied some CPU Heat Transfer compound to the shank of my soldering tip, then inserted it into the iron and tightened the screw as tight as possible. It seemed to work better.

Does that make sense, or was it my imanigation?

Gary
 
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