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Tools Then and Now: Soldering Iron1

Many tools, such as the jigsaw and the engraver, that have changed significantly over the years due to the development of new technology.  But sometimes you find a tool that was pretty much fully developed from its creation.

Take the soldering iron, for example: 

photo via

The word “solder” comes from the Latin solidare, which means “to make solid.” Designed to melt solder (a metallic alloy that melts at 190 to 840 °F and is used to join metallic surfaces), these little tools have been around for a long time.

The diagram above dates from 1909 and features a soldering iron that was heated via induction.  In the past, other sources such as fire, electricity, and gas have been used to heat soldering irons.  The tool pictured below is an example of an iron heated by fire.  The metal tip allows for long-term heat retention.  You can actually still purchase these for around $45 at Union Hill Antique Tools .

Among modern brands, several choices are available, but the most positively reviewed model is the Blazer SI-100 Excalibur Multi-Purpose Butane Torch and Hot Air Soldering Kit.

This little sucker is a true multi-tasker.  It combines a soldering iron with a micro blowtorch and a hot air blower to create a dynamic tool for multiple uses in electronic, automotive, woodworking, optical, and general maintenance areas. It comes with five interchangeable tips:


*Hot Air Blower

*Hot Knife

*3.5mm Chisel Tip

*3mm Diagonal tip

A self-igniting system (that is also child-resistant) makes for a quick startup.  At just over $45, I’d say this tool is an improvement over the old fire-heated model, wouldn’t you?  And while it hasn’t really changed drastically in design, it definitely shows that technology can be a good thing.

by John Barker

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Comments / Discussion

  1. ignatius
    yeah some interesting tit bit. some inventions still retain their pre-historic "genes". but it shows that human beings can also meet great obstacles in their quest to self actualisation! study these two items. the battery and the sound speaker. "WE" have failed to surpass the 18th century inventions!
    February 26, 2011 at 10:49 am | Permalink
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