Since the bulk of Slashdot have probably at one time or another thought it might be fun to solder something or make a model, I thought I could offer some suggestions on how not to harm yourself.
In today's installment I'll be talking about the use of the ever-popular soldering iron. Used for such tasks as soldering circuit components and well... I guess you can burn wood with it to make signs like that one guy that seems to be at every flea market.
1. Always use in a well ventilated area, I'm not sure what is in the fumes that soldering gives off, but after the initial buzz wears off you're left with just a pounding headache.
2. Make sure to clean the soldering iron between uses with a wet sponge. There's nothing quite like examining your new project to find bits of burned slag in the solder point.
3. Use a good stand for your soldering iron, like a weighted coil stand. Not the little horse shoe shaped bit of metal that comes with the iron because two seconds after you put the soldering iron on that stand and start to arrange your Xbox mod chip that thing will flip right over sending the still flesh searingly hot iron onto the tip of your right middle finger giving you a second degree burn. And because you thought it would be a fantastic idea to work on your Xbox on a week night at 2am you can't scream or you'll wake up your significant other who needs to get up early for class, so you have to try and scramble up one-handed out from under your coffee table (because that's really the best place to use a hot piece of metal) trying to limit the number of times you jam your newly blistered finger into things while you try to get outside to the Pennsylvania winter and curse at the snow.
So as we've learned the soldering iron can be used to create any number of fun projects and to potentially let you compare your skin to the images on google to see what level of burn you have. So either way the whole process is still educational. Stop by next time for more safety tips.