Solder Station Setup
Ideally you should have a separate well ventilated studio with big windows letting in natural light. However we live in reality where most of us carve out a little work space wherever we can. The important thing to always keep in mind, is that your soldering space must be fireproof!
Many people including myself are a little nervous soldering at home, but we cook on a stove, bbq and have fire places, all which require the use of safety practices, proper set up and common sense, and the same goes for soldering. Many jeweller’s studios are set up in private residences, homes, garages, apartments, and mixed commercial spaces without burning the place down, so you can do it too. I would however recommend checking your building’s by-laws (if you live in a strata) before moving forward.
When choosing to set up a soldering station there are a few things to consider, location, ventilation, fire proofing, safety and the tools required. (Please see the BLOG ON TORCHES for help in selecting the right torch for the job and your specific space.)
If you have a jeweller’s bench where you do all of your hand work, you can also fireproof a small area of this bench and solder there, but it’s best if you can set up a separate area close by specifically for soldering. All of your hand work can be accomplished almost anywhere, even a closed in closet space, but soldering requires good ventilation. Choose an area where you can attach a fume hood or at least open a window and blow the fumes outside with a small fan.
Once you have found a well ventilated area, the next thing to consider is how to fireproof it. The best way to keep your area fire proofed is to simply keep your flame within the designated area. Only point the flame at what you are soldering, or towards fireproofed materials, and turn the torch off when not in use. Keep your soldering station free from any flammables, such as work notes and sketch books. Look all around, are there carpet or curtains, or anything else that can easily catch fire and spread? Be rid of them or cover with heat buffers such as ceramic tiles, sheet metal, concrete or hardiebacker cement board. The same goes for the desk that you will be using, proper jeweller’s benches are made out of wood, but we certainly protect that surface before soldering at the bench. And don’t forget to fireproof yourself as well! Make sure your body is clothed in snug fitting cotton, no long loose sleeves scarves or ties, and wear an apron of cotton or leather along with closed toe shoes, hot metal falling onto bare skin or toes, especially with a lit torch in hand will not make for a good day. Remember to always keep your hair tied back including bangs, there are much easier ways of acquiring a new hair style. Keeping a small fire extinguisher and fire blanket close by may is a MUST.
Once your space and surface are fireproofed , you will need something else to do the actual soldering on. The soldering brick used to place your pieces to be soldered upon, is a different medium than fire proofing materials. There are many different options each with its own pluses and minuses, and you many find yourself using a different medium for different jobs.
Ceramic silquar solder board
- Easy to clean surface
- Hard and long lasting
- Non-combustible Silquar™ ceramic surface reflects heat to the work; withstands temperatures up to 2,000°F (1,093°C).
- Lightweight yet durable, similar to kiln bricks
- Easy to press pins into or carve out as needed
- Withstands temperatures up to 2000 F
Hard or Soft Charcoal Bricks:
- Retains and reflects heat, requiring less heat to solder a piece
- Reduces firescale because creates reducing atmosphere
- Able to place pins into it and carve it out as needed
- Soft charcoal bricks also have these qualities but burn and crack easily
- Reflects heat
- Holes can be used to place pins into, some even come with specialty fitting ceramic pins.
Workingsilver has all the solder products in this blog for sale on our website HERE. Thank you for shopping!
Also, check out our Pinterest board here to see more images of soldering setups