Marilyn knows how to present the dullest topic in an interesting and easy-to-read way. When she’s not teaching English Literature at a local school or writing for our site, Marylin loves to knit and bake for her two grandchildren.
Julie owns a shop specializing in sewing equipment and accessories. No wonder she knows everything when it comes to technical specifications of practically anything we review. In her free time, Julie loves quilting and scrapbooking.
Last updated: January 22, 2021
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You may be familiar with stained glass and even admire its beauty whenever you come across one but never imagine creating the craft at the comfort of your home. With the right tools, including the best soldering irons for stained glass, you can achieve the most beautiful results. A soldering iron is a highly versatile tool that you can use to make lamps, cabinet doors, windows, and souvenirs. You will wonder why you never owned it before.
So, you have the money and a looming desire to own the best soldering iron but which one do you go for out of the entire lo on the market? We rounded up a few of the best-rated models to help you make the best-informed choice. Some of the crucial features we considered in our review include dimensions, heating element, maximum temperature, weight, wattage, and warranty. They determine the ease with which you will be able to solder, the amount of energy you’ll be consuming, and the overall performance of the soldering iron.
Whether you are a beginner or a professional this is an ultimate tool to add to your arsenal. It is carefully designed to allow you to work on a wide range of projects as well as last a while.
The versatile station packs power and thanks to its flexible power knob, you can do as low as 5 watts or as high as 80 watts depending on the projects at hand. Plus, you will be able to know when the power is active with the prominent on/off switch featured on the station. This way, you wouldn’t have to guess whether the iron is hot enough for your project thus much safer to use.
Still, on the on/off button, it is ergonomically designed to offer you easy access and control even when you are wearing gloves.
Additionally, there is a control knob that allows you to easily change your wattages so you can get a precise power rating for your project in between the 4 power settings. You will love how this station heats up pretty quickly and efficiently once activated.
As for ease of use and comfort, it can never get better with this station. It features a super-lightweight pencil iron that has a foam grip that offers you premium comfort when holding the station. You wouldn’t experience the pain that comes with holding a soldering iron for long hours especially when doing special movements when creating your craft.
As if that’s enough, the iron comes with a replaceable heating element. This helps reduce repair or entire replacement costs.
What we liked: With a 7-year warranty, this is one of the best-stained glass solder irons that money can buy. It is packed with features that make it super-efficient, versatile, and easy to use. Cleaning it is also a breeze as a simple sponge wipe is enough to restore it to its clean state.
What could be better: This soldering iron could be a tad better if it came with an extra plug for adding other irons.
With a standard diamond soldering tip, the American Beauty is indeed a beauty among soldering irons. It is one of the best high-end soldering irons for stained glass perfect for anyone looking for solid, long-term, and reliable performance.
The iron boasts of an ultra-durable build with a protective steel casing thus can hold up well to frequent industrial use. The steel is brazed and strengthened with heat treatments for maximum efficiency and durability. Therefore, you can use the iron to perform various tasks or make different crafts.
The hardwood handle is not only durable but also comfortable to hold for long periods as it has powerful electrical and heat-insulating properties. It has an ergonomic design that is perfect for all the odd angles.
You will appreciate the iron’s tip plug-style design as it offers better heat transfer and easy cleaning. They are iron-clad and lead-free and will undoubtedly outlast any other soldering tips you have consistently.
Another praiseworthy feature is the reliable heating elements on this iron which fantastically maintain consistent soldering temperatures. With the maximum temperature of 1000F, there isn’t anything you can’ solder with this iron.
What we liked: The soldering iron is perfect for heavier industrial soldering jobs. It is incredibly durable with unparalleled heat capacity. It is also easy to use and comfortable to hold for longer periods.
What could be better: Other than its hefty price tag and a somewhat limited 3-year warranty, nothing could be better with this iron.
Here is another soldering iron from Weller that deserves a nod. It is a fantastic entry-level choice best fit for beginner or intermediate level stained glass enthusiasts.
The Weller 100PG is also a highly versatile option that can help you complete a myriad of projects. It comes with 3 tips: 800-degree, 700-degree, and 600-degree. The iron heats up pretty fast and offers a great amount of power for all of your stained glass projects. The 700-degree tip would heat up within 100 seconds allowing you to solder faster and complete your projects on time.
Moreover, it is temperature regulated. It will easily melt solder but not lead.
Another thing you will like about this soldering iron is its incredible portability. As it works without a base, you can move around your projects easily allowing you to access the hard to reach areas.
What we liked: the soldering iron has a solid durable build and is big and fast enough for a home shop or DIY soldering projects. Its portability and versatility are unrivaled with 3 tips to choose from and the freedom to move around.
What could be better: The stand that the iron comes with could be of better quality, plus it takes longer to cool down compared to other soldering irons. Therefore, you must take extra precautions to avoid accidents.
Yet another gem from the leading manufacturer of soldering irons, Weller. This is one of the best rugged and ultra-lightweight option with superior functionality on the market.
The iron is specially made for heating stained glass. It heats up fast and evenly, moves incredibly faster and smoothly to help you complete your projects on time and with high precision.
The iron is designed to offer enough power and consistent temperature making glass work a breeze. It can heat up to 1000 degrees F. It is also easily portable thanks to its lightweight build. Weighing a mere 0.3 pounds you can easily carry and maneuver it around your projects.
What we liked: With a lifetime warranty, this is one of the best soldering irons for stained glass on the market currently, especially if you are looking for a small unit with superior functionality. It is popular and highly preferred for its ability to solder copper foil excellently as long as the temperatures are well-controlled.
What could be better: For hobbyists and stained glass enthusiasts, this soldering iron couldn’t be any better as long as you are willing to dig a little deeper into your pockets for it.
This is another favorite among hobbyists and stained glass enthusiasts because of its durability and compact yet functional build. It is one hell of a workhorse best fit for many and extended stained glass projects.
The soldering iron is ruggedly built with robust aluminum casing and a soft rubber grip. Its handle is pen-shaped and together with the rubber grip, offers you a firm and comfortable hold so you can solder for extended periods.
What’s more, the soldering iron is extremely lightweight, thus comfortable to carry for longer periods. It also has an extended power cord that increases its portability when working on your projects. You can easily move around to access your work from different angles.
The tool features a standard chisel tip that guarantees you a high heat and precision performance.
The only downside to this Choice iron is that it doesn’t have a power indicator light on its body. Though you can count on it to heat up super-fast and give consistent temperature.
With 100watts and 1000 degrees F you can work on a wide array of projects. Here’s a quick tip – you can pair the device with a well-rated thermostat and an extension cord that is heat-resistant to increase its versatility and efficiency.
What we liked: The iron’s lightweight but robust aluminum build is unrivaled. It offers great power with a consistent temperature that can be used for different projects.
What could be better: The iron should’ve had a power indicator light on its body to safety and convenience. Its replacement tips are also not readily available and you have to buy its holder separately.
Who says you can’t afford to pick up soldering as a hobby? If you are on the market for a soldering iron that won’t decimate your bank account but still give you great value then this Studio Pro iron fits the bill.
The iron is just as powerful and functional as many high-end pricey soldering irons out there. It has a superbly lightweight and ergonomic build aimed at offering you maximum comfort and convenience when working on extended stained glass projects.
It comes with the standard ¼-inch chisel tip that guarantees you consistent temperature and high precision. The iron heats up pretty good and fast up to a maximum of 1000 degrees F. With such a high-temperature limit, you can accomplish several projects.
You can choose to use the device with other temperature controlling devices for increased versatility and more accurate results.
What we liked: The main selling point of this soldering iron is that it offers what most high-end models offer at an attractive price tag. This makes it a top choice for beginners and stained glass enthusiasts. Plus, it is backed by a 1-year warranty.
What could be better: Some users have complained about screws holding the iron to its handle being loose thus causing burn accidents and discomfort.
Things to Consider
A beautiful mosaic of stained glass is useless if its seams are not well-soldered. Proper soldering requires the best tools, essentially, a soldering iron. This section contains all the crucial information you need to know before buying a soldering iron for stained glass including; a detailed explanation about soldering iron and the features to consider when choosing one.
What is a soldering iron for stained glass?
Very few people are aware of the fact that the beautiful mosaic of colored glasses that they come across are soldered. Stained glass artists and experts use lead came, copper foil, and flux to create intricate and attractive stained glass designs. A soldering iron is the main tool used to combine these elements.
The soldering iron should be able to convert tough solid solder into molten liquid by maintaining a high and consistent temperature. A well-made soldering iron makes stained glass crafts easy and enjoyable.
Features to consider when choosing the best soldering iron for stained glass
Here are some of the key features that you must check out when buying a soldering iron for you to make the best buy:
Different soldering irons feature different wattages. Wattage is an indicator of how powerful the iron is. However, it doesn’t necessarily indicate excellent performance as more power doesn’t always translate to better. It indicates how quickly the iron will heat up but, remember maintenance of a steady temperature and recovery are affected by other aspects.
For industrial or heavy-duty soldering, go for 200 watts and above like the American Beauty 3158X-250 Soldering Iron above. If you are a hobbyist or a home projects DIYer then 65 watts or an all-purpose power range of about 100 to 150 watts would suit you best.
Temperatures tend to fluctuate during soldering because standard stained glass melts at about 360-370 degrees F. This is why it’s better to go for a soldering iron with a built-in temperature regulator system. The systems are usually paired with a temperature dial like a digital temperature control dial or an analog dial.
You can also opt for a soldering iron that doesn’t feature a temperature control system but can be used with a temperature controlling device like the Studio Pro Hobby 100 Soldering Iron above.
Most soldering irons are built with either ceramic or metal heating elements. If you want an iron that heats up faster and maintains consistent temperatures go for one with a ceramic heating element. If you intend to do extended and more involved projects, then you better choose a soldering iron with metal wire elements.
This is a crucial aspect to consider as soldering stained glass can be tedious. A standard rounded handle will definitely tire you. Opt for a pen-shaped style handle with a slip-resistant grip like rubber coating. This will maximize your comfort thus allowing you to work for longer periods without feeling fatigued. The Weller 1175 Stained Glass Iron is a prime example of a soldering iron with an ergonomic handle.
Soldering irons come in 2 different styles: the pencil style and the hatchet style. The pencil style is quite self-explanatory. It is a straight unit right from the tip to the handle.
The hatchet style has an L-shape as it is ben up to 90 degrees where the handle meets the elements. This focuses the center of gravity closer to the hand offering maximum comfort and a convenient working angle.
There is a wide array of tips available for soldering irons including the chisel tips, conical, angle chisel, and point tips. The chisel tips are the most commonly used for soldering stained glass.
You can opt for a soldering iron that comes with multiple tips of various sizes or temperature limits to choose from like the Weller W100PG Soldering Iron above. Also, be sure to check that the tips are easy to remove and their replacements are readily available on the market.
Before you start soldering, there are a few accessories like stands, cleaning sponges, and brass coils that are a must-have. The stand will increase the iron’s accessibility and also prevent you from accidental burns as it shields the hot parts. The brass coil and sponge will keep your tips clean. A model that includes some or all of these is a huge plus.
Dimensions and weight
This is a matter of personal preference. Just keep in mind that the lighter the soldering iron the more comfortable it is to hold and move around for extended periods. Though industrial level soldering irons like the American Beauty 3158X-250 Soldering Iron tend to weigh more.
The 60-40 solder is easiest to work with and the most preferred solder for stained glass crafts. It is made up of 60% and 40% lead thus the best for lead came and copper foil seams. Also, the solder should have a solid core and a one-pound spool for easy manipulation with one hand.
You can also use the 50-50 solder which consists of 50% lead and 50% tin though it doesn’t flow as easily as the 60-40 solder and it produces less bulbous bead. If you are a beginner you better just stick to the 60-40 solder.
This depends on the brand and model. Most major brand soldering irons or stations will heat up in less than 30 seconds. Line voltage soldering irons will take a few minutes while gas-powered irons will take as few as 15 seconds. It is advisable to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Some soldering irons feature a temperature control system with a digital or LED display that indicates whether the heating element is on or off. For the LED you will know the iron is ready when it is cycling on and off. If not, you can keep a wet cellulose sponge close for a quick wipe to check if it’s heated up.
Whether you are super-talented or just getting started with stained glass crafts you need the right tool kit with the best soldering iron. With all the tips above, you should have the buyer’s confidence needed to buy the best iron that will give you the best quality with little effort and time. You could also easily choose to go with any of the top-rated products on our list.
The best overall pick, Weller WLC200 Soldering Station is the best all-purpose soldering iron that money can buy. Its adjustable power range and replaceable heat element set it apart. It is also easy to use. For industrial or heavy-duty soldering, the American Beauty 3158X-250 Soldering Iron is your best bet. It offers superior power with a super-sturdy build that can withstand frequent industrial use. Its diamond tip and hardwood handle went unmatched.
Our third pic, Weller W100PG Soldering Iron is the best entry-level option out there. It is powerful enough for your home and DIY soldering needs and its 3 versatile tips make it one of the best soldering irons for stained glass.