We recently picked up a handy item that works exactly as advertised – the Xytronic Model 460 Soldering Iron Tip Cleaner. For many years we have used a damp sponge for tip cleaning, just like many electronic builders. However this usually meant making a trip to a sink to moisten the sponge when getting ready to solder, which is just one more to-do we’d be happy to do away with. And we recognized that the wet sponge temporarily reduced the temperature of the tip, sometimes causing us to wait briefly before soldering. So when we saw an advertisement for the Xytronic tip cleaner, we thought we’d give it a try.
The Xytronic Model 460 Tip Cleaner uses low-abrasive brass shavings in a stainless steel cup that can also serve as a solder stand or rest. You simply push the hot tip into the shavings a couple of times and out comes a shiny bright tip ready for use. There’s no need for wiping on all sides as with a sponge, and the tip emerges far cleaner (brighter, shinier) than with a sponge, and at full temperature. There’s no water involved – the brass shavings act as micro scrubbers, and simply use the force of contact to clean solder residue from the tip. We expect that the brass shaving pad will last for years, but replacement pads are also available. The brass doesn’t damage the soldering tip, and it doesn’t rust. The cup has a nice solid weight to it, and also has a rubber foot pad to keep it from sliding all around. As a stand, the cup is pretty basic, and you’ll probably want to keep using your regular soldering stand instead. But the cup does come in very handy as a stand for our irregularly-shaped desoldering tool, which doesn’t fit in a typical stand, but rests very easily on the edge of the cup.
We’re very pleased with this product and recommend it to others without reservation. It also looks pretty cool, and if you didn’t know what it was, you’d probably think “what the heck is that?” on first viewing. We got ours from TubeDepot.com for $8.95, but a quick Google search shows that it’s available from many sources.
Category: Kit Building 101