$20 apexhandtools.com/weller

In the MAKE Labs, we have more soldering irons than desks. For bench work we use variable-power irons with temperature control stations, but for “field” projects — like the wiring in our Power Wheels go-kart — we love Weller’s fixed-power “Red” series. Their 25-watt “Standard Duty” model is our outdoor go-to and “rough duty” tool, and when facing tight spaces, tiny part labels, or dark workplaces, the built-in LED illuminator can be a lifesaver. It wouldn’t be my first choice for tacking down SMD chips, but a temperature-controlled bench iron isn’t exactly ideal for repairing wire in the crawl space either. New tips are as common as burger joints, and it’s nice to be able to see my work in the dark, for a change.