|Belson Heater Stove|
This is a tool is normally used in the beauty salon industry to heat marcel curling irons, but it is also perfect for preheating glass rods too! Preheating your rod can really help reduce the amount of those pesky (and scary!) spits of broken glass that can happen when a thicker rod and/or shocky color is first introduced into the torch flame. I absolutely love mine! This is the exact model that I ordered and you can click on the caption link to go directly to it. This smaller model worked the best for my own table set-up, but you may find that you prefer another brand or size that works better for yours?
I also recommend combining it with an aluminum base to help prevent molten glass from sticking to the bottom. I found an inexpensive one at Devardi glass (they also sell their own brand of rod warmer) and if you scroll down to where the "rod warmer plates" section is, you can see a choice of sizes. I think I had mine custom sized to fit my warmer, so be sure to measure carefully to see if that's something you may have to do as well. You could also try using a scrap of graphite tile or fiber blanket, although I would worry that the fiber blanket might transfer fibers to the hot rod?
Here's what my set-up looks like (without the inner plate), positioned to the right of my torch where I can reach the rods easily, but still keep them out of the way of my main working area. I've left about 2" of space all around to make sure nothing touches the hot metal casing, as the temperature inside can reach around 800-900 degrees:
There are a few other budget-friendly options you might like to try for prewarming your rods:
1) Stick the first few inches of the rod into your hot kiln, or
2) Heat the ends on a coffee mug warmer or larger hot-plate appliance
I went for the "heater stove" option because I like how it's enclosed to help keep things from landing on the exposed, hot rods, and the little pull out rod rest keeps the rest of the rod cool and easily accessible as I'm working. You can also pre-warm murrini pieces on top at the same time as you are warming full rods. Plus, I'm a "gadget girl" and love finding a cool new tool! LOL
Make sure you allow the rod to cool a bit after using it on a bead before sticking it back onto the warming surface, to prevent the glass from sticking to it. If you get impatient and end up with a stuck rod, you'll have to wait until the entire unit cools down and then give it a little shake to pop it away from the ceramic surface.
And don't forget—next time you're invited to a Roaring 20's party, you'll also have the perfect way to get those gorgeous marcel curls! *Ü*