12 Jun

Why I Love my Hakko FX-601 Soldering Iron

Hakko FX-601 soldering iron review for stained glass by The Paisley Fish

hakkoFX-6014 Soldering Iron Review for Stained Glass

The Hakko FX-601  – The CADILLAC of Stained Glass Soldering Irons

oooo shiny…

I would call this a “product review” but basically I’m going to tell you why I drool over this iron.  But please note: I am using this iron for STAINED GLASS and JEWELRY.  Not electronics or anything else, even though it’s useful for a list of things.

What do you need in a soldering iron for stained glass?

For basic starters,  a 100 watt iron. Any lower wattage than that ain’t gunna cut it, honey.  You need that power to melt copper, tin, nickel, lead, and silver.

You can get a basic 100 watt iron one from a hobby store or even Home Depot as well as various places online. You know the source I love: Soldering Irons from GlassSupplies41.com

Stained Glass Soldering Iron reviews from The Paisley Fish

This Choice Soldering Iron is only $18. It was my first soldering iron. I wasn’t willing to make a HUGE commitment to the hobby because… well it’s expensive and I had to make sure that I liked this new craft.

But what makes you move from an $18 iron to a $62 iron (the cost of a Hakko)?

Temperature Control:

This is how I took my soldering skills up a level. Temperature control is KEY. Without it, you have one working temp: Flippin HOT. I prefer a cooler iron, and it’s alllll about preference, people.

  • For stained glass I turn my iron up a bit more than my jewelry setting, unless I’m working with a Silvergleem solder, which has sterling silver in it.
  • 460ish degrees Celsius for stained glass and 410ish for jewelry

The Hakko FX-601 has the Temperature Control unit right in the handle. Just a cute little dial! Very easy. The dial is in Celsius, but hey, look what they made for you:

Hakko FX-601 soldering iron review for stained glass

Not all temperature control units are the same! This iron is supposed to keep an accurate temperature by adjusting how much electricity it is using. So if it needs to cool down it lowers the electrical output instead of turning on and off. (Essentially working like a dimmer switch for all you electrical nerds.) It’s supposed to stay true to just a couple degrees! Pretty ideal when you are trying to run a smooth solder bead… JUST SAYIN.

You can buy a Rheostat for the Choice Iron or another cheap iron, but they work by turning the power on and off. Not only does this use more energy, it is WAY less accurate. They cost about $20. So you are paying $48 for the cheaper iron with the temp control abilities, even if they aren’t as accurate. This is not a bad way to go for someone with a tight budget or just beginning.

Choice Rheostat for stained Glass soldering

The Tips:

  • Easy Tip Changing: To change the tip, loosen the nut at the base of the ceramic core all the way off. The tip slides out the bottom and the iron will come apart into these three pieces:
    Hakko FX-601 soldering iron review for stained glassHakko FX-601 soldering iron review for stained glass by The Paisley Fish
  • Durability: With proper care, they last soooo long. At $14 a pop, they better last!  I seriously have had my tip in my iron for over a year. And I solder A LOT.  What does tip care look like?Sal Ammoniac block is used for tinning your soldering iron tip - By The Paisley Fish At the beginning of each solder session, tin your tip by rolling your hot tip on top of a Sal Ammoniac block is used for tinning your soldering iron tip - By The Paisley FishSal Ammoniac block while smothering it in some solder.  Sal Ammoniac is a basically a salt block that aggressively cleans. Handling it will make your hands kinda itchy, so put it on a piece of wood or in/on a dish/saucer/ plate/etc. Gouge out a hole with a screw driver or a nail so that your soldering iron tip can bathe. Like this:
    Sal Ammoniac block is used for tinning your soldering iron tip - By The Paisley Fish
    So why is my block ugly as all get out? Well I’ve had it for over 2 years.. annnnd I got it wet. Try not to do that.

    I have 2 solder bathes: one for 60/40 solder and one for lead free solder. I tin my tip before switching different solders.

    Soldering iron tip care by The Paisley FishAlso having a simple wet kitchen sponge next to your soldering area is key. Wipe the black gunk off your tip by rubbing it into the wet sponge.

 

Extra Bells and Whistles:

  • Hakko FX-601 soldering iron review for stained glassDurable Strain Relief” – See that funky black grill thing around the base of the iron and cord? That’s reinforcement so your cord doesn’t wear at that connection. It’s one of those little things that will keep your iron working longer.
  • Hakko FX-601 soldering iron review for stained glassThe LIGHT – I have a very serious and dangerous problem of forgetting to unplug my iron. I have left my iron on for almost 48 hours once. Don’t tell my new roommate…. 😉   But this light SAVES ME. It’s a visual cue. Hey the blue light is on, my iron is plugged in. — The choice iron and most cheap irons don’t have this tiny detail.  You can’t tell if the choice iron is on unless you burn yourself, someone else, or you melt something.  Sometimes if they are on for a long time the tip turns red. You’ve pretty much ruined that tip at that point. It gets super corroded when it cools down.
  • Design – It’s a pretty iron! It’s light weight, easy to hold, maneuver, and the cord is beefed up so you don’t pull it out of the socket.  (Not just the “durable strain relief”, the whole cord is just QUALITY.)

Customer Service:

Hakko Customer Service is RAD!

First off, when you call, they say:

Hello and thank you for calling Hakko-USA, how can I make you smile today?

It’s sweet. I don’t care how corny you think it is. I’m from the midwest and I know sweet.

Anyway, my experience began because I had bought a few irons to collect for teaching stained glass classes. (Which I am about to start doing in Mancos, CO at The Painted Turtle Community Art Studio this summer… AHHHH! ) Unfortunately, a fork lift or something huge with treds ran over my package in transit. Thank you USPS. Perhaps that day they were shipping an elephant and he accidentally stepped on it. Two of the Three precious ceramic cores were TOAST.  Remember how expensive they are?  Luckily:

The Hakko FX-601 comes with a year warranty!

The irons came with instructions on how to use the warranty. This is how it went down:

  1.  Talked to someone within a minute.
  2. Explained the situation on what happened.
  3. She at first was going to have me email her pictures and then changed her mind. Instead she immediately sent me a UPS shipping label.
  4. I sent the 2 irons back, padded well.
  5. They called me when they received it and were like:

    Yup, they are broke. We are going to replace the broken cores and send them back to you repackaged. This won’t cost you anything as it is under warranty. They should be repaired and in the mail within 5 days.

  6. And that is exactly what happened. They sent me a tracking number of the return UPS shipment within 4 days.
  7. I received the irons a few days later and they work perfect.

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 5 STARS HAKKO FOR DOING THE RIGHT THING!🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

So real fast review:

  1. Accurate temperature control tip

  2. Durability

  3. Design

  4. Easy tip changing

  5. Fancy lights that help you not burn your house down

  6. Awesome customer service

  7. Warranty

And that is why I LOVE MY HAKKO FX-601 SOLDERING IRON!

Hakko FX-601 soldering iron review for stained glass by The Paisley Fish

Happy Crafting!

09 Jun

Glass Foiling and Burnishing using Glastar Hand Foiler Tutorial

Glastar Hand Foiler product tutorial on foiling and burniish copper foil to glass by The Paisley Fish

One product that makes my life easier, much easier, is these little hand foilers by Glastar.Glastar Hand Foiler product tutorial on foiling and burniish copper foil to glass by The Paisley Fish

My foil size preference for most projects is 7/32″ (blackback always from Venture Tape )

Glastar Hand Foiler product tutorial on foiling and burniish copper foil to glass by The Paisley Fish Glastar Hand Foiler product tutorial on foiling and burniish copper foil to glass by The Paisley Fish

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But to be honest, loading foil into these things can be sort of frustrating, if you aren’t patient or as a first-timer. I’ve seen people give up on these little puppies out of anger before they ever got to feel the ease of use and the gentle, reassuring roller bit. Plus perfectly centered foil, 2 – 4 times as fast as hand foiling…. Gah duh!

Glastar Hand Foiler product tutorial on foiling and burniish copper foil to glass by The Paisley Fish

You will need:

I’m going to link everything to my stained glass supplier, GlassSupplies41 because she is awesome and works her little tail off to make crafters lives easy, fun, and affordable. She even breaks down things in case you want to “test” out a new market. (like a new foil color or size or different solder.. etc.)

GlassSupplies41 providing afforable glass and solder art supplies for The Paisley Fish

  • Isopropyl Alcohol (mine is in a spray bottle – best glass cleaner on the market)
  • Paper towel/ glass cleaning towel
  • copper foil tape (size must match Glastar Foiler Size)
  • Glastar Hand Foiler 
  • Burnisher
  • scissors
  • tweezers
  • Coffee. Always Coffee.

Start by CLEANING your Glass

Use the alcohol and paper towels to clean your glass. Clean it well. This will make or break how well the foil sticks to the glass. The edges clean with extra love.

Loading the Foil into the Hand Foiling Tool

Cut the foil so that a small amount of backing sticks out further than the copper tape. Press the Foil to the backing as to make the end smooth and flat. Insert foil through small slit at the end of the tool.

Glastar Hand Foiler product tutorial on foiling and burniish copper foil to glass by The Paisley Fish

Glastar Hand Foiler product tutorial on foiling and burniish copper foil to glass by The Paisley Fish

top (copper foil)

Glastar Hand Foiler product tutorial on foiling and burniish copper foil to glass by The Paisley Fish

bottom (paper backing)

At the 2nd opening, using a tweezers, push the backing paper into the slit. The copper foil tape will seperate at this point from the backing paper. Pull the tape up a little bit. Yes, the tape is sticky, it’s going to stick to anything it touches, including the tool if you don’t work slowly and carefully.  The more you mess with the tape, the less sticky it is too.

Pull the tape down the channel to the end of the rubber slide. Tuck the tape down under the rubber slide sticky side down. Copper part will run along the rubber slide. Grab it on the other side with a pair of tweezers. Your fingers won’t cut it, for reals.

Glastar Hand Foiler product tutorial on foiling and burniish copper foil to glass by The Paisley Fish Glastar Hand Foiler product tutorial on foiling and burniish copper foil to glass by The Paisley Fish Glastar Hand Foiler product tutorial on foiling and burniish copper foil to glass by The Paisley Fish

Foil is loaded! Let’s Foil!

To start, hold and press the foil down with your fingers, about a half inch from the tool. Center the tools rubber roller down on the glass. The hand foiler will fit around the glass like a glove, just grabs on. Sticky side is down, on the glass.
Glastar Hand Foiler product tutorial on foiling and burniish copper foil to glass by The Paisley Fish Glastar Hand Foiler product tutorial on foiling and burniish copper foil to glass by The Paisley Fish

As you start to roll the roller down the edge of the glass, keep the tool pressed firmly to the glass at a 45 degree angle. The picture below isn’t a correct angle, but its hard to take pics and hold all my stuff. (excuses!) Follow the roller with your finger to ensure that you are pressing the foil down to the glass. The first 2 inches are crucial. This is where you might have to start over a few times. GET THAT TAPE TO STICK! Glastar Hand Foiler product tutorial on foiling and burniish copper foil to glass by The Paisley Fish

Go around corners the same, just make sure you don’t lift away from the glass.

Inner curves you REALLY need to go slow and press the foil down.. Glastar Hand Foiler product tutorial on foiling and burniish copper foil to glass by The Paisley Fish

When you end of the glass, go over where you began about a quarter inch. Try to lay the edges down so they match up seamlessly with the foil edges that are already there. Glastar Hand Foiler product tutorial on foiling and burniish copper foil to glass by The Paisley Fish Glastar Hand Foiler product tutorial on foiling and burniish copper foil to glass by The Paisley Fish

If you accidentally get a sharp corner where your end/beginning is, use an exacto knife and just slice off the corner that sticks out to make it flush.

Burnish Baby

^someone needs to make hot pink nylon burnisher and call them this. Take your burnisher and run along the edges of the glass. Like the skinny EDGE, not the surfaces. Use your burnisher to slightly bend the foil around the edges to meet the surfaces. Be smart on your corners! Make sure the black part is on the glass, if it is showing, solder WILL NOT stick to it! Burnish so everything is flat, but remember your pressure… you are working with glass, so don’t push so hard that you shatter your glass. Your hands will probably die. Also, do not OVER BURNISH. It’s a thing. Continuously going over the foil can literally break down the sticky black crap. Making it not sticky anymore. YOU NEED THE STICKY. Glastar Hand Foiler product tutorial on foiling and burniish copper foil to glass by The Paisley Fish Glastar Hand Foiler product tutorial on foiling and burniish copper foil to glass by The Paisley Fish

 

Again, heed your corners and boom! Using the Glastar Hand Foiler saves me lots of time. I think I’m twice as fast. And the perfectly even edges of foil are worth the $11. Go pro people.

This tasty little tutorial is just the beginning. I’m going to start making it a priority to get more tutorials up. Hopefully this product review kinda thing was helpful!

Happy Crafting!

Extra Video Treat!

Try to keep up as a foil and burnish this glass piece!

07 Mar

Beginning Glass Art

Stained Glass Dinosaur Spews Rainbow

Stained glass came out of no where for me. It all started at a bachelor auction…

But that’s another story. 😉 My main art focus this last year has been improving my glass craft. This post involves me doing some product/ website reviews to acquire the necessary tools to make stained glass. You can check out my Glass Portfolio to see what I have really been getting into.

To get started, I want to show you my favorite piece:Stained Glass Dinosaur Spews RainbowRecent winter shot:

Stained Glass Dinosaur Spews Rainbow

In the next 9 months I am going to be working on a series of tutorials on aspects of stained glass. Foiling method.  (Tiffany Style.) If this is something you’ve ever been interested in, I am going to recommend a beginner kit.

Stained Glass BEGINNER Kit: GRYPHON Grinder, all Tools PLUS Stained Glass to make suncatchers!

Stained Glass BEGINNER Kit: GRYPHON Grinder, all Tools PLUS Stained Glass to make Suncatchers! $136.55

This is pretty much exactly what I started with and worked my way up on a few items. GlassSupplies41.com is a safe website too, so that’s always nice. Her prices are AWe-SOME! And she is super nice; if you ever have questions about her products or how-tos on a project, she is always helpful.

I have had my Gryphette for over a year and she is still purring like a kitten. For someone doing big panels, this is probably too small, but for a beginner or someone not in need of a large surface area, the Gryphette is a great buy. GlassSupplies41 also has an upgraded version of this beginner kit with a different grinder with a bigger motor. The Glastar Diamond Star. I’ve heard good things and have used them a couple times. Bigger motor, bigger surface area. (Bigger price.)

GLASS GRINDER - Glastar Diamond Star with 3/4 inch Diamond Grinder Bit - 5 Year Warranty - Water Cooling Reservoir

My preference for flux has changed from Liquid to Paste. My favorite is Nokorode Paste Flux. ($2.99) You can apply it with a Q Tip. I find it doesn’t bubble and sputter as much. She also carries a bigger size that comes with a brush. Oo lala.

Paste Flux - Odorless Nokorode - 1.7 oz

My Choice Iron still works great. My first upgrade was to get a Temperature Control Rheostat.($20.10) This improved my soldering ability. I found my ideal working temperature and everything just got so honed in from there. This is just an extra though! You don’t neeeeed it.

But then I upgraded again! I got a Hakko FX – 601 Soldering Iron ($61.75) Yes, this was a splurge. But it was like New Car Smell. Or Brand New Vaccum Cleaned Floor. Glorious. It is still Glorious! Temperature control dial right in the handle. The only thing better would be cordless. And it blinks to remind me that it’s on. I may or may not have a habit of forgetting to turn my iron off. That is bad. Good thing the Beginner Kit comes with a SAFE holster for your iron!

Hakko FX-601 - Temperature Control Soldering Iron

Another tool I use that is not in the kit is a Running Pliers. ($7.45) Another breaking tool that I find more effective when breaking a big piece of glass.

Choice - Spring Loaded - Metal 6-1/2" Mini Running Pliers - Glass Breaking Tool

Also you will need some sort of light weight oil to cut glass with. I use Novacan Non-Toxic Glass Cutter Oil. ($5.85) And gosh, that will last you awhile. I’ve heard Lamp Oil works fine, but be careful breathing it if you are doing a lot of cutting.

CUTTING OIL for Glass Cutter by Novacan 8 ounce (237ml) bottle

 

Here is a picture of my work station:

I will tell you more about some of these strange tools on another day. The Beginner Kit also comes with a great set of instructions and patterns. Plus you have glass to get started right away!

You will hear from me again soon. I am thinking about starting video tutorials.. hmm. I like the lack of loading time for pictures, but sometimes a video would make things more clear. You may see them in the future.