Soldering (pronounced sa-der-ing) is a process where you join two or more metals by melting a filler metal called solder into the joint where the metals meet. The filler metal melts before the other metals because it has a lower melting point than these metals. Soldering is often used to make jewelry and stained glass, and in plumbing and electrical wiring.
In the past, nearly all solders contained lead, but lead-free alloys are becoming more widely used due to environmental concerns.
Kid makers from age 6 and up can solder metal under adult supervision. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to ignite your child’s passion for soldering.
Materials & Tools
- Soldering Iron
- Steel Wire (.0286 Gauge)
- Safety Goggles
- Helping Hands Tool
- Wire Cutters
- Soldering Iron (With Sponge)
Step 1: Wet the sponge (this is used to wipe the iron clean after soldering).
Step 2: Plug the soldering iron in.
Be sure that the plug and wire do not create a tripping hazard.
Step 3: Put safety glasses or goggles on yourself and your child.
Step 4: Turn the soldering iron on.
Step 5: Turn the heat up to 700 degrees Fahrenheit (roughly 400 degrees Celsius).
Step 6: Cut wire pieces.
Use the wire cutters to cut two pieces of steel wire. The pieces should be about the length of an index finger.
Step 7: Put the wire in Helping Hands.
Place the two pieces of steel wire into your Helping Hands tool. Place one wire in each of the two alligator clips. Arrange the wire into the shape of the letter "X."
Step 8: Hold the solder.
Hold the solder in the hand opposite the hand you write with (if you are right handed, hold the solder in your left and vice versa). Be sure to have the solder not too close to your fingers or too far away.
Step 9: Hold the soldering iron.
Take the soldering iron out of its holster holding the iron by the yellow grips ONLY. (Anywhere else on the iron will be extremely hot). Grip the iron similarly to the way you grip a pencil.
Step 10: Heat the wires.
Touch the hot tip of the soldering iron to the point where the two pieces of steel wire intersect (the middle of the "X"). Hold the iron here for roughly 30 second to heat up the steel wire.
Step 11: Solder your joint.
Slowly push the solder into the intersection of the "X" and the soldering iron. If the steel wire is hot enough, the solder will melt and create a small blob of metal at the joint site (there may be a little bit of smoke during this process). If the solder does not melt, then you need to continue heating up the steel wires with the iron.
Repeat this process until you get a soldered joint at the intersection of the two pieces of steel wire. Do not touch the hot joint for about 30 seconds before you test it or you could get burned.
Step 12: Solder your joint.
Once you have finished soldering the joint, gently wipe any additional solder onto the wet sponge to keep the tip of the soldering iron clean.
Step 13: Replace the soldering iron.
Replace the soldering iron back into its holster. Do not rest the iron on the table or any other work surface.
If you are finished with your project, be sure to turn the iron down and then off. Give the soldering iron 30 minutes to fully cool down before touching it or putting it away.