Stained Glass Supplies

Stained glass soldering irons

Historically, stained glass soldering tips were copper, heated by being placed in a charcoal-burning brazier. Multiple tips were used; when one tip cooled down from use, it was placed back in the brazier of charcoal and the next tip was used. More recently, electrically heated soldering irons are used. These are heated by a coil or ceramic heating element inside the tip of the iron. Different power ratings are available, and temperature can be controlled electronically. These characteristics allow longer beads to be run without interrupting the work to change tips. Soldering irons designed for electronic use are often effective though they are sometimes underpowered for the heavy copper and lead came used in stained glass work. Oleic acid is the classic flux material that has been used to improve solder ability. Tiffany-type stainglass is made by gluing copper foil around the edges of the pieces of glass and then soldering them together. This method makes it possible to create three-dimensional stained glass pieces.

Which stained glass soldering iron to purchase? Huge question is how much do you want to spend. Handling a hot product requires skill and some form of smarts. This said understand you get what you pay for.

Buy a soldering iron that will have the power you need. As a stained glass beginner understand you will become better and "faster". You will want a stronger stained glass iron as you become proficient. Beginners or weekend warriors will do best with an 80watt iron. If you intend to become faster a 100-130watt iron is best. Please never purchase an iron less than 80watt. They just don't work well.
Know what type of stained glass work you enjoy. Lead came work verses copper foil work. (Foil lends itself to small wattage, 80watt and small tips for decorative soldering)
Do you want bells and whistles?
Most stained glass irons come with a warranty which will identify the quality of the soldering iron. Buy an iron that has a "iron clad" manufactures warranty. Most companies will offer at least one year. The more the better.

If you answer the questions above and you are open to MY picks below, which are based on serving classes for the past 38 years. You can better pick a soldering iron that will fit your needs.
It really will not matter if the iron uses ceramic or coil heating elements. The pro's and cons are subjective to your personal needs. Both forms of technology work well.
One verses the other. Ceramic is lighter weight, heats up and cools down quicker. The ceramic element is easy to break if banged, limited to lower wattage, and they cost more.
Some things to consider like: Available tips, temperature controllers, length of cord, two prong or three prong, cord material, weight and yes the price.
MY PICKS:
For coil technology the MIKA 100 watt has power a beginner can adapt to,has a commercial 3 prong quality cord, 3 tip options, can be plugged into a temperature controller, warranty and 35 year track record. The advantage of a separate soldering controller adds a cord for extra work space and if one part breaks you still have the other part to work with.
For ceramic technology the Hako irons are best. Again, lighter weight, faster head recovery, and in most cases with built-in controllers.

Click on the picture below to view all our stained glass soldering irons.
stained glass soldering irons