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soldering steel? Answered

I am a sculptor and, if possible, would like to make simple bases for my work...ie a 3" x 3" steel plate with a verticle a 1/8" - 1/4" steel rod attached.  Is it possible to do this with soldering?   If not , would copper possibly work?


soldering steel is easy using flux and a hot soldering iron. first clean the surface with emery cloth and or brushing with undiluted Hydrochloric acid. then wet area with Zinc Chloride flux (you can make your own by dissolving some zinc metal into Hydrochloric acid until it stops effervescing. Remove the zinc) Using a hot gas or petrol soldering iron, (electric soldering irons won't be hot enough) apply the solder (50/50 tin/lead) rubbing in with the soldering iron onto the wet flux to tin the surface of the steel. The soldering iron needs to be tinned on the tip using a file to clean it then zinc chloride and 50/50 solder. For sculpturing use 60 lead 40 tin solder, using a blow lamp or butane torch, melt it on to the the tinned surface and mold it with a folded cotton cloth soaked with tallow (mutton fat), Hot 60/40 solder (plumbers wiping metal) will be plastic when the heat is right.

Be careful using the acid and use a suitable mask to avoid inhaling the fumes.

use a product from the manufacturar FRYOLUX, Its called solder paint, it will help solder most metals including steel plate, apply a small amount to the steel and heat with a small blowlamp with a pointed flame , when the paste melts at a fairly low temp. compared with brazing, it will tin the steel and you can add a special solder called plumbers metal to add some bulk to the joint.

Plumbers metal is a special alloy solder with a high antimoney content, it will melt but not run, push the melted solder close to the joint with just enough added heat to keept it molten. let it cool then file any excess away to leave a nice tight curve, the radias of a 5pence coin, if you overheat or play with it for too long the antimoney will run out and you are back to regular solder.

The drilling of the base and plugging in of the stem, as someone else suggested is a good idea and will provide most of the strength.

normal lead/tin solder is pretty much incompatible with steel. use brass formulations for "soldering" steel (brazing is soldering ftr)

Actually, normal lead/tin solder works fine on steel. The problem is that it's so much weaker than steel that it's not very useful for this app.

Klee27x says: "The problem is that it's so much weaker than steel that it's not very useful for this app."

Are you using a cruddy translator, or are you just a contrarian?

Incompatible is not the same as weaker than. If you don't care about strength, apparently lead/tin solder is fine.

Did you manage to fix your cruddy apologizator in these past few years, for klee27x? ;)

Well, "incompatible with steel" to me means that it will not bond to steel. It will, and I use it for joining steel parts where high strength is not needed. It might be "incompatible with this particular application," where the objective is to bond a 1/8" diameter rod to a larger sheet of steel and to hold up a bunch of other weight...  but it's not "incompatible with steel."

Seandogue says: "Are you using a cruddy translator, or are you just a contrarian?"

Do you have a tenuous grip on the English language, yourself? Or do you simply like to jump to conclusions so you can lash out at people with foreign-sounding names?

This topic is probably long dead...but...

Why not tap threads in your steel plates and then insert threaded steel pipes into your base instead/ This way you can easily take apart the pieces if needed. It will look 'cleaner' and probably hold the amount of weight you need to.

No need to take up welding unless that's what you really want to do.

You don't solder steel, you weld it. But you might consider asking a metal worker to knock a few up for you, it should be an easy job.
Copper you can solder, but it's expensive metal. Blow-torch, plumbing-type solder & flux.


Brazing is done on steel. It's basically the same thing as soldering. The only difference in the two terms is that brazing occurs at a higher temperature.

Brazing is useful for joining 2 pieces of different types of steel/metal, or when you don't need as strong a physical bond, and aesthetics/low-distortion are important.

You are right of course. I avoided mentioning brazing because doing it is of a similar level of investment / difficulty to welding. One metal worker with some scrap could knock these up in a few minutes.


At the risk of sounding like a contrarian using a bad translator, I will make a few points of disagreement.

In terms of money, brazing requires only a torch, some flux, and a brazing stick. In terms of time, it is generally considered easier to master brazing versus welding.

I only point this out because brazing might actually be the very best process for this particular application. Depending on the thickness of the base plate used, (probably pretty thin if he is planning to attach such a skinny rod), welding could warp the base.  Even if this isn't a problem, a good brazing joint will produce a very neat filet that might be considered aesthetically superior to a weld or epoxy. Despite these potential advantages, some of the responses completely write off brazing as an option.

I wouldn't disagree with your comment on brazing, I just don't think the sculptor wants to got to that much trouble to make some stands.


You could use epoxy.  The are several epoxy putties that are much stronger than soldering would be.  Look for them in an auto parts shop.

You know how JB Weld labels its two parts as "steel" and "hardener?" I always thought that was a bunch of crap. Then one day I was applying the stuff to a magnet. Yep, the "steel" part is ferromagnetic. :)

You CAN solder steel. Brazing is better, though. It's basically a higher temperature type of solder with stronger physical properties. It contains a fair bit of silver. Put flux on the joint, torch it, and feed your silver solder into the joint.

Epoxy won't be very strong, nor aesthetic IMO, compared to brazing.

Wow, I never thought of that....I'll give it a try.  Thank you!!!

I apprenticed a master navajo silversmith where i learned about jeweler's solder.  You can but a lower grade of this around 30% to 45% made with a tin base.  I used it a lot in my tinkering, and found that it can withstand a lot of abuse.  It cost roughly $20 for about 6 feet, and can be melted with propane or better, mapp gas.  A good websight to check out is www.thunderbirdsupply.com

You will need to get flux with it, but they sell that too.  Also its a good place to find copper nickle silver and brass.  Hope this helps you out.

If you prep and polish the base, then drill a hole the same size as the end of the rod. Put the rod in the hole and tap down from the bottom for a snug fit. Flip it back over, flux, solder, and polish again. With very little practice you can get a very nice fluid curved transition from the rod to the base. It's all about materials and temperature. Too cold and it will not stick right. Too hot and you can discolor, melt, or destroy. You will quickly learn that by eye.
You can solder steel. That how "tin" cans and a LOT of stuff is/used to be  made. Simply put, with welding you melt everything together, with solder you glue them together with melted metal, but the parts themselves.dont melt. Good luck, and make us an instructable on it.

Thank you so much, Jim!  I have never worked with metal before and have never done soldering.  Can you tell what I use to polish the base....steel wool, high grade sandpaper, possibly wet?   Then I need to learn about flux and experiment with soldering.  But at least I now know it's possible.  I'll let you know when I get it figured out.


use a cloth/felt/cotton wheel on a bench grinder, or even a dremel, and rouge. If you are US, they sell the stuff in LOwes and those places. Go look in the tools and fimd the grinder wheels, you will see sewn cloth wheels there also, and within a few feet will be tubes of polishing compound that will give you a fimish ranging from nice to a damned good mirror. They make little bitty cloth polishing wheels for dremels, and some things in between. You can create a variety of finishes and effects. I did things like this with my ex, she did the art and I did "support" work.
I do not like epoxy for this work, it is easy to do, hard to make it look nice. Good luck.

Thanks so much, Jim.  I do have a Dremel with a small polishing wheel.  I'll practice with that.  But I went to Denver yesterday to get the supplies from a steel place.  They cut everything, then sent me to a welder who is going to weld it for a nominal fee.  So at least that saves the soldering part!

I'd be interested in seeing photos of the tools you use, as you mentioned in your email today.

Thanks again for all of your help!


Thanks so much for you help....I appreciate it!!



8 years ago

Sure. Prep the surfaces, use flux, the right solder, and a torch. I have used my kitchen micro butane for that and creme brulee in the same evening.