Prompted by a discussion on the 0n30 Conspiracy about soldering a Backwoods miniatures etched kit together I have very quickly put together this page as a rough guide to soldering.
    This has been thrown together in an evening and I will come back to it and refine it.

Soldering - the tools



This is the iron I use for 99% of my soldering. It is fancier than strictly necessary in that it is temperature controlled. That doesn't mean I can adjust the temperature just that it doesn't burn up if left on. It is often left on for days at a time as I build a batch of kits up.

The iron is in a stand with a wet sponge to clean the tip on.


This is my Antex 40W controllable iron. Before I got the machine above this was the only iron I had and it did all my soldering. Now it is used where I want to vary the temperature [see below]

This is an inexpensive iron in the UK they're about 44 whilst the one above is about 80


Hot tip - for a simple and quick starts by a non controlled iron for about 20 and run it through a dimmer switch. You don't need the flashy kit to get started.


For your average etched Brass or Nickel Silver kit this is the only solder you will need. I build 95% of each kit with this stuff. It doesn't need a lot of heat, flows easily and is strong. Get it right and making a joint is more like painting with a brush.

Other solders you may add with experience are: -

188' Sheet Metal Solder    70' Low Melt Solder   188' Solder Paint

Under no circumstances use electrical solder. It needs too much heat, doesn't flow and makes kit building damn difficult - I learnt the hard way, don't screw a kit up learn from me

  Flux for brass and nickel silver this paste flux is the business. Its the standard stuff you'll buy in hardware shops for plumbers. The stuff with the red top is made in Chicago and the yellow stuff is made in the UK.

This won't rot your iron, do your lungs in or burn you as acid fluxes will. Just wash it off with water and a kitchen cream cleaner the same day you applied it and that is all it takes to get it off. Leave it a day and it sets rock hard and you have to chip it off.


Phosphoric Acid

If you get as far as low melt soldering for whitemetal you will need a more aggressive flux such as phosphoric acid.

In the UK you can do it on the cheap. Car Spares shops sell something called Jenolite to eat rust on metal. Dilute it 10 parts water to 1 part Jenolite and it works a treat.


Cleanliness is next to godliness!

Corny but true. Ensure the metal to be soldered is clean and bright. Burnish it with a fibreglass scratch brush. This is easiest to do when its in the flat form as shown alongside. You will need to keep it clean as you go but if you start clean its easy to keep clean


Apply some flux

The frames in the above picture have been folded up and the join in the corner smeared with a small amount of the paste flux. A cocktail stick or tooth pick is ideal for adding the flux.


Clean the iron tip

A dip in the flux and then a wipe on the wet sponge is ideal. Pick up a small amount of solder on the tip


Solder the joint

Apply you iron to the join and as the solder begins to flow draw the iron along the join. The solder will go on as if you are painting with a brush. Remove the iron.

Remember the join will be hot and will take a while to cool. If you are holding the joint together don't let go until it has cooled or it will fall apart.


The solder will have run through from the inside to the outside giving a strong joint.

Aim to clean up each joint as you make it, its makes sense as you will forget to go back and do it later.



Tinning is where you coat the metal with solder without making a joint. Add flux and then wipe with an iron containing a small amount of solder. The two parts here were tinned and then assembled with a cocktail stick holding the nut in line with the hole. In the finished chassis these captive nuts hold the Kadee's

Do this to two parts then you can assemble them by putting them together, applying heat and allowing the tinning on each bit to fuse together. This works well for big bits and for very little bits.


More to follow

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