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When using a torch, you need to protect the surface upon which you are working and also protect the area directly under the item you are soldering. You will need a large, heat resistance surface to cover your work area to guard against any stray, flaming pieces and to keep hot, soldering tools from burning through your work area. On this large, heat resistance surface, you will place a smaller, soldering block upon which you will do the actual soldering.

Charcoal blocks are sold in different sizes. When used for soldering they help create a reducing atmosphere which helps cut down on firescale. They are soft for pinning work to be soldered, expensive, messy, and need to be quenched in water after each use or they will burn up. Also they have a tendency to crack if not wrapped with wire.

Kiln brick is porous, soft and inexpensive. It is easy to cut into different shapes to hold objects for soldering. Ceramics are good but act as a heat sink and some smell bad when first used. They should be cured in a kiln before use.

The old standby is a round cake pan filled with pumice. A soldering frame and tripod allow you to heat the piece being soldered on the top or from underneath. Kiln brick and charcoal blocks are not very big and you will need something heat resistant to put your soldering block on, otherwise you’ll keep setting your work bench on fire. Ceramic tile or a couple of pieces of sheet metal, big enough to provide a safety margin in case your torch flame should stray from the soldering block. Don’t forget a fire extinguisher. Please under no circumstances use any asbestos product to solder on.

Heat Resistant Surfaces

  • Sheet metal made of steel is a great covering for your work bench or table. Make sure them are grooved to keep tools from rolling off. Amazon offers the following sheets that can be joined to cover a large area. The local hardware store has them too.
sheet metal

Steel Sheets

  • Ceramic floor tiles are also an excellent option for covering your work bench and can be purchased from Amazon and from any hardware store. Be sure to buy at least two tiles to cover the top of your bench.
ceramic floor tile

12×12 Ceramic Floor Tile

 

Soldering Boards

  • Ceramic soldering boards are small and can withstand intense torch work. Be sure the surface has a honeycomb texture to stick U-pins and T-pins in it. U-pins and T-pins are used to keep your item from rolling while it’s being soldered. Amazon has them for sale on their website.
ceramicsolderboard

Ceramic Soldering Board

 

  • Magnesia block can withstand up to 2000 degrees and is very popular among jewelers. It is soft and porous, so pins can easily be stuck in it to keep items from moving. Amazon has them for sale on their website.
magnesiablock

Magnesia Block Solder Board

 

  • Charcoal block is a bit more fragile than ceramic and magnesia. It must be bound around the perimeter with wire to keep it from cracking and it must be quenched in water after each torching. However, it is a great heat sink and cuts down on oxidation. Many jewelers find the possible cracking is troublesome. It is soft and can accommodate pins as well. Amazon has them for sale on their website.
charcoalblock

Charcoal Soldering Block

Jewelry Soldering Surface Recommendations

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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