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It can be very confusing to figure out what soldering iron to choose. There are so any out there how do you choose the right one. The short answer is many of them will work just fine but there is one that I think works the best. Here I will show you what I use and why. 

I use the Weller 1175. 

To make a nice bead of solder is consistent heat. And this iron gives you a combo temperature in the handle and the tip to create that constant heat. You can get different tips for this iron that will give you different temperatures but the one that comes all together in one package is great. 

  • 1175 Standard Series Iron - 50 Watt, Stained Glass / 7760 Handle / 37UG Heater / PL133 Long Chisel tip - 0.200" / 1000° F

This iron gets hot, really hot, but that's a good thing. And, once you are used to it, you'll wonder how you ever worked another way. Heat is what gives you a nice flow of solder. 

A must have with this iron is a good rheostat (or temperature control). You never want to leave it on full blast without using it. This iron gets to 1000 degrees and if you leave the iron on to just heat itself and not dissipate that heat by soldering it will burn itself out. (If you have ever had this iron and had it not work after a few weeks, it's usually because you left it on the full heat too long without using it and it burned out.) 

Make the rheostat your best friend!

If you are in the middle of soldering and you get a phone call, turn it down or off. The life of your iron depends on it!

(The Weller in the above photo is my actual iron and it's about 12 years old.)

The first thing you should do to make sure your Weller 1175 iron stays nice and hot.

  1. Take your iron out of the package. 
  2. Plug it into the rheostat.
  3. Plug your rheostat into the wall socket. 
  4. Turn your rheostat on to around 80% and let it heat up (you will see the tip start to change colors once it's hot).
  5. Quickly brush on flux or dip in paste flux.
  6. Tin the tip of the iron with solder by melting solder in the tip of the iron.

This is important to the longevity and how well it will solder in the future.

It will improve the conductivity of the heat. It also gives the tip a protective layer so it won't corrode. 

Tip: Cleaning your iron is very simple. While hot, wipe your soldering iron tip on a damp (just water) sponge. The tip should shine up nicely. DO NOT use a sal ammoniac stone on a regular basis. Sal ammoniac stones are for removing heavy build up on your iron and if used improperly can damage your soldering iron tip. More on that later.

I hope this helps on your quest for the perfect stained glass iron. Let me know if you have a different favorite iron.

Read my related blogs:

How do I minimize my solder blobs?

What kind of copper foil should I use?