This is something we all face in our hobby, the age old dilemma "de-soldering". The method, the product/s and of course the costs. Maybe others don't find it a problem maybe some do, I thought I would just cover my corner of this personal "workshop conundrum".
Over the years I've approached this in a number of ways and mostly settled on the solder braid option. Then I obtained a vintage de-solder station by Charles Austen, it was from the late 60's, although OK the iron finally packed up and the bladder in the pump failed.
I then modified it to have a solder bulb sucker and made my own bladder out of a old water bottle, it worked but was never ideal, the pump is always on and the constant "bupp!.....bupp!.......bupp!.....bupp!" drives me nuts.
I've used various solder suckers over the years too, all are not equal though. A lot of the cheaper ones fall apart fairly quickly but eventually I was given a quality one by a local ex TV engineer, a Philips model and this was much better.
On its own the solder sucker does not fully give a tidy job, its good for getting the bulk of the crud out but in addition I use solder braid to clean up properly. Now again I'm sure many of you have found, not all solder wick is equal either. I've bought the cheap stuff and the medium priced stuff, almost always I get really peeved trying to get the damn stuff to act like wick. In the end I've found you have to settle for the good stuff which without fail is consistently good and that's Chem-Wik by Chemtronics. However I get through a lot of PCB work ( 4 BRC PSU modules recently) and I get through it fairly quickly, there's little point buy the tiny reels so order 30 meter reels and at £1 a meter as I say, not cheap.
I've looked at the Duratool de-solder station which you could get until recently for £75, its now up to £85. I've read mixed reviews about this model and a lot of reported problems. Personally I'm not enamoured with a gun type so decided against this despite the fairly modest price tag. http://www.totalsuppliesuk.co.uk/durato ... -132-p.asp
Stepping back for a second and looking at soldering irons/stations. Over the years I used various soldering irons and stations, eventually settling on Weller. I've never looked back since, not only are they are reliable but perfectly weighted and generate consistent superb heat. With the interchangeable bits for temperature I've never had a problem with heavy duty or light soldering requirements.
So a Weller de-soldering station for me would be my preferred choice but they prices..... Ouch! Then as explained above a few reels of Chem-Wik and its pretty much paid for itself, so this week I took the plunge and got myself a Weller DS900PD. What's great is you not only get de-soldering gun but also another iron. There is a foot controlled pump so unlike my old Charles Austen the pump is not running all the time.
Hopefully some food for thought, if like me you've been spending a small fortune on other options and in particular Chem-Wick braid, it might be worth considering the de-soldering station option. I'm sure others will have different experiences and may disagree with much I write, this will at least stimulate an area worth exploration.