What’s your favorite solder for building lights?

TerrapinBlazin

Well-Known Member
I’m almost through my roll of genuine Radio Shack solder, and I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to find any more of this stuff, lol. Before I start pestering electrical engineers I follow on Instagram, I thought I’d ask here. I’ve tried all the solder available at Lowe’s. None of it flows worth a fuck and the Weller stuff is so bad I can barely tin stranded wire with it. The radio shack solder flows beautifully through the wire. If someone can recommend me something that’s as good as this stuff in the pic I’d really appreciate it.
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Dougnsalem

Well-Known Member
I find this really hard to believe. I thought everyone quit using lead to make solder, and went to some silver crap (like you get at Lowes/H.D.). (Think I better pick up some for myself. I'm starting to get low too.)


Same price as Amazon. Sn/Pb. It's got to be the same....
 
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TerrapinBlazin

Well-Known Member
I find this really hard to believe. I thought everyone quit using lead to make solder, and went to some silver crap (like you get at Lowes/H.D.). (Think I better pick up some for myself. I'm starting to get low too.)


Same price as Amazon. Sn/Pb. It's got to be the same....
Yeah I think it’s only the solder for sweating copper pipes that’s lead free. I always wear an n95 mask when I’m soldering even though most of the smoke is from burning flux. Most silver bearing solder only has a tiny bit of silver. I talk to a few electrical engineers on a semi-regular basis, the coolest of them being Mike Piera of AnalogMan guitar effects. I should ask him what kind of solder he uses for his ts9 silver mod.
 

babybud

Well-Known Member
Yeah I think it’s only the solder for sweating copper pipes that’s lead free. I always wear an n95 mask when I’m soldering even though most of the smoke is from burning flux. Most silver bearing solder only has a tiny bit of silver. I talk to a few electrical engineers on a semi-regular basis, the coolest of them being Mike Piera of AnalogMan guitar effects. I should ask him what kind of solder he uses for his ts9 silver mod.
Have you tried any 63/37 solder vs 60/40? Using the same flux or different flux? Not an electrical engineer, just a plumber.
 

Dougnsalem

Well-Known Member
Yeah I think it’s only the solder for sweating copper pipes that’s lead free. I always wear an n95 mask when I’m soldering even though most of the smoke is from burning flux. Most silver bearing solder only has a tiny bit of silver. I talk to a few electrical engineers on a semi-regular basis, the coolest of them being Mike Piera of AnalogMan guitar effects. I should ask him what kind of solder he uses for his ts9 silver mod.
I agree and think I was wrong by saying "lead-free". You got me curious, and I looked around. Both Lowes and HD don't list what's specifically used in their electrical solder. I checked one for their suppliers (Harris Products), and they don't even say. The one thing I do see is the melting point of the crap solder is 430°F. 60/40 has a melting point of 370°F. Huge difference for us using a pencil or fixing delicate things. Like @babybud said, yeah the 63/37 is better (369°F), but I can't think of when I've really seen it available. I don't think it's common because the joint isn't as strong??? Don't remember for sure. Anyways, cool to see Radio Shack still makes the good stuff. Nice post!

Would be interesting to hear what your guitar friend uses.
 

babybud

Well-Known Member
Last random thought is are the metals in the solder recycled or virgin? I would guess a lot of products these days use as much recycled material as possible but they are never as good
 

cannabineer

Ursus marijanus
Last random thought is are the metals in the solder recycled or virgin? I would guess a lot of products these days use as much recycled material as possible but they are never as good
Metals are the exception. Recycled specs the same as virgin.
 

TerrapinBlazin

Well-Known Member
Cool info in here! I love geeking out on stuff like this. I use the cheap cordless Weller soldering iron that runs on 4 AAs but I eventually want to invest in a set of 12v cordless tools. I use 18v Ridgid and 20v DeWalt stuff at work but I want to get a 12v Milwaukee set for working on the house and other hobbies. One of the really nice things in Milwaukee’s 12v line is a soldering iron, and I think it has much better temp control. My little Weller only has low and high and I haven’t measured it yet. With the Weller brand solder from Lowe’s I have a hard time tinning 16g stranded wire even on high, but on the same setting the 60/40 Radio Shack solder flows beautifully. I think this has more to do with the flux than the metal. I’ve always wondered if silver bearing solder has any advantage for lights. I might have to buy some and do some experiments with the multimeter.
 

7CardBud

Well-Known Member
Been using Kester 44 with my Weller Portasol for over a decade. If you are looking into a wireless iron I would highly recommend the Portasol.
 

TerrapinBlazin

Well-Known Member
I’ve got a bernzomatic butane iron and the only thing I don’t like about it is it’s a pain in the ass to get properly lit. I’d be interested to try a different butane iron, but I really like the battery powered one I bought.
 
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