Introduction: Torch Brazed Bolt Can Creations

In the corner of the shop are two 5 gallon cans of miscellaneous bolts and hardware. Over the years extra hardware has accumulated in these two cans. The only attempt at organization was when the collection grew too large to fit in one can. Now they are loosely marked 'large' and 'small'. Their existence is justified by the hope rummaging through them will produce that one piece of hardware needed for the current project. Something that happens just about never! So it's off to the store to get what is needed..... where do the extras go? the bolt can, of course! ...and the cycle repeats.

Those orphaned hardware bits are perfect for making 'Bolt Can Creations'. You never really know what will come out of a pile of bolts. Haven't yet started a miscellaneous bolt can? Friends, neighbors and local shops are usually happy to give you at least a coffee can full of 'seed' bolts to get you started. My father gave me mine many years ago.

This isn't a tutorial on how to braze (or braze weld for the purists), there are already many excellent resources online if you need instruction.... it's great practice, though! What follows are some thoughts on how you can recycle things laying around the shop and make your own 'Bolt Can Creations'. But be forewarned- it's kind of addicting!

Disclaimer: Some of the tools and techniques shown in this instructable are my own adaptations and have not been tested or approved by any agencies and should therefore be viewed as experimental. Build and use at your own risk.

Per the instructables copyright notice, feel free to use this information non-commercially as long as this instructable is credited as the source.

Enjoy! -Bruce Francis


MISCELLANEOUS BOLT CAN. Full of bolts, screws, nuts, washers, cotter pins, gears, car parts, machinery parts, appliance parts, etc. People will start donating when they see what you're up to.

OXY-ACETYLENE RIG. Bottles, gauges, hose, etc.... medium to small for this class of work.

SAFETY GEAR. Goggles/glasses, light gloves, leather apron, etc. ANSI Z49.1-2012, 'Safety In Welding And Cutting', is a free download from the American Welding Society. Table 1 gives guidelines for eye protection.

OXY-ACETYLENE TIPS with orifices approximately .022", .028", .035" and .040" equivelant to Victor 000, 00, 0 and 1 will get you started. The 00/.028" is the most useful. Tip sizes are not standardized, consult your torch manufacturer's literature. See step 1 for my current setup.

TIP CLEANER. Folding case type with small file and wire reamers. The drill kind are too aggresive.

GAS SAVER for torch. Nice but not necessary, see my other instructable for a diy version.

IGNITER. Spark striker or small alcohol burner.

BRAZING ROD. Bare preferred. Coated if you must - remove most of the flux. 1/16" and 3/32" are the most useful.

POWDERED FLUX if using bare rods. Very little is needed, less than you might think! In some cases, none at all. Apply and clean up according to the instructions on the can.

HEAT RESISTANT SURFACE, even if your table is steel. The constant heating and cooling will eventually warp it. A sacrificial 1/4" steel plate at least 1 foot square set an inch or so above the table on some large nuts works well. When it warps, hammer it flat. Or use firebricks.

FIXTURES. Pliers, clamps, hemostats, magnets, and whatever else you can come up with to hold parts in place. TIP: Adding braze material to the part before attaching to the main piece can alleviate the need for a third hand.

WATER CONTAINER (coffee can) to cool tips before changing, or hot parts before handling.

WIRE BRUSH. Wheel type mounted on bench grinder or drill press for cleanup. Large and small hand brush for tight spots.

SPRAY SEALER. Clear enamel or lacquer. Or just let them rust...

Step 1: A Few Thoughts About Tools

Brazing rod comes 36 inches long. Cutting in half makes them easier to maneuver. Fuse the stubs to the next rod so nothing is wasted. Look closely at the rods in the photo for an example.

The 58mm round goggles in the photo usually come with shade 5 lenses. You'll probably find these too dark. 58mm round shade 3 lenses are available, though a little hard to find. Shade 3 glasses are readily available at most welding stores. Resist the urge to use sunglasses, they are not rated for this use.

In the shop are a couple of contractor torches, a jewelers torch, a couple of lampworking torches, and a drawer filled with various gauges, tips, handles, fittings and spares. The contractor torch will work but is really too big. The jewelers torch will work but is really too small. A little rummaging in the spares drawer turned up one that was just right. For more on my current setup, see step two.

Various fixtures, pliers and positioners will come and go depending on the project. The lineman's pliers have curved extension tips welded on - these are in constant use. For more on the positioner in the photo, see step three.

Step 2: My Current Torch Setup

A very old Victor 100 handle (equivalent to the Victor Performer) that had a damaged #2 welding tip. This was in my spares drawer, no idea where it came from. After a cleanup and leak check it worked fine. Problem was , none of my tips fit this handle.

In the spirit of a maker, I made a 'universal' style tip out of the damaged #2 welding tip with parts on hand. The damaged tapered section was cut off. A 5/16" x 1/4" brass compression adapter fit perfectly.

Non-tapered mig welding tips go in the 1/4" end of the compression reducer. These have been used by the blacksmith community in shop built forges/furnaces as orifices for many years.

The mig tips in the photo take .023, .030, .035, and .045 wire. Be aware the actual orifice size is slightly larger to allow mig wire to slide through easily. The .023 is the most used, with the .030 a close second.

Be sure the tip has a smooth area for the ferrule to clamp to or it will leak. Tighten the ferrule nuts enough to ensure there are no leaks. Run an appropriate size wire tip cleaner through them before using, they are a little rough out of the package.

The thread pitch of the 1/4" compression fitting is the same as the national 3A blowpipe. Tips for this torch are readily available. They work, but need a high temperature O-ring as a seal. The one in the photo came from the back cap of a tig torch. Specialty tips made from compression nuts can also be sealed this way. An added benefit is wrenchless tightening. A 1/4" compression cap protects the threads when not in use.

A foot operated gas saver is convenient and economical - see my other instructable. Add a 6'-0 'whip' section of 3/16" twin hose between the gas saver and torch for added maneuverability.

It really is simpler to buy off the shelf welding tips. They are tapered internally and probably flow a little better, although I haven't really noticed much difference. Regular gentle cleaning improves any tip.

Step 3: Positioner

Positioners are much used in fab shops to hold weldments in the best orientation for the work to be done. They range from small and simple to large and complex.

This one is quite simple, but just as effective for positioning small brazing projects. It only has three parts. An 8 pound steel ball from a 'Ball Mill' used in mining operations, a large speaker magnet, and a small speaker magnet.

Leaving one of the metal plates on the large magnet keeps it from sticking to the steel table making it easy to slide around. It's heavy enough that stability isn't an issue.

By the way, heat from the torch WILL shatter the magnets. Be careful or shield them with heavy leather from an old welding glove.

Step 4: Materials

Spread everything out.... The best way to visualize a piece is to see it in advance 'disassembled'. A large metal automotive drip pan works for me.

Don't over think it, just get started! A lot of the fun is not quite knowing what will come out of that jumbled pile of hardware.

Step 5: A Few Examples

A couple of these were planned in advance, most just spontaneously grew out of the bolt can, surprising even me in the process! Like I said at the start, it's kind of addictive. It's also therapeutic. Just what the doctor ordered.

'Spear Chucker' is the one that started it over 50 years ago. No finish, just 5 decades of patina. This was my very first arc welding project using a shiny new Lincoln Buzz Box given to me as a boy. Although not brazed, this instructable wouldn't be complete without him.

So what are you waiting for? There's no time like the present to start making your own 'Bolt Can Creations'!

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