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Soldering Iron

A soldering iron is used to melt solder onto the seams between pieces of glass. This one, by Weller, has automatic temperature control that keeps it at an ideal temperature of around 700 degrees. This is a worthwhile feature to pay for and makes soldering a breeze.

How to use one:

  • Before soldering, brush a small amount of flux on your copper foil or other surface you want to solder on. Flux is an acid that cleans any impurities or oxidation from the copper foil. If you forget to flux, the solder will misbehave and not stay where you want it to. This is a very common, but easily recognizable mistake.
  • Hold the iron nearly parallel to the glass (similar to the picture above).
  • Touch the narrow side of the tip to the foil seam and feed the solder into the wide side of the tip.
  • Periodically wipe the tip of your iron on a wet cellulose sponge to keep it clean.
  • An easy way to solder is to feed the solder into the left side of the tip while moving to the left as well. This way the iron melts the solder and then drags over it, resulting in a smooth, rounded 'bead'.
  • As solder contains lead, never eat, drink or smoke while working with stained glass. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water when you are finished. Also, if you are pregnant, playing with lead is a poor idea.
  • Above all, use your head and be safe. Always use a soldering iron stand and only solder in a well ventilated area.
How to care for your tip:
  • When you are finished soldering, let your iron cool and on occasion loosen the tip to prevent it from rusting together over time.
  • NEVER dip your iron in flux to clean it! This is the single worst thing you can do to your tip. It will corrode away in no time.
  • When the tip of your iron becomes too oxidized, it may not be able to melt solder as readily. To clean it, melt a little solder on the tip and rub all the sides on a block of Sal-Ammoniac (available at any stained glass store):