How to TIG Weld Copper to Steel – Kevin Caron

How to TIG Weld Copper to Steel – Kevin Caron


(Text on screen): TIG Welding Copper to Steel, Kevin Caron, www.kevincaron.com The Voice: Hey, Kevin. What are you doing? Kevin Caron: You know, I’ve been making all these little videos on cutting and welding and working with metal and working with the machines and how to put stuff together and I thought, “Hey, let’s do an art video for once. Let’s talk about making something pretty.” This is a bell that I’ve been playing with. And it started out as a straight bell. And then I just cut it at an angle, and then turned all the different angles. Chamfered all the edges. And then as I welded them back together, I started getting a little twist going in there. And I thought, well, yeah, but that’s kind of boring. After all, I’ve just got these straight weld lines. I’m just going to grind them smooth. OK, I’ve got this real twisty little bell. That’s fine. But how about something different? Let’s do something weird. Something unusual. Well, I know I’ve played with welding copper to steel. You get a galvanic response out of it when it gets wet. The Voice: What does that mean: “A galvanic response”? Kevin Caron: That means you get a lot of corrosion. The two dissimilar metals, the steel and the copper, when they get wet they corrode very quickly right in that joint, and you get a big mess out of it. So, there’s a way around that. We’ll take about that later. But I thought, well, let me come back in and I’ll just grind away some of that weld that I put in and then I’ll come back and lay some copper in it. Because then I can get my sculpt nouveau patinas in there, because some of those only work on copper. It will rust metal, but they’ll color copper. That might be cool. It might mean I’ll get different colors. I’ll get color in the rust. I’ll get all kinds of weird little happenings going on there. Then when you’re all done, and it’s nice and dry (that’s the big secret: nice and dry; low humidity) then you seal it with your lacquers or with anything. Anything that you can put on there to help seal it to keep the moisture from getting into the joints where the two dissimilar metals are. Now, you’ve got to remember, this is for decoration only. This is not structural. The holding properties between the steel and the copper are not very good. So, you’ve got to have a good steel-to-steel weld under them, and then you just put this in as an inlay; a little decoration over the top. So, put your helmet on and we’ll weld some copper in here. So, I’m just running the; I’ve got the Miller 200 running. Just going to run a few little beads with the big welder through there so you can see what it looks like. You ready? The Voice: Let’s go. (welding) Kevin Caron: And this is where you learn why we use copper for our cooking utensils. Because, boy, that little piece of wire started getting hot really quick. Because the heat travels through that copper so well. Let me get these last little two. Then we’ll get the grinder and clean it up just a little bit. Get your helmet on. (welding) I’m sure you saw the; you can see there’s a little soot there, from the weld. And you probably noticed a little bit of green flash that you’re getting off the weld. Now, if you’re just welding steel, that’s a sure indication that your tip is contaminated. But when you’re just welding the copper, it’s just the copper itself burning off. That’s really the only difference. I mean, it welds exactly the same to steel. You use just about the same amperage. Use the same gas mix. Use the same torch. Use the same electrode. Use all the same motions and everything. It’s just that you’re welding two dissimilar metals together. Or, you can even just weld copper-to-copper. If you want to weld pipes together, you want to weld sculptures together. It works great, too. Let me get the grinder and I’ll clean this up just a little bit. Hang on to your ears. (grinding) You can kind of see what you’re getting now, you know? The nice, shiny steel? You’ve got the copper insert; you have copper inlay down inside there. You get that all ground in there nice and smooth. You have just that little touch of copper. So you come in with the copper patinas and get one color, you can come in with the steel patinas and get a different color. When you’re all done with it, you can cover it with a wax that helps seal things in, and cover it with the varnishes or with the lacquers to help seal it all and keep all the moisture out of it. The sky’s the limit anymore. You can do anything you want, guys. Go practice. I’ve got to go back to work. See you later. (Text on screen): Subscribe to See More Videos! See and hear more at KevinCaron.com.

44 Comments

  1. Hey Mary, what ya doin? Oh, sorry, got confused again… Cool technique. Certainly opens alot of doors for design! (Nice photography, Mary!) Thanks, guys.

  2. Art?!? YEA!!! Now you're talking.

    Is that welding or brazing? Regardless, it sounds like another awesome piece is in the works. Thanks for showing us!

  3. @VisorBlue It's welding, although TiG is comprable to brazing as it's essentially an electric flame; the techniques are very similar.

  4. And the hits just keep on coming…Thanks Kevin and Mary too! You've got a new student, that's for sure =)

  5. hi kevin. do you have any experience or knowledge with the multiplaz 2500 plasma welder at all?, just wondering if you've had the chance to use anything like this for your projects?. it looks like it would work well for welding different metals without having to worry about using any of the required gasses involved.

  6. Kevin, I'm new to tig and was trying to TIG weld inexpensive copper pipe that you get at the hardware store. I can solder it no problem but just can't TIG it no matter how hard I try. Any tips? Thanks again for all your videos. They're very enjoyable and informative. Greatly appreciated too.

  7. @floridarobot . I have a small fix it job at the studio and should have some copper left over to play with. I will let you know…..

  8. @kevincaron
    Thanks Kevin. To be a little more specific, I was trying to weld the sides of a 1/2" copper pipe to a smaller piece of copper tubing like a t . Not using the standard coupling connections on the copper tube. Good luck !

  9. nice kevin. I done this my first couple years. works real well with stainless and copper together also. Not sure what gas you are using so im assuming 100% argon. If you hav not tried it try a argon helium mix with copper. there is also a argon helium oxy mix but the argon/helium is better for copper

  10. YeMrRastismonkey …. Yeah, that is straight argon. I will have to try some mix next time. I have a small bottle of tri mix also. More playtime!!!!!!

  11. @Kevincaron….. Nice video! I love your metal art. You mentioned the galvanic metal response between cooper and steel when wet. What do you recommend as a "sealer" or "clear cost" for decorative pieces in my wife's garden? Everything I've found at home depot is varnish for woods and plastic. The spray can clear costs no matter how thick don't last at all. My stuff rusts quick! Any suggestions? Thank you.

  12. Continued from the below post:
    I meant to type "clear COAT""," not "costs". Darn typos!!!! Typing with an iPhone is tough!!!!

  13. @ColtDeltaElite10mm I know what you mean!! I also suffer from big finger/little button syndrome. As for a great clear coat, have you tried permalac? You can also do a clear coat powdercoat. I have also used Penetrol. Just spray it on and let it dry. I know it is for paint but it works great on clean steel also.

  14. Love your vids always intrusting things and great info on them (tip and tricks) what is the amperes u used their and what is the right amps to use on 1.6 mm pipe? thanks kev

  15. @danssv8 I think the amps in this video were in the 80 to 90 range. As for the pipe setting, I have never worked with that size sorry. Maybe someone else can chime in on this?? (Please!)

  16. Thanks mate for your kind and speedy reply, after welding the thin 1.6 mm stainless steel i played around and left the flow at about 8 L/min and set the amps to about 55 to 60 amps is ideal for it.love your cool video's, lot and lot of info, it's just great mate and thanks to your wife shooting this video she is just as great and sure she wil be teaching a couple a blokes a thing or two,thanks again

  17. Correct, get a really good root pass and then just a light pass with the copper. A clear coat over it to seal and "should" last for awhile.

  18. There was a root pass with steel. The copper overlay was just for accent color. I can use different types of patinas now on the copper and get different colors.

  19. You are right, I never did go there…. Must be getting older….

    About the only way I can see to get around galvanic corrosion would be to use a non-reactive sleeve between the two metals. Like a plastic or nylon bushing. I am really not the right guy to ask on this one. I have never need to do this in my work. Maybe someone else can chime in on this one?! Please!!

  20. You should consider silicone bronze excellent for sculptures grinds down nice and very flexable with that copper look that you want.
    Cheers

  21. Hey, Can this galvanic corrosion create holes in the joint when exposed to acid etching (same as water but faster)?
    And can I use flux on the copper wire for preventing corrosion?
    Thanks in advance, greets.

  22. Yes, you will get holes in the joint from the corrosion and the acid wash. Sometimes in a good way. Depending on how you want it to look. Takes lots of practice and just plain old fashion luck…

    As for using flux on the copper wire, you know, I never thought of trying that. Have to give it a shot and see what happens. Thanks for the suggestion….

  23. Well it's a number 10 but I have to agree with you on the glass over plastic. I have started using a regular lens and can see a lot better. The camera likes it also.

  24. I am making a Freddy Krueger glove from a nightmare on elm Street, the 2010 remake. The steel blades are welded to the copper in that movie, so for something like that, does it need to be structurally sound, or is this method okay?

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