Which Stained Glass Soldering Iron?

Here is some useful information to help you decide which stained glass soldering iron you should buy.

After years of experience and testing, we are now converted to the Hakko FX601 soldering iron for lead work and copper foil.  Primarily for the reliability and repairability of the tool. It now far outperforms the Weller 100w which was the go to iron for many years.  Plus the Hakko FX601 has a handy dial to adjust the temperature while soldering. We use these on our stained glass and copper foiling courses at Creative Glass Guild and they are now in all of our stained glass and copper foiling starter kits.

The three Weller soldering iron models for stained glass and copper foil work very considerably in price and performance.  

The cheapest of the three is the 80W 'Hobby Kit'. A basic soldering iron which we have found is ideal for copper foil work.  We have struggled with this when making leaded stained glass windows as the lack of thermostat means that overheating can casue issues with melting your lead came, unless you are quick with your solder joints!

The mid-range Weller W101d is our reccommended choice, it is not as cumbersome as the bigger 200W, but comfortable to use over long periods and easy to control. It also benefits from a thermostatic control (non-adjustable) which enables easy soldering with far less risk of lead melting. In recent times it has had a poor reputation for developing faults.

Top of the pile is the Weller W201d, the professional choice as the increased power makes it reach temperature faster and hold it without losing heat.  It is bigger and heavier, than the rest.

With the 200w and the 100w, it is important to adjust the tip prior to use.  They usually come a little overtightened from the factory.  Loosen the tip nut first, tighten until finger tight, then release by a quarter turn.  This will allow a little bit of movement in the tip, enabling the electromagnetic thermostat to release and connect the tip as required.

There are cheap soldering irons avaiable across the internet in the UK and we have tested many of them.  Sadly they are not of sufficient quality, and buyer of these often end up disheartened with their buy and give up making.  In these cases you can blame the tool and not you.  we believe that these should not be sold as stained glass soldering irons, as they will inevitably dissapoint the user, and end up in them re-purchasing the right tool, or giving up on the craft. 

Happy Soldering!

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