Don't Buy A New Soldering Block Clean Your Old One!


If you solder as part of your jewellery making then like me you probably have a selection of soldering boards. The good old asbestos-substitute, the honeycomb board and the fibre brick. I've yet to try a charcoal soldering block strangely - I've looked at them a lot but never clicked the buy button as yet.... There's nothing nicer than a brand new, clean, smooth soldering board to use. Well there is, lots of things are nicer, but you know what I mean!



My collection of soldering boards

Before I tried the honeycomb boards which I tend to use a lot now I would use the asbestos-substitute boards most of the time. After a while you inevitably gets areas of the board covered with excess flux which forms a glass-like layer on the board once it's cooled and if heated a lot will start to eat into the board. Your metal will also stick to any flux you accidently put it on top of during soldering sometimes leaving blobs of flux to clean off in tricky areas. So you avoid that area and carry on until one side is covered in rock hard flux then turn the block over and start on the other side. Then when that side is covered and horrible you go to Cookson's website and order another one.....

I noticed my flux covered soldering board problem got a whole lot worse when I changed from using liquid flux {Auflux} and tried Easi-Flo and Tenacity paste fluxes. I was making a lot of hollow forms and was having trouble getting the liquid flux to go where I wanted it to so I tried the paste fluxes as they stay where you put them. The result was quite a lot of excess flux on my boards leaving them looking like this...


To avoid a soldering board build-up it occurred to me last week that it might be a good idea to try and clean them up. I'd seen a tip from Lexi Erickson about cleaning your soldering board by rubbing it against the pavement, a bit of concrete or any rough surface. The roads where I live have either slab or tarmac pavements and being honest I'd feel a bit of a weirdo going out into the road and rubbing things on the pavement ......

So I decided to have a go with sandpaper.


I used 80 grit sandpaper and took my shameful board outside and started rubbing vigorously.


I'd advise wearing a dust mask as it is a very dusty process but with a bit of elbow grease you'll soon start to see nice clean white areas being revealed.


 Any really stubborn areas of flux can be ground off with a metal file. You'll be left with a board that has a few pitted areas where the flux has eaten into it but it will be lovely and clean again!
You can do this a lot quicker and easier if you have one of those handheld electric sanders of course :D 


Clean!

I've gone back to using liquid flux as it's less messy and doesn't expand when heated. I can also "read" it better for gauging the temperature of the metal which I found harder to do with the paste fluxes for some reason.

And for my other soldering boards.....now I just need to find a way to put my honeycomb boards back together. I tapped one of them on my bench to get a piece of solder out of a hole and it broke into three pieces. The second one just broke into two pieces out of sympathy for the other one I think. And I'm considering cutting the top off my fibre board to reveal a nice clean, hole and pit free surface. And anyone who has one of the fibre boards will know that would be a messy, very dusty process indeed!


Comments

  1. Great idea! I love the rustic look of your soldering boards stacked up.

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  2. Nice collection of jewelry blogs. All the blogs are very nice.

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  3. use a piece of stainless steel around the edges - make it tight - you can rivet the ends with ss rivets as well and it will hold the pieces together Try some kiln brick cement to reassemble as well
    both methods will hold up to the heat as we use it on kilns to hold them together and to repair

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  4. Very interesting and insightful. Thank you for this blog posting.

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  5. Excellent work. all the best.

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  6. I like very much your blog all the best.

    ReplyDelete

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