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Graphite soldering block


#1

Katherine,

I use a graphite pad (soldering block) for some glass work I do.
I haven’t tried soldering on it, but I have directed a flame on
it for short periods of time and it didn’t suffer thermal shock
or any expansion cracking. I’m not certain how it would perform
for soldering, but it is worth a try. As far as providing a
reducing atmosphere, I can’t say. Maybe someone will contribute
that If you decide to try it, let me know the
results.

The pad is 6" by 6" and is 3/4" thick and cost $16.00. I
purchased it from:

Frantz Bead Co., Inc.
E. 1222 Sunset Hill Road
Shelton, WA  98584

Web page:  http://olywa.net/frantzbead/
Phone:  (800) 839-6712
E-mail:   frantzbead@olywa.net

Laura Hiserote
http://micromosaics.com


#2

One source for the graphite soldering block that you are in
search of is an EDM shop… (Modern tool and die) they’re used
for raw material in the making of electrodes… and graphite is
in many different grades… some are impregnated with copper…
some come in very small grainular structure… some scraps are all
that you may need… Best wishes! Bob


#3

Katherine -

Graphite comes in sheets of various thicknesses; it’s something
scientific glassworkers use a lot. Being a glassworker, I have a
sheet of this (1/2" thick) and recently cut a small piece of it
off to use in place of a charcoal block. I had the same thought
you did about it holding up better and still being something
which would create a reducing atmosphere. However, unlike
charcoal, graphite is an extrememly good conductor of heat. It
acted as a total heat sink. I was trying to melt a small amount
of metal on the surface of it, to flatten the puddle into a
mini-ingot. Totally unsuccessful. I have never tried using it as
a soldering block because I prefer something a little more heat
reflective. However, graphite is extremely stable at high
temperatures and would make a very good mold material, if you
ever wished to pour metal into it.

Wale Apparatus carries graphite in a lot of different forms,
including plates. Plates start at 1/8" thick, and go up to 2
1/2" thick, x 12" x 12". You may have some luck using a small
piece of the thin stuff so it’s not sucking so much of your heat
away. Just a warning: the stuff is very expensive. Expect to pay
at least $70 for a sheet of the 1/8" stuff, though 6" x 6" is
available in some thicknesses for less money.

The number of Wale Apparatus is (610) 838-7047, or (800)
334-WALE. Hours are 8:00 - 4:30 EST.

Hope this helps.

Rene
Calif No. Coast


#4
I have tried doing glass fusing on small pieces of graphite, and it
deteriorates at about 1400 degrees, maybe less...Has chalky black
graphite dust all over it. Might be an even bigger mess than
charcoal.

As a glassworker for many years (and a daily user of graphite
paddles and tools of all kinds) I can say that there are
definitely differences in qualities of graphite. If your graphite
is deteriorating at 1400 degrees, it is inferior stuff. (This
stuff is used to work Pyrex in a torchflame, which doesn’t flow
until well over 2000 degrees. Often I stick my graphite directly
in a glassworking burner which is much hotter than just about any
soldering torch.) I was once told by another glassworker to
specify graphite by Union Carbide. However, I have used the
graphite from Wale Apparatus (phone number in previous post) and
it’s the heaviest, hardest, slickest stuff I’ve encountered. Been
using one of my paddles in the torch for over 10 years. One
thing, before you use the new graphite you should rinse it in
water and wipe with a cloth. This removes a lot of the black
dust that is there from the milling process.

Rene
Calif No. Coast


#5

To all of the Orchid members who took the time to answer my
request for graphite resources, I sincerely thank you. I learned
a lot about graphite, including the positive and negative, and it
was all very informative.

What I decided to do was to first try a compressed charcoal
block, available through Allcraft. Ray put me on to them, and
after talking with a very convincing tech person, I decided to
purchase several. This charcoal is supposed to be very dense.
It’s supposed to do all the things regular charcoal will do, but
without breaking up, deteriorating or flaking. It can be carved,
although not as easily as regular charcoal. The carving must be
done with aggressive burs or woodcarving tools. You have to
drill it in order to put in pins or tables. It was about double
what I pay for regular charcoal blocks, but the tech was so
certain I would like the performance, he guaranteed I wouldn’t be
disappointed. I’ll have the blocks in about a week. I’ll put the
block through its paces for a couple of weeks, and report back to
you on the forum.

Again, thanks to all for your time and effort.

Kathy


#6

Mr Frantz… Did you just do slumping or did you carve a or
something in the block so the glass will slump into the design…
…I blew glass for quite a few years and have a large block of
graphite…Always wanted to use it for a charcoal block but it
was too hard… I thought… any other ideas… Please calgang


#7

Graphite makes a decent soldering board for furnace soldering,
where the board is heated as well as the work. If using it at
the bench, put something under the board to protect the bench,
since the board will transmit the heat right through. To solder
on it works well enough, if you support the work up off the
board, such as on cotter pins. This lets the flame flow under
and around, and though the board gets hot, it doesn’t chill the
metal. But used that way, there’s little advantage over any
other solder board, transite, or the like, and it’s lack of
insulating properties is a pain. Still, there may be times when
it’s ability to keep the metal in contact with it chilled may be
of use. keep that property in mind, and when you need to solder
something to a part of an assembly thats elevated a bit from some
other part which you don’t wish to disturb, then place that
latter area in contact with the board, and solder away. Quick and
easy heat sink. Your steel bench block can be used the same
way, but it suffers from the heating… Graphite is also
sometimes used for open ingot molds. In that use, they work very
well. The molten metal, hitting the mold and filling, chills and
solidifies almost instantly, reducing the time available for the
metal to oxidize and absorb crap from the atmosphere. Ingots
turn out a bit better, especially in silver or lower karat golds.
Again, though, you have to be carful not to forget that after
pouring an ingot in such a mold, the mold is going to be
instantly too hot to touch, having absorbed all the heat from
the molten metal.

Peter Rowe


#8

Glass bead people use graphite blocks to shape the beads. There
are websites and suppliers out there. I can supply some this
weekend. The graphite blocks are very inexpensive.