DIY Temperature Control (Soldering Iron / Wood burner)

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Blog entry by bigfoot11 posted 12-18-2014 03:06 PM 4394 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

After seeing the price of a variable temperature soldering iron ($99!), I decided there had to be a cheaper way since I don’t need to use it every day.

For about $15 total, you can get a Harbor Freight soldering iron and build this simple temperature control from bits from the home center.

Step-by-step with tons of photos:


5 comments so far

View handsawgeek's profile


648 posts in 1544 days

#1 posted 12-18-2014 08:06 PM

Very nice ‘McGyvering’ on a very useful device….

-- Ed

View JoeinGa's profile


7739 posts in 2156 days

#2 posted 12-18-2014 09:16 PM

Thanks for sharing. 2 questions…. is the power cord from a computer heavy enough to handle the load? Aren’t those only like 18ga?

I also wonder if this could be used as a speed control for a random orbit sander?

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View bigfoot11's profile


81 posts in 1831 days

#3 posted 12-18-2014 09:25 PM

—Both my Harbor Freight soldering iron and Weller wood burner are 25W (0.2A).
—The wire was actually 16 awg so it’s really good for up to 10A.
—The dimmer is only good for 600W (5A).

I’m not sure if the sander would run properly or not. I’d imagine being under-powered, it may not start up or could run so inefficiently that it overheats. That being said, the difference between the DeWalt random orbit sanders are only about $30 more for variable speed model (what I have).

Thanks for the feedback :)

View handsawgeek's profile


648 posts in 1544 days

#4 posted 12-18-2014 09:41 PM

You should be OK even if the power cord was 18 guage. Like you have found out, direct plug-in soldering irons typically run at 25-30 watts, so your power draw is somewhere between .27 and .35 Amps. This is well below the current rating of any 18 guage cord.

-- Ed

View Sylvain's profile


731 posts in 2648 days

#5 posted 12-19-2014 11:30 AM

A dimmer made for incandescent lamp (resistive load) will probably not withstand the inductive load component of a motor.

But for 4$75 you may want to take a chance.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

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