A soldering pencil is a device used with solder to join two or more pieces of metal to each other. This type of soldering is typically done for small metallic items or electrical components where precise work at a smaller scale may be required. Larger work, such as construction work or connecting large pieces of metal together, is typically done using a welding torch and welding the pieces together. A soldering pencil is fairly similar to a soldering gun, which may be more common, but is usually smaller and slimmer, with a finer point for more delicate or detailed soldering work.
Used in electrical engineering and circuit board design, a soldering pencil allows someone to connect two or more pieces of metal together. This is done with another material called solder, which typically consists of a thin piece of metal melted by the tip of the soldering pencil or gun. The melted solder is then applied to the connection point of the two pieces of metal, and as the solder returns to a solid state it forms a strong bond between the other pieces.
Traditionally, solder was often made using tin and lead, but in recent years the use of lead in solder has been discouraged and can be illegal in some regions. Lead-free solder is still typically made using tin, but this is combined with other metals such as silver, copper, and zinc. The solder is prepared in long, thin circular lengths, which are then rolled into a tight coil allowing the solder to be easily held in one hand. A user will hold the soldering pencil or gun in his or her other hand, allowing him or her to quickly and easily work with the solder to make connections in electrical and plumbing applications.
While a soldering gun can often be used, and is typically a more popular choice among many users, a soldering pencil can be ideal for certain applications. These include electronics where small parts are being used and precise joints are needed for small connections to avoid damaging the electronics being used. A soldering pencil can be more expensive than a soldering gun, and may require more practice to use accurately, but can create better results in circuit board design and similar applications. For use in electronics, a soldering pencil or gun that is electrostatic discharge (ESD) safe should be used to avoid accidental discharges that can damage the components.