What Kinds of Soldering Surfaces are Used in Jewelry Making?
Soldering surfaces will hold your jewelry work pieces securely and protect your workbench. Learn the Pros and Cons of different heat-resistant materials.
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Soldering Surfaces: An Overview
You'll find charcoal blocks for sale in different sizes. When used for soldering, they help create a reducing atmosphere that helps cut down on fire scale (heavy oxidation on jewelry metal). They're soft, so you can easily pin your work pieces to them. They're also expensive, messy, and need to be quenched in water after each use or they'll burn up. Also, they have a tendency to crack if not wrapped with wire.
Kiln brick is porous, soft, and inexpensive. You can easily cut it into different shapes to hold objects.
Ceramics are good but act as heat sinks. Some smell bad when first used, so cure them in a kiln before use.
You can also use the old standby: a round cake pan filled with pumice. A soldering frame and tripod will allow you to heat your piece from the top or from underneath.
Kiln brick and charcoal blocks aren't very big. You'll need something heat-resistant to put under your soldering block, otherwise you''ll keep setting your workbench on fire. Ceramic tile or a couple of pieces of sheet metal should do the trick. Make sure they're big enough to provide a safety margin, in case your torch flame should stray from the soldering block.
Don''t forget to keep a fire extinguisher handy.
Please, don't solder on any asbestos product, under any circumstances.
A piece of steel sheet metal will make a great covering for your workbench or table. Make sure to purchase a grooved sheet, to keep your tools from rolling off. You can purchase these online or from your local hardware store.
Ceramic Floor Tiles
Another excellent option for protecting your workbench, ceramic floor tiles can also be purchased online or from any hardware store. Make sure to buy at least two to cover the top of your workbench.
Soldering Surfaces: Boards
Ceramic Soldering Boards
Although small, ceramic soldering boards can withstand intense torch work. Make sure the surface has a honeycomb texture, so you can stick U-pins and T-pins into it. U-pins and T-pins will keep your item from rolling while you're soldering.
Very popular among jewelers, a magnesia block can withstand up to 2,000º F (1,093º C). It's soft and porous, so you can easily stick pins into it to keep items from moving.
A bit more fragile than ceramic and magnesia, a charcoal block must be bound around the perimeter with wire to keep it from cracking. You have to quench it after each torching. Many jewelers also find the possible cracking troublesome. However, charcoal acts as a great heat sink and cuts down on oxidation. It's soft and can accommodate pins as well.
Recommended Jewelry Soldering Surfaces
|Photo||Name||Top Reviews on Amazon|
|EURO TOOL Honeycomb Ceramic Soldering Board||" Very happy with this product. Used for soldering and annealing small precious metal for jewelry making. It arrived in one piece! Propane torch turns it red. The holes are very small, approximately 1.5 mm for each hole. The hole sizes are very consistent, but the material between the holes are slightly inconsistent... approximately .5mm to .75mm. The holes are perfectly round, not hexagonal, but they are placed in a honeycomb pattern. One face is completely smoothed flat and level, while the other face is "ridged"/divoted... not completely smoothed flat, but it is even and still level. The non-smoothed side seems to have been purposefully manufactured in this manner, not slopilly created. Full size is 13.5cm by 9.5cm by 1.15cm "read more|
|EuroTool Magnesia Soldering Block|
"Very light weight. Work pretty good, though with the higher temps it does burn a smidge leaving black crusting, and a slight divot so the top isnt level. Works great otherwise for lower temps, and keeps surface underneath safe, which was the purpose of my purchasing this brick." read more
|Solderite Soldering Board||"Bought this to replace a silquar board I bought that pulled to much heat away from my jewellery soldering pieces. This reflects so much heat and works beautifully. Only draw back is that the surface degrades quite quickly, but they are reasonably priced for replacement."read more|
|Set of 2 Mini Honeycomb Boards||"At first I bought it 'cause I thought I was going to be doing PMC work. I use it for all kinds of soldering support. Flux flow tends to stick to it, but not badly, I can delicately pry my work up and off or warm the flux with a torch to loosen it. Happy to have it! Hopefully I won't lose or break pins."read more|
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Megan Coward, Graduate Jeweler Gemologist, GIA, Graduate Gemologist
Megan Coward is a graduate of the GIA with Graduate Jeweler Gemologist and Graduate Gemologist accreditations. She has 20+ years in the retail jewelry industry in various roles including as a diamond buyer and gemstone appraiser.
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