Field Expedient Quenches Your Thirst for a Soldering Station

In the category of first world problems, it seems that these days no one is happy with just a plain old soldering iron. Today, everyone wants a station with bells, whistles, and features. If all you have is the iron, take heart. Grab a soda, drink it, and then duplicate [Kalvin178’s] makeshift solder station.

The idea is simple: cut or tear a soda can and press in the sides to make a V-shaped holder for the iron. A smaller part of the can might hold a wet paper towel, a sponge, or some copper scrubbing pads to clean your tip.

We tried to think about using a lollipop stick to hold your solder, but we didn’t come up with anything sufficiently clever. Some cheap reading glasses might serve for magnification and a dollar store USB or battery fan could blow fumes.

We’ve seen clothes pins used for helping hands. We’ve also seen people make quick and dirty iron holders out of stiff wire.

If you really want to make your own big-time station, you can. If that’s not hackish enough for you, then you can always strap on a thermocouple.

21 thoughts on “Field Expedient Quenches Your Thirst for a Soldering Station

  1. I remember me and one of my mates in high school made fancy soldering work stations. We used a piece of particle board for the base and coathamger wire wire bent into a soldering iron holder. Another bit made the solder roll holder and if I can remember rightly a piece with alligator clips to hold the pcb. We didn’t need any fancy sponges to clean the tip on as your jeans were perfect.

  2. It’s probably a protest against their required number of articles. First the benchoff repost, then the led and resistor, now this. If you aren’t happy lets just start a new website.

  3. The problem with using aluminum as a soldering iron holder is that it is an excellent heat conductor and will suck heat out the soldering iron and the whole thing could become hot. If you look at commercial soldering iron holders, they are either steel or hold the iron higher up or by the handle. The cheap ones are nothing more than a bent piece of steel wire. Stainless steel welding wire is fairly cheap, extremely stiff and therefore holds its shape very well.

    Temperature control should be given serious consideration though if you do a lot of soldering. Uncontrolled irons just keep getting hotter and hotter the entire time they are plugged in and burn out very quickly. The flux burns off and produces a dull joint with oxygen in the solder. The joint will corrode and become unreliable after only a couple years.

    1. Important factor in conduction is area, and a 4 thousandths thick edge with few real points of contact with the iron doesn’t have much.

      You could go and over engineer a holder with a 1/4″ thick piece of delrin being where the iron rests and some smart arse will come along and say, hey, the thermal conductivity is 20 times worse, but the area is 60 times higher so you’re losing 3 times as much heat!

    2. My uncontrolled iron is still going strong after thirty years. Ok, I don’t use it day in, day out but it’s been left on accidentally overnight more than once… Good ol’ Antex FTR.

  4. As a kid I put a light dimmer in the metal box of an old chassis from a broken CB radio. I used a piece of cereal box covered in shiny cellophane that had been some sort of gift wrapping covered in clear packing tape to make a cover that fit over the front panel to cover up all the extra holes. I cut up an old extension cord , ran it through two holes in the back of the case, tied together so it couldn’t be pulled out and that became both the power cord and the socket to plug the iron into.

    My stand was bought from Radio Shack, not hacked together but I was trying to copy the fancy soldering stations I had seen in magazines. Instead of using the stand separately, as intended I removed the feet and permanently bolted it to the top of my case.

    I still use this thing sometimes. It’s not really ‘temperature controlled’ but it is variable power.

    Anyway… probably about 25 or so years later I met a young kid in a hackerspace who had pretty much built the same thing himself and was using it! That was a nice thing to see.

    1. When I was a kid, I mounted a small variac in the stamped metal leg of my workbench, connected to a wall socket, also mounted in the leg. I hung a metal soldering iron holder that I got a hamfest under the bench near the variac. Voila! Temperature control… I used this for some years until I was 15 years old and got a job at a TV shop, where I discovered Weller temperature controlled soldering irons. I got one at a hamfest and used it for years (from the ’70s to the ’90s) when it had some sort of catastrophic failure, 25 years later, I can’t remember what. I got another Weller soldering station, and it’s still going strong after 25 years.

  5. What, you mean my method of leaving the tip of the iron dangling off the edge of the workbench isn’t good enough? I use it in the kitchen too, to keep spatulas from touching the dirty counter.

  6. For years I have just used a big binder camp like you get at Staples. The big ones have a loop in the end of the handles. Place the clamp side down, the loop side up, and stick oru iron through the loop. Quick and easy. When the iron is cool you can clamp the clamp to the handle so you have it with the iron.

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