Need advice buying my first soldering iron.

Discussion in 'Electronics Resources' started by Arctic Jack, Sep 23, 2011.

  1. Arctic Jack

    Thread Starter New Member

    Sep 23, 2011

    I am totally new to electronics and have zero knowledge on the subject. I have to fix my daughters vintage toy which has a simple motor, switch, battery and cogs set up. The motor is old and the worm gear is cracked. I’ve just bought a replacement motor and I’m currently trying to track down a replacement worm gear.

    Anyway, I will need to do some soldering connecting the motor to the two wires. I’ll need to remove the solder and wires and then replace them, so I’m going to need a soldering iron. I’m pretty interested in electronics and have just bought myself a book with a few small projects in so I’d like to buy a soldering iron that will be suitable for many projects. I’m initially looking to spend around £50 but that could change once I have more of an understanding on the subject. You may notice by that pound sign I’ll need it to be available in the UK. I can’t find any decent reviews or a busy electronics forum in the UK so I hope you Americans can help me out.

    Could anyone please advise me on good quality soldering iron for around £50 - $80 maybe a little more if it is worth it?

    Thank you!
  2. someonesdad

    Senior Member

    Jul 7, 2009
    I'd recommend an inexpensive 25 to 30 W soldering iron, nothing fancy. I've been using the same 25 W Weller iron I bought in the 1970's, although one or two fancier (read more expensive) ones have died and gone to soldering iron hell in that time period.

    In truth, if you only have a few solder joints to do, it's not worth buying a soldering iron at all. I'd suggest getting a heavy nail, filing the tip to a point, heating it up in a propane torch and tinning it with some solder (a copper or brass nail or bar stock would be even better). Then hold the thing with some pliers, heat it with the torch, and do your soldering. The purists will whine that you don't have good temperature control (they're right of course), but as long as you don't overheat things, you should be able to get the job done.

    I've attached a picture of a quickie experiment I ran in my shop to satisfy myself that I'm not pumping sunshine up anyone's skirt. The nail is about 4 mm in diameter. I gave the faceted point a quick file with a fine file to expose fresh steel, then tinned it. I'd recommend tinning it with some acid core solder (rosin core solder can work, but you'll have to do some scrubbing). Then let it cool, wash off the acid flux, and you're ready to go. This thing easily soldered two stranded 18 gauge copper wires, although I did have to heat it twice. If I was doing to do this for real, I'd make it from a chunk of copper bar stock.

    Oh, you'll also want to get some solder braid or a "solder sucker". These things help (a lot) to remove solder from existing joints so you can get them apart again. If you're only going to do a few joints, then one trick is to use some compressed air to blow out the solder from the joint (obviously, pay attention to where the hot solder will go and protect your eyes).
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2011
  3. #12


    Nov 30, 2010
    My every day soldering iron is a 33 watt Weller "pencil" style. I've only had to repair it twice in 40 years. Several cheap irons that came free with purchasing something else or my nephew brought home from a yard sale died within weeks.
  4. oidium45

    Senior Member

    Apr 24, 2010
    Weller WES51 has been good to me so far. I know a few people who have this one as well and they are happy with it.
  5. MrChips


    Oct 2, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2011
  6. BrainFog


    Jan 24, 2011
    I got the one I am currently using on ebay. Nothing expensive. After looking on ebay I think I have found the exact one I bought.

    There is also this one which is the same without the helping hands.

    It is a very good price and includes everything you need. One of the best things is the soldering iron stand as you really cant just leave them sitting on a table. Before I got one I endlessly burned myself but now I almost never burn myself.
  7. Adjuster

    Late Member

    Dec 26, 2010
    Yes, if you get an iron, get a decent stand. Having a hot soldering iron fall off a table and into your lap is not a pleasant experience, especially if you are not wearing long trousers at the time.
  8. MrChips


    Oct 2, 2009
    Agreed. I had a three year old walk over to my workbench when I was a teenager, and grabbed the iron in bare hands. Yaow!
  9. maxpower097

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2009
    Hakko, hakko, and probably check out a HAKKO.
  10. Llamarama

    Active Member

    Feb 1, 2010
    I would recommend Antex Irons to anyone, though I've heard good things about Wellers. Any 25-30 watt Iron should do and can usually be had for around £15-20. I currently use a Gascat 60 because it's hot enough for most hobbyist work, and has the advantage of being gas powered, so no cumbersome lead to worry about!

    Personally, I preffer a gas iron, you'll have to use it with butane that they use to fill cigarette lighters, but you won't have to worry about the cable. Looking around £12 for a cheap one, £20 for a higher wattage one.

    Electric irons are great to learn with, cheap and you don't need to stop soldering if you have no more gas! A good one will cost about £15.

    If you have a proper electronics shop near by (Not Maplin which have sadly become box-pushers), pop in and the person behind the till will probably be more than happy to help you choose your iron, might even be able to get you that worm gear! ;)
  11. samin


    Oct 14, 2011

    Weller WP25 is a good choice, easy to use and works great . 25 watt is enough. To avoid burning your ICs.

    And by the way you r a good father :)
  12. BMorse

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 26, 2009