If you’ve never worked with solder or sheet metal before, then sheet metal soldering irons might sound like they are highly specialized and practical for only a few very specific uses. That isn’t quite the case, although there is some variability among them that makes them more or less useful, given the scenario.
First, a quick background on the use of solder for sheet metal roofers. For anyone familiar with electrical work or crafting, soldering will be no stranger to you. Common solder is a soft metal with a low melting point, often an alloy of tin and lead (although some are lead free solders) that is valuable because it can be easily melted and worked into place.
In electrical work, solder is something used to close connections, whereas in crafting, solder is occasionally used to join small, fragile pieces that would otherwise be difficult to manipulate. The purpose in sheet metal roofing is quite different from these.
You see, sheet metal roofers work with large panels of sheet metal that must be joined together at seams in order to create a “whole” roof surface. While specialized benders, pliers and tongs do much of the work of creating a seam, most seams are not finished without the use of solder.
This is because solder helps to waterproof the seam, which makes the finished roof significantly more durable. As you can imagine, sheet metal itself is waterproof, but not along its seams, and protection against rain and the other elements is one of the most important functions of roofing.
To apply the solder to the seams, sheet metal roofers use sheet metal soldering irons along with heating elements; sometimes these are torches and sometimes the heating element is integral to the tool. The soldering iron is heated before solder is applied, whereby it can be easily directed to cover and finish the seam.
There are a few different styles of soldering irons that sheet metal roofers use, but two of the most common variations are pointed soldering irons and chisel shaped soldering irons. Of the latter group, there are specialized soldering irons with bent handles known as hatchet or hammer soldering irons.
Among these, sheet metal soldering irons with flat tips – chisel soldering irons – are some of the most useful. This is because the majority of sheet metal seams have long, straight orientation; therefore, the most effective soldering irons are those that can easily be used to apply solder at the crease of the joint, and to continue along its length. In this respect, chisel soldering irons are more efficient than pointed soldering irons.
However, though pointed soldering irons are less efficient at soldering some seams than chisel irons are, they are more versatile. Pointed soldering irons can easily reach into the corners of seams or in other tight spaces where a watertight soldering job is essential but difficult to provide.
Pointed soldering irons are useful for making a solder joint at corners, in tight spaces without a lot of clearance, or elsewhere that a flat or chisel tip would have a hard time with access. In that respect, many soldering jobs can be completed with chisel and pointed tips, although there are other specialized points as well.
To learn more about some of these, visit John Stortz & Son at Stortz.com or call them at 888-847-3456. Their team would be glad to fill you in on some of the fine points of differentiation across soldering irons. Additionally, Stortz.com sells some of the finest irons and soldering kits in the industry, featuring tips from leading brands such as Sievert, Perkeo, American Beauty and others, so in the event you were looking for the actual products themselves, they’re equally well suited to assist.