What’s the #1 best soldering iron for stained glass?

Soldering is both the toughest part and, once ya get it down, the most relaxing part of making stained glass art. But if you want good solder lines, ya need a good iron. So what’s the best soldering iron for stained glass?

The Hakko 601. But waaaaaaaaiiiiit!

Before ya run off and buy it, or decide you’re not going to cuz you’re broke, there’s a few things ya need to know.

What’s the difference between the Hakko 601-1, 601-02, & 601-17?

There are several different variations of the 601. The only difference between them is their plugs.

If you’re in America (or use the same style electrical outlets as the U.S.), get the 601-02.

In Japan? 601-01

In Europe? 601-17

Just be aware that online listings aren’t always specific. If you’re buying from your local glass store or an established online glass supplier, they’ll have the right one for your country.

If you’re in America & buying online, this is the correct (& real) one:

Hakko 601-02

Hakko 601-02 Soldering Iron

$89.95

Only 2 left in stock

What about counterfeit Hakko 601?

Important update: There were some rumors going around Facebook about counterfeit Hakkos.

Weirdly, that’s a Facebook rumor that’s actually true.

I spoke with Hakko & they said that there are unfortunately a bunch of counterfeit Hakko Irons on amazon & ebay these days so that’s something to be really cautious aboutđŸ˜ąđŸ˜±.

Who knew that would be a freakin’ thing we’d have to be concerned about?!

Hakko also advised me that:

  • there are fake tips out there as well. For the love of Pete. Ugh.
  • the counterfeiting jerks are often (though not always) selling both the irons & the tips cheaper than most glass stores so that can be an immediate indicator (one of those sounds too good to be true it probably is sorta situations).
  • on some of the fakes, the cord is much lighter than on the real Hakkos.
  • unfortunately, Hakko also said that some of the counterfeits are so good at this point, they can’t even tell until their techs open them up & look at the guts.

Crazy town, right?

So, the easiest way to make sure you’re getting a real one is to buy from a trusted glass store. If ya don’t have one locally, you’re welcome to get one from my shop.

Can you use any soldering iron for stained glass?

Yup. Sure can. However…

Crappy iron = crappy solder lines.

When I first started out in stained glass, I was suuuuuuper broke. The guy at my local glass store helped me find the supplies I needed to start and he said “You can get the cheap stuff for everything else, but don’t get the cheap iron. They suck.”.

Did I listen to him?

Nope.

Was that a terrible idea (the not listening part)?

You betchya!

I worked for hours and hours and hours trying to get my solder lines to stop looking like my mom’s lipstick after she was trying to put it on in the car and my dad kept tapping the brakes and giggling.

It was lumpy and bumpy and it kept leaking from one side into the other.

I had to go over the lines so many times to get them even sort of half decent, I heat fractured the glass.

A few days later, I was back at the glass store to buy the Hakko 601.

And now I tell everyone the same thing the dude at my glass store told me…

Don’t cheap out on your iron! Get the best soldering iron for stained glass right off the bat & your life is gonna be a whole lot easier.

What makes the Hakko 601 the best soldering iron for stained glass?

A couple of things in fact!

  • Temperature control right on it
  • It’s small & easily fits in your hand
  • It has a ceramic core, so it keeps even, consistent heat all the time
Hakko 601 best soldering iron for stained glass with power light ceramic core and temperature control

Why is this stuff important ya ask?

Well…

You can buy a rheostat (an external temp control) for most irons, but they’re big, not terribly cheap, and take up a bunch of space.

Most soldering irons are pretty big. They’re not exactly lovely, ergonomically speaking. The more glass ya do, the more your wrist will thank you for choosing a smaller iron!

And most importantly…that ceramic core!

Most any iron that doesn’t have it will lose heat as it goes along your solder line, especially when you’re working on larger projects with longer lines.

Speaking of heat, the first question everyone asks me about soldering is…

What temperature do you use for soldering stained glass?

It depends! Imma give you some roundabout numbers here, and then explain why.

The Hakko uses Celsius.

If you’re using lead solder, start around 360ish C on the Hakko and work your way up til it’s flowing well.

If you’re using lead free solder (here’s a post All About Lead Free Solder), start around 410ish C on the Hakko, and again, work on up til you have a good flow.

soldering stained glass leaf mountain woman products

I tell beginners to start on the lower end of temp because when you’re starting out, you’re slower (and that’s absolutely ok!).

Because for soldering…

The slower you go, the lower the temp. The faster you go, the higher your temp.

Now we’re gonna get into the technical side of stained glass soldering irons. If you’re not into technical, just skip this next section and go to the end!😁

But if you’re dorky like me & need to know why & how evvvvverything in the freakin’ universe works, this part is for you.

But I heard that you need to solder at 900 degrees F and a 100 watt iron for stained glass…

Ya don’t 900 degree temperatures to melt lead. In fact, if we were actually running that hot, we’d be burning flux & crackin’ glass left and right.

If you check out the SDS sheets for your solder, you’ll see that lead melts around 375ish Fahrenheit and lead free (depending on metal composition) melts around 410ish degrees Fahrenheit.

But there’s melting temps, and then there’s workability/flow temps. The workability/flow temps are generally more in the 700ish F (375ish C) for lead solder & 770=860ish F (410-460ish C) for lead free.

Old school irons required a higher wattage and higher temperature setting because they didn’t hold heat long enough to stay in a good flow temperature. Basically, ya needed to start high so you could maintain a half decent heat through your solder lines.

You used a 100 Watt iron and a rheostat to help control the amount of current coming through your iron so it was a bit of a guesswork kinda thang.

That’s where the ceramic core and temp control on the Hakko 601 comes in to play. Because of the ceramic core, you get even heat. Which means you get away with muuuuch less wattage and lower temps.

Let’s wrap it all up with some…

Quick Tips for using your new Hakko 601 iron

Just another reason I think the Hakko 601 is the best soldering iron for stained glass… they’re very low maintenance & easy to use.

Getting Started

Your tip is tinned and ready for use right out of the package. Just set the temp, plug ‘er in, and you’re ready to roll!

Powering Off/On

But, like most soldering irons, there is no power button. It has a blue indicator light to show it’s on & it flashes when it’s up to temp.

Though I maaaybe might have maaaybe left mine plugged in overnight two times now without incident…electric/heat/studio fires are generally considered a bad idea.

Now I keep mine plugged into an outlet with a switch so I don’t forget to turn it off. The orange indicator light on it makes it really noticeable when you turn your studio lights off.

Here’s the ones I’ve used:

3 Prong outlet Switch

I use this one now so I don’t forget to turn my fan off either.

Single 3 Prong Outlet Switch

This is the one I used for just my iron.

*I may receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase through these links. My integrity cannot be bought, so I will never link to anything I don’t love &/or know to be quality.

Keeping Your Soldering Tip Clean

Don’t use a sal ammoniac block on your tips. It’s super acidic and well wreck your tips.

When I first got mine, I used to use a bronze scrubbie when my tip would get really schmecky. Hakko does say you can use them (heck they even sell them) but I found that I was running through tips pretty quickly.

A wet sponge works great for keeping your tip clean, and if ya need a lil extra oomph, use some tip tinner & your tip will be like brandy new!

Thermaltronics Tip Tinner

*I may receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase through these links. My integrity cannot be bought, so I will never link to anything I don’t love &/or know to be quality.

Let me know if ya have any questions! I’m always happy to help.

And don’t forget to grab your Free Beginner’s Guide to Stained Glass. There’s a ton of info in there to help you get started in stained glass! And you’ll be on my newsletter so you’ll keep getting tips from me right in your inbox.

If you’re a bit further along in your stained glass journey, or you’re ready to hang out with some other glass hoarders and want tutorials, one-on-one help from me and access to Live Events, come join us in the Peace, Love & Stained Glass Community!

As always…

Peace, Love, & Stained Glass,

-Shannie 😘

2 thoughts on “What’s the #1 best soldering iron for stained glass?”

  1. Bonjour Shannie,

    Je suis sĂ©duite par le fer Ă  souder Hakko 601 et vos cours, Mais j’habite en France et mĂȘme si vous prĂ©cisez que le modĂšle europe est le FX601-17 (au lieu du 601-2 )comment peut-on faire pour s’en procurer un , sans risque de problĂšme de fiche Ă©lĂšctrique , de tension ou ampĂ©rage …?
    J’ai achetĂ© Ă  Montreal un fer Ă  souder Weller et commander un transformateur pour ‘adapter Ă  la France mais cela ne marche pas , d’oĂč trĂ©s déçue.
    Merci d’avance
    Marie-Pierre

    Reply
    • Translated with google translate (english version below) Salut! Je suis dĂ©solĂ©, je ne parle pas français, alors j’ai mis ceci dans Google Translate. EspĂ©rons que ça ne gĂąche pas trop les choses :). Je vĂ©rifierais auprĂšs d’un Ă©lectricien local pour savoir quelle tension est utilisĂ©e en France et je lui montrerais ce Hakko (le 601-17) et il devrait ĂȘtre en mesure de vous dire si vous aurez besoin d’un adaptateur pour vos prises. Si vous ne trouvez pas de fournisseur de verre en France qui en propose (je n’en ai pas trouvĂ© en ligne, mais certains magasins locaux n’ont pas de prĂ©sence sur Internet), cette entreprise est au Royaume-Uni.
      Je n’ai jamais travaillĂ© avec cette entreprise auparavant, mais je les ai trouvĂ©s en ligne. Je les appellerais pour vĂ©rifier. Ils en savent peut-ĂȘtre Ă©galement plus sur vos points de vente. https://www.creativeglassguild.co.uk/prod/hakko-fx601-stained-glass-soldering-iron-240v-uk-model
      Paix, amour et vitraux ! -Shannie

      Hi! I’m sorry I don’t speak French so I put this into google translate. Hopefully it doesn’t mess it up too much:). I would double check with a local electrician to find out what voltage is used in France and show them this Hakko (the 601-17) and they should be able to tell you if you’ll need an adapter for your outlets. If you can’t find a glass supplier in France that has them (I didn’t find one online, but some local shops don’t have an internet presence), this company is in the UK.
      I’ve never worked with this company before, but I found them online. I would give them a call to double check. They may know more about your outlets too. https://www.creativeglassguild.co.uk/prod/hakko-fx601-stained-glass-soldering-iron-240v-uk-model
      Peace, Love, & Stained Glass! -Shannie

      Reply

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