What an electric soldering iron can do

Why a soldering iron is needed, perhaps everyone knows – for soldering wires and electrical parts. Many craftsmen will also remember about the repair of metal dishes, radiators and heat exchangers. But not everyone knows that you can apply a decorative pattern to leather products, cut glass and repair car bumpers with a soldering iron.

Pyrography – skin burning
It is difficult to find a person who did not have a wood burner in childhood, and who did not give his mother a cutting board with his own burned pattern on March 8. Accordingly, many have a condescending attitude towards wood burning – child’s play, no more. Burning on the skin is another matter. Pattern or lettering on a passport cover, wallet, belt, or even a leather jacket? Sounds cool. And no special devices are needed – a firm hand and an ordinary soldering iron are enough. You can also use a woodburner, but only if it has a power adjustment. To apply a pattern to the skin, the temperature of the sting must be much lower than when burning on wood. Soldering irons with a set of interchangeable tips of various thicknesses and shapes are especially suitable for pyrography.

 

The skin shrinks when overheated, so at first, until you “fill your hand”, for pyrography it is better to take the skin thicker and denser. The drawing is transferred to the product using film for printers and carbon paper. The image is printed on film and transferred to the skin through a carbon copy, tracing its contours. Then the drawing is burned along the contour with a thin soldering iron tip. Thicker lines are enclosed with a thick sting, “filling” is done by the plane of the wedge sting.

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The process is simple and accessible to everyone, but still you should not start right away with finished products – first practice on pieces of leather of different texture and thickness.

Glass cutting
Glass cracks on contact with a heated object – this principle lies in cutting glass with a soldering iron. For glass of 2-4 mm, an ordinary 50-60 W soldering iron is enough , for thick glasses it is better to take a 100 W soldering iron . Cutting is amazingly simple: you just need to guide the sting along the cut line, watching the crack that appears in the glass.

 

The process is not fast, but the result is worth it – it is unlikely that it will be possible to cut figures of complex shapes from glass in another way. To speed up the work, you can dip the tip into the solder, then the contact patch increases, as does the heat transfer rate.

Bumper repair
Steel and rubber bumpers are a thing of the past, and modern bumpers are frustratingly fragile. It is enough not to calculate the distance a little – and hello, crack. However, you can reduce unexpected costs using a conventional soldering iron. The temperature of the tip is sufficient for welding plastic.

Remove the bumper, close the edges of the crack tightly and fix them with a weld, dipping the soldering iron across the crack to about half the thickness of the part – so that the molten plastic grabs both sides of the crack. Then the “tacked” seam is fixed by soldering a strip of plastic. For small cracks, this is sufficient. If the stress on the crack is large, the seam can be reinforced with a metal mesh by soldering it over the seam.

 

A piece of mesh is placed on top of the plastic and heated with the tip of a soldering iron until it starts to “sink”. The mesh is soldered to a depth of about half of the part. Irregularities are sanded and puttyed.

Cutting synthetic fabrics
Those who have tried to cut intricate details from synthetic fabrics, like chiffon or satin, probably know how difficult it is. Even under the sharpest scissors, the fabric bends, the cut is uneven and crumbling. But with the help of a soldering iron, you can cut out the most complex details from chiffon. Moreover, the edge is also neatly melted and does not crumble.

Cutting is carried out with an ordinary low-power soldering iron (25-30 W) , it is better to use a knife-shaped tip.

Plastic cutting
Cutting plastic with a jigsaw is not very convenient: the file heats up, melts the plastic and starts to spoil the cut. It is much more convenient to cut plastic with a hot knife, which can be made from a medium-power soldering iron. To do this, attach a blade to the soldering iron tip or sharpen the tip itself in the shape of a knife.

 

However, there are also models with interchangeable stings, among which there is a knife-like one – with such a tool you can cut plastic without any additional preparation.

The force for the cut is very small, the cut is neat and even.

 

Stained glass making
Stained glass windows and Tiffany work will require different tools, but there are general requirements in both cases. So, the power must be sufficient in order not only to melt the solder, but also to warm up the elements to be soldered. However, too much power will be harmful: it can ruin the parts. On average, 80 watts or more will be sufficient for stained glass windows. In the second case, a 60 W model is suitable. Also, the soldering iron must maintain the selected temperature stably. The quality of the soldering iron tip is important. If it turns out to be low, it will become unusable in just a few days. If we talk about solder, then POS-60 is considered optimal for Tiffany, solder with rosin is not suitable for stained glass work, since the remnants of rosin are difficult to remove, and for tinting stained glass it is necessary to thoroughly clean the surface of the flux.

Also useful are a glass cutter, glass cutters, a block or a grinder to grind glass, goggles and a respirator that will save you from glass dust, copper foil for edging, as well as a black marker, which is convenient to mark the drawing of the future stained glass.

 

It is better to draw the scheme of the future stained-glass window in a 1: 1 size. This can be done by hand, in a special program or any graphics editor. Then each part is cut out along the contour and transferred to the glass, tracing it with a marker. Cut out the glass and grind it with a bar or grinder. The finished parts are pasted over with copper foil or self-adhesive copper tape, treated with flux and laid out on top of the sketch. The parts can now be soldered. Hold the tip exactly over the adhesion point, and then attach it to the desired point for a couple of seconds. Before proceeding with the final soldering of the parts, solder a few points, and then check the sketch. If everything is correct, carry out the final soldering. After all the parts are connected together, the stained glass window is cleaned, the seams are covered with patina and antioxidant.

Safety engineering
In all these cases, when working with a soldering iron, do not forget about safety measures. The heated blade tip can cause burns if handled carelessly. In addition, cutting plastics and textiles, repairing bumpers and burning leather should only be carried out in a well-ventilated area. Do not work with the soldering iron near accumulations of combustible materials: thin fabrics and plastics may catch fire if excessive heat is generated. And be sure to keep a fire extinguisher on hand or at least a bowl of water.