Welding solves many problems…
It is a great method to restore broken items. It is also good when you are building metal projects that can’t be joined together in any other way without adding to your costs. With practice, welding is secure, strong, and durable.
But how is welding when you do not have a lot of space to work in and your only tool is a soldering iron? The answer to that question remains to be seen and all you need to do is continue reading our article. It has the information you need if you want to weld with a soldering iron.
Soldering is not the same as welding
The two activities look similar but there is a world of difference between them. First, welding is done to melt heavy metals together to form a very solid joint that can handle lots of weight and stress.
Usually, soldering it just attaches metal wires to other light metals so you have a solid electrical connection. Normally, soldering is not meant for heavy metals or a lot of stress.
Keep in mind that the solder used in connecting metal or wires together is not the same as glue. The solder is not made for joining mechanical pieces together and is not strong enough to form a strong welded bond many metal pieces need.
Can you weld with a soldering iron?
This is a difficult question to answer as almost everyone talks about using solder as the weld material. It is doubtful that you will find a soldering iron that will get hot enough to handle most metals and melt them together.
Smaller metals like tin or those used for stain glass will be okay for the soldering iron as well as the different precious metals like gold and silver. If you are talking about welding in the strictest sense then the answer is going to maybe.
A lot will depend on the type of metals being used, their melting point, and if the soldering iron can get hot enough. Forget about welding thick heavy metal pieces together as the soldering iron is not strong enough to handle that task.
3 Steps when getting ready to use your soldering iron
It is important that you take the time to do these three steps. They help you do a professional job and keep impurities from ruining your effort and wasting your time. Take your time and do these steps correctly so you do not have to go back and redo them.
- Cleaning— your soldering iron tip has to be absolutely clean. You cannot afford to leave any impurities on it when you get ready to work with metals. If you don’t clean well oxidation occurs and can slow your work down.
- Tinning— this is a fancy word for putting a light coat of solder on your tip. When you do this step, you see how fast the solder will melt and provides you with a coat that makes soldering smoother and better to control
- Wetting– this is the test portion of the process and shows you if you did the cleaning and tinning steps correctly. All wetting does is create a little melted meta bridge between the tip and the object you are welding.
Soldering iron welding specifications
Different tasks require different temperatures and solder to complete them. Here is a brief table on what you need to use when doing those different tasks. It just gives you an idea so you are aware that all tasks are not the same:
|Electrical connections||0.7% copper & 99.3% tin||440 degrees F|
|Plumbing connections||3.0% copper & 97.0% tin||400 degrees F|
|Jewelry connections||3% zinc, 21% copper & 76% silver||1425 degrees F|
Different tasks require that the soldering iron is capable of reaching high temperatures. Sometimes the pencil soldering iron is not going to get hot enough and you should use a soldering system, soldering station, or a soldering gun to handle the workload.
Soldering or welding cast iron
This is one metal that you may be able ‘weld’ together but you still have to use solder to get the job done. Here are the tools and steps needed to join two pieces of cast iron together
- Heat- 250 to 650 degrees F
- Cleaning- isopropyl solvent, bronze brush & a rag
- Materials- cast iron compatible solder and flux
- Heat source- soldering iron capable of producing such heat or a propane torch
- Safety gear- goggles, gloves, and heat resistant apron
- Security- clamps
Step #1: Clean the cast iron with the solvent, and rag. If there is grease oil or other hard to get off grime on the metal using the bronze brush. You can use a steel one as well.
Step #2: Put on your safety gear and heat the cast iron. Then clean it again with the flux
Step #3: now it is time to position the cast iron pieces where you want them and then clamp them in place so they do not move. Use your iron or torch to heat the seam and then apply a bead of solder to that seam
Step #4: Continue to apply heat to the cast iron until the solder changes color and eventually fills the seam. Do not apply direct heat to the solder, use indirect heat only.
Step #5: Let the cast iron pieces cool completely before removing the clamps. Inspect your work to see if the weld took hold
Some final words
Welding with a soldering iron in the strictest sense is almost impossible to do. The irons just do not get hot enough to melt the metal together. Normally, if you want to do normal welding you have to go to a blow torch or an acetylene tank to get the job done right.
But lighter metals with a lower melting point may be done using the right soldering iron. You may still need to use flux and solder but at least you will get a solid connection.