new soldering iron tip, or new iron
July 14, 2013 10:37 AM   Subscribe

I have a Weller SP23 (23W) soldering iron which I've used for a couple of small through-hole kit projects. It's got a chisel tip which seems to have a ~4mm wide edge. I think I want a smaller chisel tip (maybe 2 mm) or maybe a new, versatile soldering iron.

My trips to Radio Shack and Lowe's, and my searches of various web sites, haven't been fruitful.

The new soldering irons I saw yesterday seemed to have primarily conical tips, even though the tutorials I've seen advocate chisel tips. What is up with that?

I haven't found the smaller chisel tip I want, and I'm not even sure how to find a conical tip for this iron - the shaft seems to have a larger diameter than the ones in Radio Shack, and a smaller diameter than some others I've found.

I would definitely consider a new soldering iron if that's the only way I can get a better tip, but if I'm going to buy a new one, I'd like it to be useful for jewelry making. I just saw a Weller soldering iron for stained glass, and if I could do something like that with the same soldering iron, that would be great.

Just finished a second low-cost kit, about to move on to a fairly expensive amplifier kit.
posted by amtho to Technology (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I had an SP23, and its tip limitations made me get a new iron. I ended up with a Weller WES51 temperature controlled unit, which is okay. I think I'd prefer a Hakko FX-888D (if it had been available at the time).

Stained glass needs a huge amount of heat, while delicate electronics need careful control. You might be able to get by with something like a Hakko FX601 (temperature controlled, but beefy), but it's not ESD-safe.
posted by scruss at 10:54 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I'd echo what scruss said - the sooner you jump to a good temperature controlled iron, the happier you'll be. I guess the thing to consider is that once you get a FX-888 or a WES51 or any other controlled iron for the most part a whole world of specialty tips opens up. And while you'll eventually burn through the higher quality tips that come with the better irons, when you need to replace the tip it's just a $10 part you're replacing. Over the long run it's more cost effective. And as an added bonus, the temperature controlled irons heat up in mere seconds and keep their temperature far better.

And yeah, stained glass needs a ton of heat - I don't think any of the electronics irons will do glass very well. I can't speak for jewelry since I always used a flame for that.

(regarding tips: My Hakko came with a 1.6mm tip, and I taught myself how to solder 0805 SMD components with it. I have a selection of conical tips which work fairly well for SMD, but they're _useless_ for through hole work.)
posted by Kyol at 11:02 AM on July 14, 2013

Soldering iron tips aren't super-interchangeable, unfortunately. (Wellers used to use a clever Curie-point effect for temperature regulation, which made their tips especially special, but I don't think they do any more.)

I'd just order one from somewhere online like Mouser, Digi-Key or Jameco. It kind of looks like the Weller SP25 and the WP25 are the same product— I'd double-check that, but if so, WP25 tips are a lot easier to find online.

If you do feel like upgrading to a fancier iron, I'd suggest checking out Hakko; they make a pretty good line of irons.

(Also, if either your stained glass or your electronics are lead-free, I'd suggest getting an extra tip so you can keep the leaded and unleaded tips separate. Supposedly mixing them up can lead to annoyance.)
posted by hattifattener at 11:04 AM on July 14, 2013

I'll confirm that Weller SP23 & SP25 use the same tips, having just gone over to my workbench (a.k.a kitchen table) and looked at my new-in-the-bag Weller tips, which say ""SP23/SP25D" right on the front.

Part of the reason I've got new-in-the-bag Weller tips is I had the same problem finding tips you've had, amtho. I'm like 99.99% sure I got them from Mouser, and the catch with ordering from places like Mouser is it's the same (or damn close) shipping charges whether you order 2 soldering tips or a giant (lightweight) box full of resistors & caps & whatever. So I almost certainly added a variety of tips to my last large Mouser order, which was at least 9 months ago, which is why I can't 110% remember if they're from Mouser.

IOW, new tips are available online, but it feels like a waste of money to just order tips - you might as well get more stuff for future projects and pay the same shipping charges.

From what I can tell (link here) the SP23 doesn't have a wide assortment of tips available - 3.18 mm in conical, chisel & screwdriver, and that's it. So just from that standpoint a new iron with more tips available might be in order.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:32 AM on July 14, 2013

This is the tip I use for my Weller. Right now my iron is a Weller I got from Home Depot, hooked up to my Weller soldering station. Between this iron and the one that came with the soldering station (I set the temp at 11 o'clock for leaded solder and 1 o'clock for lead-free), I've made 75+ guitar pedals, wired a few guitars, and built an amp or two. I exclusively use this tips, and buy them 5 at a time. That said, I've heard some amp builders use bigger tips.

One last thing that saved me a ton of money, I used to go through tips all the time (say every 4-5 builds), then I replaced the solder sponge with a brass tip cleaner, and rarely need to put in new tips now.
posted by drezdn at 4:48 PM on July 16, 2013

« Older Should I delete my LinkedIn profile?   |   Resources for learning about a systems thinking... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.