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Author Topic: Soldering Brass?  (Read 40543 times)
SteamKit
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« on: March 18, 2009, 07:18:26 am »

Simple question, is it possible to solder brass with common equipment? Specifically, does standard solder for copper gear work? It is copper and tin after all.

-Kit
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von Adler
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« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2009, 08:06:12 am »

Copper and brass can be soldered, the rest depends on the specifics, such as the hotness of the iron and the size of the piece. I wouldn't expect much from a low-powered iron, but if it can melt the copper solder, it should work for small objects; larger ones may need either a torch or a more powerful iron. If you use plenty of flux, a hot enough iron and make sure the surfaces are spotlessly clean, I see no major problems.
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SteamKit
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« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2009, 09:42:18 am »

Great! I just picked up a little sheet brass (0.032") and intend to play around with it, see if I can't come up with a nice project, possibly a ring or two, or maybe try and make something a little more steamy out of it. Thank you.

-Kit
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von Adler
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« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2009, 10:09:45 am »

Mind you, I've only brazed brass, so I have no personal experience of doing that with a soldering iron, but I've heard of people of successfully soldering small brass pieces with a 45W iron and silver solder; copper has a higher melting point, but should otherwise work the same. I'd try it first with something you can throw away to see if it adheres at all and to test the strength of the joint, just in case.
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SteamKit
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« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2009, 10:19:52 am »

Alrighty, I have enough to try a test piece or two. I probably won't screw with my iron, though, it's small and meant for electrical work. I've a propane torch, that oughta provide the heat.

-Kit
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von Adler
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« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2009, 10:39:44 am »

A propane torch should work just fine (I've used oxy-acetylene, but just because I have had access to one).
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dj_nme
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« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2009, 10:55:26 am »

Simple question, is it possible to solder brass with common equipment? Specifically, does standard solder for copper gear work? It is copper and tin after all.

-Kit

Yes, it will take ordinary 60/40 lead/tin solder quite well.
The only proviso is that the parent metal is made hot enough, you should perhaps purchase/acquire the highest Wattage soldering iron you can find.
Alternatively, you could "get away with" using a gas (propane/butane/LPG) torch and heating the brass along the joint until the solder melts on contact.
I would suggest using the rosin-cored solder, it makes soldering easier as you don't have to continually flux the joint as long as the brass is clean to start with.
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Eisenfaust
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« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2009, 01:53:04 pm »

Might I also suggest the possibility of using jewelry grade silver solder?  It is generally much smaller than the normal "household" grade solder and comes in several heat categories (i.e. the temp it melts at).  The sheet brass you are using seems to me to be a bit thin to use normal plumbing solder.  Additionally, if you take a look at some of the online tutorials, you have a wider range of flexibility in its use (at least for the size you are using.)

The one disadvantage is that you will more than likely have to get a separate amount of flux.  You will also most defiantly have to use some form of burner to accomplish the results.
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sidecar_jon
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« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2009, 01:57:52 pm »

I treat it like copper, two main differences are it melts cooler (so watch out if it starts to sag) and it seems to work harden quicker (easily sorted by heating to red and quenching) I use soft copper plumbing solder usually with a paste flux meant for copper pipes (multicore wont work). A iron wont get enough heat into the thing use a torch or the cooker top.
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« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2009, 01:58:42 pm »

If you can get it I find frylux solder paint extremely useful. Paint this on the area of the joint then heat the work rather than the joint itself using a torch (propane is fine)  the paint becomes liquid solderand is ready fluxed, flows into the joint and voila a lovely clean finish.  I also use it for tinning brass when I need to. Always have a pot in the workshop as it makes life so easy when you need it.
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« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2009, 05:23:29 pm »

frylux solder paint


Sounds useful - I've got some joining-brassy-things I'd like to do... is THIS the stuff?
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Eisenfaust
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« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2009, 05:29:31 pm »

I find the idea paintable solder intriguing.  There are more than a few projects where something like this would be very useful.   Does anyone know if it can be found in the states?
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sidecar_jon
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« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2009, 08:55:33 pm »

If you can get it I find frylux solder paint extremely useful.

Now that does indeed look very useful... thanks for that tip!
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SteamKit
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« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2009, 04:21:21 am »

Will piping solder work? It's for copper pipe, comes in a can, goes on with a brush?

-Kit
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« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2009, 07:26:49 am »

thanks Tinker , I have been meaning to get your advice on this but kept forgetting. Frylux it is, any suppliers in Sheffield?  By the way the Caswell plug and plate kits work fine on brass plating, jtst need to be careful of oxidation on the piece and the wand, and adjust the power supply accordingly.
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« Reply #15 on: March 19, 2009, 08:49:01 am »

Tinker, Sir!

Once again I must state my admiration. You are also a font of Knowledge. I had not previously been aware of the existence  of Fryolux Paint. I must add some to my inventory forth with. I have in the past found soldering to be troublesome on occasions, and this concoction sounds to be just the thing.

Thank You Sir.

Edward Josiah Razar Esq
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sidecar_jon
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« Reply #16 on: March 19, 2009, 09:29:21 am »

Will piping solder work? It's for copper pipe, comes in a can, goes on with a brush?

-Kit

I would certainly give it a go... the metal needs to be clean (brush wire wool etc) and the gap between bits of metal you want to fix small (it "wickes" in by capillary action)...
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SteamKit
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« Reply #17 on: March 19, 2009, 10:14:05 am »

Alright, and to note, that should have been 'piping flux'. I can't imagine solder that goes on with a brush, it'd be conductive glue. Anyway, thank you all, hopefully in a few days I'll have something nice made up.

-Kit
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von Corax
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« Reply #18 on: March 20, 2009, 02:28:27 am »

Alright, and to note, that should have been 'piping flux'. I can't imagine solder that goes on with a brush, it'd be conductive glue. Anyway, thank you all, hopefully in a few days I'll have something nice made up.

-Kit

I don't know about plumbing, but for electronics there is solder paste which is used with the really tiny surface-mount (SMD) components. The solder paste is applied to the board with a stencil, the components are positioned on top, and then the entire board is heated until the solder fuses.

Or something like that. I've never done anything with SMD components myself. (Heck, I can barely see most SMD components...)
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SteamKit
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« Reply #19 on: March 20, 2009, 04:26:39 am »

Oh! That's what you thought I've meant. I'm familiar with the solder paste (I'm in college for electrical engineering) and it really is a fun thing if you've got a rework oven, a hot air iron, or in the very least an extremely steady hand with an iron with an absolutely tiny point. It's neat stuff but I wouldn't try doing what I'm intending to do with this.....Right now I'm thinking I may make a brass stickman with a tophat and monocle....possibly with his arms bent to do something useful like hold my pocket watch.

-Kit
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Zwack
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« Reply #20 on: March 21, 2009, 04:19:00 pm »

Fryolux appears to be a UK product, you might want to look for "Tinning paints" in the US.  They're solder that is painted on and then heated to pre-tin parts.  The other option is "Solder paste" which is slightly thicker, and is intended for actual soldering rather than just pre-tinning.

A couple of products are Lead Free EnviroSafe tinning paint and Solder-MagicAction-Tin tinning paint. 

I have never used any of these types of products but I am wondering about finding a high temperature solder to solder some Brass for a project I have in mind.  (Looks like a Silver solder will be ideal for my uses... http://www.shorinternational.com/Solders.htm)

Z.
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Doctor When
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« Reply #21 on: March 27, 2009, 10:18:29 am »

I must get round to ordering some Fryolux paint soon, as it looks ideal for many of my needs... however, I'd still like to be able to do things with the vast collection of cogs and clock parts I seem to be accumulating.

Is the grade / composition of clock brass the same as, for example, modelling brass? Can it be soldered with Silver Solder? I'd like have a go at making some steampunk brooches or cufflinks and the like, and also possibly re-using some of the cogs to make things that actually work.

I've found that my trusty 25W electronics soldering iron can be used to solder to my modelling brass with regular flux-cored electronics solder, but it won't touch even the tiniest of cogs.

I've not used Silver Solder before, but it doesn't look too hard, so I might see if there's any "starter kits" out there and have a play. I'll post any useful tips I find out during the course of my experimentation!
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sidecar_jon
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« Reply #22 on: March 27, 2009, 03:24:34 pm »

A soldering iron isn't man enough to heat the bulky objects. You need a proper flame!.. and re-silver solder and brass. Well im sure you can but get lowest melting point silver solder you can, as brass melts or sags at far lower temperatures than copper. To get silver solder o work you really have to saturate the object so you will need an insulating mat and if possible a little hearth of bricks etc. And get the right Flux for the solder your using.
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Doctor When
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« Reply #23 on: March 27, 2009, 05:56:11 pm »

Cheers, Jon - I've got a couple of butane torches that should do the job, but as yet no thermal mat or heat-resistant bricks.

Are there any cheap & compact suggestions for the "dinner table craftsman" who doesn't have room for a proper workshop?
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Danbury Shakes
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« Reply #24 on: March 27, 2009, 07:26:22 pm »

Cheers, Jon - I've got a couple of butane torches that should do the job, but as yet no thermal mat or heat-resistant bricks.

Are there any cheap & compact suggestions for the "dinner table craftsman" who doesn't have room for a proper workshop?


It'll depend on how big an item you're soldering.  I sed to have a little table op jewellery setup soldering silver.  An Asbestos Substitute sheet as the soldering base
http://www.hswalsh.com/Millboard_Mat_.aspx?i=TA11&t=121

and using a charcoal block or asbestos substitute block to solder on.
http://www.hswalsh.com/Charcoal_Blocks_.aspx?i=TC28&c=1099
http://www.hswalsh.com/Supablox_.aspx?i=TS113&t=121

I was fluxing with borax
http://www.hswalsh.com/Borax_.aspx?i=TF241&c=360
http://www.hswalsh.com/Borax_Trays_.aspx?i=TB229&c=360
which meant rinding the cone in the dish with some water to get a smooth paste  - it bubbles alot and can push the pallions of solder out the way o I has an insulated steel point to push hem back.

For smaller pieces I sometimes used one of those small mini torches hat are refilled with lighter gas which are also good at caramelising food  Grin

http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=27919
http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=35518
http://www.hswalsh.com/Soldering_Torch_.aspx?i=TT385&c=369



The soldet I used was hard silver solder (i.e. high melting point) available in different grades from extra easy (lowest melting temp) to hard (highest).  If I was soldering several pieces together I would start on hard then move down a grade to make sure I dedn't melt the solder I had already put on.  This solder can also be used on copper and brass
http://www.hswalsh.com/itemdetail.aspx?i=TS966&c=387

Heating will cause oxidisation which would need alot of elbow grease to remove, insead you clean the pieces in a pickle (keep all iron avay from a pickle or anything pickled afterwards would have a coating of iron).  Pickle is traditionally sulphuric acid, but I used safety pickle
http://www.hswalsh.com/Safety_Pickle_.aspx?i=TP134&c=527
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