Dumb, dumber, dumberest questions

Heya, I have some metal noob questions. I am building a giga terrarium using 1/2" copper pipes and have managed to youtube teach myself how to solder but there are pieces that will need greater strength. I am only using the copper pipe structurally, it will not have water in it.

  1. How do you weld copper and is it easy?
    1.a. Can you weld on top of pipes that are soldered?
  2. What is needed to get certed to do this myself
  3. Anyone want to do it for $? Doesn’t need to be pretty, just strong.

Tyia!

Pic attached

So copper soldered is pretty strong. However, if you add vibration to the mix it will break at the joint. You can braze copper using a variety of different brazing rods. I’d personally go for a braze as it’s pretty strong. I’d also use 15% sil-fos brazing rod. If the joint is close to the solder joint, you will need to heat sink it. Or do the soldering last.

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Thanks Tim, I do agree that the solder is pretty strong but there are places like the top of the pyramid and where the pyramid connects to the base that I think will need some extra reinforcing because it does not have the mechanical lock that a fitting provides. Probably just some spot welds but then I have no earthly idea what I am doing. ;-). Is there equipment at MS that can be used to braze it and do I need to be signed off on it?

Agree with Tim, braze it. It will bend before the joint breaks - no appreciable gain in strength, IMO, over welding. Copper is weldable if you’re a very skilled welder and have worked with copper. It transfers heat extremely fast which makes it hard to weld.

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Could you bend some smaller diameter stuff (to the acute angles you need), insert it into those pipes, then solder it in?

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Maybe but then that smaller pipe would still need to be attached. The thing im worried about is that attachment point. Tried to get some better pics of it. I used a file to make the pipe butt up to the corner.

Use gussets.

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What I’m saying is you could make your own internal couplers to any angle you want. Soldering would be easy and capillary action would suck the solder right into the joints.

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What Charles said. As I interpret "gussets’ (from the seamstress perspective) cut triangles of copper sheet that will fit in your top triangle. Might be easier to use a cardboard pattern, and bend the sheet so that it’s only got the solder spots where it attaches to your frame. Or, you could bend some more of your copper pipe to fit, oh… about 4-5 inches down, and solder on a brace there horizontally. Or just cut pieces, if you don’t want to bend.

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The gussets make sense and seem easy enough to do. does anyone have any opinions about solder holding the gussets? think it will be strong enough? It will have acrylic sheet glazing which may give it additional strength but want to make sure that it won’t fall apart if it is ever moved.

You seem open to alternatives and materials…? If so, consider 3D printing joint connectors:

There’s some stuff/ideas/inspiration out on the Pint if you are interested, too:

Again, I’d recommend brazing it. I’ll give you a couple sticks of 15% sil-fos if you’d like. If you want to use 45% silver brazing for doing dissimilar metals, I’ll give you a stick of that.

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TIG? … … … (question)

Mr. Tig says “ain’t no hill for a stepper…with helium…”


I like Tim’s suggestion of brazing/silver soldering (like solder, but slightly hotter and with heavier-duty materials)

technically doable, our current TIG setup with 100% Argon and the Dynasty 280 is plenty to do thin-wall copper stuff like he’s talking. The problem is the skill to do it and annealing it afterwards to make sure it doesn’t get too stiff.

If anyone remembers, I welded some 1/2" copper water pipe to itself using some 12GA electrical wire (pureish copper) and use that to show what TIG could do for my TIG classes in the before times.

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Yeah I saw the ready made Pyramid connectors which while expensive (aesthetically, I can only do the copper on copper) would work for this project but I have lofty ideals about creating even more complex shapes like a hexagram or even octagon base so I am really trying to teach myself the skill in preparation for down the road. This pyramid shape was supposed to be the easy one. LOL

Thanks Tim, I’m down to try that and appreciate the sticks. I really want all the metals to be copper so the 15 should work, I think. Are you going to be around this weekend?

Possibly, I’m waiting to see if I have to go in tomorrow.

Just got my call in for work tomorrow(today). Not sure on time, that all depends on how the job goes. A Simple job there Tuesday evening turned into an all nighter… It takes a while to fill water in an 18” pipe from a basement to the 40th floor.

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Oh wow. I bet. Thanks for the heads up Tim. I did some youtubbing on brazing last night. Seems just like soldering only highrr temps and no solder. That looks lile the way to go. Any idea what kind of torches do we have at MS? Do we have acetaline?