Wire Tinning Guide

Use these important techniques when soldering a wire to a motherboard for professional results.

This guide will show you how to properly tin wires for soldering to speakers, circuit boards, motors tabs, or any other solid surface. If you are splicing wires (soldering two wires together) a slightly different technique is required.

Wire Ready for Stripping

Step 1: Strip no more than ~1/32" of insulation from the end of the wire. This is critical for good results. Stripping more than 1/32" will lead to problems. Use only 30 or 32 gauge wire for decoder work. Be sure to use the 32 AWG hole on your wire stripper so you don't cut through the copper strands. 

Wire Stripped

Step 2: Hang 1/2" of wire from the stripped end off the end of the workbench. 
Get your soldering iron heating up to approximately 680F degrees. Make sure the tip of your soldering iron is clean and shiny. Use tip tinner and clean the tip often using a damp sponge or brass tip cleaner pad. 

Prepping Wire

Step 3: Use your pinky finger to hold the wire on the table while bringing the solder and soldering iron together on the stripped end of the wire. All 3 items should make contact at once and shouldn't need to be in contact for more than 1 second. If you don't get good coverage on the first pass remove the iron and let the wire and solder cool before bringing the iron back. If you overheat the insulation it will pull back from the copper and leave you with exposed wire risking a short. It will also get messy with melted insulation. The paramount technique here is to never have the tip of the iron in contact with the wire for more then one seconds, less is better. 

Tinning Wire

If everything goes well, you should be left with perfectly tinned wires with just a bit more than 1/32" of exposed, tinned copper. Your wires are now ready to solder to a pad on the motherboard.

Wire Tinned