Stained glass soldering irons are one of the most expensive items in your kit. And so they should be!
It's a false economy to buy a cheap one and find that it doesn't solder properly. There's nothing more disheartening and it will put you off soldering forever.
On this page you'll find:
Starting at the top, we have the Queen of stained glass soldering irons, the Hakko FX-601. This ticks all the must-have and wish-list boxes.
- Not only is the temperature thermostatically controlled, it combines the latest highly efficient ceramic heating element
- The ceramic heating element enables it to reach temperature very quickly and to maintain it consistently over prolonged periods. The light flashes when it is ready to go.
Hakko FX-601 Soldering Iron
- Handy built-in control that can be adjusted to 6 different temperatures. For regular foil soldering tasks I use either 360 or 410.
- Being able to change the tip temperature adds versatility and means that this iron can be used for all types of stained glass projects.
- It's very light so if you're doing hours of soldering you won't get tired holding it.
- It's not the cheapest but you don't expect class for nothing.
- If you're NOT in the USA or Japan, you'll need a step-down converter (sometimes called a transformer) - at least 100W - to use this iron.
I bought my transformer in an electrical store - Maplins - and have had no problems at all.
The Hakko FX-601 professional quality iron is lightweight, cheap to run, heats up extremely quickly and maintains temperature beautifully. 9 out of 10.
Soldering irons are a crucial part of your stained glass kit, so you need to choose carefully. If you’re confident that you know what you’re looking for, Delphi Glass supply a comprehensive range of irons at very reasonable prices.
They ship all over the world and I’ve always found them to be extremely reliable and easy to deal with.
Everything Stained Glass receives 10% from Delphi (not you!) for any stained glass soldering irons bought via a click through this site. We would never recommend products we didn't believe were the best.
I hope you find our review service helpful.
The Weller 100 Watt Iron
The Weller 100W Soldering Irons are just right for those who are starting out and who want a very good iron at a decent price.
Comes with a 3/8" 700 degree tip.
- It reaches temperature in a couple of minutes.
- It is easy to use for beginners as it is thermostatically controlled. This means you don't need to adjust the temperature while you're soldering nor do you need an expensive rheostat (separate temperature contoller).
- It's the most popular iron for stained glass and many accessories are easily available.
- It's lightweight and
Very occasionally this iron will experience cool spots. This is when the temperature drops and it will need to rest for a minute or two to regain its heat.
The Weller 100 is lightweight and well balanced. It works well with different types of solder. A great iron for those not wanting to spend on the Hakko. 8 out of 10.
The Studio 100 Iron
The Studio 100 Iron is great value but I'm not sure if that is enough to recommend it.
The main difference between this and the Hakko FX-601 above is price, temperature flexibility and running efficiency.
The Studio 100 has a temperature controlled tip which has a set (rather than adjustable) temperature – normally around 750F – which the iron reaches and then shuts off.
It then has to turn itself on again once heat has been lost from the tip, and it is this that can cause ‘cold’ spots which stops it melting the solder.
- More costly to run as the thermostat than the irons with ceramic heating elements.
- Cold spots experienced.
The Studio 100 comes with a one year manufacturer’s warranty and has replacement tips in various sizes available to buy.
However, with commonly experienced cold spots I would pay the extra for the Weller 100. 6.5 out of 10.
First, temperature. Your iron should have a heat capacity of between 80 and 200 watts.
- The exception to this rule is irons with the ceramic heating element, like the Hakko FX-601 above, which is a far more efficient technology and therefore needs less wattage.
- When you are soldering stained glass, you want the tip to reach and maintain a certain temperature to melt the solder evenly.
Second, weight. You might be using the iron for prolonged periods of time, so its weight and the balance between the handle and tip are important.
Thirdly, versatility. There are different tips and temperatures needed for various stained glass soldering tasks.
- The best irons can be adapted to suit all types of projects.
- A standard ¼” tip is great for copper foil or lead came projects, whereas smaller tips are better for decorative soldering.
- Being able to adjust the temperature of your iron means that it can be set at the melting point of the solder you’re using and give you perfect results.
This is a useful 2mins 30 second video explaining some of the different tips you can buy for soldering irons. It tells you which ones are best for which kind of project.
Video explaining the types of tips available for soldering irons
There's some additional information on the Hakko FX-601 on for you here if you want to find out more.
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