Besides a soldering iron and solder, there are a few additional things you'll need to have on hand for successful soldering of your electronics projects. To wit:

  • Third-hand tool or vise: It takes at least three hands to solder: one to hold the items you're soldering, one to hold the soldering iron, and one to hold the solder. Unless you actually have three hands, you need to use a third-hand tool, a vise, or some other resourceful device to hold the items you're soldering so you can wield the soldering iron and the solder.

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  • A sponge: Used to clean the tip of the soldering iron.

  • Alligator clips: They serve two purposes when soldering. First, you can use an alligator clip as a clamp to hold a component in place while you solder it and, second, as a heat sink to avoid damaging a sensitive component when soldering the component's leads. (A heat sink is simply a piece of metal attached to a heat-sensitive component that helps dissipate heat radiated by the component.)

  • Eye protection: Always wear eye protection when soldering. Sometimes hot solder pops and flies through the air. Your eye and melted solder aren't a good mix.

  • Magnifying glass: Soldering is much easier if you do it through a magnifying glass so you can get a better look at your work. You can use a table-top magnifying glass, or a magnifying glass attached to a third-hand tool, or special magnifying goggles.

  • Desoldering braid and desoldering bulb: These tools are used to undo soldered joints when necessary to correct mistakes.