I neither want nor expect to turn this thread into "soldering 101". If there are external "how-to" resources, just let me know. More explicit tool lists? Point the way. I can't possibly be the first noob going, "OOK? OOK!" looking at a soldering iron.
Well I don't think a soldering 101 would be out of place in this thread but there's little point in reinventing the wheel (specially since you could just trademark it these days) so I took a look at what Google said was on offer.
Out of the top 50 results, 80% are close to useless and the remainder only cover about 90% of the task. But they do tell you either enough or too much to do a reasonable solder joint.
site gives a reasonable run down on equipment and a quick summary of how to make the perfect solder joint
but there is a bit of detail missing in steps 4,5,6. This site goes a little bit overboard, NASA type quality.
site give more detail on the overall act but lacks detail in the same area as above. Do not skip the Basic De-soldering Photo Gallery
Both sites provide enough detail to complete a good solder joint.
Equipment: for the type of thing most people on this forum are going to be doing I would suggest a 25W-40W pencil type soldering iron, cheap, portable and will do the job. I use a 40W, it's easier for bigger jobs but takes a little more skill on small circuit board tracks. A 25W can also destroy circuit board tracks, just takes a tiny
Solder: 60/40 (tin/lead) rosin cored 0.7mm (0.025"). Solder containing lead is being phased out but is easier to use. 0.7mm will do all the soldering you need, it will even solder battery cables, you just have to feed more into the joint.
Desoldering: I prefer a sucker (this
style not a thumb operated one like this
). A solder sucker can suck the track off the circuit board if heat is applied too long. The other choice is a desoldering braid
(use a small one) but they can cause just as much damage.
Practice: Practice Practice Practice. Old radios, cassette players computer boards, lots of things to practice on. See how much it takes to melt a track off a board, Practice.
Finally, even though I've noticed an extremely distinct lack of offers, if anyone who's done this before would like to make some $ to recover from X-mas, PM me. I've got lots of tools, but none of them are for working on electronics. I'd just as soon hand the job off to someone who's done it before.
You could try your local TV repair man.