to Solder Copper Pipe
By Contractor Mike
The tools you need are as follows:
· A propane torch and propane or MAP gas
· A 1-pound roll of solder (not the small
· A tin of paste flux and flux brush
· A 1/2” steel bottle brush (for
· Fine sand paper (or fine steel wool -
preferred for use with new copper)
· There are "torch kits" with
all of the above included, except fine steel wool
· A 6-inch long tube cutter. Sure, a hacksaw
will work, but then you have to smooth out (sometimes
re-crimp) the rough edges. Lets do it right!
· One 1/2” copper T's, eight 1/2” copper
elbows, and 5-feet of 1/2” Type-L copper
pipe (the thick-wall, not the thin-wall)
· A pair of vise-grips
· Cotton gloves
· Two cotton cloth rags (not paper towels)
· A bucket of water
· A fire extinguisher (to be safe)
Four of the copper elbows and most of the pipe
are for practice.
Four Elbows Make a Plug
For practice, you are going to make a square copper
plug, 4" on a side, out of 1) four of your
eight copper elbows, and 2) four pieces of copper
pipe, each 3" long. If you can do this without
that "unless" part above coming into
play, then the actual job in the garage will be
Put on your cotton gloves. Cut off four 3-inch
pieces of copper with your tube cutter. Notice
how the steel rollers kept the ends from being
jagged, but the inside the ends are still sharp.
Feel it with your fingers. Oh, but you can't because
you have gloves on!
Even though the copper pipe is brand new, it still
has a micro-thin coating of tarnish that needs
to be cleaned prior to soldering. Using the steel
wool, clean 1-inch on both ends of all four little
pipe pieces until it's all bright and shiny. Set
the pieces on your clean cloth rag.
Clean out the insides of your four elbows with
the bottle brush. A half-dozen full turns will
do. Blow out the fittings after each use of the
bottle brush. Set the pieces on the rag.
Contractor Mike was a General Building
Contractor for nearly twenty years in Los Angeles
and is now a produced playwright.