Mechanical Pencil Solder Feeder Hack

Want a better way to feed solder, but want to do it on the quick and cheap? Well [ptkrf] has a solution for you in an old instructables post we stumbled upon recently. You might have, or can inexpensively buy, a mechanical pencil which has the feeder button on the side rather than on top, as usual. With the pencil in hand, [ptkrf] shows you the simple procedure for modifying the pencil into a solder feeder. You might need to experiment with different size pencils and solders to get a perfect match. Common mechanical pencils come in sizes to accommodate 0.5, 0.7, and 0.9 mm leads, but there are bigger and smaller ones available. Perhaps one of those really large drafting lead holders could be repurposed as a solder dispenser for the bigger jobs.

We discussed a 3D printed solder feeder a few days ago, but if you don’t have one, this may be a good way to go. Thanks to [iliis] for sending in this tip.

29 thoughts on “Mechanical Pencil Solder Feeder Hack

  1. If I may ask…

    What’s the deal with solder holders? Why not just feed the solder with your fingers?

    Yeah, lead. No lead gets into your body through your hands, you can just wash your hands after, and modern solder doesn’t use lead anyway.

    So what’s the big deal?

      1. if youve got solder flying all over the place when you move, maybe you should stick to a soldering iron with a built in feeder. Theyre under $20 on amazon.

        1. You don’t *have* to like it, if you don’t just move along… Why so much insistance against it??

          I find it a really nice idea… It’s not clear from the picture if that’s the case but it would work best in a pencil with a side button… Now I need to find one for my .8mm wire :/

    1. ” and modern solder doesn’t use lead anyway.”

      Some of us “stockpiled” Pb solder once we found out how much harder Lead-Free solder is to work with, and the less reliable connections that resulted in its use.

      1. Whadda ya’ll mean modern solder doesn’t contain lead? Just bought a roll of 60/40 on eBay for cheap! Works just as well as what I used 50 years ago. BTW, I do like pencil dispenser idea. Gonna try that soon

        1. Touchup solder is still leaded.

          You can even get leaded solder paste, nobody is supposed to use it in manufacturing.

          But yah, I’ve got a lifetime supply set aside. Not that great a quantity, if I was to start manufacturing, I’d need more.

          Also get some petroleum based plumbing and electronic flux, the water based flux really really sucks. Last I looked they had a few of the good plumbers flux containers half hidden at Lowes. Beside and behind the mountain of crappy green stuff. Good flux for electronics is still the default (for now).

    2. Leaded solder is still very much there and 63/37 solder what I’d recommend for any beginner to practice with or for harder jobs where you can’t use a proper bench and need an eutectic alloy.

      I don’t think there’s any unleaded solder that is also eutectic… But please let me know if I’m wrong.

      That said it’s not the reason I’d use this. If you’re afraid of lead poisoning avoid the fumes and wash your hands.

      1. The fumes are in fact, not leaded. To turn lead into a vapor, you need over 1700°C. If you’re soldering at that temperature, you will need a lot more PPE. It’s a common misconception though. The smoke from rosin core solder is the reason for a fume extractor, because it has its own MSDS and is a throat, eye, and lung irritant. But yes, wash your hands and don’t hold solder in your mouth when you need a third hand 😉

  2. I have been spooling solder on empty solder wick spools, and this works quite nicely. Especially for the thin (0.5mm) solder. It reduces a lot of the wobbliness. For the thicker solder (0.8mm and up) I just use the 100 gram spools and refill them from the big spools (several kg) in my stockpile.

      1. I find this issue in a lot of these dismissive comments (I especially remember one conversation with someone who said absolutely anyone can solder 0402 components with a little practice and tools no more complicated than tweezers). I know people who, when they went through chemo, their favorite fiddly hobbies became far more difficult because of loss of fingertip sensation from neuropathy. Now, it didn’t happen that these peoples’ hobbies of choice were working up electronics, but I can see something like this being extremely useful for those who simply can’t achieve the level of coordination that many of us take for granted.

    1. That is, indeed, the second of two links in the article.

      The main reason why your out-of-hand dismissal is just as thoughtless for this hack as for that one is that there are many reasons why one might not have amazing dexterity.

  3. Funnily, I’ve been keeping my solder coiled up in a pen for a decade now. It’s just a lot nicer than the tube it came in. The rigid body makes it really nice to put it exactly where you want without it flopping.

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