Soldering is a difficult enough process to master without worrying about how the different soldering surfaces you use may affect the end result. But the fact remains that if you’ve tried multiple times to solder two different surfaces together without success, it may be the surface you’re using.
I recently had a frustrating experience when my solder would not flow on a pendant. Instead of getting frustrated, I recognized that the surfaces I had at home (and that had worked before without fail) may not be the right one for the current project.
Here are three different soldering surfaces metalsmiths can use for successful soldering.
A kiln brick, or magnesia block, is a common surface for metalsmiths. This material can absorb up to 2,000 degrees which makes it perfect for multi-purpose benches. It also has a porous texture which allowing pins to be stuck in it to hold your work. If you want to add some height to your work, you can set this on the different sides to bring your work closer to you.
I love my solderite pad at home, and it’s another great option at absorbing heat: up to 1,700 degrees. It’s another porous material for sticking pins to hold your work, or allowing you to bury a part of your work you want to keep away from heat. But one pro (or con) of the surface is that it concentrates heat in one area. If you’re having difficulty getting an even distribution of heat, you may need to move to a different surface.
If you’re looking for a way to heat both sides of your metal, the tripod is the surface that can help you do it. This metal grate is perfect for elevating your work and allowing you to come at both sides when you’re heating a specific spot, which makes it especially good for larger metal pieces. Just be aware that the metal causes a heat sink for your work, and watch areas that you concentrate on so you don’t accidentally heat it too much.
While there are many other options, these are the tree that I gravitate towards and have seen a lot of success within my studio. Are there surfaces that you’ve used with great success? Share your recommendations below!