Bench Tools & Supplies
Most of the vendors that are shown below are in the USA, but using Google to search by brand and part numbers, you should find vendors in your area of the world. I did not place any pictures in this section, assuming you could see those pictures while you are searching for the best price. When you are searching for those best prices be sure you check the shipping rates.
Pliers, Cutters, Small Tools
Shear Wire Cutter: Xcelite 175D Shear Cutter This will be used to cut wire from the pcb after soldering. The Xcelite 175D comes with a Safety Guard which captures the wire from shooting who knows where. If you buy a different brand make sure it has the safety guard. Plato 175. Price: $7. www.mcmelectronics.com
Bent Needle Nose Pliers: Xcelite CN255 or CN54G I use the CN255 and they are the only pliers I have on my electronic bench. Among other uses, they are very handy for inserting jumper wires into a solderless breadboard. Price: $20. www.mcmelectronics.com , www.elexp.com
Wire Strippers: Hanlong Tools HT1043. These strippers will strip insulation from wire 22ga to 30ga., which means from slbb hookup wire to wire wrap wire. Price $6. www.jameco.com
IDC Crimping Pliers: Hanlong HT214. If you have tried to assemble a IDC cable with a vise, you will appreciate this tool. Price $16. www.jameco.com
Screw Drivers, Small: Wiha 26190. Price $18. Micro-Tools @ Amazon, www.mcmelectronics.com
Vacuum Suction Pen: Aoyue AO939. Amazon (sra-solder), Price $6.50
Universal Connector Cripping Tool: Hanlong HT202A, Price $9. www.jameco.com
Soldering Iron with Stand: Xytronic 258VL + 100SL, This product has had good reviews and there are seven tips. For twice the price you can buy a good soldering station. Price $25. www.jameco.com
Soldering Station: Vellerman VTSS5U, See this unit discussed below. 4 tips Price $20. www.elexp.com
Solder Pump: Jameco #19166. Price $5.
Desoldering Iron: Tenma Part #: 21-8240 or Radio Shack Model: 64-2060. I have the Radio Shack iron and it does the job. It would be nice if the tip temperature could be controlled. You don't need this iron often, but it is easier than using the solder pump.
Clamps: I call these clamps because that is how I use them, but they are test clips. Go to www.mouser.com and lookup Silvertronic test clips and you will see what I mean. I bought my clips at www.harborfreight.com in a kit #67589. These are very handy for holding components on the pcb while soldering.
Magnifying Florescent Lamp: Harbor Freight #66384. This is a 3 diopter circular florescent articulated magnifying lamp and seems to be widely available under different names. This lamp is indispensable for viewing the small pcb while you are soldering.
Vices and Jigs
Small PCB Vise: Panavise 201. This a great holder for those small pcb's you are soldering. Price $14. Amazon (Micro-Tools)
Tray Base: Panavise 312. Price $17. For stability the Panavise 201 must be screwed down to a bench or some kind of weighted base. I use the Panavise 312 tray because it provides the weight and a place to keep a few assembly parts. Amazon (Micro-Tools)
Solder: Kester 24-6337-8807. The is a .020in, 63/37 alloy with a “No Clean” flux which means very little residue and no washing. I prefer this size wire for those small pcb pads, but you may prefer .031in Kester 24-6337-7600 @ $19.. www.all-spec.com , best price
Wire Wrap Wire: Elexp 27001WWRD. I use this wire to make any fixes to a pcb. It is easy to solder and position. Price $6/100'
Wire Tinned 22ga: Elexp 27WK22SLD25. This a kit of 6 spools of 22ga tinned hookup wire which is just what is need to make jumpers on solderless breadboards. Be aware that some hookup wire on the market is not tinned. Elexp also has a stranded kit.
Test Wires Clips:
Test Wires Alligator:
Soldering station come as both temperature adjustable and controlled. The adjustable units control the power going to the tip but do not control the tip temperature,e.g., Weller WLC100 or the Elenco SL-540. The temperature controlled stations use a sensor at the tip to control tip temperature. Reviews of stations are few and, generally, first person. If you have the money, buy a Weller WES51 or a Hakko 936-12. If money is tight, look at the Vellerman VTSS5U. If I had to replace my Weller, I would buy the Xytronic LF369D both for price and features, though I wish it had auto-shutoff. By the way the Weller is the only unit I have found with outo-shutoff.
Aoyue 936, 936A:These units are made in China and look a lot like the Hakko units even to their model numbers. The main difference between models is their wattage: 936- 40W, 936A-60W. Sparkfun sells a station which looks very like the Aoyue 936A with a model number of 936B at 50W. Like the Weller WES51, the Aoyue indictor LED flashes when the tip reaches temperature, but there is no auto-shutoff. Very good selection of tips.. Price: $40. www.mpja.com , www.sparkfun.com , www.sra-solder.com , Amazon(sra-solder)
Aoyue 937+: This unit adds a digital LED display to the 936A and increases the power to 45W. Price $52. www.sra-solder.com
Hakko 936-12: This unit has wide distribution and seems to have good reviews. There are a dozen or so tips available. The indicator LED flashes when the tip reaches the set temperature. Power 60W, Price: $75 to $90. www.all-spec.com
Vellerman VTSS5U: I own this station and have soldered a few boards with it. Needless to say it does not work, as well as, the Weller WES51, but it is well worth the price. There are some good reviews on the web. If you are short on cash, take a close look at this station. This unit appears to be made by Zhongdi as ZD-98. Selection of 5 tips.Watts: 50W, Price: $13. to $19. www.elexp.com , www.allspectrum.com , www.apogeekits.com
Vellerman VTSSC40NU: This is a temperature controlled station with a LCD temperature readout. According to the manual it does not have auto-shutoff. 4 bit sizes. Maybe ZD-931. Power 48W, Price $60. www.allspectrum.com
Weller WES51: I have had this model of the Weller along with the WES50 for years. It has worked well and the iron handle stays cool. One thing I like about the WES51 is the blinking indicator light when the tip comes to temperature. This unit also has a good tip selection, from tiny conical to a big chisels and a auto-turnoff after 99 minuites. Power 50W, Price: $95. to $130.
Xytronics LF-369D: Xytronics holds one of the early patents in temperature control of solder stations. This is a new model at an excellent price and includes a digital display. There is a large selection of tips as with Weller. This unit has also been designed for lead free soldering. According to the manual, this unit does not have an auto-shutoff.
Power: 45W, Price: $45. to $55. www.elexp.com
ZD Electronics (Zhongdi) ZD-932: These unit are made in china, do not have a wide distribution, but they have some good reviews. The iron operates at 24AC and has a temperature sensor in the tip. There are 5 tips. Power 48W, Price: $40.
ZD Electronics ZD-929C: This unit is similar to the 932 with an added LED display which is worth the seven dollars. Selection of 5 tips. Power: 48W, Price: $47. www.mpja.com
Velleman DVM850BL: Price $18.
Extech EX330: Price $55.