Soldering surfaces

New Member - and questions about soldering surfaces

HI All,

Glad I discovered you (via a flyer where I am taking classes)!
Metalworking and jewelry design is something that I have wanted to
do since I was a child - collecting all sorts of stones that “one
day” I would use in jewelry I would make. that day is coming soon -
and I just turned 50.

The instruction that I have received (so far) is quite limited to
the techniques that the teacher “prefers” or the ones that were
taught to her classes at a the expensive/fancy-schmancy art school
she went to less than a decade ago.

Honestly, other than the mere basics (sawing and soldering/annealing
with a welding-type set-up) I have learned more from the posts and
videos here on Ganoksin. I read a LOT and I like to try different
things (i. e., other than JUST LOS for patination).I was quite
shocked when she had not heard of the gazillions of other ways to
patina metals.

Perhaps she doesn’t realize all of of don’t have the $$$ to rent a
"studio" and that some of live in a tiny space with possible place
to use anything more caustic than citric acid for pickling. but I

I am also a photographer and polymer clay artist (although the
formula change in the clays in 2010 ruined my techniques and my
product so that has take a backseat, sadly). In my prior life
(before 6 back surgeries claimed my work life), I worked in
biotech/drug discovery; as a senior paralegal; as a law enforcement
officer; a bartender; and not surprisingly, in three different
jewelry stores.

My first question: what is the best type of board to get for
soldering upon? (I have one of those white bricks that easily pit
and crumble now - ick) I have read about several different types and
would like some input as to what people think is best for my
situation. (I am working at a table in my teeny condo with a butane
mini-torch - and yes, it works just fine for soldering, annealing,
etc.) I have read about Transite. Silquar. Opinions? Comments?

Thanks in advance!

My first question: what is the best type of board to get for
soldering upon? (I have one of those white bricks that easily pit
and crumble now - ick) 

Nothing wrong with those.

SInce you’re working in a condo, you need multiple layers of heat
protection. I have a kiln shelf that looks to be made out of the
same stuff as a pizza stone and a magnesia block on top of that.

You could buy Solderite pads for one of your layers.

Charcoal blocks are also nice.

Just protect your place, use more than one layer. It’s all fine, it
doesn’t really matter.

Charcoal reflects more heat back onto your piece, which is either
good or bad, depending on what you’re doing.


Hi Lori,

My absolute favorite surface for soldering is a very hard charcoal


Try Solderite. It is very flat, smooth, holds up to dropping on the
floor without breaking, REFLECTS (not absorbs) heat, and the softer
version is pin-able, should you be one of those types who likes to
pin down their work to be soldered, or push prong heads down into the

We use a lot of it in our studio here in San Diego, for all
soldering, ingot making, annealing, you name it.

Jay Whaley

There are hard soldering boards that I use. One will last you

I’m sure Rio has them. Call and ask them what they have for hard
soldering pads. The soft ones suck. The hard you can wash off with
water and it’s like new. SD

I am just a student and still setting up my workshop in garage of
all places - good old kiwi and extension cord out window to garage
for power setup…

The goldsmith that has given me some work experience and was my
tutor in fine arts uses a big slab of hebel for his hot bench surface

  • it is used in the building trade for heat reflection.

Its basically aerated concrete and its an amazing heat reflector -
then just uses broken peices of kiln shelf for smaller work

hope this helps


Of the several soldering surfaces I have and have used over the
years, it seems the one I use most is charcoal, particularly thehard
charcoal blocks, rather than the soft ones. Sometimes however, I use
the softer white porous boards when it’s necessary to press the
workpiece into the surface for stability. I’d suggest you get several
different kinds and experiment to see what works best for your
particular style of work.

Jerry in Kodiak

I usually use a fire brick.

I always use firebricks from a ceramic supply company. I ask my
potteryfriends for their broken kiln bricks and they are more than
happy to let me have them. The last time I ordered firebricks, the
shipping was higher than the bricks themselves. Now the bricks are
running $5 each. Use the ones that are rated for 2300 degrees.


Of the several soldering surfaces I have and have used over the
years, it seems the one I use most is charcoal, particularly
thehard charcoal blocks. 

The best hard charcoal block is a composite charcoal block from

I prefer soldering on a charcoal block.

But I also use other “surfaces” for other jobs.

I use a tray of white pumice on a lazy susan for some annealing
jobs, and a can of little black volcanic(?) rocks to hold rings while
I heat them to find any old solder joints.

My entire soldering bench is covered with backer board (from Homo
Depot). I also have this backer board covering the back wall behind
my soldering bench and under, behind and above my burnout oven.

I went to the Depot and got an assortment of backer boards and other
sheet rock and tested them with a torch to find the one I wanted.

Paf Dvorak


my soldering set up has galvanized tin sheet on the bench and wall
and back wall.

It is next to a sink so I can put a burn under running water, has
not happened yet.

Also have fire extinguisher on the exit door frame. All just in

Above the bench is an exhaust fan.


I have a similar setup, however I have a copper sheet on the bench.
I used copper only because I had it and not because I think that it
is better. I bought a damaged piece of cement backer board at Lowes
for $5 and have cut some of it into 8X12 sections that I can use to
reflect heat, protect surfaces when casting and have even tried
soldering on it. It seem to work well, but I would be interested in
comments from others. I have looked at the MSDS for it and it seems
to be very stable. I solder mainly on charcoal and fire brick. This
is a great discussion.

Thanks. Rob

my soldering set up has galvanized tin sheet on the bench and wall
and back wall. 

Just don’t heat that galvanized. (Or at least don’t heat it much.)

Paf Dvorak


Just don't heat that galvanized. (Or at least don't heat it much.)
Should have mentioned I have a stainless steel tray under the
soldering blocks. 

Only heat goes on the soldering blocks. The gal sheet is for just in
case scenarios.


My soldering area is a table that is covered entirely in cement
board. It is 1/4 inch thick soffit or panel. The brand is Hardie. On
top of that I have a couple of fire bricks and then another piece of
cement board. I sometimes use charcoal or a titanium mesh.

I like the cement board, it is cheap and when covered in the normal
junk you get from flux and byproducts of heat, I can turn it over,
use it again.

When no longer clean enough, I dispose of it properly. I cut it on a
table saw with an old blade and wear breathing protection from the

I also have a sheet of it under my kiln. It doesn’t burn and
reflects heat quite well.

For all you regular jewelers, what I have doesn’t go on a jewelers
bench. I learned this stuff in a community college that taught “metal
work”. So I can heat big pieces just as easily as small. It is a
separate area, well vented with a large custom made stainless steel
hood with the really effective fan mounted in-line in the rafters
about five feet from the bench. I did that to cut down on the noise
of such a big exhaust fan and consequently the fan is always on. It
is big enough that I have to leave some opening to outdoors for
make-up air. Fire extinguisher is by the closest exit.

Having soldering in an area removed from the bench forces me to get
up an move. I don’t think that it would work well in a jewelry shop
but it works really well when teaching in my studio.

Judy Hoch