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Marble stone as a Soldering Block?


#1

I don’t mean to sound niave’ however I am new to soldering and can’t
locate anything for me to use to protect the area where I will be
soldering. I have a piece of marble and would like to know if I can
use it until I can get a better one?

Thanks Angela


#2

Angela, I use slabs of marble next to my kilns, and set large pieces
of enameled copper, usually around 11 inches square on it to
cool–right out of the 1500degree kiln. The marble provides a
perfect fireproof surface, so should work well to protect the area
where you will be soldering. In fact the entire area where I do my
enameling is covered with either slabs of marble or heavy unglazed
ceramic tiles.

I also do lost wax casting in that area, including melting of my
metal and have never had a problem…

Marble has provided an ideal fireproof surface for me.

Alma


#3

I don’t see why not. In fact, that’s a really good idea. Thanks


#4

Marble is likely to crack under the heat of soldering. My best advice
is to get an asbestous free soldering board from a jewellery
supplier. There is a good company here in Canada with a website who
will do mail orders, they have a catalog online. Its: Lacy West
jewellery supplies. heres theier website adress
http://www.lacywest.com

The soldering boards are reasonably priced and last a long long
time.


#5

I can’t say about marble, but for 10 years I worked in a shop where
I had a soldering bench topped by a piece of granite, that was left
when a sink was cut into a countertop. It was a great soldering bench
surface, when combined with a ceramic solder block. The granite made
a great heat sink, and was resistant to chemicals and heat.


#6

The jewelry suppliers sell a non-asbestos sheet of some kinda
material that you can cover your desk with. Marble will probably
"pop".

Doc


#7

Dear Angela,

I am not sure if marble can hold up to concentrated heat being aimed
at one spot. In my 25 years of soldering, I have discovered a
relatively inexpensive and safe base for soldering on. I use kiln
shelves for pottery kilns. Go to your local ceramic supply house or
pottery supply house and ask them for half round shelves for kilns.

  1. They are manufactured to withstand over 2000 degrees of heat.
    Hard enough for YEARS of use- not like charcoal, firebrick or the
    dreaded stove heat shields of old that contained asbestos.

  2. Being flat, they will act as a heat sink to flatten a piece if it
    gets overheated on a screen(common among newbies to soldering) Take
    the piece off the soldering screen, set it down on the kiln shelf,
    and watch the piece relax. Also a good place for annealing metal
    without worrying about overheating the table.

  3. If you are really worried about heat transfer to your table, use
    2 halves stacked instead of one.

  4. Using the half round shape gives you a WIDER area to work on. Do
    the soldering in the center and line up all your pretties to one
    side. Also gives you room to park your soldering tools, hang the
    torch, and leave room for flux and solder.

Hope that helps.
Ruthie Cohen
Mountain Metalsmiths School


#8

if i understand you correctly you want to put the marble slab under
your soldering work place:

that’s fine, a couple of points though: marble is very pourous and
will stain easily. It cannot take the heat of soldering safely-
while it is essentially a crystalline form, actually recrystalised
limestone (without going into the technical chemical composition for
those that will want to argue that point), it absorbs heat fine,
which is why candymakers use it extensively to cool mixtures that
reach no more than 500 degrees, for the heat you are going to need
-upwards of 1450 degrees F, gaps inside the block that are not
visible (small air pockets) can heat, expand then break off
forcefully…so for a small droplet of, say molten silver to fall on
it would be OK, and possibly a lightweight earring (24 -28 guage ),
anything heavier COULD potentially cause a large piece to break or
explode…One should always wear eye protection -at least- but ask
other than a magnifying visor, how many jewelers on this forum
actually do…

So for safety sake, while marble seems acceptable, it is not as good
as say a firebrick readily available at most hardware
stores…another acceptable temporary thing you can use is ceramic
briquets or slabs designed for barbecque pits, and gas grills, old
fixtures from space heaters work too, just sand a flat area to place
your work on,. However a number of online merchants sell soldering
blocks, charcoal, siliquar, etc. and they are relatively inexpensive
and can arrive by thursday if ordered today! Different substrates do
different things, so if you work in silver you will probably want
some charcoal( buy the hard type as it lasts much longer) if you work
gold more then siliquar, ceramic composites or solderite pads (white
on one side, gray on the other) are reversible for both metals -just
keep it sanded and cleaned as their lifespan is not long to begin
with (a few months of daily use) and removing dross, slag and flux
residues prolongs the life of the pads. hope that’s what you needed,
if not feel free to ccontact me off list…

RER


#9
I have a piece of marble and would like to know if I can use it
until I can get a better one? 

No, the marble will chip and shatter with the heat. possibly with
violence. You could use pieces of the marble to support a small
sheet of steel or better expanded steel from the corners as a
soldering base, at least for awhile. If you look in the archives
there are many recommendations for soldering. I personally like
pumice. Others prefer soldering blocks or charcoal blocks etc…

Dan
Daniel Culver


#10

have a (broken) piece of kiln shelving that was given to me by a
potter. I also have a couple of kiln fire bricks. My ‘bench’ is made
from an old writing desk with a scrap of plywood over the desktop,
then sheet metal, kiln shelving and fire brick or Magnesium block or
ceramic honeycomb or whatever works at the time. HardiPlank or backer
board is a cement product that comes in sheets like drywall. Look in
construction sites (with permission) for a scrap big enough to use. I
will cut with a circular saw and a masonry saw blade. I have wondered
about using a piece of slate. Having not used marble I would be
concerned with inclusions in the marble being heated. I’m sure
someone with more knowledge will comment. My point is that there are
several things that can be used that are inexpensive or even free.

Bobbie Horn
Brownfield, TX 79316


#11

Hi Angela,

I use a 3’ long kiln shelf they use inside kilns to fire pottery got
it from the local sculpture supply store- Been using it for about 15
years & it works great. Its a super clean surface to work on & You
can lay out all Your jewelry at once. The marble will work well as a
heat shield but will probably crack.

Mary R. : )


#12

Hello Angela,

Not a good idea. If there is any moisture in the stone (cracks,
Porosity or whatever) small steam explosions may occur when heated.
Not like it will blow down your walls, but simply small chips of
very Hot stone can be propelled at high speed in random directions,
like at Your face maybe.

Secondly, the stone will draw away much heat from your work abd will
Only make it harder to solder things, thus inspiring you to use a
Bigger flame and thus increasing chances of untoward events as above
Described.

Also i think the marble will simply crumble or turn into something
Else like chalk - ask a chemist

Also you can’t put pins or other such holding devices into a marble
slab Also do not use concrete block or bricks or other stones not
designed For this. - similar reasons apply

There are probably other reasons but i have to go and play music
Tonight instead of thinking about them - and you’ll get lots of
Answers from lots of folks i bet.

Marty in victoria where it is trying to pretend it is springtime but
It is also april fool’s day.


#13

A soldering block must be able to heat up instantly and reflect the
heat up into the object being soldered. Marble will soak up the heat
and disintigrate. A simple test - does it feel cold? If it does then
it is sucking in heat and it is no good for soldering on.

Fibre cement board will do. Off-cuts are found on building sites and
hardware shops (the boards break easily and pieces can be picked
up). It is used for lining walls that need to be water proof and/or
fire proof.

Vermicuilte boards can be found at the wood heater shop and
kiln/pottery places. They make good soldering blocks.

The soldering blocks you buy from the jewellery supplier are the
best, and not expensive. I use the ceramic honeycomb blocks.

A useful addition to your soldering block is a tangle of iron wire
hammered flat. Heat the tangle red-hot so that the iron turns black;
this will prevent any solder or jewellery bits from sticking to it.
When annealing pieces of silver or gold, sit them on the mop of wire
and the flame will go all around the piece and heat it up quickly.

Regards, Alastair


#14

Angela-

As a bench protector, marble would be ok. Just don’t attempt to
solder anything directly on it because it would be a huge heat sink.
Use an insulating block of some sort to hold your piece, preferably
soft enough to push a pin into. A charcoal block is an example. For
many years I have used a square of insulating block left over from a
relining job in a marine boiler. It is a fiberglass composite. You
may be able to find something similar in your area. It is helpful to
have several small blocks so you can build a little enclosure to
help capture heat when you need it. Ingenuity helps here.

Good luck!
Dick Davies


#15

Angela, As I mentioned in an earlier post, I use slabs of marble all
over in my studio. However, they are used to protect the surface of
my bench and work areas. I never solder directly on them, but use a
small pumice filled rotating bowl in which I put my charcoal or fire
brick on which I do my actual soldering.

Alma


#16

When I first started learning how to solder I was just experimenting.
I didn’t have anything to solder on but a few pieces of marble that I
had taken out of my parents yard. These pieces were used for a
walkway so they had been exposed to the elements for about a hundred
years.

Well, what I found was that they work. They are a bit of a heat-sink
so it takes more flame, but they do work barely. They breakdown into
sand after a while. And you do have to be careful of the small
heated chips that may fly off and threaten fire. I was lucky enough
to not have any problems with this. It is a hazard to be cautious of.

Of course When I started I was too broke to buy what I needed. I was
just playing around after all. When I decided to get serious, I
purchased a soldering pad and soldering became a whole lot easier. I
put the soldering pad on the marble.

TL Goodwin, Lapidarian Metalsmith
http://thepacifikimage.com


#17

Hi Gang,

One of the best surfaces for soldering on at a jeweler’s bench that
I’ve found is the soft (often called silversmith’s firebrick)
firebrick.

These bricks are made of magnesia. They are soft enough to stick
pins into & carve grooves & holes in with tweezers & other tools
ordinarily found on the jewelers bench. They reflect heat very well &
don’t absorb much heat from the item being soldered.

When the surface gets grungy or too full of holes a flat surface can
be restored by simply rubbing the brick on the sidewalk in a figure
8 pattern. When new the bricks are aprox 21/2" high by 4 1/2" wide x
9" long. Some jewelers supply’s stock them & many builders suppliers
either stock them or can refer you to someone that does. A look in
your yellow pages for “Brickyards of Builders Supplies” may be
helpful. Depending on where you get them they cost between $5.00 &
$10.00 each. They last for years.

Dave


#18

Here in Downunder Perth :slight_smile: local furnace businesses will often give
away used furnace bricks that are ideal. At the most, you’ll only pay
a couple of dollars.

They can easily be trimmed to specific sizes/ thicknesses.

Manufacturers of pizza ovens, kilns etc are another useful source of
materials suitable for use as soldering blocks or to make up a well
protected soldering ‘cave’.

Jane Walker
www.australiannaturalgemjewellery.com.au


#19

I use a small soldering board on a small kiln shelf. Since the bench
is plywood, I layed 1’x1’ sample tiles from a local home improvement
store on the bench, under the shelf and board. Cheap, works well. I’m
sure marble would do as well to underlay the area, although I would
get a good soldering surface to put on it. You want a surface that
both withstands concentrated heat and holds that heat to reflect it
back to the surface you are soldering on. You don’t really want a
surface that funnels heat away from your piece. Compressed charcoal
is ideal, too.

Lisa W.