It is quite obvious that every soldering station needs a soldering iron, but what other items should you be using on your workbench? While worktop real estate can be hard to come by, here are 10 items that you should consider for your work area to make your projects easier and safer.
1. Fume Extractor: The flux used in both lead-free and leaded solder will release harmful fumes when melted, so it is important to have proper protection. A bench top fume extractor/absorber can help keep your air clean and breathable.
2. ESD-Safe Mat: Proper grounding is essential in any ESD sensitive project. If your product can be damaged by static discharge then a properly grounded ESD-safe mat is the protection you need.
3. Magnifier: In order to solder anything you need to be able to see what you are doing. If you are doing any precision work then magnification is essential, options include magnifiers, microscopes, and video inspection systems.
4. Circuit Board Holder: You want your hands to be free to work with the soldering iron and solder, so having a vise or work holder is essential for those of us with only two hands.
5. Solder Wire Holder: Having a proper solder dispenser can help keep your work flowing smoothly. A stationary holder can keep your solder wire from rolling away, and make one handed solder feeding much easier.
6. Solder Tip Cleaning Sponge: While you are working you need to keep your solder tips clean to ensure a long lifespan. Many soldering irons and stations come with sponges, but having a clean sponge or wire pad can be a solder tip saver.
7. ESD-Safe Pliers: Sometimes you need precision or a little extra leverage when working with your components. From bending to twisting, ESD-safe pliers can give you a better grasp on your project.
8. Vacuum Pick-Up Pen: If you need to move small, delicate pieces around your project, vacuum pick-up pens may be your best bet. They have the added benefit of being gentler than pliers, allowing you to place sensitive parts where you need them.
9. Flush Cutters: When you have a small piece of a component sticking out that you need to clip off, flush cutters are extremely helpful.
10. Inspection Arrows: If you are working with a team on a project, then paper/vinyl inspection arrows can allow you to easily point out areas of interest for your coworkers. This is especially helpful if you have to leave notes for the next shift, or point out components for other departments.
Do you have a soldering accessory that you can’t work without? Leave a comment below and tell us what you use at your workstation!