If you could only have one...

boji

Active member
I'm still fairly new to pedal building - I got 10 pedals or so under my belt - and just finished my first solder spool and my first desoldering braid spool.

As you can imagine, when I started I had no idea what to buy, so I bought the cheap stuff where it was easier to find. As I'm in France, that meant Musikding.de.

When I upgraded from my ultra cheap soldering iron to a soldering station, it made a world of difference. I'm sure upgrading the rest will have great impact too.
So, since it's time for me to get good consumables and tools, I figured I'd ask you your favorite :
- kind of solder
- desoldering braid
- wire gauge/type
- wire strippers (I have some similar to the enclosed picture and hate them with a passion)
- wire cutters (I've already bought two and none are small/precise enough for my taste)

I'm looking for the right mix of reliability/ease of use/affordability. Also, the products must easily be purchased in Europe.

(I've searched the forum and found some threads about some of this stuff, but I felt that overall my question was specific enough to warrant a new thread. Hope it doesn't come off as sheer laziness!)
 

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PedalPCB

Admin (Robert)
Staff member
1) Kester 44 solder
2) Chemtronics Chem-Wik
3) 24 AWG Solid or Stranded (depending on the application)
4 and 5) I use a fairly generic wire stripper (mentioned in a thread here) and flush cutters (similar to these)... both were just a cheap "Get me through the weekend" sort of purchase, but I've had them for about 5 years and they're still going strong so never felt like either needed to be replaced.
 

PedalPCB

Admin (Robert)
Staff member
I've worked with some crummy supplies and tools and can generally work with whatever I have, but the Chem-Wik is non-negotiable. I'd rather just throw the whole damned board away than use any of the cheaper stuff. :ROFLMAO:
 

Betty Wont

Well-known member
For many years I use:
-Aim 60/40 .040" diameter solder
-never used desoldering stuff
-Small Bear #22 gauge PRE-BOND hookup wire
-Masterforce 6" 10-24 gauge wire strippers
-Side-cutter 3009 from Small Bear
 
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boji

Active member
I've worked with some crummy supplies and tools and can generally work with whatever I have, but the Chem-Wik is non-negotiable. I'd rather just throw the whole damned board away than use any of the cheaper stuff. :ROFLMAO:
I wanted to continue building after I finished my desoldering braid spool. So I switched back to my mega cheap stiff-tipped desoldering pump and hated every second of using it all over again ahah :eek:
I'll definitely get myself some Chem-Wik!
 

boji

Active member
I used to use a wire stripper like the one in your photo. Then I bought these Klein's and I realized that life can be better.
Aren't they just the worst?
Do you also have some automatic wire stripper and prefer to use the Klein's, or the Klein's were just everything you needed in a small package?
 

boji

Active member
For many years I use:
-Aim 60/40 .040" diameter solder
-never used desoldering stuff
-Small Bear #22 gauge PRE-BOND hookup wire
-Masterforce 6" 1-24 gauge wire strippers
-Side-cutter 3009 from Small Bear
Desoldering stuff is an integral part of my gear! Every time I think I'm on a roll, I go too fast and make a stupid mistake :ROFLMAO:
 

peccary

Well-known member
Aren't they just the worst?
Do you also have some automatic wire stripper and prefer to use the Klein's, or the Klein's were just everything you needed in a small package?

Before I bought the Kleins I bought one of the automatic strippers from Amazon (the blue and orange ones). I played with those things for like 20 minutes trying to get them to work right and I couldn't. They would either cut the entire wire or not bite through the insulation (LMS pre-bonded hookup wire).

I went online right then and bought the Kleins and they just work. No fuss, no fidgeting, no adjusting. They just work.
 

finebyfine

Well-known member
- Solder: SRA Lead Free Fluxed SAC305. It's the same composition as the Kester lead free I love but half the price.
- Desoldering braid: Never had a preference - most I've used have been unimpressive and I usually just buy whatevers cheap and then pound the shit out of it with flux, but apparently I need to try Chem-Wik.
- Wire: 24 gauge silicone stranded. Hands down.
- Strippers: No preference really. The pair I got from my college's workshop (when you passed the shop safety stuff, you'd get a pretty decent toolbag as incentive to learn how to not cut your fingers off) is like 10 years old and still going strong. I like having an automatic one on hand though.
- Cutters: I have a $7 hakko one I like well enough right now. I bought a Xuron 2175 after hearing great things about their quality (mostly from jewelers / model builders) but it's far too big for pcb work. Always looking for better, but then again I'm usually a dumbass and will take flush cutters to something way too large and mess them up anyway.
 

manfesto

Well-known member
1. Kester 44

2. the NTE wick that my local electronics shop carries, because I never think ahead when I *need* wick and end up running out and having to buy what's available. Honestly though even the cheap wick on Amazon works well enough if you have good technique and plenty of flux.

3. 24AWG stranded

4. I love these automated strippers, they're not the nicest ones on the market but they get the job done handily:


5. For cutters, everyone needs at least one or two of these in the drawer (a pair was thrown in with my Hakko soldering station even):

 

Feral Feline

Well-known member
- kind of solder
I don't know, so I went and looked: "Kawasaki" 1mm — been building (attempting to) for a few years, all this time I thought it was 60/40, but it's actually 63/37! I'd like some 63/37 that's 0.8 or whatever wispy size down from 1mm is.

- desoldering braid
Whatever the local shop was selling. Might be "Goot" or another budget-brand that only seem to be in HK. Braid comes in a little blue dispenser, I only use it occasionally. Use a Solder Pump mostly.

- wire gauge/type
24 pre-tinned/bonded from GPCB. I've got a crap-load of 26 for 1590A that I bought locally, but I never use it 'cause it's not pre-bond stuff. Definitely should've used it for some of the tighter 1590A builds.

- wire stripper
I think mine is an Uxcell, or very similar. Spring-loaded, clean cut every (ie nearly every) time. What a huge difference these made. Mentor uses one, so I just bought the same thing, barely used/tried anything else.

- wire cutters
A German brand I can't recall the name of, bought at the main local shop for electronics.

- Miscellaneous
Goot Tip Refresher.
Flux picked up at a local shop, don't remember the brand name, too lazy to go look (already had to go look at the solder!)


Since Hong Kong is so close to where most stuff is made, I can get cheap stuff cheaply, but getting good stuff cheaply isn't easy. So I try to buy German or Japanese brands, some North American stuff, European...
 

uranium_jones

Well-known member
My answers, paying no mind to the OP's request for European shopping:

Solder: Kester 60/40, .031", which is like .8mm
Desoldering: Engineer SS-02 Solder Sucker. Also, whatever copper braid came with my soldering iron kit.
Wire: Smallbear 24AWG and 22AWG pre-bonded, or 22AWG solid. I have uses for both.
Stripper: Amber. She works on Thursdays.
Wire Stripper: Not sure the brand, but Google "C. K. Tools 495001 Automatic Wire Stripper" and it looks like that. I've had it for over a decade.
Wire Cutters: Cheapest I could get at Home Depot. they work great.
Misc:
- Vikocell No Clean Solder Flux Pen
- KOTTO Solder Smoke Absorber
- Big blue Silicone Repair Mat, brand unknown.
 

finebyfine

Well-known member
How did I not know about prebonded wire before this thread .. it sounds amazing. I ordered some from LMS but does anyone know if anyone makes it with silicone insulation or higher temp resistance than pvc?
 

thesmokingman

Paid Hater
So, since it's time for me to get good consumables and tools, I figured I'd ask you your favorite :
- kind of solder
- desoldering braid
- wire gauge/type
- wire strippers (I have some similar to the enclosed picture and hate them with a passion)
- wire cutters (I've already bought two and none are small/precise enough for my taste)
kester 44 63/37 (probably the most expensive thing on this list)
I use wick so infrequently I still have radio shack branded braid ... I use a spring loaded solder sucker I bought for like $10
radio shack 22 ga solid core hookup wire (available online for $20 in a nice box dispenser)
leatherman squirt es4 (discontinued, sadly)
harbor freight "precision" plier set ( $9 and worth every single penny)
 

Stickman393

Well-known member
Solder: I'm currently using AIM Sn100C: I've tried a bunch of lead free solders and I gotta say, I like this one the best. Easier to work with than SAC305, eutectic, solder joints come out looking decently shiny.

Desoldering braid: I'm using some MG chemicals stuff right now, but it sounds like I need to try chem wick. I'm far more likely to use a desoldering pump though: I have the engineer one listed above, and another slightly larger one that's just like it but slightly bigger. The silicon tubing on the tip helps to direct suction to where you need it...just buy a roll of 2mm ID X 4MM OD tubing if you get one, cause it doesn't last forever.

For pedals, I like anything from 22-26. Silicone is nice for heat resistance....it doesn't shrink when exposed to a soldering iron. PTFE (Teflon) has similar heat resistance.

Wire strippers...jokari secura automatic wire strippers. Knipex re-brands and sells them as well. Never have a damaged conductor, strip length is super controllable, just pull the trigger and go.

Wire cutters..well...that depends on the job. Flush cutting, I keep a pair of klein flush cutters around that I'll touch up on a stone if they get dinged. Near flush, gen purpose, precision stuff, I have a pair of engineer NS-04'S that I love. If i'm cutting a larger cable I'll reach for my knipex 95 11 165, and for anything beefy I'll whip out the knipex 73 72 180s.
 

boji

Active member
Thank you all!
Does any of you guys live in Europe and have a preferred supplier for this kind of stuff?
Some items, like the revered Kester 44 or the prebonded wire, I can't seem to find anywhere.
 

boji

Active member
A big thank you to you all, you made my life – well, my pedal building life – so much easier.

- Klein wire strippers: showed me that wire stripping could be easy and hassle free. Real game changers (thanks @peccary)
- Chem-Wik desoldering braid and Plato wire cutters: do exactly what they're supposed to do. Finally wire cutters that let me access tight spots! (thanks @PedalPCB)
- SAC305 solder: so you're telling me that solder is not supposed to be soft and nearly impossible to hold in place? (thanks @finebyfine)

All in all, really great stuff (y)

I still have to find myself some Kester 44 (to see if I like it better than SAC305) and prebonded 24 AWG
 

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