A Craft/soldering question

edselpdxMay 17, 2006

OK... please don't blow me out of the water for asking this here, but I didn't really find a better forum to ask on.... I am NOT a metal work person. I don't own any kind of welder, but it does tempt me, you know...

What I want to do: I want to use a store bought metal trellis or arbor and embellish it with some "found" metal objects like silverware, springs, locks, old metal tools, etc. These objects would not be structural in any way, just "jewelry" for the main structural arbor or trellis that is already (theoretically) structurally sound.

What is the easiest way for me to do this? Do I now have an excuse to go take that welding class at the community college, or can I solder these things on? I have soldered in the (distant) past... things like model railroad tracks. Any soldering recommendations--it's been a while for me? what solder, what kind of soldering iron? ?Welding?

The piece will be done with 4th graders (and I would do the soldering or welding (imagine expressions of fear on my face), maybe with some observers/helpers. The kids will also be providing glass beaded wire to wrap some of the piece with... I'm picturing an arbor over a walkway embellished with bits of recycled "found" metal bits and glass beaded wire. This will be auctioned off in our spring auction as the class project to raise money for our (public) school.

I have the summer and fall to come up with a prototype and practice so I don't look like an idiot in front of all the 9 and 10 yr olds next winter. My daughter will be the guinea pig to help me see if this will work. I appreciate any help or advice you can give me.

Thanks... Sonya

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marknmt

Hi Sonya- sounds like a project the kids could get into.

Here's your difficulty: soldering to the arbor would be problematic because the mass of metal would carry off heat faster than the soldering iron or propane torch could pour it on. So you need a heat source that can supply a lot of concentrated heat. Plumbers who work with copper pipe use those little butane/oxygen torches, I think, because they get much hotter than propane. That would probably work on your arbor. (Of course, any heat source is going to blister paint, etc., so make sure you have good ventilation.) And some stuff is just not going to solder for you. Aluminum, for example, will form an oxidation layer as it approaches soldering heat, and a bond will not form. I doubt a soldering iron would work unless it were a very big and heavy one.

You might consider some of the products such as JD Weld, that glue things together. These actually work, sometimes surprisingly well.

Be sure to clean surfaces with sandpaper or some such, make sure they contact each other well, and have a way to hold them in place while you heat both pieces enough to melt your acid-core solder. When both pieces are hot touch the solder to the point where the pieces join and the flux will melt and flow into the joint and the solder will immediately follow it. Remove the heat, and allow to cool.Have fun! It sounds like a great project for kids.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2006 at 5:08PM
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edselpdx

Thanks for the ideas. As I said...I've got this summer to work out the issues. I do think I'll look into JD Weld or something similar and see how that holds up. Appreciate your help. Maybe NEXT summer I'll take that welding course...

    Bookmark   May 19, 2006 at 1:16AM
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