A high-quality precision-engineering soldering iron is an asset to anyone who creates stained glass. As a stained glass artist, you need a soldering iron which not only heats up in record time but also but that can retain its high heat for a prolonged period.
This guide to the best soldering irons for stained glass of 2019 will look at the top five brands available, while also explaining what design factors make a part of all good soldering irons.
We’ll finish off by answering all your frequently asked questions before wrapping up with a final verdict tell you which wins best soldering iron for stained glass this year.
TasiHome 110 V 60W Soldering Iron Kit With Temperature Adjustment For Reliable Electronic Circuit Repairs By Eliminating Component Damage. Robust Electrical And Jewelry Repairs
Best Soldering Iron for Stained Glass Reviews
1. Weller WLC200 80-Watt Hobby and Stained Glass Soldering Station
The Weller WLC 200 80-Watt Hobby and Stained Glass Soldering Station is a trusted choice exhibiting outstanding quality and value. Its wide temperature range, durable base, and midsized chisel tip are ideal for any artist or hobbyist.
As a brand, Weller is well known for creating precision engineering products which remain affordable The WLC200 is no exception, beating almost all its competition in most regards. Let’s look closer at what makes this stained glass soldering station from Weller one of the best.
The sheer quality of manufacturing of this soldiering station from Weller is impressive. At 120V/60-watt, this soldering iron has a variable power output of between 5 and 80 watts.
The soldering tips are made using a copper core and a combination of iron, nickel and chromium plating, reaching a maximum temperature of 900°F.
At 3/8-inch with a chisel shape, the corrosion-resistant tip is ideal for stained glass. It is a soldering iron which heats and recovers quickly. There is barely any waiting, while the cleaning sponge and spring stand are extremely practical.
What’s to like about the Weller WLC200 80-Watt Hobby and Stained Glass Soldering Station
Weller’s soldering station oozes practicality. You’ll be thanking yourself for buying it time and time again when its functionality rises to the fore. Keeping the tip of your soldering iron clean is effortless, and the spring stand works wonderfully, letting you drop the iron into its holder at a glance instead of having to slot it in carefully.
There are also two tips provided, a lightweight pencil tip and a 3/8-inch chisel tip. Finally, the 7-year warranty supplied by Weller if a decision-maker for many buyers.
What’s not to like about the Weller WLC200 80-Watt Hobby and Stained Glass Soldering Station
The standard chisel head supplied is a bit too large for fine stained glass work. Devoted artists will need to buy themselves the smaller replacement tip but this is the only minor caveat.
Even though two tips are supplied, the right size for stained glass is Buyers should also note that both the stand and the soldering iron itself require power.
What We Like
- 7-year guarantee
- Temperature control
- Soldering stand with sponge
- Superior quality of manufacturing
- Fast heating and good temperature retention
What We Don’t Like
- Additional tip needed for stained glass
- Soldering iron and stand needs power
2. TasiHome Solrep 2000 Soldering Iron Kit
The sheer value for money delivered by the TasiHome Solrep 2000 Soldering Iron Kit is astounding. You are given everything from variable temperature control to multiple soldering tips. It is an excellent option that arrives at a fraction of the price of its competitors. Don’t let the low price tag of this versatile product deter you.
Reliable performance and functional design put it far ahead of what you’d expect. Let’s see what makes it such a good soldering kit for hobbyists and stained glass artists.
This is a 110 V/60-Watt soldering iron with a variable temperature control and a tip that reaches a maximum of 842° F. Its dial gives you adjustments at 2° increments.
Despite its low cost, the tip temperature stays constant and the overall quality is great. For an affordable model, there certainly are a lot of innovative features.
An anti-static lead is supplied to guarantee that there is no static damage to electronics. The visual power control indicator uses a LED pilot light to let you know when it is safe to continue soldering.
Three tips in total are supplied with each unit to start with, and you can find replacement soldering tips for the Solrep 2000 in three different varieties.
What’s to like about the TasiHome Solrep 2000 Soldering Iron Kit
The affordability of this soldering iron makes it a hot contender for anyone new to stained glass art. Replacement tips are just as cheap. Its temperature control is well designed and shows no signs of breaking easily.
Another great touch is the anti-static clip supplied which lets you conveniently attach your soldering iron to a work area. You’ll notice that this is a much smaller, lighter soldering iron which makes it ideal for stained glass. Electronics repairs are also suitable thanks to the anti-static wire connection.
What’s not to like about the TasiHome Solrep 2000 Soldering Iron Kit
For a 60-watt soldering iron, the TasiHome Solrep 2000 is a little heavy. It weighs just under 5 ounces which is about 3 ounces heavier than the average soldering iron.
One could see this as an upside, as it is uncommon to find cheap soldiering irons which exhibit matching weight and thus construction quality. A clear downside is that the soldering tip doesn’t get hot enough for jewelry repairs. It is, however, a perfect match to any stained glass project.
What We Like
- Outstanding value for the money
- Temperature control dial
- LED pilot light
- Replacement tips are cheap
What We Don’t Like
- Slightly heavy
- Not hot enough for jewelry
3. American Beauty 3158-200 Heavy-Duty Soldering Iron
The American Beauty 3158-200 Heavy-Duty Soldering Iron is the ultimate tool for those who have to have the best. Its Ni-chrome compression exhibits the most reliable heating out of all soldering iron tips.
Between its iron-clad lead-free tip design, which will outlast all competing tips, to its modular construction and diamond tip supplied by default, you won’t find better. This review will show you exactly who will reap the most value from this outstanding product.
Every aspect of the American Beauty 3158-200 heavy-duty soldering iron exudes quality. This 14-inch unit gives you a massive 200 watts of power.
The diamond tip is capable of reaching 1,000°F. It is the best soldering iron for anyone who frequently works with one. It is even suited to heavy soldering such as jewelry and high-end production lines.
A Ni-chrome alloy is compression wound onto a steel spool. This unique approach gives unbeatable thermal regulation and durability.
Your soldering iron heats up fast and holds its heat for ages. Its protective casing is cut from a single block of steel which has been brazed and heat treated to award it with unsurpassed strength.
What’s to like about the American Beauty 3158-200 Heavy-Duty Soldering Iron
Soldering tips are easily interchangeable, clipping out without any hassle. The sheer duration that the tip holds its heat makes this the ultimate soldering iron for anyone doing large stained glass. projects.
Buyers will also be pleasantly surprised by its lightweight design. At just 2.4 pounds, it is one of the lightest soldering irons available. A Ni-chrome core also trumps competing soldering irons in heat conductivity, heating time, durability, and looks.
What’s not to like about the American Beauty 3158-200 Heavy-Duty Soldering Iron
One can’t overlook the price tag of this quality soldering iron. It is double the price of Weller’s soldering station but with thanks to the Ni-chrome composition, you won’t be replacing it for years.
Buy yourself a soldering iron like this, and no matter what job arises or what heat you need, your tool will be able to handle it.
What We Like
- The ultimate in quality and style
- Robust enough for a production line
- Unbeatable heat retention
- High power at 200 watts
- Ni-chrome for performance and durability
- Diamond tip
What We Don’t Like
- Quite expensive
4. Hakko FX601-02 Adjustable Temperature Controlled Soldering Iron
Hakko is well-established as one of the highest-quality tool manufacturers around. The Hakko FX601 Adjustable Temperature Controller Soldiering Iron is a solid product. You can instantly feel the quality through the weight, grip, and temperature control dial.
It is a little pricey but if you’re looking for durability and rugged design you can’t go wrong. We’ll be taking you through a look at the highlights and shortcomings of this great hobbyist tool from Hakko.
Hakko’s soldering iron is rated at 67 watts which gives its tip a maximum temperature of 900°F. It is quite a heavy soldering iron, weighing just over 9 ounces.
The whole unit (other than its power cable) carries an outstanding ergonomic design which works well to reduce hand fatigue while soldering.
A temperature adjustment dial lets you pinpoint the right heat, with your soldering iron heating in record time. When you’ve reached the designated temperature, a pilot light notifies you that your soldering iron is ready.
What’s to like about the Hakko FX601-02 Adjustable Temperature Controlled Soldering Iron
Heat regulation on the Hakko FX601-02 is outstanding. The thermal core keeps your heat steady while the light lets you know exactly when to stop soldering.
Stained glass artists will love how long this soldering iron retains its temperature, letting you work for extended periods before cooling and wiping. Hakko has a massive range of tip variations.
There are 10 potential replacements readily available. Most users find the 500 the best size, while the standard tip supplied is good enough for most beginners.
What’s not to like about the Hakko FX601-02 Adjustable Temperature Controlled Soldering Iron
Hakko’s high-quality reputation does indeed precede them, but you pay for this superior durability. You’ll also need to fork out extra for Hakko tips. The standard tip supplied is far too large for most stained glass work.
Certain users will also dislike the stiff power cord which totally disrupts the ergonomics; it can cause the unit to rotate if you don’t grip your soldering iron with enough force.
What We Like
- Ergonomic handle
- Outstanding durability
- Holds temperatures for long
- Temperature adjustment dial
What We Don’t Like
- High price
- Stiff power cord
- High replacement tip price
5. Choice 100W Soldering Iron
The Choice 100-Watt Soldering Iron delivers the perfect amount of heat for stained glass artists and hobbyists. Between the 1,000-degree heat that the tip reaches and the overall solid construction, Choice has packed a lot of value into this functional tool.
This is a great pick for anyone who knows they always need a lot of heat as it is missing variable temperature control. Nonetheless, we’ll show you why it should still be a consideration for those new to stained glass.
The Choice 100-Watt Soldering iron measures 10.5 x 1 x 1-inches and weighs 4.8 ounces. For its high heat, it is a rather lightweight unit.
Thanks to its 100-watt power, the ¼-inch chisel tip reaches 1,000°F. This gives it the heat for jewelry repairs but there are no added extras. A fairly standard grip is supplied and the power cord works but is not extremely flexible.
What’s to like about the Choice 100W Soldering Iron
The simplistic design without a temperature control comes at quite a hefty price. This is mainly due to the 100-watt power supply which lets the tip reach its 1,000-degree mark.
Most good soldering irons only ever reach just below 900 watts which compensates for the simplicity of this reliable tool. If you plan to do any form of jewelry repair, then it is the best soldering iron for you. You will need a rheostat but it does get hot enough.
What’s not to like about the Choice 100W Soldering Iron
If you are already handy with a soldering iron, you’ll get good use from this mid-range unit. The high heat and mid-range power are perfect for working quickly, but without variable control, beginners may find how quickly it melts solder making it too taxing to work with.
It is also a little pricy for a soldering iron that doesn’t exhibit any advanced features. While basic, it is an iron which is sure to last. Also keep in mind that replacement tips can be hard to find, another drawback to its design.
What We Like
- Stable at 1,000°F
- Great overall quality
- Retains tip temperature for extended periods
What We Don’t Like
- Slightly overpriced
- No temperature control
- Tip replacements are hard to find
This buyer’s guide to soldering irons will take you through a look at all key components to be considered. We’ll help you understand soldering iron power ratings, weight, the type of materials used in element construction, tip types and availability, as well as what to look for in handle design.
The power rating of a soldering iron is measured in wattage. Most soldering irons intended for home use are in the range of 60 to 100 watts. Heavy-duty soldering irons can carry power ratings of 200 watts or more. Please note that the raw power rating is not a measure of the overall performance of the unit.
Heat retention and the recovery time also need to be considered. Stained glass art requires a soldering iron which gives a good duty cycle, retaining its heat and allowing you to solder for extended periods of time.
Soldering irons come in varying weights. The lighter the soldering iron the better. You are looking for ergonomics and a design which lets gives you the maximum freedom of movement.
Intricate designs require you to be nimble with your soldering iron so you don’t want something that is heavy and difficult to control. The slightest movement wrong will result in a disaster if you’re using a heavy, cumbersome soldering iron with a rigid cord that restricts your movement.
There are two main types of elements used by today’s soldering irons. Ni-chrome is compression wound around a resistance wire giving you heat output due to the electrical resistance encountered.
A ceramic element works in a similar manner, but they heat closer to the tip. Where Ni-chrome reaches higher temperatures for longer, ceramic elements lose heat due to having to conduct heat up to the tip.
This means that ceramic element-based soldering irons typically heat faster than those using Ni-chrome but they also lose heat faster. Ni-chrome soldering irons are normally far more expensive than those featuring a ceramic core.
Every good soldering iron must support replacement tips at the very least. The best soldering irons for stained glass will support a variety of tip sizes, giving you all of the scope needed for detailed stained glass designs.
Many manufacturers supply replacement tips, while certain brands support tips from other types of soldering irons. Tip selection is extremely important. If you can’t buy a replacement tip for your soldering iron then you’ll need to get one custom cut which can be timeous and costly.
The way that you hold your soldering iron makes a massive difference to its ease of use. The value of freedom of movement and ergonomic design should never be underestimated. Look for design aspects like intelligent positioning of the temperature dial, and the presence of a pilot light to let you know when the iron is ready.
Another great bonus is a light for illumination while soldering but this is only of true interest to those fixing and building electronics.
Best Soldering Iron for Stained Glass FAQ
How to use a soldering iron
Soldering irons reach over 1,000°F so make sure that you take care to never touch the tip. It’s highly recommended that you wear protective gloves and steer clear of loose-fitting clothing. While soldering, you’ll need to keep the tip clean so that it can properly conduct heat.
Make sure that the area you plan to solder in is properly prepared. Get a large piece of sponge secured to something heavy so that you use it to wipe the tip clean. To start soldering, find a convenient place to stand it (use its stand if supplied) and switch the unit on. As soon as it reaches soldering temperature, touch the iron against a piece of solder, coating it lightly.
Apply a small amount of solder carefully. The tip must shine. After every few uses, clean the tip and then recover it with solder smoothly. Hold the soldering in your dominant hand and your solder in the other.
How to clean a soldering iron
As mentioned, a soldering iron needs to stay clean in order to conduct enough heat to work properly. In addition to cleaning your iron during use, you also need to perform regular maintenance to keep it in tip-top condition.
Ideally, every hobbyist, technician, or artist needs a cellulose and sulfur-free sponge readily available. Regular sponges don’t remove solder as well, melting and leaving a sticky residue.
Alternatively, a brass coil also makes for a reliable cleaner. Dampen the sponge and use it to clean excess solder off your soldering iron before coating it with solder, and use the same sponge after every few passes to make sure that the tip is free from any buildup. If there are surface stains or rust on your soldering iron, make sure that it is completely cool before using steel wool to work the marks smooth.
To make sure that your soldering iron lasts as long as possible, use a specialized alloy cleaner to prevent dust and solder buildup while also reducing the rate of oxidization.
How hot does a soldering iron get?
Low-powered soldering irons with a power output of 60 watts reach temperature ratings of between 850 and 900°F. Higher powered soldering irons such as those reaching 100 to 150 watts will typically reach between 900° and 1,000°. The best soldering irons measure 200 watts or above but this is normally only to sustain a temperature of 1,000° for an extended period of time.
Those considering a new soldering iron should not only look at how hot the soldering iron gets but also how long it takes to heat up, and how long it retains its heat. Stained glass will usually require far longer periods of soldering than conventional small electronics work.
Make sure that your soldering iron offers a decent duty cycle so that you don’t have much downtime. Getting into a rhythm is hard when you’re waiting for your iron to reheat. A good iron will fluctuate between temperature settings within seconds and allow you ample working time.
What is a soldering iron?
A soldering iron is a tool which heats a conductive core using electricity. The core then warms a shaped tip to a particular heat to melt solder.
Solder is an alloy with a low melting point comprising lead, lead, and tin, tin, or brass. Melted solder can be used to fuse metals, work on circuitry, or for artistic applications like stained glass.
How to solder stained glass
Solder will not hold to untreated glass. In order to apply solder to stained glass you first need to lay a strip of copper foil. Strips of adhesive copper foil are readily available at all good hobby and arts and crafts stores.
Carefully cut strips for the areas that you want to solder and then peel off the protective tape, carefully sticking them down. Once your copper is applied, brush liquid flux over the copper foil. You don’t need to apply it perfectly, just make sure that the copper is covered.
Once your design has been prepared, it is time to position your glass for soldering. It is best to work on a heat-resistance surface such as a metal work table.
Unroll roughly four inches of solder and hold it in your off-hand. Make sure that the two pieces of glass that you want to solder together are pressed closely together.
Take your heated soldering iron and place its tip against the tip of the solder which you unrolled, held above a starting section of foil chosen as your starting point. Don’t press the solder against the foil but instead hold the iron’s tip and solder about half an inch over the foil.
You’re trying to let the melted solder drop into the seam. You don’t need to trouble yourself over any solder that drops onto the glass. It doesn’t stick.
Any solder which beads up needs to be cleaned until flat by running the top of the iron across it gently. Try to keep moving uniformly so that the solder is spread evenly, getting the entire seam coated with a single bead of solder. When your entire design has been bonded together with continuous lines of solder across each intersection and join, you’re done. You can repeat as many times as you need to until you’re happy with the overall look.
The best choice for most hobbyists and part-time artists is the Weller WLC 200 80-Watt Hobby and Stained Glass Soldering Station. It’ll last for years and the convenience of the soldering station can’t be overlooked.
Professionals may prefer the American Beauty 3158-200 Heavy-Duty Soldering Iron. It has a hefty price tag, but the sheer quality can’t be matched by any other iron.
If you’re shopping on a budget, the clear winner is the TasiHome Solrep 2000 Soldering Iron Kit. It outperforms competing units at up to four times its price.