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Topic: Soldering Iron or Cautery Pen?  (Read 1454 times)
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« on: May 24, 2005 04:45:41 PM »

This is my first question, and I hope someone can give me some insight.
  I am looking to melt a LOT of tiny holes in plastic for a long-term project I'm starting, and the straight-pin-heated-over-a-candle method is really time-consuming. I don't know if a soldering iron would make holes too big- I just need them big enough to fit an upholstery needle through. I also don't know if the melted plastic would goop up the iron tip like it does with the straight pins. I was debating trying to rig a straight-pin to a soldering iron, but I can't quite get an idea of how to secure it well. I don't have much of a workshop in my little apartment. A friend of mine whose mother is a nurse, recommended I try a battery-operated disposable cautery pen, so I've been looking online at them. http://www.rainbowrope.com/needles.html That site is a little wild- the product I was interested in is the "Branding Pen" about 3/4 of the way down the page. They seem to mostly be used for branding these days... I don't know if the holes I would produce would be large enough with these, and I don't know if the melted plastic would crust onto it. I think it's possible that either one would be easily cleanable since they stay hotter so the plastic would stay melted, but I don't know what I would wipe it off on that won't readily burn with that sort of heat.
  I know someone else must have had this idea before. At least I hope they have! Does anyone have any experience with either of these ideas?
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2005 11:30:47 PM »

Hey. I've actually just finished doing something along those lines. I used a "woodburning pen" - kinda like a soldering iron, but you can get them with several interchangeable tips. They're made for "drawing" on wood, so the tips are usually much finer (pointier?) than a on soldering iron. (You can get them in any craft store or department. Mine cost $15 for the pen, about a half dozen tips, a holder (to prop the pen on so you can lay it down without the hot part touching anything), and some crappy paints.)  The holes were not as small as you'd get with a pin, but.... well, they're smaller than the stick on a Q-tip (lol..the closest thing I had to compare them to, sorry!). It was surprisingly tidy, too. There were some "stringy" melted plastic bits around the holes, but I scraped them off with my fingernail after they'd cooled completely. I kept a scrap of wood handy to clean the big pieces of plastic off the hot tip - it'll get singed a bit, but won't burn quickly. 

I hope this helps, and good luck with your project! Cheesy

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« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2005 02:13:31 PM »

I didn't even think of a woodburning pen. Good idea!

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