A Simple One-Handed Solder Feeder

Soldering can get frustrating when you’re working fast. It often feels like you don’t have enough hands, particularly on jobs where you need to keep feeding solder in a hurry. To solve that issue, [mulcmu] developed a simple one-handed solder feeder.

The solder is fed out of the tip by simply dragging it with the thumb.

The intended use-case is for busy work like soldering long pin headers. The one-handed device allows solder to be continually fed while the other hand uses the soldering iron. It solves a long-running problem for [mulcmu], after their experiments with techniques inspired by TIG welding came to nought.

The design uses a pen-like form factor. A 3D-printed hollow tube has a wire ferrule inserted in the end, which serves as the tip of the device through which solder is fed. The tube has a cutaway, which allows the user to feed solder through using an easy motion of the thumb. The solder itself is fed from a spool in a regular bench top holder. If more slack is required in the solder feed, one simply pins the solder down in the device and tugs to draw more out.

If you find yourself regularly soldering repetitive jobs by hand, this could be a gamechanger for you. Those working in through-hole would be perhaps best served by this device. Meanwhile, if you’ve got nifty tool hacks of your own to share, don’t hesitate to let us know!


46 thoughts on “A Simple One-Handed Solder Feeder

  1. eh? I can just hold the solder in one hand and the iron in the other. What on earth does feeding it through a pen add to the equation. Utterly baffled. Reads like an April Fool.

    1. Maybe a good idea for children who want to solder with leaded solder? The less they come in contact with lead the better.
      I wouldn’t use it either I’d just use my bare hands and wash them as soon as I’m done, or wear rubber gloves or something. I don’t like them but I’d consider it if I’d have to solder many hours which is rare.

      1. “Maybe a good idea for children who want to solder with leaded solder? The less they come in contact with lead the better.”

        Jesus. Lead nolonger is a common ingredient. But still, I literally grew up with that kind of solder.
        It’s being bound inside with other materials, along with the solder flux.
        Aslong as you wash your hands and don’t eat it, the lead poisoning is rather low, I think. Speaking under correction, of course.

        As far as I know, lead is a slowly killing poison and very dangerous if it enters the body, if it’s being released there.
        Considering the melting point of solder, that normally doesn’t happen inside the human body. I wouldn’t try swallowing it to prove that, though.

        PS: Better be careful with fumes, too, always make sure to have fresh air on your soldering place. That’s more important to health than using finger-friendly solder.

      2. I’ve never understood why anybody still uses leaded solder at home. Leadfree solders have been so good last decade that there is no reason to go leaded at all. I cannot tell the difference. However flux whether in-core or external makes all the difference… don’t use shitty Polish or Chinese one.

        1. In that case I really need to try again. Last time (quite a few years ago) I tried leadfree solder it was horrible (I believe it was good quality), so I stuck to leaded solder. Any specific brand or product you would recommend?

          1. I’m not the same person but as a beginner with one single premade LED project kit of experience with 63/37, I switched to MG Chemicals SN100e (AgCuCo), turned my iron temp up to 350ish, and went about soldering just about the same. On Amazon in my country, it’s barely over half the price of the SAC alloys I can find anywhere here and while I haven’t tried hand soldering SAC305, I don’t feel any need to try anything else.

    2. Yeah, same.. Only thing I can think of is that you could hold it in the same hand as the iron, chopsticks style, THATS interesting, otherwise it’s just complicating something unnecessarily. I’m going to give it a try.

    3. Sometimes you have to hold the solder in one hand, the iron in the other hold wires together with another, and hold on to something so you don’t fall off a tower.

    4. How could someone TIG weld with that 3ft long piece of file rod? Same way you solder, by moving your fingers and thumb. I could see if it was a small motor feeding the solder with the push of a button, but using just your thumb? I can see the workers comp suits after that.

    5. Keeping fat fingers away from hot tip? Seems like it’d work for me. Either I have to stop to pull more solder through or I risk singing my fingers. The long and skinny solder feeding tube also means less obstruction of vision.

    6. For the work I do the most, adding and fixing wiring on vehicles I use a trigger feed soldering gun, one hand heat and solder operation (see NEWACALOX for similar product) but sometimes I have to solder in awkward places and positions. For desktop amateur use a 60w iron and cheap locking tweezers work just fine use whatever you have to lift the board books for height or drinking glasses (no liquid of course) the components on the board will get between the glass and hold the board still enough.

  2. Reminds me of a wire-wrapping pencil. I can see this being more comfortable to use for a long period of time than holding the solder in your finger tips; there are other ways to hold it, but then you have to fiddle to get the solder straight after it comes off the spool.

  3. Now I’m wondering if a mechanical pencil would work to straighten and feed the solder down.

    Maybe some of you can use one hand to straighten and feed solder but I always struggle after a few joints to get more down from my finger tips and end end up using the iron hand to pull more through.

        1. Most cheap mechanical pencils are plastic and would quickly melt if you weren’t careful about keeping a safe space between the hot iron and the plastic tube.

          I’d have to see if there is such thing as metal mechanical pencil that can handle 0.031″ solder

  4. This actually seems super useful to me. Holding solder by hand often leads to it getting bent into an awkward shape and you can only feed a few centimeters until you have to get both hands involved again to move your hand upwards. Also, this is smaller than my hands and stiffer than free floating solder wire, so it’s easier to get it exactly where it has to.

  5. I assure you that with some exercise one can effectively hold more items in a single hand. Try this: keep the iron on one hand using the 1st three fingers just like a pen, the do the same with solder on the other hand, now use the remaining 2 fingers per hand to hold the two wires to solder together, and adjust distance between wires and iron tip/solder by moving the finger groups without letting the grip. Different permutations are possible, of course, just choose the one you’re more comfortable with. Take your time, it needs some good practice, especially finding the right spot in which holding the wires, but it’s doable.

  6. Try using some 0.38 mm solder 60/40 solder and you’ll be *very* aware of the issue this is intended to address. I’ve been thinking about making a similar gadget for some time so that when it bends I can straighten the solder by rolling the driving wheel under my thumb to pull the solder back in to straighten it and feed it out again.

    1. I’m with you on this one. I bought a spool of much-thinner-than-I-was-used-to solder, and it feels like I go through linear feet of the stuff where before it would just be a couple of cm.

      I can see this project being helpful if you have to run a bunch of joints in a row and breaking your attention to unroll or get more is a PITA.

  7. Yeah. I’m with most everyone else here. I do not see the point in this. I have been soldering for decades and have never thought, “I wish I had a tube I could feed this solder through!”

    The title says “one handed”. I thought that this was going to be some automated device that mounted on the soldering iron and you cold use your index finger to advance the solder or something like that. THAT would be ONE handed. This… you still need to use both hands to solder. This solves nothing.

  8. A soldering gun, like a 5 euro one from Lidl or Parkside, has a simple trigger feed system. All held in the same hand as the hot tip. A much better solution if you want a feeder.

  9. For difficult situations needing 3 or more hands I used to hold solder wire with my mouth. Hazardous practice, but with some protection device like this pen, could be safer.

  10. To be truly useful this would need to be motorised, positioned on a little lockable jointed arm, and have solder feeding activated by foot switch or voice command, that is to say be operated in a way which doesn’t just involve swapping a hand from fully manually feeding solder to using the same hand to feed it by sliding along within a pen body.

    P.S. I use 0.38mm 60/40 all the time, I like the size because it means you have to feed solder for longer for any given solder joint size, useful when you want a tiny joint for quickly bodging a repair to an 0603 passive’s end. It isn’t too bendy when you get practice feeding it with your spare hand whilst your dominant holds the iron.

  11. For hand soldering SMD/BGA components this could be useful, or if it was used with enameled magnet wire instead of solder.
    Either way I think some folks missed the short version of the comments policy:
    “Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent”

  12. I see a lot of people here commenting that this thing is not useful, but I’d like to remind everyone that there are people with different physical needs than you. There are people who struggle to hold small objects even though they’re otherwise fully able, or their pinching grip might induce a tremor or something. Just because it’s not useful to you doesn’t mean it’s not useful.

    1. People with bad fine motor control don’t solder. They also don’t play violin or work as surgeons, bomb disposal or professional ‘bikini waxers’.

      They can’t and this thing won’t help.
      It’s useless for those who do solder and useless for those that can’t.

  13. Pop-tronics zine mid 60’s Tips and Techniques column. I’ve used this idea since then. Originally a wooden thread spool was used with the writing end of a 2 piece pen shoved into the spool. Chuck the pen in a drill and wind it full of solder. Take the free end and poke it thru the spool and pen end. I cut a spool out of wood but square not round so it sits solid on any side. It’s a third hand at holding the end where you point it and motionless. It stands out in a busy bench or repair scene. Bend the exiting solder so it won’t push back in, metal end on pen is a plus. It’d be nice to have a spool inside a 3D printed base with lever or even foot pedal feed but this is very simple and effective.

  14. I took 30 seconds just now, and just grabbed a probably 20 year old standard mechanical pencil from the office cabinet, stuck 0.025″ solder in it, and it dispenses. Big surprise, they also make them with metal tubes. Quit arguing

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