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Looking For The Best Soldering Iron I Can Buy


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#1 chdbur

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Posted 13 November 2009 - 11:41 AM

I'm in the market for a new iron. And I am doing lamps that have large brass parts..So what is the best iron to get. I don't care what it cost just want something reliable.Is Ceramic that much better than a wound heating element,or is this just marketing hype, How hot of iron do I need for a brass ring? Had a Weller w100p and just got a 800 deg tip for it, iron lasted 2 days after changing tip, had a 700 on it..Is Hakko and Weller the best for stained glass, or is there a better iron out there

#2 Boris_USA

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Posted 13 November 2009 - 08:19 PM

I'm in the market for a new iron. And I am doing lamps that have large brass parts..So what is the best iron to get. I don't care what it cost just want something reliable.Is Ceramic that much better than a wound heating element,or is this just marketing hype, How hot of iron do I need for a brass ring? Had a Weller w100p and just got a 800 deg tip for it, iron lasted 2 days after changing tip, had a 700 on it..Is Hakko and Weller the best for stained glass, or is there a better iron out there


I am partial to Hakko and Weller. I also like the ceramic element irons better than wound elements. The recovery and heat up time blows the wound element irons out of the water. There are about 25 irons in my colection, and they range from 25watt to 450 watt. I dont use one iron for all. I pick the right iron for the right job. A ceramic 80 watt does just as good a job for me as the 100 watt. Wattage is not the big indicator of "good vs bad" as its made out to be. Heat retention and recovery are the most important factors to me. Consider having about 3 irons. a65 watt, a 100 watt, and a 200 watt, for the big parts. You can get by with one iron, same as a carpenter can get by with one saw and a hammer. But its not always just about "getting by" is it.

There is anothe iron that Dennis swears by, and I am going to try one of those next time I need a new one Cant think of the name, but I am sure he can tell you.


For stained glass, the bigger the tip and the barrel, the better the heat retention and slower heat sinking.

#3 chdbur

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Posted 13 November 2009 - 11:58 PM

ok Im going to get the Hakko 456 and and a big iron for the brass

I am partial to Hakko and Weller. I also like the ceramic element irons better than wound elements. The recovery and heat up time blows the wound element irons out of the water. There are about 25 irons in my colection, and they range from 25watt to 450 watt. I dont use one iron for all. I pick the right iron for the right job. A ceramic 80 watt does just as good a job for me as the 100 watt. Wattage is not the big indicator of "good vs bad" as its made out to be. Heat retention and recovery are the most important factors to me. Consider having about 3 irons. a65 watt, a 100 watt, and a 200 watt, for the big parts. You can get by with one iron, same as a carpenter can get by with one saw and a hammer. But its not always just about "getting by" is it.

There is anothe iron that Dennis swears by, and I am going to try one of those next time I need a new one Cant think of the name, but I am sure he can tell you.


For stained glass, the bigger the tip and the barrel, the better the heat retention and slower heat sinking.



#4 Audrey

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 08:25 AM

I had a lot of problems with my Weller 100w melting the solder and after hearing several people rave about the Hakko 456 I bought one. It is much better. I am happy with it. I have nothing else to compare it to, though.

#5 chdbur

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 09:57 AM

It must be the Hexacon that Dennis likes..looks like they have some BIG irons. so im getting one for doing the brass rings and rims

ok Im going to get the Hakko 456 and and a big iron for the brass



#6 Dennis Brady

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 10:58 AM

I am partial to Hakko and Weller. I also like the ceramic element irons better than wound elements. The recovery and heat up time blows the wound element irons out of the water. There are about 25 irons in my colection, and they range from 25watt to 450 watt. I dont use one iron for all. I pick the right iron for the right job. A ceramic 80 watt does just as good a job for me as the 100 watt. Wattage is not the big indicator of "good vs bad" as its made out to be. Heat retention and recovery are the most important factors to me. Consider having about 3 irons. a65 watt, a 100 watt, and a 200 watt, for the big parts. You can get by with one iron, same as a carpenter can get by with one saw and a hammer. But its not always just about "getting by" is it.

There is anothe iron that Dennis swears by, and I am going to try one of those next time I need a new one Cant think of the name, but I am sure he can tell you.


For stained glass, the bigger the tip and the barrel, the better the heat retention and slower heat sinking.


Dennis is especially fond of the Hexacon 155 175 watt with hatchet handle. It's a big wattage iron able to regenerate heat quickly and has a heavy metal shaft that holds heat for long periods. The hatchet handle makes it easy on the arm to work with a heavy iron. There are other size high wattage irons, but they all heat up to about 1100F so require a temperature controller (fancy name for an overpriced dimmer switch). Dennis thinks those are silly devices and refuses to use them. That model Hexacon runs at 960F. With a little practice, that's a perfect temperature for everything. A single dab will do lead connections, it will maintain constant temperature and allow you to run solder beads as fast as you can feed on the solder without ever cooling. It's more then enough to solder metal channel or bar. It can even be used for copper plumbing.

Dennis considers that the most versatile iron available anywhere. For smaller work, he prefers the Weller 100 - because it maintains a reliable consistent temperature. He hates the Hakko - because it requires the use of one of those silly temperature controllers and thus has a constantly varying temperature. PITA to work with. Here's why Dennis hates temperature controllers.
http://www.glasscampus.com/tutorials/pdf/Temperature%20Controllers.pdf

#7 chdbur

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Posted 14 November 2009 - 03:03 PM

Thanks for the input ...Im going to try the 155 for the large stuff and get a Hakko for every day soldering.

Dennis is especially fond of the Hexacon 155 175 watt with hatchet handle. It's a big wattage iron able to regenerate heat quickly and has a heavy metal shaft that holds heat for long periods. The hatchet handle makes it easy on the arm to work with a heavy iron. There are other size high wattage irons, but they all heat up to about 1100F so require a temperature controller (fancy name for an overpriced dimmer switch). Dennis thinks those are silly devices and refuses to use them. That model Hexacon runs at 960F. With a little practice, that's a perfect temperature for everything. A single dab will do lead connections, it will maintain constant temperature and allow you to run solder beads as fast as you can feed on the solder without ever cooling. It's more then enough to solder metal channel or bar. It can even be used for copper plumbing.

Dennis considers that the most versatile iron available anywhere. For smaller work, he prefers the Weller 100 - because it maintains a reliable consistent temperature. He hates the Hakko - because it requires the use of one of those silly temperature controllers and thus has a constantly varying temperature. PITA to work with. Here's why Dennis hates temperature controllers.
http://www.glasscampus.com/tutorials/pdf/Temperature%20Controllers.pdf



#8 Lois

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 08:16 AM

Check out www.americanbeautytools.com
Lois

#9 chdbur

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 06:40 PM

Thanks Lois ...Have never heard of them before ..Going to do some price searching and might just buy one or two if the price is at a competitive level to Hexagon..Like the fact that they have a hatchet iron as well. was really thinking about getting one of them from Hexagon..price is a little high but I want quality and this company looks like they fit the bill as well,they certainly have been around long enough I think I seen one of them in the electric motor rewind shop that I used to work at years ago

#10 GlassJaw

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 10:33 PM

Check out www.americanbeautytools.com
Lois



Wow. That's some serious hardware, it looks like it should be framed rather than dirtied! I must admit that I'm hesitant to investigate any further into merchandise that requires me to call/email to request a price...:| Do you use one of these, and are they really better? I find my 100W iron running out of heat on long runs and am considering investing in something with a little more stability, so this is an interesting conversation to read. Are the Hakko's really that much better? Would a regular iron with a better tip server better (as far as cost goes)?

(Sorry, I don't mean to hijack the thread!)

#11 Boris_USA

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Posted 16 November 2009 - 11:03 PM

Thanks Lois ...Have never heard of them before ..Going to do some price searching and might just buy one or two if the price is at a competitive level to Hexagon..Like the fact that they have a hatchet iron as well. was really thinking about getting one of them from Hexagon..price is a little high but I want quality and this company looks like they fit the bill as well,they certainly have been around long enough I think I seen one of them in the electric motor rewind shop that I used to work at years ago


These people have been around since the first soldering iron was in my hands. Its a quality product, more associated with "Industrial" than what we use in our backyard. I have several of their units, some smaller ones, a 250 watt, and a 400 watt, I believe and use them for heavy soldering jobs, like soldering Bulldozer parts together.. Oo..oO (just kidding) They weigh a ton and hold a ton of heat, after they warm up, which takes a while. The tips alone, on the Biggy weigh a pound or two. They are great for soldering vase caps, rebar, heavy zinc, and anything else that sucks the heat right out of a 100 watt iron. The one they have now, that looks like the Hexacon, intrigues me, and may have to try one of those.

One thing is for sure, American Beauty, is the standard for soldering irons, and equipment, when it comes to standard soldering. There are other companies that make better electronics soldering equipment, with a lot more "bells and whistles" but as a standard, this is "The Iron." I use the Hakko mostly, and the Weller 100, only because they heat up quicker, and they are smaller, and wont melt away pot metal as fast as the Amer. Beauty collection.

#12 Lois

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Posted 17 November 2009 - 07:35 AM

I have been doing SG for 25 years and started with an American Beauty. It is equivalent to the model #3138. I also found a model called the "Lil' Beauty". It is much smaller and very light weight. Our local shop (Ohio) carried these models. I have a Weller 100 watt somewhere on a shelf...
As far as getting a quote from the website...they are quick to respond. I inquired about a repair (the cord cracked at the handle after all these years). The response for repair was quick...but they also referred me to their video library. The repair was something that I could do myself.
I can't really speak to whether this iron is better than any others...since it is the only one that I use...except the Weller 100...which I don't even remember why I don't use it any longer.
All that being said...I love my American Beauty!

#13 Boris_USA

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Posted 18 November 2009 - 11:41 PM

I have been doing SG for 25 years and started with an American Beauty. It is equivalent to the model #3138. I also found a model called the "Lil' Beauty". It is much smaller and very light weight. Our local shop (Ohio) carried these models. I have a Weller 100 watt somewhere on a shelf...
As far as getting a quote from the website...they are quick to respond. I inquired about a repair (the cord cracked at the handle after all these years). The response for repair was quick...but they also referred me to their video library. The repair was something that I could do myself.
I can't really speak to whether this iron is better than any others...since it is the only one that I use...except the Weller 100...which I don't even remember why I don't use it any longer.
All that being said...I love my American Beauty!


The irons look to be built better than most, but that may be because they have been in business so long and did not revert to mass cheap production, as much of the stained glass irons I see made for our use. They also do hold their heat for long periods of time, but again, thats because of the mass of metal they use. Once these turkeys heat up, you can shut it off and still solder for a long time.

I like vintage tools, because they always seem to be made of better material and the workmanship is better.

These are the American Beauties I use from time to time. The smaller one is a 225 watt and the big one is a 400 watt, with massive cylinder, and two tips. A wedge and a Pyramid. I get these out for Heavy Duty work.

Attached File  AB_Irons.jpg   54.44K   35 downloads

I collecting some vintage tools, I also found this Hexacon, with extra tips, which is rated at 200watts. It is well made, and does not lack workmanship or material.

Attached File  hexacon.jpg   48.93K   52 downloads

These other two vintage irons where well made, so I picked them up also. They do a real good job too. One is an 80 watt, and the other a 100 watt.Nice handles that stay cool too.

Attached File  Vintage.jpg   55.11K   42 downloads

Of course I use newer irons mostly, like the Weller and HAKKO but its still fun to use the oldies too. For smaller work, I prefer the Pace, Weller/Unger, and Metcal electronics irons.

#14 chdbur

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 09:36 AM

Wow. That's some serious hardware, it looks like it should be framed rather than dirtied! I must admit that I'm hesitant to investigate any further into merchandise that requires me to call/email to request a price...:| Do you use one of these, and are they really better? I find my 100W iron running out of heat on long runs and am considering investing in something with a little more stability, so this is an interesting conversation to read. Are the Hakko's really that much better? Would a regular iron with a better tip server better (as far as cost goes)?

(Sorry, I don't mean to hijack the thread!)

No apology necessary..we are all here to ask questions and educate one another :teacher:

#15 chdbur

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Posted 21 November 2009 - 10:05 AM

Check out www.americanbeautytools.com
Lois

Thanks for the advice ..I'm getting one of the American Beauty irons..After reading about irons I think the key is the size of the heat sinks and im willing to trade off weight vs comfort for something that will stay hot..Reliability is another key factor and these things are work horses,a true no B.S iron.

#16 chdbur

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 01:07 AM

Well after lots of research and advice from here I ended up getting 2 American Beauty irons and 1 Hexacon iron.. American Beauty 100 and 200 watt, Hexacon 300 watt..Im still looking at the hakko 456 but want to try the new irons when they get here first..Annyone know where to get tips for Hexacon p300 for a good price.I got the Iron on Ebay for 75.00 and it has no tip, I did a little research for the tips before bidding and have found very few places that offer them..found a place that sells them for about 45.00....120.00 total this is still a ok price for an HEXACON P300 300W (looks like a new Iron).I seen them selling for 225.00
Posted Image

#17 Dennis Brady

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 06:02 AM

Wow. That's some serious hardware, it looks like it should be framed rather than dirtied! I must admit that I'm hesitant to investigate any further into merchandise that requires me to call/email to request a price...:| Do you use one of these, and are they really better? I find my 100W iron running out of heat on long runs and am considering investing in something with a little more stability, so this is an interesting conversation to read. Are the Hakko's really that much better? Would a regular iron with a better tip server better (as far as cost goes)?

(Sorry, I don't mean to hijack the thread!)


The preference for Hakko vs Weller is nothing more then personal preference - like Chev vs Ford. The Hakko will hold heat a little longer then the Weller but the Weller will regenerate heat a little quicker then the Hakko. I'd consider that an even trade with zero difference in balance. I believe the key difference is in whether or not you prefer to work using a separate temperature controller (Hakko) or with the temperature preset by the soldering tip (Weller).

#18 Boris_USA

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Posted 24 November 2009 - 11:41 PM

Well after lots of research and advice from here I ended up getting 2 American Beauty irons and 1 Hexacon iron.. American Beauty 100 and 200 watt, Hexacon 300 watt..Im still looking at the hakko 456 but want to try the new irons when they get here first..Annyone know where to get tips for Hexacon p300 for a good price.I got the Iron on Ebay for 75.00 and it has no tip, I did a little research for the tips before bidding and have found very few places that offer them..found a place that sells them for about 45.00....120.00 total this is still a ok price for an HEXACON P300 300W (looks like a new Iron).I seen them selling for 225.00
Posted Image


What size tip does it use? Be precise. I can look in my spare tips box.

#19 chdbur

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 01:10 AM

According to Hexacons web site its a 7/8 plug tip Overall Length 4-3/4" with a part # HT261X and is a Chisel Tip..quote from hexacon site on tips

Hexacon Heavy-Duty Series Plug Tip Irons are supplied in wattages from 100 watts to 550 watts with tip diameters from 3/8" to 1-1/8". These irons are provided with long-life, Hexacon Xtradur Soldering Tips which have been industry's tip of choice for high speed, continuous duty soldering for many years. For intermittent soldering applications, the optional premium grade, Hexacon Durotherm Tip is recommended. The overleaf in this catalog presents a handy guide to assist in proper tip selection for iron and application. Contact our Customer Service team for complete information on choosing the correct Hexacon tip.

What size tip does it use? Be precise. I can look in my spare tips box.



#20 chdbur

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Posted 25 November 2009 - 01:37 AM

here is the tip dimensionsPosted Image




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