hold your PCB using a stencil frame. You could buy a more
professional style model, or use duct tape and a few old
pieces of plastic as I do. Sometimes I use a few old blank
PCBs from previous projects. The important thing is that the
scraps are the same thickness as your current PCB.
A friend of mine mentioned that he would tape his
stencil frames to 14” x 14” polished flooring tiles that he
had left over after remodeling. They ended up working very
well for him because they provided a heavy flat surface that
he could also easily store with the stencil still attached.
I followed his advice and purchased a couple of light
colored polished floor tiles from a home improvement store
for a few dollars. The light color lets me know where any
solder paste is, and the smooth surface makes it easy to
Once you have a sturdy work surface, tape your frame
around the PCB. Then, line up the stencil with the solder
pads on the PCB, and tape it down on one side (Figure 9).
You’re now ready to apply the solder paste. Applying the Solder Paste
To apply solder paste, begin by cleaning the PCB and
preparing the paste. I personally use 90% isopropanol and
a coarse plastic brush. To prepare the solder paste, I let it
warm up to room temperature and then mix it in its
container until it reaches a smooth texture with a slight
shine (while wearing rubber gloves).
38 May 2014
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Figure 9. PCB with stencil. Notice that the PCB holder is made
from old PCBs and duct taped to a flooring tile.
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