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Tech Tip Of The Day: What Is Tinning?

The what and why that's important to the cable making/repair process...

By PSW Staff April 16, 2014

Provided by Sweetwater.

Q: I want to start repairing and making some of my own cables. However, I came upon a term I’m sure is such common knowledge that my question really shows my ignorance. That said, here goes: what is “tinning”?

I know it’s part of the soldering process, but can you explain why it’s important, etc?

A: Thanks for the question! While it’s indeed common knowledge, there’s no reason for you to know what tinning is unless you’ve soldered before.

So to answer your question, tinning is the process of pre-applying a layer of solder to a wire before it is actually soldered onto another wire, component or circuit board. The idea is to apply solder to the bare strands of wire, consolidating them into one easier-to-manage unit.

For example, if you’re soldering an XLR connector, it’s a good (most would say required) idea to tin the leads of your wires and connections before making the final connection. This makes the final step of the connection simpler, and also keeps errant pieces of wire under control within the tinned piece of the conductor.

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