Behold the Trivet: Essential Jewelry Tool for Easier, Faster, Better Soldering (and More)
|sponsored| If you had a different soldering teacher than me, you probably learned a different way to solder. (Same with enameling.) I was taught to never use a third hand in soldering, and other than in a pretty advanced metalsmithing class that had them in the solder setup at Bead Fest, I haven’t used one. I’ve found workarounds, like using weights and carving in the solder brick, to do what I needed to do.
Another one of those workarounds is a trivet. Trivets are pretty essential for enameling—and they’re super handy for soldering as well.
Heat From Underneath With a Trivet
A common technique in soldering is to heat from underneath. Sure, you can build a little ledge on your solder brick with smaller bricks, coins, etc., but I love the ease of use that comes with a trivet. Rio Grande’s Knew Concepts 3” titanium soldering trivet supports work well thanks to its unique shape and size.
I always have to push the boundaries, so I tried using it to support pieces that are as small as a penny (above) up to even more than its own 3” diameter as well. Because of how most trivet arms slope, using smaller pieces means the work is lower down, closer to the brick. But this smart trivet slopes from both directions, creating less metal and more air space underneath for your flame to reach the metal, as you can see below with my solder pick underneath for a better view. This open space means the trivet will be less of a heat sink to slow your heating (as does the fact that its made from titanium).
The other great news is this larger-than-normal trivet supports larger work, which is unusual in the trivet world. Having this extra surface area and span of space is helpful for big pendants, cuffs, and other bolder, larger metalwork–plus annealing.
Don’t Melt Your Bezels or Other Bits
In our jewelry world, there’s not much worse than melting your bezel wire when trying to solder it to the back plate. You’re heating the back plate from the bottom to get the solder to flow on the top, between the back plate and the bezel wire. And because bezel wire is often thinner, finer gauge metal, it’s really prone to melting. That’s why heating from underneath is essential to avoiding melting bezels. Why does it work? Because chances are, your back plate is a larger gauge metal than the bezel wire. As such, it can handle more heat from the flame. It tempers that heat a bit before it gets to and melts your more fragile bezel. So you can think of your back plate as a heat buffer.
As an added bonus, the faster your solder flows, the sooner you can remove the flame. And the sooner you remove the flame, the less likely it is to melt your metal or cause brittleness. So heating from the bottom using a trivet is a bit of insurance against melting all around.
Trivets are Great for Enameling, Too
If you do enameling work, you’ll appreciate that this trivet is made from titanium. That means enamel sticks to it less than to a regular steel trivet or mesh. Why is that great? One word: counterenamel.
How many pieces have you ruined–or how many extra hours of work have you endured trying to remove or avoid marks on one side of your work while you enamel the other side? Enamel doesn’t stick to titanium. So it supports pieces that are enameled on the top and bottom with marring either side. Can I get an amen? That’s the best news I’ve heard all day. (It won’t stick to solder, either, so everything will stay nice and clean.)
Did I mention it won’t stick to enamel? That’s a HUGE deal. Plus, according to Rio’s product page, titanium is “strong, durable, non-contaminating.” Titanium in general is known for being lightweight, strong, and corrosion-resistant. It won’t rust! So this is one less tool you have to sand and oil in the studio. It has a very high melting point (over 3,000°F!) and is nonmagnetic.
All the tech specs aside, titanium is a pretty special metal. I learned on Britannica.com that titanium is fairly common, found in “practically all rocks, sand, clay, and other soils. It is also present in plants and animals, natural waters and deep-sea dredgings, and meteorites and stars.” I love knowing that some of the tough, cold, metal jewelry tools our hands create with are made up of particles found in sand, plants, animals, water, meteorites, and stars! Don’t you? There’s just something wholesome, earthy, and kind of romantic about that.
I truly believe a trivet will make your soldering work easier, faster, and therefore better all around! You’re less likely to melt your bezels and other metal, and more likely to get your solder to flow before your metal melts or forms the dreaded fire scale.
Online Editor and Social Media Manager
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