Many people do not realize stained glass seams are actually made of solder. Artists use copper foil, lead came, and flux to assemble intricate, eye-catching glass designs. A soldering iron is a tool that pulls all these elements together. A well-made soldering iron must be able to convert hard solder into a molten liquid. To achieve the best results, the iron must maintain a steady and high temperature. What’s more, the iron must be easy to hold and manipulate. It’s not easy to solder stained glass! A proper soldering iron can make the job easier and more enjoyable. We’ve scoured the market in search of the top soldering irons for stained glass crafts. In the section below, you’ll find our top five picks along with a few essential buying tips.
Hakko FX601-02 – Customer Favorite
It is made from durable ceramic elements. An onboard dial enables users to adjust the temperature at any time. A bright pilot light lets users know when it is on and ready. Finally, a strain-resistant cord prevents the iron from coming loose during enhanced maneuvers.
It’s worth it to spend a little more for a model like the Hakko. Stained glass specialists have agreed that this Hakko iron is well-deserving of praise. It features a long, ergonomic handle for more comfortable soldering sessions. The controls are easy to access and offer precise temperature settings. The device turns on quickly and maintains its temperature.
The only downside of this model is that the handle gets warm. Nevertheless, we are confident that a rubber grip would remedy the issue. We are willing to look past this minor issue. After all, this is one of the few irons that can maintain its temperature alongside a wet sponge. What’s more, it has an incredible reach and ergonomic body.
- A closed-loop temperature control with adjustment dials
- Turn dialn for easy wattage adjustments
- Ergonomic stick handle
- Strain-resistant cord
Weller SP40NKUS – Best Budget Option
The housing also serves as an excellent foundation for the iron’s three LED lights. The Weller SP40NKUS heats up rapidly and maintains a temperature above 900 degrees.
The products rounded, ribbed grip gives users unmatched comfort and flexibility. You can easily roll the device in your hands for easier access to corners and crevices. The device’s housing and LEDs are heat resistant. As such, they will last a lifetime. The tips are susceptible to wear. However, the kit comes with a set of durable replacements. The tips can be switched out when it is time to install a replacement.
The Weller iron weighs a mere 6.9 ounces. It is 9 1/10 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. The iron’s black and red housing makes for a clean, noteworthy exterior. This iron reaches its target temperature within minutes. Not to mention, it maintains a consistently high temperature. Unfortunately, it does not boast a temperature dial. The product does come with a 6-millimeter tip, iron stand, soldering aid, and spool of solder. It also comes with 3.2-millimeter and 0.8-millimeter tip replacements.
Don’t let this iron’s limited wattage deter you from its potential. It comes with a 5-foot power cord and nearly a decade-long warranty. Weller is one of the country’s top soldering iron manufacturers. They have been producing irons and other soldering products since 1945.
- Three LED lights for workspace illumination
- Comes with a set of spare tips
- Includes extra wire and soldering aid
- Molded, ribbed grip
- 40 watts of power
- 7-year warranty
- Short cord
- Temperature is not variable
TasiHome Soldering Iron – Best Anti-Static Connection
More tips can be purchased online. The tips are easy to remove and replace.
We love that the TasiHome iron gives users full control of its temperature output. It boasts an onboard dial that controls a loop-based heating system. As such, the settings only falter a degree or two from the registered settings. This device takes minutes to heat up. What’s more, it maintains its temperature for extended periods. You can easily get through long-lasting stainless glass soldering jobs without having to cope with fluctuating temperatures. A red power indicator light lets you know when the device is ready to go.
This is a robust iron that will carry you through a wide range of applications. The iron offers enough heat for uniform stained glass seams. It is also a great tool for soldering small electronics and jewelry. The manufacturer guarantees the TasiHome iron for the long haul, offering a guarenteed refund with each purchase.
- 60-watt heating element
- Onboard temperature dial
- Only 2 degrees of temperature deviation
- Adjustable temperature
- Comes with three soldering tips
- Red power indicator light
- Anti-static power cord with clip
- Melting point lower than 842 degrees
- Additional tips sold separately
- No on/off switch
Bayka Soldering Iron – Best LCD Display
We love that this device features a push-button on/off switch as well as nine preset temperatures. It can achieve its max temperature (896 degrees) within 30 seconds. Users can make 1-degree adjustments with the help of onboard plus and minus buttons. The LCD screen offers accurate temperature readings.
The Bayka iron features a flame-retardant nylon housing, a metal iron, and a ceramic heater. It also boasts an auto-sleep function that prevents it from overheating. The product comes with a set of five distinct soldering tips and a metal soldering stand. Each iron is backed by a generous replacement policy, a 2-year product warranty, and a lifetime of customer support.
We recommend this iron for everything from glass-based crafts to small electronic repairs. The Bayka makes it easy to switch between different temperatures and types of solder. Our only complaint is that the power cord is very rigid. As such, it is difficult make one-handed maneuvers. We recommend pairing it with a quality extension cord. This simple amendment will give you ample flexibility and freedom.
- On/off switch
- Automatic sleep setting
- LCD temperature setting display
- Comes with five pre-tinned tips
- Nine preset temperature settings
- Temperature range from o to 896 degrees
- Heat-resistant case made from metal and flame-retardant nylon
- Ceramic heater
- 30-day return and replacement policy
- Only two control buttons for all settings
Choice Soldering Iron – Editor’s Choice
While the Choice iron does not feature a temperature dial, it is compatible with most aftermarket options.
This iron is a favorite among stained glass artists and other hobbyists. The lightweight body and pen-shaped handle make it easy to operate for long periods. The device comes with a standard chisel tip. Replacements are hard to find. However, high heat and precision tips work perfectly alongside copper foil.
The Choice iron measures 10 1/2 inches long and 1 inch in diameter. Unfortunately, there is no power indicator light on the body. Still, you can count on the Choice to heat up fast and maintain its temperature. We recommend pairing it with a well-rated thermostat and heat-resistant extension cord.
- 120-volts (100 watts) of power
- 1/4-inch chisel tip
- 1,000 degree temperature limit
- Made of aluminum
- Lightweight (4.8 ounces)
- Replacement tips are not readily available
- Requires holder (sold separately)
What to Look for in a Soldering Iron for Stained Glass
A mosaic of colorful glass would be nothing without durable soldered seams. We asked several stained glass specialists what they looked for in a soldering iron. Then we honed in on the elements that defined their top picks.
Each soldering iron features a set wattage. A stainless glass soldering iron may offer anywhere from 40 to 200 watts of power. Low-watt irons offer less power. They are more suitable for light applications. High-watt soldering irons offer more consistent and intense power.
Traditional stained glass solder melts between 360 and 370 degrees Fahrenheit. With that said, temperatures tend to fluctuate during soldering applications.
It’s best to opt for a medium to high-powered soldering iron with a built-in temperature regulator. Closed-loop soldering irons regulate the temperature through the entire soldering process. These systems are often typically paired with a temperature dial, such as an analog dial or digital temperature control. Make sure that your iron’s settings are within a few degrees of accuracy.
Most soldering irons feature metal wire or ceramic heating elements. For the most part, ceramic elements heat up faster and maintain more consistent temperatures. Nevertheless, metal wire elements are better for longer, more involved applications.
Stained glass soldering irons should have lightweight bodies with slip-resistant grips. Stained glass soldering is a long, tedious task. A simple rounded handle can be tiring. We prefer to use a pencil-style soldering iron with an ergonomic rubber coating. It helps if the pen has a housing that suspends the tip in the air. Otherwise, you will need a soldering iron stand.
Tips and Extra Accessories
Most people use a simple chisel tip when soldering stainless glass seams. Look for a soldering iron that comes with a few versatile replacements. Make sure that the tips are easy to remove. What’s more, double-check to ensure the replacements are readily available.
You will also need a few accessories before you can begin soldering. Some irons come with cleaning sponges, brass coils, solder, and stands. It pays to find a package that includes all the essentials.
Video Tutorial: Choice soldering iron for stained glass
There you are! You are now ready to shop around for the best stained glass soldering iron. There are plenty of amazing tools on the market. Use our buying guide to make the best possible purchase! A well-made soldering iron will provide you with years of quality soldering projects. Just think of all of the stained glass you can produce with a vetted iron and an ample supply of colored glass!
Do you have a favorite stained glass soldering iron? Let us know in the comment section below!