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Separate soldering station... or not


Hi All,

I’m a new member and relatively new to metalsmithing. I’m in the
middle of putting together my first studio and wondered if you could
guide me on whether to have a separate soldering station or not. I
also want to know how to set it up.

The one I’m used to has a pan. It has been suggested that I get
something more modern, but I’m not sure exactly what to get. I am
taking classes at an art center with a traditional classroom. I’ve
been told that soldering taught at jewelry schools is conducted
differently but I don’t know what that means.

Also, I see that height is really important. I have a jewelers bench
which is 40". I am 5’ 1". Should the soldering area also be that
height? What are the advantages and disadvantages of having the
soldering area at the bench?

I have similar questions about a flexshaft, which I have yet to

The carpenters are here now. I’ve ordered the book about benches but
it is yet to arrive.

Many thanks,
Vanessa N Weber
Westbrook, CT


Hi Vanessa,

Welcome aboard!

Having a separate soldering station is a good idea. There are a lot
of ways to approach this, but actually I just solder on a regular
folding table. Some people have their soldering right at their bench,
but if you are new to metalsmithing, then make it easy on yourself.

I have a small rotating pan with pumice, charcoal blocks, firebricks
and two solderite boards. My pickle pot is close, all the tools like
tweezers, flux and pick at the ready. This all sits on an asbestos
free transite board. Water should be near by, GOOD VENTILATION and

My soldering station is directly behind me, so I just need to spin
around and solder. I have a table next to my bench creating an L
shape where ideas flow.

A lot of good people here will give you great advice. Lot’s of
experience in this bunch.

Karen Christians


Vanessa - check out my web site below - there are pictures of my
studio and soldering area. I find I like mine in a separate area, and
I like being able to leave it set up and ready to go all the time.
When I had it on my bench, I was constantly having to move things…
a pain. I have my station set up on an old heavy duty wooden sink I
already had, and have fire bricks down as the base surface, and as a
"backsplash". Both to reduce worries about flames on walls and the
wooden sink, and to use to redirect heat when needed. I really like
having everything in the one space, and not having to worry about
pickle splashes, or the pickle fumes near my tools.

I find that I mostly solder standing up… I’m told that is
uncommon, but for me, that works. I use the edges of the wooden sink
as arm braces when needed.

I think there is no ONE way to do it - what matters is that you are
comfortable with your set up, both in terms of safety and

If you have time, see if you can find some folks nearby who would
let you come and see their soldering areas, and maybe sit/stand at
them to see…

Have fun!

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio


Hi Beth and Vanessa:

I find that I mostly solder standing up.... I'm told that is
uncommon, but for me, that works. I use the edges of the wooden
sink as arm braces when needed. 
I think there is no ONE way to do it - what matters is that you are
comfortable with your set up, both in terms of safety and

I totally agree that there is no ONE way to do it. I have a stainless
steel work table I got cheap at a restaurant supply house - I too
stand for soldering - and my soldering table is behind my chair where
I sit at my bench, so I too only need to turn around and get up to
solder. I say do what works for you. For years I lacked enough space
to have more than my bench and I soldered on my bench. Bit of a mess
to constantly have to move things, but you know…you do what you
gotta’ do. I think bottom line is not to fret so over it, simply set
up what works for you and have at it. There’s no perfect solution.



I’m sending a photo to Ganoksin of my soldering station. I hope I
have posted the image correctly.

I stand at my station so the height of the base is just below the
level of my forearms when they are parallel to the floor.

The laminar flow hood is approx 36" x 22" x 27" deep. The base is
lined with firebrick. You can see below a squirrel cage blower to
exhaust to the outside of my studio; it has a rheostat to control
the motor. I also use this station and its exhaust system when using
noxious substances. The laminar flow part is a 1" slit at the very
top of the hood which extends across the face. It’s a good way to
exhaust without disruptive air flow.

I have oxy/propane; acetylene and natural gas torches.

At this point I must thank Bob McLaughlin an engineer friend for the
design. I did not know what laminar flow was. I had the sheet metal
fabricated by a sheet metal shop in Santa Fe after the design I
provided. They did a very nice job for a reasonable price.

I would urge those of you who are serious to consider this. I’ve
breathed in a lot of ****over the years. It’s much better not to.



Thanks Kevin for the photo. Here’s a picture of how we work here

Only house in the neighborhood with FIVE dryer vents and a 6 inch
vent that is separate for casting. Used small inline blower motors
and dryer vent kits.Buffer is vented outside from a dust collection
system, casting kiln is vented, acid is vented, soldering stations
are vented. Can’t emphasize that enough! I just have to swivel my
stool for soldering vs fabricating and change the stool height for
the task needed.

Good to see you working safely.
Ruthie Cohen