There are many soldering surfaces out there that you can use to protect your table tops and help to aid the soldering process along. As you use them they can become dirty or pitted due to the use of flux. In my studio, I like to use a compressed charcoal block and Solderite soldering pads. The pads are great because they reflect the heat back onto the piece that I am working on. They can also be cut, broken, drilled and reshaped if needed.
As I tend to use a lot of flux (call me the queen of flux,) my boards tend to get pitted and dirty fairly quickly. It would be a shame to just throw the boards away just because the top gets pitted or dirty. When I get to a point where I can no longer lay a flat piece of metal on my board because it will get stuck due to existing flux or dirty due to other objects on the board, I know it is time to resurface the board. This will work for both charcoal blocks and the soldering pads that I use in my studio.
In the picture above I have 5 pads that are fairly well used. There are a couple of clean areas that I could use, so they wouldn’t all need to be resurfaced now. But since I am doing it, I might as well do them all.
This is the same pad as above. You can see that I didn’t remove it all. I could have kept going, but those pits were a little deeper than I wanted to go. I now have about 95% of my surface clean and that works well for me.
Yes, it does make a mess. I like to sweep up most of the dust and just throw it in the garbage bin. You can then wash off the side walk or allow for nature to do that for you. Living in the Great Northwest, I let nature take care of it.
Things to consider if you do this:
- Work outside – The dust particles can be very messy and just not something I want to have to deal with in my studio.
- Don’t sit downwind – Yes, I made this mistake when starting this tutorial. The lighting was better if I did sit downwind, however, I was very quickly covered in the dust, and it didn’t exactly feel too good when I accidentally got a nose full either.
- Wear a mask – Even though I was working outside, it is best if you wear some kind of respirator. The best would be a nice heavy duty one with filters, but even a painters mask is better than nothing.
- Wear an apron and rubber gloves – This isn’t necessary, but it sure helps keep you a bit cleaner.