# Sharpen and Re-tin Soldering Iron Tips

J

#### [email protected]

Jan 1, 1970
0
Hello All,

I tried to sharpen and re-tin a tired tip once and failed. I'm about
ready for another new one and was wondering again if it's possible and
what the proper technique is after grinding a nice new point?

Thanks,

John

T

#### Tom Biasi

Jan 1, 1970
0
Hello All,

I tried to sharpen and re-tin a tired tip once and failed. I'm about
ready for another new one and was wondering again if it's possible and
what the proper technique is after grinding a nice new point?

Thanks,

John
After grinding a nice new point you have ruined your tip.

Tom

J

#### [email protected]

Jan 1, 1970
0
After grinding a nice new point you have ruined your tip.

I figured that out after I attempted it the first time... Hey, it was
going in the garbage anyway.

Other folks have mentioned that they do it, but I don't see where they
talk about HOW they do it.

I assume that the anatomy of the tip is a copper plated chunk of
something? Once you grind the copper off, your done?

Thanks,

John

J

#### John Popelish

Jan 1, 1970
0
I figured that out after I attempted it the first time... Hey, it was
going in the garbage anyway.

Other folks have mentioned that they do it, but I don't see where they
talk about HOW they do it.

I assume that the anatomy of the tip is a copper plated chunk of
something? Once you grind the copper off, your done?

Cheap tips are solid copper, and steadily dissolve in the
solder, as they are used. This usually shows up as a pit at
the tip, where they are most exposed to fresh solder. These
can be reshaped a few times with a single cut file.

Good tips are made of iron plated copper. When the iron is
fresh, it is solder coated, probably by first coating the
tip with high temperature silver solder. As long as you
don't let the solder get burnt off and the underlying iron
oxidized, these tips last a great many hours, because iron
is hardly soluble in solder at the operating temperature of
the iron.

If the iron does get exposed, and is resistant to solder
wetting, you might be able to restore the bond by rubbing it
on brown craft paper (a folded paper bag) in a puddle of
solder with active rosin flux. Anything much more abrasive
than that is hard on the iron plating.

This type should always be put away with a fresh, heavy
coating of solder, that can be wiped thin, the next time the
iron is used. If the iron plating ever gets a hole in it,
the copper dissolves out from under the rest of the plating.

M

#### Michael Black

Jan 1, 1970
0
Hello All,

I tried to sharpen and re-tin a tired tip once and failed. I'm about
ready for another new one and was wondering again if it's possible and
what the proper technique is after grinding a nice new point?
I think you're confusing old tips with new.

They used to be made of copper, and then you'd have to file them
occasionally as the tips decayed, so you'd get a smooth tip.

But even when I was a kid, 35 years ago, it was pretty common that
the tips were plated with something, so they didn't corrode nearly
as fast. Actually, I've used nothing but plated soldering iron tips
since aobut 1974, and I don't recall once having one go bad. That
might be a slight exaggeration, but the plated tips live on forever,
and the only ones I can remember that I needed to replace had
been damaged when I dropped them, or otherwise misused them.

A practical example. One time I did want to do something out of
the ordinary, so I bent and filed a plated tip. So the plating
was gone, and once it was, the lifetime was pretty finite. It
was likely a good experience, since if the long life of the plated
tips didn't say anything to me, getting the plating off and seeing
the decay did.

So if a tip is plated, you never take a file or steel wool to them.
Generally, they will only require a wiping with a sponge or paper towel,
though of course the tip needs to be in the iron and turned on at the time.
It will generally just wipe away. Then of course, you need to "tin" the
iron again, which means adding a fair amount of solder, and letting it
sit for a few minutes before wiping it clean.

ANd of course, if you don't tin the tip in the first place, again letting
it warm up and then melting solder on it so it covers the tip and then
letting it sit there for a few minutes before wiping the tip, you won't
have great success using the iron. The solder will just roll off.

Michael

H

#### Homer J Simpson

Jan 1, 1970
0
I assume that the anatomy of the tip is a copper plated chunk of
something? Once you grind the copper off, your done?

Many tips are iron plated copper. Grind off the iron and it's junk.

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R

#### Rich Grise

Jan 1, 1970
0
Good tips are made of iron plated copper.

But "Ironclad" sounds so much more secure. ;-)

I've got copper tips that I've filed and re-tinned for years.
I've never had to do that to an ironclad tip, but a Weller is
significantly more than $9.95. ;-) And new tips for my$9.95
RS iron are about 39 cents.

And I got a little tub of this stuff some decades ago:
can help to clean and tin a raw copper tip.

Cheers!
Rich

P

#### Puckdropper

Jan 1, 1970
0
*snip*
I've got copper tips that I've filed and re-tinned for years.
I've never had to do that to an ironclad tip, but a Weller is
significantly more than $9.95. ;-) And new tips for my$9.95
RS iron are about 39 cents.

*snip*

Cheers!
Rich

That cheap, eh?

I'll probably buy one or two on my next visit, then. It'd be worth
having a second tip around if this one starts to give me trouble.

Puckdropper

M

#### MassiveProng

Jan 1, 1970
0
Hello All,

I tried to sharpen and re-tin a tired tip once and failed. I'm about
ready for another new one and was wondering again if it's possible and
what the proper technique is after grinding a nice new point?

IF it is solid copper, no problem.

Problem is that NO soldering iron tips these days for circuit
assembly are solid copper. They are usually steel with a cladding on
them. As soon as you grind or sand on it, you kill the tip as bare
steel will NOT take solder.

Look for and use an item known as:

Kester "sal ammoniac"

TINNING BLOCK.

About 2 to 5 dollars. A block in a box about 2.5 inches on each
side. Mine has lasted me a couple of decades.

You shove your hot tip (sounds nasty) into it and it removes crust
and the like, and allows the solder to re-tin the tip quite well.

M

#### MassiveProng

Jan 1, 1970
0
Good tips are made of iron plated copper.

Wouldn't that more correctly be "Copper plated Iron"?

M

#### MassiveProng

Jan 1, 1970
0
Many tips are iron plated copper. Grind off the iron and it's junk.

COPPER PLATED IRON!

Actually, the CLADDING is NOT copper, but another more durable
medium.

Lead is very grabby at surface molecules. Copper is very weak on
its surface, and is easily degraded by such metals as Lead (solder) or
Mercury, etc.

Sheesh!

S

#### Stephen J. Rush

Jan 1, 1970
0
Wouldn't that more correctly be "Copper plated Iron"?

No, it's ironclad copper. The copper is for thermal conductivity, and the
iron keeps the copper from being eroded by the solder. An ironclad tip
will last long enough to be worth its price if you don't do anything to
break the iron coating.

M

#### MassiveProng

Jan 1, 1970
0
No, it's ironclad copper. The copper is for thermal conductivity, and the
iron keeps the copper from being eroded by the solder.

That's not what MetCal or Edsyn uses. Iron or steel is the base
metal, and the "thermal conduction" rate is unimportant at the heat
source level. The difference being a mere second or two laggy-er.
Whoopie.
will last long enough to be worth its price if you don't do anything to
break the iron coating.

The tinning block I mentioned restore ALL of my tips to like new.

The trick is MOT to have your temp cranked through the ceiling, and
turn OFF your iron EVERY time, when not in use.

Teaching my production crews this fact saved our company some bucks,
and taught some ordinary assemblers a tid bit that improves their
capacity to become better. more experienced assemblers.

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