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Re: soldering iron support
Anti-Static Protection: If you're interested in soldering a lot of static-sensitive parts (e.g. CMOS chips or MOSFET transistors), more advanced and expensive soldering iron stations use static-dissipative
materials in their construction to ensure that static does not build up on the iron itself. You may see these listed as "ESD safe" (electrostatic discharge proof). The cheapest irons won't necessarily be ESD-safe but never the less will still probably perform perfectly well in most hobby or educational applications if you take the usual anti-static precautions when handling the components. The tip would need to be well earthed (grounded) in these circumstances.
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If the gauze came as part of a kit with the soldering iron it is de-soldering gauze. You put it on a joint, heat it up with the soldering iron and it soaks up the solder so you can remove the item from the circuit board.
Soldering is intended for soldering alloys together such as copper, silver, gold....solder does not stick well to steel and aluminum...also, you need to use a flux when soldering...this flux cleans the connections of impurities and allows the solder to stick to the metals to be joined...Judging by the iron that you have...it looks like it is mainly used for very small soldering applications where not too much heat is required...If you want to solder larger items(such as soldering to a metal chassis) then I would recommend using a soldering iron or soldering gun with more wattage
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Consider the wattage of the soldering iron. A good soldering iron will have wattage of 80 to 150. A wattage of lower than 80 is not ideal for stained glass. You need a soldering iron that will melt the solder fast enough for your project. Consider the type of temperature control you want. Some irons will have a temperature control built in the tip. When the temperature drops, it will turn on and when the temperature is reached, it will turn off. Other soldering irons have a built-in rheostat. You control the temperature by turning the dial up or down. A separate rheostat can be purchased to plug your soldiering iron into. Rheostats are highly recommended. This lets you match your temperature to your soldering style and allow you to do decorative effects.
Consider the heating element. There are two types of elements, ceramic or wire-wrapped. Ceramic core irons maintain heat more efficiently than wound wire heaters. In a ceramic core, the heater core extends into the tip for faster heat transfer. This will keep the tip hot for a longer period so you can work quickly and faster. Ceramic irons maintain their temperature longer and heat up within 30 to 60 seconds.
Consider the weight of the soldering iron. You want a soldering iron that is lightweight and balanced. You will have less fatigue when using a lightweight soldering iron at long stretches of time. Check to see if it fits your hand comfortably. Check to see if it has a good rubber cushion for your hand.
Check for the ease of changing tips on your soldering iron. When soldering stained glass, you want to match your tip to the technique you want to use. There are a variety of tips on the market for soldering irons, and you want to be able to change them easily.
Check the soldering iron to see if it has a heavy-duty cord and a three-prong plug. You want a grounded three-prong plug to prevent the possibility of shock.
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You have burned out residue on the tip. Clead it off with a damp cloth when the iron is hot. If this doesn't get it all, use steel wool. Immediately afterwards, get flux & solder onto the tip or it will get coated again.
# Never touch the element or tip of the soldering iron.
They are very hot (about 400°C) and will give you a nasty burn.
# Take great care to avoid touching the mains flex with the tip of the iron.
The iron should have a heatproof flex for extra protection. An ordinary plastic flex will melt immediately if touched by a hot iron and there is a serious risk of burns and electric shock.
# Always return the soldering iron to its stand when not in use.
Never put it down on your workbench, even for a moment!
# Work in a well-ventilated area.
The smoke formed as you melt solder is mostly from the flux and quite irritating. Avoid breathing it by keeping you head to the side of, not above, your work.