Kitch, a fellow woodworker! Audio is my second hobby and I have built a few kits in my time. There is no real magic in soldering. As in woodworking you have to have the right tool for the job. I have seen first time kit builders try to solder components on a circuit card with a 100 watt soldering gun and I just shake my head as they lift up the traces on the circuit card. I would classify the work you intend on doing as fairly delicate so I would recommend no more that a 20 to 30 watt soldering pencil. Use good quality solder, and in your case silver solder wouldn't hurt your interconnects. Make sure you keep the tip clean and well tinned at all times and apply only enough heat to do the job. Once the joint is soldered do not move it as this will create a cold solder joint. Not much more to it, just take your time and you will be fine. By the way, more power to you for cutting dovetails by hand but I much prefer the Leigh Dovetail Jig I got for Christmas and my router. Good luck.
Im no expert but you want to heat the work piece not the solder itself. This will help it flow better and make a better connection.
Be careful of those fumes.....I found out a while ago that I am allergic to them....I develop chemical bronchitis. So, I have hung up my soldering iron, except for very small jobs, and then with a suitable mask.
Dacostab- never new there could be a hazard from the fumes although plumbing solder has lead, yes? Anyway, many pro woodworkers and some hobbyists wear a powered mask made by Airlite, Airlite 3, about $250 which pushes overpressure air through the face shield. It's powered by a battery pak you wear like afanny pack and relatively comfortable. All the mail order tool dealers sell them. Go and solder more.
Dacostab, you need to get one of those little devices that soaks up the fumes(like the smokeless ashtrays). My old company(where we soldered all the time) had a bunch of them. It is not the lead that causes problems, but the flux. It is organic, and burns off. Yes, heat the work piece, use a good pencil and tip(tinned), and always use a heat sink for parts that can be damaged. Be especially careful of this with polystyrene capacitors. Silver solder is cheap, compared to the benefits it yields. I don't believe the new Silver Lace is available from HomeGrown Audio in kit form, as it is more complex(uses 8 conductors, vs. 3). Silver solder is supplied with the kits.
How about a recommendation for a high quality soldering iron? What about some sort of a vice? (for holding parts, not the other kind) Heatsink? Will the hairdryer I use for spot repairs of lacquer work on shrink tubing? Can I undo a bad joint? How can I tell a bad joint, other than the dope all falls out the end?
In my youth I used a vise called Vac-u-vise that had all types of attachments. Not for stereo gear, but to build slot car frames out of piano wire and rewire (tweak) the little armiture motors as well. I am not sure if they are still around but thet were both affordable and precision made and would be good for sub assemblies.
I recommend a good weller pencil. Get something that feels comfortable in your hands. Also, unless you have some old stuff laying around, solder these days does not contain lead. You will be able to tell a bad or cold solder joint by visual inspection. A good joint is generally smooth and shiny. A cold solder joint has a rough appearance. The bad solder joints can be remedied by simply resoldering the joint. I also recommend you procure a sponge and stand for your iron. A solder sucker and solder braid for removing solder would be handy also. Your hairdryer will probably not be hot enough for heatshrink tubing but you can use a lighter in a pinch being careful not to hold the flame too close to the heatshrink tubing.
I did it! Got two pair of Homegrown Silver Solution kits and made cables. Quite easy but very repetitive/boring like making legs for chairs, if you can relate. I have some tips for other beginners: first, ignore the instruction to solder all the connectors, then shrink all the tubes; complete one cable to learn how the difference in length between hot and ground effects the neatness of the shrink, second, get a vise to hold the connector while you solder; I got a gizmo at radio shack with a weighted base and two alligator clips on gimbaled arms, $9.95. No way without it, especially as I have a tremor in my right hand; I won a shrapnel-catching contest long ago. You can dooo it! Oh yeah, the cables have one silver and two green strands, you don't need a continuity meter to find the ends but I did use it to verify a hot connection.
To anyone or all with experience, how tough is it for a beginner. I'm thinking about terminating some 8TC with postmaster spades and silver solder comes in the kit. I don't have any equipment yet, recommend any? I don't want to turn this into a par 6 if you know what I mean.
Hi Pops, It really is simple but like anything else you get better the more times you do it. I have a pair of the 8TC in a bi wire configuration that are 6ft. I am not using these at this time. If they are long enough, you are welcome to borrow these for a couple of months. BTW they have the postmaster spades on this pair.
If you are going to be a long term kit builder, it is best to buy a good pencil. The wellers are very nice and do the job well. When it comes to some jobs it is best if you can vary the temp, not the wattage of the pencil, especially when it comes to silver solder. The hakko products are very well made and reliable in temp range. I use one every day and have for five years. Always use solder flux as it will clean the materials that you are trying to solder of any oils, thin varnish etc. The use of eutetic solder on actual boards is good for kits that might have poorly made boards where th pads may lift at higher temp ranges. Rule of thumb, buy good equipment it will save you many hours of frustration. good luck.