Cleanly de-soldering a pin header

Know that sinking feeling right after realising that you've soldered that 40-pin header on the wrong side of the board? I know it too well. When that happens you either need to chuck out the board or re-work it until the pesky thing submits to heavy use of heated force. The result is often ugly and most likely results in a lifted pad, which makes the soldering of another header -- the right way round this time -- harder.

I've come up with a technique that works for me for removing the wrongly-placed header, and here's a video of me executing this circuit surgery:

The advantage of this technique is that it doesn't require any special equipment. What you'd need is a soldering iron with a pointy tip, tweezers/pliers, flush cutter, and a solder wick. The trade-off is that you will need to sacrifice the header in order to save the board. Here's the procedure:

  1. Cut the pins on the back side as close to the board as you can
  2. Cut the pins on the top side close to the black holder
  3. Using pliers/tweezers/flat screwdriver, gently lift the black holder from the pins until it's completely removed
  4. Using a pointy soldering iron tip, heat the flat pads on the back side and push the pin by inserting the tip into the hole in the board. If the pin doesn't fall off use pliers to pick i
  5. Use a wick to extract the excess solder from the hole. If needed, use the pointy iron tip to get the solder to stick to the pad and clear the hole
That's it! Watch out not to damage other components with the iron or hot wick. Also, make sure that the iron is hot enough for rework and never press too hard on the iron so that the pads don't lift.

Do you have any other re-work techniques?

Saar Drimer8 Comments