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I bought a Toolcraft JLS03 soldering iron and I worked with it for 1 day, after the tip of my soldering iron got black and the solder doesn't stick to it.

I watched many videos and scrubbed the tip to get to shiny surface but it didn't work the same as before and it gets worse.

Now after scrubbing it hard it will only work properly for some minutes. The solder doesn't stick to the tip and it will make balls on the solder.

I want to know if I can fix it or if it's broken and I need to buy a new tip and if so how can I keep it working well if I buy a new one?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ You need to keep the tip tinned so the base iron of the tip doesn't oxidize. If it is very oxidized the flux in the solder won't be enough so if you drench the tip in liquid flux (don't breathe and open a window), it will clean it but remember to tin it right after. Do not scrape or file unless you have melted rubber or plastic in the tip since it produces toxic (lead) dust and damages the tip. \$\endgroup\$ – DKNguyen May 16 at 15:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ So if now the tip doesn't get tinned, it means it's trash ? \$\endgroup\$ – aida montazeran May 16 at 15:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ Did you never tin it at all? They tend to come pretinned and soldering with it will continuosly tin it somewhat. Get liquid rosin flux and stick the iron in a small puddle of it. That has always worked for me but if it doesn't, get a new tip instead of scraping. \$\endgroup\$ – DKNguyen May 16 at 15:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh yeah, use a ball of BRASS (not steel, too abrasive) wool instead of a sponge to dunk your tip in it after tinning it to remove excess solder. Works much better than a sponge. \$\endgroup\$ – DKNguyen May 16 at 15:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ Why do you have two accounts? \$\endgroup\$ – Bort May 16 at 15:38
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Unfortunately this does happen with cheap soldering irons. It even happens with expensive ones as well.

There are a few ways to try and stop the tip being oxidised. The first one is cleaning the tip with steel wool occasionally.

Once you have finished your task, place a small amount of solder on the tip before placing it back in the stand. This will make sure when you use it again, you can simply wipe the tip on the steel wool and get back to it. This is called 'tinning' the tip.

If you can, get an iron that will automatically turn the heat down if not used for a while. Also, don't use it on an exceptionally high heat all the time. 320 - 350°C will be sufficient for most jobs.

You can also get small pots of tip tinner. You may not want to use this unless you have good ventilation though. Once you have dipped the tip in, remember to tin the tip with solder too.

Last but not least, turn it off after use.

If you take care of your iron, it will take care of you!

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This is a Toolcraft JLS-03:

enter image description here

See that screw near the end of the barrel where the tip goes in? That means you have a very simple soldering iron with tips much different from what everyone is discussing. In particular, telling you not to file or scrub the tip.

They tell you not to do that for a good reason:

Filing or scrubbing a good tip will destroy it.

The thing is, you don't have good tips. They don't make good tips for this type of soldereing iron.

Good tips are made out of special alloys. They are very sensitive to mechanical force and scratching, and are made to be held in your soldering iron in a way that doesn't damage them.

Your soldering iron tips, on the other hand, are solid pieces of copper with a thin plating of iron.

You can file and scrub and sand your soldering iron tips because they are such low quality.

I own a (cheap) soldering station that uses tips like yours. They don't make fine point tips for it, but I pretty much use only fine tips. No problem. Hammer the cheap, solid copper tips to a point then file and sand them smooth. Tin the tip, and keep it properly tinned at all times afterwards.

You have cheap tips. The plating won't stay, it wears out quickly. It oxidizes quickly as well, and basically burns off.

  • File or sand the filth off of it.
  • Sand it smooth with fine sandpaper.
  • Tin it and keep it tinned.
  • Always apply solder to the point before you set it down while working.
  • Turn it off when not in use.
  • If it gets filthy and burned looking again, clean it off again.
  • Never ever file or sand a good soldering iron tip.

I used to make my own soldering iron tips for that kind of iron out of a roll of really thick copper wire I had. No plating, just bare copper.

The iron I had at the time required screw threads on the tip.

I used to cut a section of wire, hammer and file a point on it in whatever shape I needed, then use a tap and die set to thread it.


This is the soldering iron I use:

enter image description here

The tip is just solid copper. If you look closely, you can see that it has been hand shaped: The point isn't symmetrical at all.

I use that iron to solder everything. I assembled a couple of boards with 0102 sized capacitors with that iron (and that tip) a couple of weeks ago. That is, I soldered 0102 sized SMD parts with that thing - by hand, no microscope.

Good tools are a good thing to have. I can't justify (to myself) the price of a good soldering iron like I used to use professionally just to build things occasionally at home. A bad tool properly used can still get the job done.

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A couple of useful products. Hakko tip cleaner and a good tip tinner compound. Also, use a wet sponge or metal scrub to wipe the tip with between solders to keep it clean. DO NOT overheat the tip as it will burn it out quickly. Tip temp should be around 360-370°C or less depending on solder type. A new tip has to be tinned before use.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ 360C? My god, so high, even for lead free. Use a bigger tip. \$\endgroup\$ – DKNguyen May 16 at 15:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah I don't think the readout is correct on my iron base. I don't use a needle tip more like a dull No 2 pencil tip. \$\endgroup\$ – SamR May 16 at 16:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've found I can do pretty much all point to point soldering (thru-hole and SMD chip components down to 0603 at least) with a 2.4mm chisel tip. Really useful for unrelieved planes with no preheater. The smaller tips (mainly spoon and hoof tips) only come out for drag soldering fine pitch ICs. The 2.4mm is the only chisel tip I really use anymore on a PCB though sometimes I pull out the 4mm or 6mm for really enormous things. Every chisel tip <2.4mm has been unused for some time. The 2.4mm tip is only 0.6mm thick though. Any thicker and it wouldn't work on smaller stuff. \$\endgroup\$ – DKNguyen May 16 at 16:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Toor: Yeah. 360° C. Mine is set to around 400° C most of the time. Heat fast, solder fast. Don't damage your parts by heating them forever at lower temperatures. \$\endgroup\$ – JRE May 16 at 19:17
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Based on the initial question, I would advise you to replace the old tip with a new tip. After that's been accomplished, follow the advice given here to maintain the new tip. The key, as others have already touched on, is to keep the tip from oxidizing. In other words, tin the new tip of your iron immediately after cleaning it off (between each and every use).

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