The Soldering Iron

The soldering iron is one of the first tools a plumber has to master. This tool is sometimes called a "copper bit" as it is made of copper; and so throughout this book the words "soldering iron," "copper bit," "iron," and "bit" are used synonymously. There are several different-shaped irons in common use today, but an iron shaped like the one in Fig. 13 is the one for use in the following work. Take the iron as it is purchased, having a wooden handle and the copper exposed on pointed end. Before it can be used the point must be faced and tinned. To do this, proceed as follows:

  1. First, heat the iron on the furnace.
  2. Second, place in vise and file the four surfaces of the point.
  3. Third, run a file over edges and point.
  4. Fourth, heat the iron until it will melt solder.
  5. Fifth, put 6 or 8 drops of solder and a piece of rosin the size of a chestnut on an ordinary red brick. (This rosin is called a flux.)
  6. Sixth, take the hot iron and melt the solder and rosin on the brick.
  7. Seventh, rub the four surfaces of the point of the iron on the brick keeping the point in the melted solder.

Fig. 13.  Copper. Fig. 13. - Copper.

The solder will soon stick to the copper surfaces and then the iron is ready for use.

Another way to tin the iron that is in common use is to rub the point of a hot iron on a piece of sal-ammoniac, or dip the hot iron in reduced muriatic acid, then rub the stick of solder on the iron. The use of muriatic acid in tinning the iron is not recommended. In the first place, it is not always possible to carry it, and in the second place it eats holes in the surface of iron, which makes it necessary to file and smooth the surfaces again. The constant use of muriatic acid on the copper soon wears it away and makes it unfit for use. Rosin is easily carried and applied and is by far the best to use in regular work.

Points To Remember In The Care Of The Soldering Iron

  1. First, proper tinning is absolutely necessary for rapid and good work.
  2. Second, do not allow the iron to heat red hot.
  3. Third, keep the point of the iron properly shaped.
  4. Fourth, use the same flux in tinning as is to be used in soldering.
  5. Fifth, when filing iron, file as little as possible.
  6. Sixth, keep in use two irons of the same size.