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[FollowUp] Graphite soldering block

Does anyone know if there is such a thing as a graphite
soldering block? I don’t mean a charcoal block, but one made of
material similar to graphite stirring rods, or carbon rods used
with electric soldering machines. I’ve noticed my carbon rods on
my electric soldering machine has the reducing atmosphere, but
they don’t disintegrate like charcoal. Gee, it would be nice if
they made a soldering block out of this stuff. If you know of
resource, please pass it on.

I promised I would report back on the compressed charcoal block
after I had a chance to put it through its paces. This block is
from Germany and sold by Allcraft out of New York. The block is
very dense, weighing about 4 times as much as a regular charcoal
block. It is too dense to push pins into it easily, but holes can
be drilled in it quickly and it can be sawn to fit whatever size
you need to fit into your protective sleeve.

It has been used by myself and several students, all of whom are
not exactly kind to charcoal blocks. And I am very impressed.
After 3 weeks of use doing sweat soldering, fusing, shotting and
regular soldering, there are no signs of degradation whatsoever.
Flux just dries up on the surface and can be brushed off. Heat
retention and reflection is excellent. This block is about twice
the price of regular blocks, but it’s in as good of shape as the
day I received it. It’s well worth the investment if you go
through a lot of charcoal blocks. You will be pleased with the
results and the durability.

Thanks for the tip, Ray from Midwest.

K.P., Wyoming

Dear Kathy, I know the block you are talking about. I was a
glassblower for years and we used them to marver hot glass. You
can get them thru glass blowing supply houses (not cheap), the
one I used is Wale apparatus Co. They come in several sizes and
last forever, I have had mine for almost 15 years, but have
never tried to solder on it.
Good Luck, Suzanne

Suzanne, I suspect that the blocks you were using with glass
were actually graphite, rather than the reconstituted/compressed
charcoal soldering blocks that Allcraft is importing. The
charcoal lasts much better than ordinary charcoal blocks, but
won’t last forever. Plus, like regular charcoal blocks, it will
produce a bit of dust, which graphite doesn’t do, a plus for the
glass. Graphite is a very good conductor of heat, which helps in
marvering the glass, as it slightly chills the surface on
contact, thus helping to shape the glass. Charcoal won’t do that.
Graphite can be used to solder on, but it’s best suited to
furnace soldering, since it’s high heat conductivity means your
trying to heat up a piece of metal while the graphite is rapidly
chilling it. In a furnace, the graphite just serves to help keep
everything heating uniformly, as well as providing a non-stick
surface for the metal, and often, a positioning jig as well,
since it can be machined with precise depressions to hold parts
in alignment.

I bought a couple of Allcrafts german charcoal blocks in march.
Love em. Costly, but have lasted a lot longer than they would
have in the ordinary type. I like the fact that the surfaces
don’t just burn up and become pitted non-flat things, but the
block much better retains it’s clean flat surface to work on.

Peter Rowe

Hi folks. I need to clear up some confusion about the graphite
vs. charcoal soldering blocks. Many glass workers/metalsmiths
pointed out to me I didn’t want graphite to solder on, as it acts
as a heat sink. This could be useful in some applications, but
wasn’t what I needed. I was looking for something similar to my
"carbon" rods on my electric soldering machine, but in a block.
It needed to have the properties of charcoal, with both heat
reflection and heat retention, but hold up better. In other
words, something I couldn’t destroy when doing shotting,
reticulation and sweat soldering of large pieces.

A gentleman from the Midwest Metalsmiths Society (I’m sorry if I
don’t have the name right) was very clear on what I needed, and
recommended a compressed charcoal block from Germany, sold by
Allcraft. It is very dense, and reminds one of the graphite
marver paddles (one of my associates brought one in for me to
experiment with), but it still retains the properties of
charcoal. Sure enough, soldering on the graphite was a flop.
But, the compressed charcoal block from Germany works great and
gives the results you want. It holds up well too. I haven’t had a
chance yet to do reticulation or granulation with it, but I’ve
done some shotting and several heavy sweat soldered pieces, and
lots of general soldering. Not only have I not destroyed it in my
usual manner, but it still looks almost as good as the day I took
it out of its package.

The one drawback is it is so dense, you can’t push pins into it
to hold things. You have to drill a hole to get a pin into it. I
could see where it would take a little more effort to carve into
than a regular charcoal block. But I also could see that you
could carve it to fit special applications such as ring mandrels,
etc., which you wouldn’t be able to do with a regular charcoal
block. Because it has held up so well, I consider it to be very
cost effective at about double the price of a regular charcoal

So, I hope this has helped to clarify this thread. If you’re
interested in getting your own to try, this was the info I went

European charcoal block, small, $18.00 U.S. Also available in a
larger size with about twice the surface area Item #026-0804
Allcraft Supply Co. 45 West 46th Street 3rd Floor New York, NY
10036 U.S.A. 1-800-645-7124

Again, thanks to everyone who took the time and effort to
respond to my request. Orchid and its people are wonderful
resources. K.P.

There is a graphite store near me. They have slabs. I did an
order for a lampwork class that I was in. They don’t sell
retail but, do sell their scrap called drops to walk in people.
I’ve never tried soldering on it. I’ll let you know how it

So, look in the yellow pages under graphite.