Intro: Picking a Soldering Iron
This is for the people out there who aren't sure how to get started on soldering. I know this may not please everybody, but if you need somewhere to start, here you go. You can learn from my mistakes and save money by my example.
Step 1: So You Want to Solder?
First you will need to decide what you will be needing to do with this iron. There are different irons for different purposes, however if you decide you need it portable, DO NOT get a Cold Heat
New Cold Heat soldering iron for Easter 2 years ago. Sadly, within the first 5 minutes of use, the thing burnt its tip off and i never bought a new one. I would strongly advise anybody against getting one of these due to the fact tips cost little less than a new ColdHeat. These are little more than glorified LED flashlights.
If you decide on portability, Weller makes a butane powered one. I have never used a butane iron, but i would imagine that it would have to be better than a Cold Heat.
UPDATE: Today i decided to give the ColdHeat one more go (even in its already dehabilitated state) and one entire half of the tip broke off this time. Picture below.
Step 2: Non-Portable
My first soldering iron was from Big Lots and it set my mother back a whole $2. Definitely not the best, but it did make things burn and melt. I would recommend getting a slightly better one from Radio Shack, which I sadly still use due to the backorder of my new Weller station. If it wasn't for Ibanezfoo, i would have totally forgot to mention wattage. I would recommend no less than 20w and probably wouldn't go much above 30w. That is why adjustable stations are so nice.
UPDATE: I have finally received my Weller and man is it nice. Heats up to 550 F in less than a minute. After using that Radio Crap one for so long and waiting 5 min for it to get close to heating up, this is like heaven.
Step 3: Solder
Now you need some solder to get you squared away. I use Radio Shack's 60/40 (lead/tin ratio) Rosin Core .062 dia. Some use thinner solder, but i think this is a good size. All just personal preferance really. Another thing to note is to get as big as rolls as possible. As soon as you just buy a little tube, you will run out in the middle of a project so at least get 8oz. of the stuff.
Hopefully this helped a little and get out there and solder SAFELY.