Stained glass soldering temperature is something I get asked about a LOT. Here are answers to common questions.
Stained Glass Soldering Temperature Questions
Temperatures For The Hakko FX-601
The temperature you need for soldering a bead with the Hakko FX-601 is normally between 360C and 410C (680-770F).
I say ‘normally‘ as it depends on a couple of factors including tip size, solder type and how quickly you move the iron along the seam. Those who are quicker have their stained glass soldering temperature set at 410C but if you solder more slowly you need to reduce the temperature to 360C.
360C is a good temperature for starters as it gives you more time.
The iron’s ability to maintain a constant temperature is crucial to good soldering.
The easiest thing you can do to improve your soldering is to keep your iron in peak condition.
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How Tip Size Affects Stained Glass Soldering Temperature
Some say the size of the iron tip is more important than either the wattage or the temperature. My feeling is that they work in tandem and all feed into the optimum soldering experience. The most important thing is consistent temperatures and no cold spots.
The Hakko FX-601 comes with a small tip – 3/16″ – which is good for decorative soldering and delicate operations but not so good for running a bead. I’d suggest buying 1/4″ and 3/8″ for more control over your beaded seams.
You don’t have to worry that the larger tip will cause your solder to spill over. It sounds obvious but the width of the bead depends on the outer edges of the foil joint. The solder is not going spread out onto the glass if you use a wider tip.
How To Use The Iron Tip To Control The Temperature
The front edge of the tip is the coolest area, next is the side edge, the hottest area is the flat sides. You can control the melting solder by how high off the work you keep the iron.
If you want more heat change the angle of the iron tip – hold it flatter so that more of the iron tip is exposed to the solder. Do the reverse for a cooler iron, hold the tip more vertical (giving less of the iron tip to heat the solder) and the process will slow down. When you get super quick and confident you can turn the temperature up. You just have to move faster!
You’ll find the optimum temperature for YOU by experimenting. It will depend on your soldering speed and what you’re actually doing with the solder.
What Stained Glass Soldering Temperature To Use For Different Tasks
Don’t expect to set the heat dial and forget about it. Your soldering iron temperature needs to be tweaked in response to the job in hand. You’ll learn by experience what works for you but here are a few pointers:
Set the temperature hotter (410C or even above) for these type of stained glass tasks:
Embedding wire, soldering brass rods into a lampshade, removing excess solder off a vase cap. Just remember to turn it down again afterwards otherwise melting of lead came could happen!
If the solder isn’t flowing and you’re not achieving a nice bead then try turning the iron up. I’d practice on some foiled pieces of scrap first if you’re inexperienced.
Set the iron temperature lower (360-310C) for the following:
Decorative soldering and soldering lead came, free-form solder art.
Temperatures To Use For Different Solder Types
50/50 can be heated to a higher temperature than 60/40 solder.
Lead-free solder doesn’t flow as nicely as 60/40 or 50/50. It reacts more like 50/50 and takes a lot of heat to make it flow nicely. When running a bead it’s better to work slowly, allowing the solder to heat up a little more. With practice and patience you can run a very nice solder bead with lead-free solder.
Heat And Soldering Irons
You can see from the above pointers that there are various factors feeding into the stained glass soldering temperature question! Soldering irons are the final factor.
The good thing about the Hakko FX-601 is that the wide range of temperatures it offers means that it can be used for all sorts, from electronics to stained glass repairs.
Weller irons achieve temperature control via a magnet in the (replaceable) tip which switches the iron on and off at the preset temperature. Two preset temperatures are available but you need to swap out the tip to change the temperature. These pertain to the number at the end of the tip – 7 = 700F, 8 = 800F.
Hakko uses modern electronics to provide an adjustable temperature. This is very useful as it can be easily adjusted it to suit the type of work you’re doing (copper-foil or lead) and the particular application.
The important thing to remember is that one temperature doesn’t work for all scenarios. I frequently adjust the stained glass soldering temperature as I work. The way it “feels” is more important than the actual temperature.