I 'd never used a full blown professional soldering station until I started at my work (an electronics manufacturer) about ten years ago. At first, I didn't really understand what all the fuss was, this big clunky box connected to what looked like every other corded iron I'd used previously. I did notice though, that everything I soldered with them seemed to come out better. Now that I know why, it's hard for me to ever go back to a standard corded iron. I figured that maybe if I shared my experience here, others who haven't used a quality soldering station could share in my enjoyment. There are many soldering stations available, but only one that makes sense for most of us, IMO... is the Hakko 936 ESD. Weller makes a unit for about $60, that is pretty decent, but nothing like this one, which can be had for only $30 more. There are also some indian and chinese made 936 clones, also in the same range, but once again, not worth the savings. Once you get in to higher price ranges, you can get more features, but not much more functionality for most general purpose use. The advantages of a soldering station over a corded iron: -Variable temperature, and highly responsive current control (variable wattage) -Interchangable irons and tips -Durability, you can replace the ceramic heating elements in the irons -More power in a smaller package, the irons are smaller diameter and more comfortable than traditional irons -Cooler in hand, because they use a small high power ceramic element out at the tip of the iron, the handle stays cooler during extended use When using traditional corded irons, you have to keep several different wattage irons on hand for different size jobs. On top of that, you're stuck to a single temperature, and therefore a single type of solder. When you apply the iron to a part that sinks a lot of heat away, it cools the iron, and you have to wait for the iron to recover at its fixed wattage... all the while pumping unneccesary heat into your part. With a soldering station, as soon as the electronics detect the iron cooling, they crank the current to recover the iron quickly... this means you bring your part up to temperature quickly, with as little excess heat as possible. All you need is a single iron (usually medium size for most work) and several tips, you can safely and successfully solder anything from tiny IC's, to large battery terminals without worry of damaging your parts or cold solder joints. Here is my Hakko 936 ESD, this is the RC version so it comes with a skin, but normally they're just black. I got this one because it was on clearance for $75. Normally the 936 runs about $95, but you can find them as cheap as $85 (USD). They can be had even cheaper on ebay, a used unit costs as little as a couple of the horrible corded irons. Here is the medium iron, with standard and large chisel tips, and a fine point tip for electronics work. Each extra tip costs a few dollars, and is made from machined solid copper and nickel plated. As I said before, replacement ceramic heating elements can be had for cheap as well, if your iron ever goes out. With the variable temperature control and high speed recovery, you are now open to doing all kinds of work that would have been very iffy before. You can use low melt solders with delicate parts and heat them quickly and efficiently without damage, standard solder for general repair work, or high melt solder for strength in non-heat sensitive parts. You'll never have to worry about having too much, or too little iron. Obviously these don't work for all situations, as it isn't practical to drag the big box everywhere, but in general I find the 936 and a cheap butane soldering torch should cover 99% of all situations. If you do any notable amount of soldering, I would STRONGLY suggest treating yourself to a soldering station. When you take cost into account, this setup isn't a whole lot more expensive than a few decent traditional irons, and is superior in almost every concievable way. Everyone knows how frustrating it can be to hold an underpowered iron for minutes, only to end up with a crappy cold joint and a hot part. A $100 investement will cure you of that problem for most of your working lifetime. These stations are built like tanks, and last forever. If you're serious about modding, you really should find a way to put one of these on your workbench.