Gio's starter guide to tools, when you know your going off the deep end


quad hands are better if you can afford it


Don’t forget about this guy:

I’ve gone through lots of solder suckers and this has been the best and most reliable by far.


Wiha and Knipex are the only brands I buy these days for screwdrivers and cutters.


The alternate firmware for the little TS100 soldering iron is terrific too:


What equipment is recommended if I want to desolder a full board?
I started with the regular solder sucker, but found that it took way too long.


There are some cheap desolder irons which are basically heated soldersuckers (or hollow soldering irons, depending on your point of view); I have a very old one, I think ex-Dick Smith, from when they were an Australian electronics chain 3 decades ago, they OEMed them from China or Taiwan. Had very light use but it still works, amazingly!

Also more expensive desolder or rework stations are available, e.g. hot air with vacuum. Not sure if there’s much in between.

Note adding a bit of flux & solder can help the old solder flow, and remove it.


Anyone got an idea where I could find this in the EU? This is pretty much exactly what I was looking for but importing it from the US is too expensive


Thanks for the pointers. I have a 65% board that I’ve been wanting to replace the switches on, so they will come in handy.

It sounds like you have something akin to this one which I got of AliExpress. I haven’t dared firing it up yet, but perhaps I’ll give it a go on a concrete floor. I guess it should be okay as long as I don’t leave it plugged in unsupervised.


There are several types available from AliExpress:


Thank you! That looks like a workable alternative


Yes, very similar – though yours was a better deal, including a spare tip & ground wire!

As opposed to this monster, which is actually incredibly cheap for it’s type Aoyue 968
(compared to much higher-quality Hakko, Weller, et al)


I tried desoldering ~10 LEDs with a solder sucker and it took me ~1.5 hours.

Bought a desoldering gun and did the rest (~90) LEDs in ~30 minutes. It is a lifesaver if you value your time at all.


agreed, great update to run


while being significantly cheaper you still don’t have the same convenience of the infinite position magnet base arms, which you can buy more arms/different add-ons for the base. I personally have one of those purple hexagon china ones since i don’t need the extra features of the quad hands and well its purple.


single board or multiple boards?

single board things get expensive without using a normal handheld sucker. But you can try this, it works well but doesnt last long:

or if its something you plan on using often then this is a decent budget station:


I’ll also throw in a few suggestions since soldering is half of my job.

Good budget station with “temp” control, and the stock tip is one of the best conicals I’ve used so far. I’ve got an FX888D but I actually end up using this station for PCB work I do since it just seems to work better on switches and pads. You’ll probably want to grab a standalone tip cleaner though since this just comes with a sponge.

Kester no-clean, about the best solder you’ll want for keyboards and you won’t have to worry about cleaning flux off afterwards.

I like these for cheap desoldering but quality might be a little hit and miss. Extra tips are available.

This is the station I use on a regular basis for desoldering. Little pricier than the Anesty above but it works well and takes Hakko parts, which are easy to find and fairly cheap.


To Add to the suggestions here, I have a few:

For flush cuts, I use Plato flush cutters. Cheap and had them for years. perfect for keyboards: Flush Cut Pliers

For Soldering irons, I reccommend the WLC100. I have an older version (Wcc100) that’s almost exactly the same and it works great.

For large amounts of desoldering, I recommend the Aoyue Solder Vacuum. One button and it sucks up the solder. You have to keep it cleaned out after you’re done with it though as it can have performance issues if not properly cleaned.

For cleaning your soldering iron, I recommend the open top brass solder ball. I like it better than the standard haako one. I don’t like the igloo/domed top. It just gets in the way.

For cleaning up after soldering, I recommend this sort of alcohol dispenser. I have had better luck with metal tops, but the one I linked seems fine. The plastic ones with plastic tops and a little thin dished cup to dispense aren’t as good as I would like. And using it with Kimwipes as they don’t leave as much residue and are used in scientific fields for that reason.

I think that’s all my suggestions for now. I’ll post again if I think of any.

Edit: Welp. Looks like I took too long. Donut already linked the solder vac and iron that I suggested. I have kept them here for posterity but have them struck through.


oh man that alcohol dispenser and kimwipes is amazing! will be getting some lol


Yeah, I just picked up some kimwipes earlier this week. I’ve had my alcohol dispenser similar to that since Radio Shack shut down though.


This iron punches well above its weight.

There is an open source firmware available from Ralim on GitHub, and a Hakko T12 tip adaptor that you can get printed allowing you to use Hakko T12/T15 tips.

A personal favourite of Louis Rossmann who said he preferred it to several Hakko irons.