Soldering Irons

I started a poll, but it seems to have gotten lost and is waaay far down in the list. I figured I'd post it here as well, to get some visibility. Now, I've personally never done soldering work. I bought some switches and am waiting on a soldering iron to buy to learn how to do it and eventually build my own board. I've never seen a drop for this, and I think it'd be a very cool one, that's also unique. It's something pertaining to mechanical keyboards, but also could be cross-posted with tech. Here's the poll. Hopefully y'all can drop a vote! And also, since this may not happen, does anyone have any ideas on what soldering iron I should get? And in general advice and stuff? I have about 8 switches that I want to replace on my varmilo, and I really don't want to damage my board or anything. Thanks guys =)

Sep 7, 2016
I'm honestly surprised that MD hasn't run irons, aside from that portable one. Perhaps the manufacturers aren't in to it.
I agree with jjnist - there's no reason to start out with a pricy iron. Make sure you actually enjoy using it, or at least will get enough use out of it, before bothering with a nice one. Hakko seems to be most popular nicer brand, but I really like my Weller WD1. They show up on Ebay for about the cost of a new Hakko 888 sometimes.
And some randomness from left-field tip - if you're interested in more than just electronics or keyboards, making stained glass is another, very different activity for practicing soldering. It is generally much larger work than, say, adding LEDs to a board, and there's no risk of damaging a PCB. It can be a fun project to get used to handling an iron. (Anyone ever do a stained glass keyboard case?)
Sep 4, 2016
The one soldering iron that Massdrop does make available has dropped again:
On the topic of soldering, I find the following thread to quite helpful:
I fully agree that it would make a lot of sense for Massdrop to drop an iron targeted at keyboard enthusiasts, assuming they can make the deal attractive.
Sep 5, 2016
Hm. Yeah, I don't think I'll jump on that one. It's mini but I dunno if that's considered a good thing when you've no need for traveling around with it or anything.
Sep 2, 2016
My previous experience was with quite good soldering irons at work, and with cheap soldering kits at home. After building an Atreus keyboard, I've decided that I really need a good soldering iron.
I was searching for something small and portable, not too expensive, but built with enough quality to last a few years.
I've decided to buy a HAKKO FX-600 (, very good quality, selectable temp, and tips with a very good heat conductivity (less time near the chips, less probability to screw them).
I'm very happy with it, I really smile when I plug the Hakko in before soldering something :-)
You can find it for $39.10 in amazon ( . Go there and read the customer reviews.
And any soldering iron you buy, read about iron and tip care (
Sep 1, 2016
While I use and recommend a WES51 (similar to a Hakko FX-888D), if the 8 switches are all you're likely to do, it's rather hard to justify. Definitely check out the list @jjnist gave. You can pretty much use any iron for electronics soldering, just be very careful not to overheat the PCB. That is what usually results in damage. That is why I prefer a solder sucker over the copper braid, and I use an Edsyn Soldapult DS017.
Sep 1, 2016
Well, see, I do want to replace those switches, but that's more to do because I want to and as a jumping off point for learning how to solder. I eventually want to make and build my own 2 keyboards. I want to make one with zealios and one with gateron yellows. I've been holding off on buying any other ones so that I can build my own.
Aug 31, 2016
I have the "Hakko FX888D-23BY Digital Soldering Station FX-888D FX-", it seams nice enough.
Aug 30, 2016
I was the same position as you, opted to invest in a pricier iron (Hakko FX888D), and found soldering quite easy to get into. I've put down money for DIY kits costing far more than the iron so far and I think it just makes sense to go with something more reliable. Practiced by building a macropad first and then (coincidentally) opened up a VA87M to resolder some switches too. Everything is still functional and I'm having more fun than expected.
If replacing 8 switches is all you'll ever do, I'm sure cheaper alternatives will work just fine though (not that I've tried any). Depends on your needs.
Sep 1, 2016
In that case I'm even more of a novice compared to you, so I have no idea at which price tips are considered to be good value. I see Hakko selling tips on Amazon, but have never had to buy one so far.
Sep 1, 2016
Man I replied, but was confused so now my edited response is going to be: Thanks Waah, I will see what I can find on Amazon!
Aug 30, 2016
Honestly, you can buy a 20 dollar soldering iron on amazon and it will work just fine. I suggest a cheap desoldering pump for when you inevitably screw up and a little steel wool like wire cleaner that they sell for cleaning the tip between soldering nodes. If you have a pcb and a couple spare switches to practice on before you solder the real board that will also help. Finally, watch a couple youtube videos so you solder correctly. Even though it is straight forward there is a method to it.
You can get copper wick for removing solder but with switches/leds and non surface mount soldering the desoldering pump is way easier.
edit: Decided to just link you to some good starting products to get you going:
This stuff is not necessary but it keeps your tips nice and clean and isn't that expensive
Finally, the solder that comes with that kit will work just fine but if you want to know what is preferred, a 63% tin, 37% lead solder will get you nice results. I use a 0.032 diameter with rosin core and it works very well. Don't bother with the lead free varieties.