Every now and then, I come across someone that tells me they can’t solder electronics. But the good news it, chances are that not only can you solder, but you can solder well too.

If you tried and failed, you probably did not have the right equipment for the job. Soldering is much easier than you probably thought. But for it to be successful, you need the correct tools. You can even go for the cheapest Chinese options and be successful.

The first obstacle is usually a wrong soldering iron with a tip that is probably corroded and the wrong size. Many people uses soldering irons made for plumbing or heavy duty soldering. Its a given that expensive tools from professional equipment manufacturers will be the best option if you can afford them. But thats not for the average beginner. This is what I recommend for the cheapest option:

  • A soldering station with adjustable temperature, and interchangeable tip.
  • An assortment of tips for the soldering iron
  • A brass tip cleaner
  • Decent quality thin solder wire,  I use 0.5mm for through-hole components and 0.3mm or solder paste for SMD

A lot of experts might laugh, but Ive used a cheap Chinese soldering station for years now, since I no longer have access to the high priced units at work anymore. I use it almost every day, and dont really care that its of lower quality than expensive ones.

What I would do, is to look for the latest Hakko clone there is, on eBay, Aliexpress or Amazon with search words like this: Soldering Station 852D, 936, 937D, 898D, 937D, and look for a soldering station that have a heat gun if you want to solder SMD, or at least a replaceable soldering iron with a 5pin banjo connector. The base station should work for years, but the iron itself will sooner or later need replacement. If you choose one that uses a 5pin banjo connector, replacements can be found for as little as $3-$5, and replacement tips can be had for $4-$5 for an assortment of 17pcs. Get one or two replacement irons for your drawer. But of course, if you got the money to spend, go for a Hakko and never look back. The solder wire on the other hand, will be where you put your money. No cheap Chinese stuff will do.