Soldering block choice

I need to buy a soldering block (I don’t want to use my charcoal
ones anymore). I’m doing sterling and fine silver soldering. Would
magnesia be a good choice? How about the blocks I see listed for
platinum soldering? I checked the ones at Rio but I would prefer
comments about your experiences with the various choices before I
purchase one. Thank you.



Why don’t you want to use the charcoal blocks any more?

Jennifer Friedman

Magnesium = great choice: easy to saw in half giving you two bricks,
easy to resurface witha coping saw or hacksaw, and good, not
excellent refraction…no oxygen absorption though like you’d get with
charcoal. Siliquar, equally good…if doing production work
impressionite boards…charcoal still reigns top in my silver work
'book", but the reversible grey/white dual temp disposable boards are
acceptable though need frequent cleaning, if frequently used with
pastes instead of the “self pickling” fluxes like batterns,Prips,etc.

Platinum boards last long for silver, but price wise why?

Rio highest cost, Contenti,Rosenthal,Baldwin-Taylor hardware,FDJ are
all cheaper…for the same products…Dick Blick occassionally has the
honeycomb boards on sale…the ONLY benefit to them is easy pin
driving ,or positioning…I always have to put another type under
them, and they break readily as the holes are like perforations…so
they are my least recommended choice…

If you must experiment with the honeycomb boards and are working in
silver,filling your annealing pan with garden grade activated
crushed charcooal works quite well…in fact, i keep a copper pan on a
swivel base ( lazy susan) filled with charcoal from the garden dept.
at any home store around to use as supports work,absorbs
oxides, can be piled up as needed to create good all around soldering
environment and is cheaper than blocks…and last at least as long…I
got a case of 3 lb. bags ( 12 bags per case ) on sale at Lowe’s for
1.00 a bag…so at the end of gardening season check your home supply
stores for their closeouts…It has happened two years in a row now,
and i have a nice stash of about 22 bags after two years of use
daily.(.or most days.)


I like magnesia. Go ahead, try one.


Ceramic is my choice, I use one that came with the GRS soldering
station for the bench mate. No contamination from dust and easy to
clean when the flux gets built up (usual disclaimer goes here).

Frank Goss

Hello Marly,

I know we’ve addressed this topic a few times before. My personal
preference is a soft kiln brick. The hard bricks work just fine for
soldering, but I want to be able to stick pins in the brick to
secure things. I got mine from a brick yard.

Judy in Kansas


After using the magnesium and soft soldering pads for a bunch o
years, I stumbled (at the recommendation of a friend) on the
honeycomb ceramic soldering pads. I’ll never go back! The only thing
I use the soft pads for anymore is the chips and remnants to help
with jigging things occasionally.

The heat from the honeycomb pads is very even and there’s never any
buildup of flux and gunk.

Karen Goeller
No Limitations Designs
Hand-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry

I always used a 3 foot kiln shelf they use for firing clay - I have
no idea if I am breathing in some mysterious toxic fumes but I love
the size of it.

Mary R

I like magnesia. Go ahead, try one. 

I have what I believe is a magnesia block that a friend gave me
(shaped like a brick, though smaller; yellowish-beige, soft to the
touch) and the couple times I went to use it, it smoked and scorched
when the torch touched it. I found this disconcerting, so I put it
aside. What’s the deal?


Marly -

I also use charcoal blocks. I find it’s easy to place solder
pallions on the dark surface, then find them again just before the
torch is lit. If you do this too, be aware that it may be hard to
find your solder from now on. I know my eyes are not as good as they
used to be, but even with my glasses I can’t find the solder on a
light-colored board.

Good luck on your search,

I use many surfaces, Charcol block with blow torch, excellent with
siver and yellow gold, the best surface by far. Can pin job down,
can flatten and shape to the job need, Can melt small amounts of
silver, yellow and red gold. Don’t work with platinum and white gold.
Ceramic blok with blow torch and oxigen, flat surface, can solder
platinum, absorb too much heat with blow torch but still managiable.
Excellent with white gold and platinum especially with oxigen. Iron
wire mesh and iron whire “parrucca” ??? big mass of wire flattened I
don’1t know the name of this in english… Really good for anehaling.
Can loose the pallion. The iron wire will melt with oxigen flame. And
my favorite, soldering grain, can position pieces, excellent for
anhealing, with blow torch and oxigen, not the best with sharp oxigen
flame, the grain fly away. Here you can loose the pallion to the
bottom of the pan. Tin container with sand and water for repairs. For
really specific works soldering gel, but I don’t like it. After a bit
of thinking I decided that I will save money by dedicating a specific
surface for a specific job and I like the extra creativity that the
choice offer me.