copper sheet project - brazing, soldering or welding?
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  1. #1

    copper sheet project - brazing, soldering or welding?

    Hi all,

    I'm a first-time poster on the forum, and I'm quite new to metal-working as well. I have no experience brazing/soldering metal or welding.
    I would like to build a triangular construction from copper sheet-metal (sort of like a pyramid shape), but I'm having trouble figuring out how exactly
    I should go about connecting the sheets together. The copper will be cut into three (or four) triangles and then they somehow need to be connected
    on the sides. I want to use 0.5 mm (0.0197 in) thick SF-Cu sheets with dimensions approximately 1x1 ft. I thought about brazing or soldering, since welding
    seems a bit more complicated and the joints don't need to be very strong, but should hold together and be electrically connected. The joints shouldn't
    be too "bulky", but don't have to be perfect either. I've spend quite some time reading on the internet, but the kind of joints that are often illustrated on the
    websites don't apply in this case (most information is for copper pipe joints, or overlapping copper sheets). Here I would like to solder edge-to-edge.

    I already have a 30%/70% propane/butane torch and some CuP brazing sticks. I've tried test-brazing two small pieces of copper sheet together by having their edges touch,
    heating the joint and then applying the copper braze but I ended up with black pieces of copper sheet and a ugly blob of braze sticking to one but not both pieces. I did not
    use flux. Could someone with more experience maybe give me some advice about how to proceed? I'd really appreciate it. Thanks

    cheers

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
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    3,132

    Re: copper sheet project - brazing, soldering or welding?

    SOLDER...use 50/50 low melting point ..tac the edges a few inches apart using a soldering gun( less distortion than torch and more control) then fill in between tacs..use flux...

  3. #3

    Re: copper sheet project - brazing, soldering or welding?

    Hi Hobbytime,
    thanks for the quick reply! By 50/50 I assume you mean Sn/Pb. What does it mean to "tac the edges " ? (english is not my first language)
    What kind of flux do you recommend?

  4. #4
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    Re: copper sheet project - brazing, soldering or welding?

    Something like 0.0197 thickness I'd be exploring a soldering iron, and any of the conventional tin/lead/zinc solders.
    "The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life." -Theodore Roosevelt

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Re: copper sheet project - brazing, soldering or welding?

    Quote Originally Posted by bre View Post
    Hi Hobbytime,
    thanks for the quick reply! By 50/50 I assume you mean Sn/Pb. What does it mean to "tac the edges " ? (english is not my first language)
    What kind of flux do you recommend?
    tac like in make a dot of solder to hold the pieces together and then go back and make a solid solder joint..regular flux non acid or the copper will turn green...50/50 solder like this https://www.amazon.com/Canfield-50-S...50%2F50+solder

  6. #6

    Re: copper sheet project - brazing, soldering or welding?

    Thanks for the info Sandy and Hobbytime. Will the heat from a soldering iron be enough for copper sheets this size?
    From my experience with soldering electronics it is quite difficult to solder to large metal surfaces with a soldering iron.
    Is there a lower power limit you recommend for the soldering gun?
    Last edited by bre; 12-08-2018 at 04:53 PM.

  7. #7
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    Re: copper sheet project - brazing, soldering or welding?

    bre I’m a wanna be welder myself! I have played around with Tig welding copper.
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    I’m just a hobbyist!

    Carl

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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
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    79

    Re: copper sheet project - brazing, soldering or welding?

    A butane pencil torch works great heat from the underside and dab solder on the top side as you go be sure to clean bright and smooth as possible and brush with flux

    Sent from my XT1254 using Tapatalk

  9. #9
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    Re: copper sheet project - brazing, soldering or welding?

    That 0.0197 is about the same as some flashing material, pretty dern thin. Thinking of some of the wire sizes that get soldered with as little as a 40 watt soldering iron. They make clear up to 500 watt or more soldering irons and guns. Wild guess is that an 80 watt or 100 watt would be plenty. Shiny is the key. That and a pre-tinned tip. If the tip isn't pre-tinned and shiny it won't transfer the heat. You should be able to get a spot going and just slide on down pulling the solder with you.
    "The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living and the get rich quick theory of life." -Theodore Roosevelt

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Colorado
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    433

    Re: copper sheet project - brazing, soldering or welding?

    Soldering edge to edge is going to be troublesome, I think. When you try to solder one area you may unsolder another area. One step forward, two steps back. Holding them aligned while you solder sounds troublesome as well. I work in copper a lot, but I usually TIG weld.

    I recall one soldering project where I ended up making some joints in silver solder (high temperature), and the rest tin-lead. I silver soldered first, and then never had to worry about the silver solder joints unsoldering, as the tin lead temperature is much lower. However, you would want an acetylene air torch for silver solder.

    Jewelers manage to make complex assemblies with solder, but they often use several different alloys, each with a different temperature. There are three or four different silver solder alloys. I am not aware of anything comparable in tin-lead; (I looked during the soldering project that I mentioned above). The people who are highly skilled make it work with a single alloy, kind of impressive.

    I suggest starting small, then scaling up once you have a process that seems to work. This project sounds challenging to me, even for a skilled solderer. Keep us posted.


    Quote Originally Posted by bre View Post
    Hi all,

    I'm a first-time poster on the forum, and I'm quite new to metal-working as well. I have no experience brazing/soldering metal or welding.
    I would like to build a triangular construction from copper sheet-metal (sort of like a pyramid shape), but I'm having trouble figuring out how exactly
    I should go about connecting the sheets together. The copper will be cut into three (or four) triangles and then they somehow need to be connected
    on the sides. I want to use 0.5 mm (0.0197 in) thick SF-Cu sheets with dimensions approximately 1x1 ft. I thought about brazing or soldering, since welding
    seems a bit more complicated and the joints don't need to be very strong, but should hold together and be electrically connected. The joints shouldn't
    be too "bulky", but don't have to be perfect either. I've spend quite some time reading on the internet, but the kind of joints that are often illustrated on the
    websites don't apply in this case (most information is for copper pipe joints, or overlapping copper sheets). Here I would like to solder edge-to-edge.

    I already have a 30%/70% propane/butane torch and some CuP brazing sticks. I've tried test-brazing two small pieces of copper sheet together by having their edges touch,
    heating the joint and then applying the copper braze but I ended up with black pieces of copper sheet and a ugly blob of braze sticking to one but not both pieces. I did not
    use flux. Could someone with more experience maybe give me some advice about how to proceed? I'd really appreciate it. Thanks

    cheers
    Sculptures in copper and other metals
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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
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    Re: copper sheet project - brazing, soldering or welding?

    Pretty much regardless of process, beyond soldering it up with a copper or soldering gun will develop black oxidation and annealing.
    Since you allude to a pyramid shape, and say it has to be electrically conductive I'd give consideration to reinforcing the inside of the corner with copper wire, to increase bonding area and minimize strain on the completed corner joint. Wood pinch type clothespins are helpful in such constructions,

    Secondly you don't mention appearance or use. Solder particularly when fluxed on copper loves to travel across the fluxed surface. This can be minimized by damming off the travel before flux is applied with White Out.

    Again, not enough information is posted to determine how to build or in what sequence.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    2,202

    Re: copper sheet project - brazing, soldering or welding?


    bre


    Quote Originally Posted by bre View Post
    I have no experience brazing/soldering metal or welding . . .

    Could someone with more experience maybe give me some
    advice about how to proceed? I'd really appreciate it.
    Without: pics, prints [specs] your request is akin to 'describing
    a color over the phone'
    . . .

    Please provide 'something to see' - or, the 'voluminous advice
    responses'
    will be forward/beyond - your tech/skill level . . .


    Opus

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Southern Montana
    Posts
    823

    Re: copper sheet project - brazing, soldering or welding?

    After reading OP's post, and all of the subsequent suggestions, I thought about how I would approach the task. Since we have a grand master tinner in town, who I try to emulate from time to time, I think his solution would be to just cut the pieces with enough extra metal to bend into a flange along the joining edge. This will allow for an overlap to rivet or clamp to the adjoining edge to provide a space, sufficient for filling with solder. The joint can, easily, be filled with solder by heating with a propane torch, or by an iron (shown in photos), heated by the torch. Add flux, prior to soldering.
    Attached Images Attached Images    

  14. #14

    Re: copper sheet project - brazing, soldering or welding?

    Hi guys,
    thanks for all the advice, and I'm sorry if I didn't provide all the necessary information. The purpose of this build is for a "art" project. But like
    I said, the joints don't have to be perfect, just not too bulky or deformed either. Also I'd prefer if the copper stayed red and did not oxidize.
    Below there are some representative images of what I am trying to achieve, however these ones were done with sheet steel instead of copper.
    I think they did TIG welding, which I do not have the equipment for, nor the knowledge. From all the suggestions I have gotten I think
    getting a heavy-duty soldering iron/gun (200W or so) and some good flux and solder could be worth a try. That should be affordable and
    I have some experience with soldering electronics so maybe that will help.

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  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Posts
    3,132

    Re: copper sheet project - brazing, soldering or welding?

    Quote Originally Posted by bre View Post
    Hi guys,
    thanks for all the advice, and I'm sorry if I didn't provide all the necessary information. The purpose of this build is for a "art" project. But like
    I said, the joints don't have to be perfect, just not too bulky or deformed either. Also I'd prefer if the copper stayed red and did not oxidize.
    Below there are some representative images of what I am trying to achieve, however these ones were done with sheet steel instead of copper.
    I think they did TIG welding, which I do not have the equipment for, nor the knowledge. From all the suggestions I have gotten I think
    getting a heavy-duty soldering iron/gun (200W or so) and some good flux and solder could be worth a try. That should be affordable and
    I have some experience with soldering electronics so maybe that will help.

    Name:  p1.jpg
Views: 93
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    Name:  p2.jpg
Views: 91
Size:  79.9 KB
    yes they look tig welded and the seam grinded and buffed to match the stainless, you wont get that unless you fold an edge on the copper and solder from the backside, otherwise you will have silver seams on the copper from the solder..
    Last edited by Hobbytime; 12-09-2018 at 11:10 AM.

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