Weller soldering irons recommended for stained glass use are the Weller W100 (100 watts) or SPG80 (80 watts). Weller soldering irons, manufactured by Cooper Hand Tools as of 2010, use a copper core with an electroplated layer of iron, then tin, for the soldering tip. The tip requires a thin layer of solder be melted on it at all times to prevent oxidation. This is referred to as "tinning."
It is important to organise the work area for safe use of a Weller soldering iron. Weller soldering iron stands are available that provide a convenient and safe place to hold the hot soldering iron when it is not in immediate use and includes a rheostat for temperature control.
Crafters working with soldering irons should remove any combustible materials from the work area, such as alcohol or solvents and use safety glasses and adequate ventilation to deal with the fumes from solder and flux as well.
You should never touch the tip when the iron is on, and allow it adequate time to cool down before attempting to change tips. Weller also recommends turning the power to the lowest setting when it is not in immediate use, or turning it off entirely if it will not be used for an extended period of time, as most Weller soldering irons only take up to two minutes to heat up.
The Weller 80-watt and 100-watt soldering irons have a range of working temperatures from 316 to 427 degrees Celsius, and a selection of different tips for different soldering effects. The 100-watt soldering iron is recommended for regular use, while the 80-watt is sufficient for occasional hobby use. The nickel-chromium coiled heating element heats the iron in 110 seconds and has a closed loop method of temperature control. This helps heat the tip quickly and keeps it at a fairly stable temperature for smooth, even heat and solder flow for both tinning and beading the solder lines.
The most important task that keeps the Weller soldering iron tip in good condition the longest is keeping the tip tinned. After cleaning the tip always make sure to re-apply a thin layer of solder to help keep the metal from oxidising. Without this layer, the tip does not work as efficiently because the heat does not transfer as well, and it will burn out much more quickly. The flux--a chemical cleaning agent that aids in sticking two metals together--used in the soldering process is also corrosive and can cause pitting on the soldering iron tip. Crafters should be careful to minimise flux contact with the soldering iron tip. Weller recommends using their synthetic sponges dampened with deionised water to wipe the tip clean rather than any type of cotton cloth and regular tap water, which contains impurities that can corrode the tip.
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