PDA

View Full Version : Anybody have a digital soldering station...?



DR
06-10-2014, 08:07 PM
Here's the situation... I'm doing some pyrography work, or in laymen's terms decorative woodburning on turned wood items. Not the usual way though, I'm using the CNC mill to guide the pen (pen is what woodburners call the piece you hold in your hand).

Typical dedicated woodburning units (burner station + pen) do not control the tip temperature. Digital soldering stations do control the tip temperature to some extent.

For my automated burning it's important to have control of the ball shaped tip's temperature. Without the control the tip will be very hot when it's lowered down to the work making a deep, wide burn for about an inch or so until the tip cools a bit and then stabilizes to a more even width burn line.

I tried my ancient soldering station, so old that the brand name does not come up on Google searches. It works much better than the dedicated woodburners, there's actually no comparison it's so much better in terms of consistent burn line widths, start through finish. The problem with the old unit is no tips are available and it doesn't have a read out in terms of temperature. And , I have no idea what the tip temperature is.

What I don't know is do the new digital soldering stations get hot enough for my purposes in burning wood? 850 F on a couple of the Weller models seems to be a typical max heat across different brands.

I'd appreciate if any of you with soldering stations would be willing to crank them up to max heat and see if they burn wood?

BTW, it's interesting to note the dedicated woodburners are more expensive than digital soldering stations with more sophisticated electronics, probably a volume manufactured deal. The Weller WESD51 on Amazon is less than most beginner woodburners.

Thanks.

portlandRon
06-10-2014, 09:16 PM
I have a Tenma 21-1590. It's max temp is 895 F.
With 5 seconds of contact the tip, which is just under a 1/4" in diameter and comes to a point, burned .099 deep into a piece of poplar.
It's been a long time sense I have done any wood burning but seems to me the wood burning irons did it faster.

KJ1I
06-10-2014, 09:39 PM
My Hakko goes to 450* C (842* F).

DR
06-10-2014, 09:43 PM
I have a Tenma 21-1590. It's max temp is 895 F.
With 5 seconds of contact the tip, which is just under a 1/4" in diameter and comes to a point, burned .099 deep into a piece of poplar.
It's been a long time sense I have done any wood burning but seems to me the wood burning irons did it faster.

Great, thanks.

Did you happen to notice if the temperature dropped during the burn?

850 and 895 F seem to be standard max temps.

In my case the burns will not need any significant depth. A slight indentation or none is good enough as long as there's charring of the wood. For some pieces the burn line will serve both as decoration and a color divider, paints, dyes and stains tend not to bleed across charcoal.


I know what you mean about the old woodburning irons being fast. What I remember about them is we did was fairly crude work. Consistent lines of around .030 to .040" width is my goal.

portlandRon
06-10-2014, 10:13 PM
I checked it again. Set temp for 780, which is not the max temp.
It drops a degree when you first put it on the wood but then the sensor kicks in and the iron temp goes right back to the set temp within a second or two.

DR
06-11-2014, 12:53 AM
I checked it again. Set temp for 780, which is not the max temp.
It drops a degree when you first put it on the wood but then the sensor kicks in and the iron temp goes right back to the set temp within a second or two.

Okay, that's what I was hoping for.

Thanks very much for doing that second test.

Paul Alciatore
06-11-2014, 01:30 AM
I have a Weller WTCP station that is close to 50 years old and still going strong. It controls the temperature with fixed temperature tips: 600, 700, 800 degree F. It will do a bit of wood burning and I have used it for that on several occasions.

I recently purchased a Tenma 21-9350 digital station. It is every bit as good at soldering as the Weller, perhaps better on modern, high density components because the temperature control is finer. I can adjust it one degree at a time: F or C.

I would think that for wood burning, the Wattage would be an important factor. You may want to look carefully at that spec. Too much power and you may wind up with two wide of a burn.

Jaakko Fagerlund
06-11-2014, 11:15 AM
Tips can be mostly made from brass for that purpose, if none is available. The other thing is that you could buy a PID controller, make your own tip, embed a sensor in it and attach it to a big enough heater element. No more limits other than the heater element.

DR
06-11-2014, 12:58 PM
Tips can be mostly made from brass for that purpose, if none is available. The other thing is that you could buy a PID controller, make your own tip, embed a sensor in it and attach it to a big enough heater element. No more limits other than the heater element.

Jaakko,

The very low end, $15, woodburners use tips made of brass. I tried one that had 3/16" diameter, screw-in tips. The tip protruded about 1/2" out from the threads. After an hour of use the tip softened enough to bend easily and broke off when I attempted to unscrew it after cooling. I looked at Google reviews of the unit and found that was a common complaint. I returned it to the store. Most all the woodburners in the over $50 range use ni-chrome wire for the tips.

The ni-chrome is somewhat corrosion resistant and a wide variety of tip shapes are available. With soldering stations you're limited in tip shapes and there may be long term problems with corrosion due to the burning action, but the standard tips can be reshaped.

It's interesting a whole mini-industry has been built up in producing woodburners and not a single one deals with the issue of maintaining tip temperature.

Thanks for the ideas on building a burning system, it'd be an interesting project. At the prices the digital soldering stations go for I'll stick with them for now, they should handle my needs.

JoeLee
06-11-2014, 01:11 PM
I have an old Weller EC-2000 with digital control. When you touch the tip to something you can see the temp drop and then start to rise. The rate depends on how big you heat sink is, meaning the part your touching the tip to.

It sounds like youor going to have to touch the tip down somewhere on your work and see where it stabilizes and then progress with the burning to get an even pattern.
Sound like a lot of trial and error with feed rates etc.

JL....................