small boards in small quantities, and I only do it every so often. Any suggestions?
You get a 'cleaner' result when pre-heating (~160C) with the hot-plate and soldering with hot air (~220C).Using hot air is also easier with large items, like USB sockets, SD card holders and inductors.Leo..
For the actual soldering I've used a basic reflow oven or hot air; the first works a lot better but requires me to travel to my local makerspace. Looking into the hot plates, they're pretty cheap. Very interesting as my volume doesn't warrant a reflow oven (it's simply too bulky) but a small hot plate is really interesting.
And with a hotplate you can't do components on both sides.