Soldering is strangely addictive, like knitting for tech geeks. Maybe it’s the solder fumes, but I find myself oddly relaxed. The other big surprise is that it’s really far easier than beginners think. (Read: I’m a klutz. If I can do it, so can you.) And there are plenty of good visualist hacker projects to which you can apply your skill, from the Arduino to video switchers and synthesizers and other sensor-to-computer rigs for DIY VJ controllers or distance-sensing 3D animator thingies.
But the one soldering mountain even hardware DIYers seem not to fear is surface-mount soldering. It requires a lot more precision, and has a far greater potential to destroy an expensive component (partly because it’s trickier, and partly because you’re more likely to be doing it with something pricier).
Sparkfun, purveyors of cool DIY gadgetry and raiders of credit cards (at least mine), have a terrific tutorial on SMD:
Sparkfun Tutorials (scroll down for multi-part SMD knowledge written in a beginner-friendly style)
I hear you. You’re still not sure you won’t screw this up. It’s easier to watch it being done than hear it explained, so watch a soldering ninja at work in this new Sparkfun tutorial video: