From welding in circuit boards to joining any other type of metallic connections, it is impossible to ignore the significance of a soldering iron. Over the years, there has been a tremendous amount of changes to the design and build quality of professional solder irons. But did you know that you could make a soldering iron yourself?
If you search on the internet for methods of making a soldering iron at home you will find plenty of guides. But not all of them work and have the proper safety measures. This article will walk you through the process of making a soldering iron that works, is safe, and most importantly, you can reuse.
This is a beginner level job. But, if you don’t feel confident while doing it, we recommend you get help from an expert. Throughout this guide, we have discussed and stressed the safety issue wherever it was necessary. Be sure to follow everything step by step. Don’t try anything that you don’t already know about.
Almost all of the tools that we’ll mention are very common in a household. But if you happen to miss out on any of these instruments, they are very cheap to buy from an electric shop. Even if you decided to buy everything on this list, the total cost will not even be close to the price of an actual solder iron.
- Thick copper wire
- Thin copper wire
- Wire insulations of different sizes
- Nichrome wire
- Steel pipe
- Small piece of wood
- USB cable
- 5V USB charger
- Plastic tape
How to Make a Soldering Iron
Before you start, make a hole inside the wood for holding the steel pipe. The hole should run across the length of the wood. The pipe should be wide to fit the thick copper wire and the other wires attached to its body too. Now, you can start making your soldering iron step by step.
Building the Tip
The tip of the soldering iron will be made by the thick copper wire. Cut the wire in a moderately smaller size and put wire insulations around 80% of its total length. We will use the remaining 20% for wielding. Then, connect two pieces of thin copper wires at the two ends of the wire insulations. Make sure that you twist them firmly.
Wrap the nichrome wire between the two ends of the thin copper wire, twisting and firmly attaching it with the wire insulation. Make sure the nichrome wire is connected with the thin copper wires at the two ends. Cover the nichrome wire wrapping with wire insulations.
Insulate the wires
Now you’ll have to cover the thin copper wires with wire insulations. Start from the junction of the nichrome wire and cover 80% of their length. The remaining 20% will be used to connect with the USB cable. Straighten the insulated thin copper wires such that both of them point at the base of the thick copper wire.
Insert wire insulation over the whole configuration but only to cover 80% of the main copper wire like before. So, the insulated thin copper wires are pointing at one side while the thick copper wires tip is facing the other side, and you have this entire thing wrapped up with wire insulation. If you came this far, then move on to the next step.
Connect the USB Cable
Cut one end of the USB cable and insert it through the small piece of wood that will be used to make the handle. Then, pull out the two positive and negative wires. Connect each one of them with one of the thin copper wires. Use plastic tape and wrap up their connection. No need to use wire insulations here.
Insert the Steel Pipe and the Wooden Handle
At first, insert the copper wire configurations into the steel the pipe. The steel pipe should run over the thin copper and USB cable connection to the tip of the thick copper wire. Then, pull the USB cable back through the wood and insert the base of the steel pipe into it. Keep about 50% of the steel pipe inside the wood.
Secure the Wooden Handle and Test
You can use plastic tape to wrap the back of the wooden handle and you should be all done. All that’s left is now to put the USB cable inside a 5V charger and test the soldering iron. If you’ve done everything correctly, you should be able to see a bit of smoke when you connect it and the tip of the copper wire can melt the welding iron.
The wire insulations will burn and produce a bit of smoke. It is normal. We’ve put wire insulations and plastic tapes all over the wires which can conduct electricity. So, you won’t get an electric shock if you touch the steel pipe while the USB cable is plugged in.
However, it could be very hot and we recommend not touch it at any point. We used wood as the handle but you can use any plastic that can fit into the configuration. You can use other sources of electric supply apart from USB cable too. But make sure that you don’t use excessive current supply through the wires.