When designing magnificent stained glass art, various equipment and accessories are employed. But whether you are a professional stained glass craftsman or a novice stained glass enthusiast, a top-notch soldering iron is a vital element of your toolbox! The correct tool will assist you in forming a strong, long-lasting bond between the glass pieces and make your job more pleasurable and efficient. On the other hand, nothing is more disheartening than a poor soldering iron that may destroy your work and even put you off stained glass forever!
But how to choose a good instrument that meets all your needs? Here’s my review of the best soldering irons for stained glass work; I selected them based on a real-life usage experience. We’ll also discuss all the essential features to look out for before buying the instrument. Interested? Then let’s get down to the details!
|Name||Wattage||Heating element||Temperature range||Weight||Review|
|Hakko FX601 best overall||42W – 67W||сeramic||240ºC – 540ºC||68g||Review|
|Weller WLC200 budget||5W – 80W||сeramic||0ºC – 482ºC||953g||Review|
|American Beauty 3158-200premium||200W||wire||0ºC – 566ºC||1130g||Review|
Best soldering iron for stained glass reviews
Hakko FX601 – best overall
Hakko is an American globally-recognized brand that produces high-quality soldering instruments appropriate for various applications and environments. Their FX601 soldering iron is the most convenient and efficient instrument, especially for miniature and medium-sized projects. In addition, thanks to its temperature regulation and compact, ergonomic design, this device can compete with even more sophisticated irons (e.g., American Beauty 3158-200).
The instrument can boast an innovative ceramic heating element and reaches ideal for most stained glass jobs temperature – up to 540 degrees Fahrenheit. You can set the temp using a regulator on the handle, allowing you to simply set the preferred temperature, and the sensor will ensure steady heat within a range of -10°F to +10°F. Furthermore, the FX601 has enough capacity – 67watts – to warm up the tip rapidly; nevertheless, it will never get too hot to melt the lead.
Last but not least, this small soldering iron is handier than it looks, allowing you to work for lengthy periods of time due to its lightweight, pen-shape design.
Hunting for the overall best soldering iron for stained glass? Look no further than the Hakko FX601! The combination of high-quality components, versatility, and reasonable price puts this tool above all competitors’ lists!
- Wattage, W: 42-67
- Heating element: сeramic
- Temperature range, ºC: 240-540
- Weight, g: 68
- Ideal for detailed projects
- Can handle most materials
- The lock key guarantees your settings stay in place
- Even temperature
- Effortless use.
- Not very sturdy – use it with special care
- Not capable of handling big projects.
Weller WLC200 – budget
If you are a newbie and want to purchase a high-quality, efficient iron with cost in mind, Weller WLC200 has got you covered! Just take a look at its features!
The Weller WLC200 solder has a variable watt range of 5 to 80, making it suitable for stained glass. With a weightless pencil-shape construction and a controllable temperature of 900 F, this model is quick and effective. It’s also worth noting that the kit includes a 3/8-inch chisel tip, making it compatible with other Weller elements; plus, it has a sponge to cleanse the tip and extend its life.
I’d say the WLC200 isn’t inferior in efficiency to more expensive models. Although it doesn’t have such premium quality components as our top-list product, Hakko FX601, it still boasts excellent characteristics and a wide range of flexibility.
Weller WLC200 is the best budget stained glass soldering iron available on today’s market. It’s almost weightless and straightforward to handle – for those with smaller tasks or prior experience soldering, it would be a fantastic choice!
- Wattage, W: 5-80
- Heating element: сeramic
- Temperature range, ºC: 0-482
- Weight, g: 953
- Great temp controller
- Reliable & heavy iron holder
- The plinth and cleaning sponge increase the tool’s longevity
- Smooth & comfortable handpiece
- Rust-proof & eco-friendly tip.
- The chisel head may be too big for some projects
- Requires some time to regain its heat
- Short cord.
American Beauty 3158-200 – premium
American Beauty 3158-200 is engineered with both professionals and hobbyists in mind. It utilizes innovative technology to deliver outstanding performance. In addition, it boasts a max temp of 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, making it effective for heavy-duty tasks.
The heating elements are pretty robust due to the high-quality nichrome material. Ironclad lead-free, plug-style tip outshines tips of other irons in terms of reliability, power, and heat capacity. The tool fires up quickly and effectively holds the temp so that you can effortlessly solder parts and finish your work faster. Next, the modular structure lets straightforward parts replacement, making this iron last for generations.
Actually, the 3158-200’s exceptional durability blows the competition completely out of the water – that’s where this model outperforms our winner Hakko FX601 and many other products! Finally, the 3158-200 can be used to accomplish various jobs, I’m sure you’ll love its versatility!
American Beauty 3158-200 is a premium quality stained glass solder iron! It offers everything an artist may require – durability, versatility, steady heat, fast heat retrieval, and ease of use. While the price tag may seem a bit steep, you buy the quality – this iron will last you a lifetime!
- Wattage, W: 200
- Heating element: wire
- Temperature range, ºC: 0-566
- Weight, g: 1130
- One of the most sturdy, long-lasting tools money can buy
- Minimalistic yet efficient design
- Convenient, compact stand
- Reaches corners easily
- Is RoHS compliant.
- Not suitable for soldering tiny parts
Weller W100PG is another excellent option for entry- and mid-range users – in fact, it’s a very popular choice among both newbies and professionals.
This powerful 100W tool features advanced closed-loop technology that helps maintain max tip temperature; besides, it prevents your equipment from overheating. Next, the soldering iron includes additional tips, each with a distinct temp range, so you can tackle any project.
W100PG warms up fast – for instance, a rapid 110 sec is required for the 700 degrees Fahrenheit tip to get operating temp so that you can get more work done in a shorter period of time. Additionally, you’ll have more flexibility and freedom to operate with a mobile line voltage iron – no holder is required.
I love how this instrument performs – I barely had to touch a join before the solder flew and stayed flowing until I removed the iron, avoiding cold joins.
Weller W100PG offers unparalleled flexibility and efficiency with its different tips. Plus, the ultra-portable design allows you to move it from job site to job site without skipping a beat. So, if those are the characteristics and specs you need, do take a closer look at this 100-watt soldering iron for stained glass!
- Wattage, W: 100
- Heating element: wire
- Temperature range, ºC: 316 – 427
- Weight, g: 68
- Minimalistic, lightweight design
- Solid – will last long
- Warms up quickly and performs flawlessly
- UL- and CUL-certified.
- The heating may be inconsistent
- Cools down slowly
- Inadequate stand.
Hakko FX888D is the next generation of a successful family of soldering stations that have been in production for over 30 years. This soldering station features digital technology that delivers high accuracy and reliability for your operations. In addition, the temperature quickly reaches up to 900 degrees F, letting you work with finer details without overheating delicate fillips like solder stained glass, wires, or small conductive pads.
The FX888D also boasts an excellent thermal recovery – meaning adjustments are made within 2 seconds of powering it on, so you can rest assured knowing that your desired temperature doesn’t shift. The iron’s excellent heat conductivity makes it helpful in soldering at lower temperatures, which is a significant aspect to consider when dealing with more delicate materials.
The equipment is lightweight and versatile, making it ideal for various applications. It’s also ESD safe, so it won’t damage sensitive components. Finally, the slender, ergonomic handpiece is comfortable and provides excellent control for any soldering project.
If you are looking for an innovative, versatile, and user-friendly soldering station, Hakko FX888D may be the right choice for you. It could be years before you want to upgrade this equipment!
- Wattage, W: 70
- Heating element: сeramic
- Temperature range, ºC: 50-480
- Weight, g: 1200
- Easy to manage station
- Straightforward digital calibration
- Includes sponge for cleaning the tip
- 5 extra tips make this tool versatile.
- Multiple functions may be hard to control for some users
- May not maintain a steady temperature.
Stained glass soldering irons buying guide
Soldering iron wattage
Consider the wattage of a soldering iron if you’re searching for one that will perform well with stained glass. The wattage is the measure of power in a solder-iron. The more the wattage, the more powerful and effective tool is.
Higher-wattage solder can get the intended temperature faster. It’s also straightforward for such an instrument to recover from temperature decreases while in use, resulting in a more stable quantity of heat.
Wattage numbers are classified as follows:
- 50-100W – an entry-level tool – this range of wattage will be acceptable for tiny items and tasks requiring just light soldering.
- 100-200W – a mid-range tool – suitable for miniature and medium-sized items and tasks requiring average soldering.
- 200 and more watts – a top-notch tool – excellent for all tasks and heavy use.
To sum up, if your budget allows, do invest in a high-wattage, aka more powerful instrument – it will cover all your needs!
Soldering iron temperature
When shopping around, do consider the range of temperature of the solder – this way, you’ll ensure the tool will tackle all your tasks.
You need a piece of equipment that reaches a high enough temp to melt the solder effortlessly. The most effective temperature range for soldering irons is about 500-700 degrees F.
Another aspect to take into account when purchasing a soldering iron is temperature control. Working with stained glass usually necessitates altering the temperatures; setting the desired temperature is no issue due to the temp control option!
Types of heating elements
Today’s market offers 2 types of heating elements in soldering irons: nichrome and ceramic.
So, which kind of heating element is the finest for stained glass? That really depends on your demands! For miniature to medium-sized elements, the difference will not affect most users – it’s more a question of personal preference. However, if you do jobs that require steady heat, opting for an instrument with a nichrome heating element is better. On the other hand, ceramic elements will handle short and quick beads nicely.
In the long run, I’d recommend purchasing both types so that you can decide which one meets your current needs.
You’ll find the following types of soldering iron tips on the market: angle chisel, a chisel tip, conical, and point tip. A chisel tip, however, is the most commonly used for stained glass soldering. Always keep an eye out for a few spare parts and replaceable tips. Also, make sure that spares are readily available.