A quick guide to soldering brass

materials and tools for soldering

I’ve finally managed to update my guide to soldering in the Methods section and I’ve now included photos. Some of these come from my book Model-making: Materials and Methods from 2008 and were taken by Astrid Baerndal. This guide focuses on soldering small constructions, rather than the more common electrical soldering which almost all of the info you’ll find on the subject deals with. As you will see, ‘constructional’ soldering involves some differences in method; the materials are different and quite often stronger tools are needed. For the moment I’ve confined this guide to simple soldering ‘on the flat’ and more advanced methods of assembling 3D constructions will follow.

What is soldering useful for?

For model forms which are too thin to make to proper scale in other materials such as card, wood or plastic .. for example metal bed frames or railings. Occasionally, for bendable metal armatures ..e.g. for figures or trees .. allowing for some careful repositioning. Soldering does not give nearly as strong a bond as welding, and the joints can’t be put under much stress, but there is no reason why properly soldered items shouldn’t last for a long time if cared for.

Most of my teaching work focuses on making 1:25 scale models .. so 0.8mm round brass rod is a convenient thickness for representing slender railings or special items such as the brass bed frame shown below. This bed frame is mainly 0.8mm, but with 1mm at the corners. Most of the 40W soldering irons I’ve tried have had just enough heat output to manage thicker rods .. up to 2mm, the size of standard scaffolding at 1:25 scale.

soldered brass bed frame on drawing

What metals can be soldered?

One of the reasons why I’m updating my soldering info now is that I’ve discovered some new things which call into question what I’ve always been told .. that brass is the only easy option, or at least the most reliable one. I still agree that brass could be the most consistent and the least complicated .. followed by copper, if it’s thin. These are also the two most available from craft or hobby shops in wire, rod or thin sheet form. But I have found ‘gold’ paperclips  to be just as easy and I always assumed this was due to a brass coating ..now I’m not so sure that’s the reason. For example I recently tried silver paperclips, with the same results! I’m looking into other possibilities at the moment and I will update the info here once I’m sure of it. I also found that the ‘welded wire mesh’ commonly available nowadays solders very well .. when I know I tried it years ago with little success! This common mesh is galvanised steel i.e. steel which has been coated with zinc. Apparently paperclips are also made of galvanised steel as a rule, so there may be a connection here.

The simple answer for the moment is that brass is guaranteed to work well, it’s available and reasonably cheap. Other metals such as aluminium or regular steel can be soldered, but require special solder and flux and may need stronger equipment. But if you really want to know what else is possible, just give it a go ..and let me know what you find out!

How soldering works

The metal parts to be joined are heated with the tip of the iron so that they will be hot enough to melt the soft metal solder applied to them. It is important for a lasting joint that the metal itself melts the solder in this way rather than melting solder onto the iron tip and transferring to the joint because this will achieve only a very weak attachment. One could think of it as a form of ‘hot-melt’ gluing, but using a low-melt metal in place of glue sticks and where the material itself has to melt the glue.

soldering in progress

In the photo above I’ve placed the tip of the soldering iron so that it’s touching both pieces of brass rod and as close to the joint as possible. Once this area is hot enough the end of the solder wire just needs to be touched into the joint and a little of it should instantly melt. The iron should be kept in place just long enough to allow the now liquid solder to infiltrate the joint properly .. i.e. not just covering the top but also running to the other side.

If you’re familiar with ‘constructional’ soldering you may ask why there’s something important missing from the above setup .. there’s no sign of any flux applied to the joint. This was purely a demonstration setup and the iron wasn’t even on .. I wanted the joints and the position of the soldering tip to show as clearly as possible. I’ll explain the importance of flux a little further on.

What is needed to do it?

See the end section for recommendations on specific makes, suppliers and price-guidance for the following list:

A soldering iron of at least 30W strength .. 40W better! .. preferably with a flat ‘chisel’ like tip, known as the bit. This means one can press down for maximum contact with the metal surfaces. However, the majority of soldering irons available are supplied with round ‘pencil’ like bits. As some of the older photos here will show, a standard ‘pencil’ bit will work if the iron has a strong enough wattage to generate enough heat, but over the years I’ve found that a flat bit can help a lot more especially when soldering thicker rods! You will also find that the majority of soldering irons on offer are too weak to tackle metal of any thickness beyond a small fraction of a millimetre .. because most are designed for soldering fine circuit connections. These don’t need to be strong .. they’re commonly around 18-25W. A higher wattage such as 40W doesn’t necessarily mean that the iron will reach higher temperatures .. just that it will have more strength to sustain the heat needed for longer. This is important since thicker pieces of metal will conduct the heat away very quickly.

All this makes the search for the right soldering iron and the price options just a little more involved .. but unfortunately there are further things to look out for. Look at the three irons compared below:

At the top is my old Draper model K40P .. 40W/240V .. which came with a ‘chisel’ bit and has worked very reliably for many years now. Notice the screw head at the end of the shaft which means that the soldering bit can be easily extended or removed just by loosening it. The bit supplied with the Draper is about twice as long as what you can see sticking out, which means that there’s plenty to extend as it wears away. Underneath is the iron from the ‘Parkside Soldering Station’, a cheap offer from Lidl a couple of years ago and a peculiar 48W! This iron works reasonably well in terms of heat output and the integrated stand makes it comfortable to use .. but .. the soldering bit is the ‘screw in’ type, and very short .. so short that it’s impossible to press the bit flat against metal without the shaft getting in the way. Unfortunately a rather careless design .. making it useless if you need any control! The third iron shown is a 40W/220V from Silverline, who make fairly inexpensive but often reliable tools. This comes with a ‘pencil’ bit, which is not the best to have .. but the heat output is good, the shaft is slender, and the bit supplied can be extended (the locking screw is not visible in this photo) for more control. This has worked reasonably well so far during our soldering workshops.

soldering bits compared

The type below could also be a good option .. although angled bits are not very common. I found this ‘unbranded’ iron in a £-shop and it has worked very well for a number of years. Perhaps it goes without saying though .. one does need to be extra cautious when using cheap, unbranded electrical goods! Really, if you don’t know how to test the electrical safety or know someone who can, it’s safer to leave well alone!

unbranded soldering iron from a pound-shop

To sum up .. get a recognised brand 40W iron with a relatively slender shaft, a ‘chisel’ bit and/or the option of changing easily by means of a simple screw-locking mechanism, and you can’t go wrong! If possible check that the bit provided is long enough to be extended if need be.

A stand (sometimes supplied with the iron) is essential, both to hold the hot point off the work surface when not in use and to secure the tool in one position on the table. Unfortunately the flimsy sheet-metal ‘stands’ most often supplied never manage the latter! There seems to have been a fairly universal agreement that soldering irons should all have just a little over 1.3 metres of rather inflexible cord . This is not long enough to allow the soldering iron to stay on a work-table without some pull from the cord, unless one has a handy power socket ‘kitchen style’ at worktop height. In short .. the iron will move around a lot, independent of one’s awareness or control, which is worrying considering it can inflict a lot of pain! There’s a cheap solution, shown below, which is to tape whatever ‘stand’ you have to the table. Here I’ve improvised a perfectly adequate stand out of welded wire mesh.

improvised soldering iron stand made from welded wire mesh

Or a more elegant solution is to buy a separate stand unit. This one below is from Antex and costs around £6 .. more on prices later. These stands are weighted, and usually have a sponge attached which must be dampened if used for wiping the iron while working.

Antex soldering iron stand

Solder A soft metal alloy wire which melts on contact with heat to form the ‘glue’ which makes the bond. Up to recent times the standard type was 60%tin-40%lead but now there are many lead-free alloys available. Also common now are ‘multicore’ solders with built-in flux. But I have to say honestly that I’ve had consistently better results over the years using an old-fashioned tin/lead solder and a separate flux.

Flux A liquid or paste which is applied to the joint just prior to soldering and which assists the solder to fuse properly with the metal by preventing the metal surface from oxidising. The flux evaporates as soon as the metal gets hot.

Steel wool or fine emery paper/cloth to clean the metal before soldering. It will be easier to wipe rods clean with fine-gauge steel wool but emery or ‘wet/dry’ paper will also work.

A damp sponge, steel wool or metal files to clean the soldering bit while working. This needs to be done once the iron is hot, but it is not enough just to do it once at the beginning of a session. The hot bit of the iron will blacken again within a minute, so to prevent build-up of this oxidation the cleaning needs to be repeated at least each time the iron is picked up again. This has nothing to do with cleanliness! .. a thick layer of oxidation will prevent much of the heat transferring from the bit to the brass.

Kapa-line foamboard or heavy card on which to mount the template drawing

Caution note: Kapa-line (polyurethane) foamboard is suggested because it is a perfect insulator (will not conduct heat away from the metal) and polyurethane foam resists heat to an extent. Standard (polystyrene) foamboard is not suitable .. this melts too easily! If soldering is done properly the paper covering on the Kapa-line foamboard will scorch but there is little danger of fire or burning of the foam. However, proper care must always be taken! Over almost 10 years of conducting workshops we have experienced nothing more than routine paper scorching .. but this is partly because we, and the people taking part, have always been vigilant! Soldering irons must never be left on when not in use for long periods and must be kept well away from flammable materials.

Spraymount for mounting the drawn template onto the foamboard. I normally use the permanent ‘PhotoMount’ version from 3M.

Masking tape for fixing cut metal to template. The tape will normally resist the heat sufficiently to secure pieces while soldering but the glue softens and in cases where extra time is taken or areas redone these fixings can become very loose and may need to be replaced. Understandably ‘Sellotape’ is not an option because it will melt!

Scalpel (adequate to nick a groove thin brass) or hacksaw for thicker rods. I keep some old scalpel blades for this and I’ve found nicking/snapping brass rod up to 2mm diameter fairly easy.

Also pliers, wire snippers and metal files .. as/when needed.

A workplace with good ventilation! This is essential if you are using a traditional tin/lead solder. In addition, flux will burn off in the process and the fumes can be harmful if allowed to build up or stay around.

Detergent to thoroughly clean work afterwards. The flux component is corrosive and it will continue to eat the metal away if left.


Draw up the form to be soldered on paper ( I recommend drawing 1:10 first then reducing 40% for 1:25 if working in this small scale ). Copy this and spraymount to foamboard or flat card. This will be the soldering template. I’ve designed the one below so that I can make use of the curved parts of paper clips.

copy of drawing spraymounted to foamboard as soldering template

Clean metal thoroughly with steel wool before cutting small lengths, even if the rod is newly-bought. Brass rod is given a coating to stop it tarnishing too quickly, and this will interfere with the adhesion of the solder if it’s left on. Rubbing with a fine steel wool is the most convenient method, though ‘wet/dry’ or emery cloth will also work.

cleaning brass rod with steel wool

Cut metal pieces to fit and use thin strips of masking tape to secure them in place on the template. Metal edges must fit to touch, so that heat travels. Luckily thin brass rod is surprisingly easy to cut with a scalpel .. just by carefully rolling the blade across it to make a fine groove and then snapping! With this method one can be very precise as to where one cuts. A small metal file such as the one below will be useful for making fine adjustments to the lengths if need be.

pieces of brass being assembled on a railing template

Usually, and especially in the case of railings, quite a number of pieces are needed which have to be precisely the same length .. because most often they have to fit between two horizontals. The best method of achieving this is to make a ‘cutting jig’ .. an ‘L’ shaped piece of card or plastic which serves as a guide for the scalpel blade as shown below.

using a guide to help cutting pieces of brass the same length

Switch the iron on and allow to heat up for a few minutes. Make sure that the iron ‘bit’ (the tip that gets hot) is clean. If not, wipe on damp sponge or steel wool, or use metal file. Some model-makers recommend ‘tinning’ the iron at this point (dipping the very end of the bit in flux and then applying a little solder to it). This may help the heat-flow to the metal if there are problems, but it may not be necessary.

applying flux to a joint

I use a small, old paintbrush to put a little of the flux (whether paste or liquid) onto the joint. I prefer to do this one joint at a time, because if more are fluxed in close proximity the flux on these will evaporate as the first joint is being heated. It may not matter .. it’s just become a habit.

After applying the flux touch the soldering iron bit as near as possible next to the joint, trying to touch both (or at least more than one) of the metal parts. Hold there for a few seconds .. a good initial sign is if the flux immediately start to smoke, meaning that the brass is getting hot enough. If nothing appears to happen try adjusting the angle of the iron for better contact but don’t take the iron away! With the other hand gently touch the solder wire to the joint. A little solder should melt fairly instantly and hopefully run into the joint. Use as little as possible ..though this will take some practise! Some patience may be needed to hold the iron relentlessly in place, or fine-tune the angle, until the solder decides to melt. It’s actually very difficult to describe exactly what leads to a ‘successful’ soldered joint in every case. It has to be tried, and if something works, looks right and feels strong ..you’ll establish a ‘feeling’ for what you did to achieve it after some trial-and-error and a lot of repetition!

soldering in progress

When all joints are done the work can be removed from the template almost immediately .. fine-gauge pieces like this will cool very quickly. The work should then be cleaned carefully ( either with warm running water, toothbrush and detergent .. or the dry method, using steel wool ) to remove remaining flux. If left on this will continue to eat away at the metal.

portion of soldered brass railing cleaned up

I was fairly happy with this result .. I’d managed to keep the bits of brass rod reasonably straight while soldering them. I did have to work on this piece a bit though, apart from thoroughly cleaning up with steel wool. It can often be very difficult to be as minimal as one would like with the solder, and a number of the joints were far too ‘swollen’ looking. Solder is so soft that it can be shaved away with the tip of a scalpel blade, or one can use needle files like the one above to remove the excess. Soldering ‘kits’ often have a desoldering pump thrown in, which is like a spring-loaded syringe. The idea is that excess solder can be quickly sucked away while it is still liquid. I’ve yet to try one of these myself ..mainly because at that point I don’t want to risk knocking the brass pieces out of alignment!

Why is brass the easiest to work with?

Brass is an alloy ..in this case a mixture of copper and zinc. The zinc gives brass a tougher surface and more rigidity than copper, but also makes it less malleable, more brittle. Brass rod is strong enough to maintain its shape and straightness well, but soft enough to be easily cut with hand-tools. For these reasons it is one of the most available metals in a wide variety of fine-scale forms. Copper is softer and can be worked even more easily, but rods of around 1mm thickness would deform too easily and have much less structural rigidity. In addition, copper is an excellent conductor, which means that standard soldering irons would struggle to keep up with the constant heat loss from the joint area.

closeup of different soldering joints

Above is a close-up showing three common types of joint. .. spot, lap and butt..! Underneath are two small pieces of very thin ..0.1mm.. brass sheet which have been attached by melting spots of solder. To the right is the simple form which I have illustrated so far, where two straight pieces just ‘butt’ against each other. Below to the left is the strongest form of joint, where a small length of one piece runs against or ‘overlaps’ the other.


If the solder is not melting freely on contact with the heated joint or running off in little beads it can mean that either: ..it may be the wrong kind of solder; the joint is not fluxed or there is not enough; the iron may not be hot enough yet, or strong enough for the work; the bit may need cleaning; the tip shape is not making enough contact or close enough to both pieces of metal …

If all else fails assist the heat-flow either by ‘tinning’ the iron as some recommend or touching the iron tip practically over the joint, melting solder directly on the tip to fall on the joint.

An alternative method

As I’ve suggested, it can be very difficult to keep the pieces of brass exactly where they should be because the masking tape loosens a little as the metal gets hot. If the solder melts and fills the joint quickly this is no problem, but for the various reasons listed this often takes longer. The photo below illustrates a method which I’m far happier with, and which produces far better looking results .. but it’s only worth spending the extra time if the set-up is to be used more than once.

a soldering jig created for a ladder form in brass

For this soldering jig I’ve used some tough ‘greyboard’, a recycled cardboard, of the same thickness as the 1mm rod chosen for the ladder form. I’ve cut and glued a complete template of it onto another cardboard base so that the individual brass pieces lie snuggly in these slots.  I’ve used this jig about 4 times so far and I don’t see why it shouldn’t last for more.


Selected suppliers and prices

Brass rod always in straight lengths, never as roll. Cheaper in 1m lengths rather than 300mm. e.g. 4D prices for 1m lengths (April 2015) 0.8mm £0.79, 1mm £0.98, 2mm £1.25

An alternative source is EMA Model Supplies .. for 91cm lengths 0.8mm £0.67, 1.6mm £1.27 .. but choice of thicknesses is very limited.

Solder Silverline 60:40 Tin/Lead Solder (4D £1.80 per 20g, available £4.00 per 100g) works very well! Melting point 183-190C.


The ‘grease’ type flux I always provide when teaching has always worked well, but I’ve had it for so long that the original container started to disintegrate .. so I don’t know the brand anymore! But one I’ve heard as good is La-Co Regular Soldering Flux Paste available from Screwfix £5.39 per 125g .. for use with copper, brass, lead and zinc.


Another one recognised as reliable is Fluxite Soldering Paste, suitable for copper and brass .. actually most metals other than aluminium (although other metals would require different solders) and can be used with either lead or lead-free solders.


On Amazon c.£10 for 100g tin and about the same from Jewson’s. Maplin just stocks the 450g tins for some reason, enough to last a few lifetimes!

Soldering Iron

SolderCraft 40W-230V (supplied with 5mm diameter chisel bit, stand and manual. 4D £20.99) Separate bits available £3.80. Around £18 on Amazon (with chisel bit) ..

From AllElectricRC http://www.allelectricrc.co.uk/ this will cost £13.59 but supplied with a pencil bit .. still worth it ordering an additional chisel bit (AllElectric doesn’t have them)

Draper 71417 40W-230V on Amazon £15.95 (picture shows chisel bit, so I hope it is)

Draper K40P 40W-240V soldering iron

B&Q stocks a 40W soldering iron for £12.85 which looks almost identical to the old Draper model I have, above, and has a ‘chisel’ bit according to the product photos. This should be fine if it has been assembled with enough care.

Bench Stand Silverline brand, 4D £3.65 well worth getting (Antex shown in photo around £6) £5 from Maplin ..


See also

David Neat Model-making: Materials and Methods Chapter 4: Working with Metals

C+L Finescale. – go to the ‘Knowledge Centre’ for concise notes on materials and methods, including a chart advising on what solder and flux to use for different metals


4D Modelshop – a basic guide to soft soldering


The Basic Soldering Guide http://www.epemag.wimborne.co.uk/solderfaq.htm – this is written for its specific use in electronics but much of the advice applies.

58 thoughts on “A quick guide to soldering brass

  1. Hi David! Many thanks for the detailed and helpful guide. This is my first time soldering and I’m having trouble. No matter what I do, the solder is beading and not sticking to the metal. It rolls off like a drop of water on a waxy leaf. I’ve tried this with silver paperclips, brass jewellery scraps and brass rods about the same width as those you’ve used. I’ve tried lap and butt joints.

    I’ve checked the troubleshooting tips and I think I’m doing everything right except that I’m using a rosin-core 60:40 Tin/Lead Solder because I can’t find a rosin-free version (in Australia).

    Here’s what I’m doing:

    *Cleaning the areas to be joined with fine wet/dry paper
    *Making sure the joins are in tight contact and taping down the pieces as you’ve done
    *Using an 80W soldering iron, and letting it heat up for 5 minutes (it’s definitely very hot)
    *Holding the tip to the join for up to 30 seconds and making very close contact with each of the two pieces to be joined
    *Cleaning the bit frequently on a damp sponge

    I haven’t been able to melt the solder onto the brass/paperclip no matter how long I heat it for, even though it’s smoking and looks very hot. I can only melt the solder if it touches the tip of the soldering iron, and even then, it doesn’t want to stick to the brass/paperclip, so the “tinning” approach doesn’t work either.

    When the rosin-core solder failed I tried using flux (generously) in addition to the rosin-core solder. I think it made it worse. Could the type of flux be an issue? The kind I have is called “silver brazing paste” and it says it’s for “silver brazing of steel, nickel, brass, bronze, copper, etc.” Would it only work with silver solder?

    I did also made an attempt with some flux and a piece of 6mm rosin-free lead/tin solder that I had, but encountered the same issues.

    One thing I will add is that once I’ve attempted (and failed) to solder a joint, it looks like a burnt, blackened, dirty mess, as though microscopic boy scouts have been toasting marshmallows in a campfire within a 5mm radius around the joint. It all seems to sizzle and smoke and burn more than I think it should.

    If you have ANY suggestions, they would be gratefully received!

    • Hi Emma,
      Nice way with verbo-visual imagery! Like Jane Austen in a boiler suit! I’m afraid though that I’m also at a loss .. though, yes, it can only be the flux I think. Everything else is right. So yes probably the ‘silver brazing’ stuff is not working. If you can get hold of ‘Baker’s Fluid’ to use instead, this may solve it, only because I’ve never heard anyone complain with it. Sorry I can’t suggest more than that .. it’s such a long time since I did any soldering and my knowledge about it is rather distant.

      • Thanks so much for the reply, David – if you don’t mind I might have “Jane Austen in boiler suit” engraved on my tombstone.

        I had another go at soldering today with some oversight from my dad, and we agree that the solder was the issue. He gave me a liquid solder which has done the trick. I still need some practice (big thank-you to whoever invented paperclips), but the solder is flowing easily and I’m not having to use too much. The “campfire” effect is also no longer an issue.

        Many thanks again for the detailed blog post. I was looking for information about Milliput yesterday and noticed you have a detailed post about that too, so I might just save myself a Google search and start here next time I have a question about anything model-related!

      • Great that it’s working! But you mean the ‘flux’ was the issue, not the solder, don’t you? I’ve never come across a ‘liquid solder’ .. if there is one let me know. Sounds like the ‘Baker’s Fluid’ I was suggesting, maybe. Best!

  2. Hi David, what utensil do you recommend using to apply the flux? P.s. your blog is my favourite thing on the internet! I’m so appreciative of how you share your wealth of knowledge 🙂

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  4. David,

    I found your article while searching to see if I could solder #38 AWG or #42 AWG magnet wire to brass. This as result of new idea I have to solve a ongoing challenge for coils I make for my hobby projects.

    I need to make coils with #38 and #42 AWG magnet wire. The challenge with the coils is connecting the tail wire with the connecting wire that is much thicker and solid copper wire. the challenge to date has been making the physical connection between the magnet wire and #22 solid copper wire that goes to the ADC. I cam up with added feathers in my col form design to address some of he physical connection issues that often result in the magnet wire braking past the solder point to the #22 solid copper wire. I have tried many approached to keep the wire connection stable with mixed, but not robust enough to my needs.

    I have just came up with an idea where I use a round head brass machine screw where I would solder the magnet wire to the head of the brass machine screw and use a knurled nut on opposite side of coil form to connect and disconnect the wire that goes to the ADC. The magnet wire is too thin and fragile to be under any sort of washer/nut combination. Using the round head of the machine screw enables easy surface to prepare with steel wool or emery paper for soldering. I wanted to know if you think the flux in normal solder will be sufficient to solder the magnet wire to? With the existing design of my coil forms I would use nuts to make the brass machine screw stable such that when connecting the signal wire to ADC to knurled nut the bras machine screw will not rotate, thereby avoiding stress to the round head solder joint to the magnet wire.

    Normally there should be only once or twice where I have to disconnect/connect ADC signal wire to the coil. The hobby project is stationary so there is no movement aspect to the project.

    I will leave the round head slot free and open so I can ensure firm screw/nut interface to the coil form.

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  6. Thanks a lot for all this useful information. I have a doubt, I want to do an structure with 3mm brass. I can use squared tubes or rods, is it different to solder in this thickness? Better the tubes or there’s no difference.
    Thanks again

    • Hi Javi, I don’t think these kind of soldering irons will have the strength (perhaps the 100 Watt, not sure) to heat 3mm solid brass up enough. So you’d have to use brass tube, that would work .. trouble is square brass tube is much more expensive.

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    • No, at least not to my knowledge. The only solution would be to tint the solder with glass paint (Vitrail) or possibly shellac, or paint with gold paint. Bear in mind though that brass tarnishes over time, so the rest of your brass would go darker/dulled anyway and would have to be carefully polished again if you want to revive the shiny brass look.

      • Copper sulfate solutions for stained glass work can be used to darken the solder but it either leaves a copper or dark color, not golden-yellow. Hope this helps, cheers!

  8. Hi David,

    What do you use to finish off the joints to match the brass rods?-as the joints are silver.

    Super helpful post.

    • I haven’t used anything up to now, but I’d suggest gold Humbrol enamel paint. Remember that brass will tarnish over time (gets darker) and so will the solder. Old pieces look pretty much the same colour.

  9. For a total novice this was a concise and complete guide. I now feel confident enough to have a go and know exactly what I need to buy. I eventually want to make a 1.12 scale bed so will need to find out how to attach brass rods to foot and head pieces but I suspect that will be a while yet. Many thanks David ☺☺

  10. As a semi-retired Electronic Engineer and College Tutor in Electronics Manufacturing. I found this article very informative and well written. I have had the need many a time to apply my soldering skills in situations other than Printed Circuits. It has not occurred to me that soldering brass and copper looks so rewarding. I, personally, have been using a temperature controlled soldering pencil made by Weller Industries for at least 35 years. I have different types of bits and temperatures.and I think that my many years in Electronics are going to be steered in the model making route in future.
    Thank You

  11. I cannot find ANYWHERE!!!!!!
    I need to know what tools I need to join 2 Pieces of brass.No LEAD as it is jewelry. Its basically a bezel that will show where the ends are joined.I was thinking a pencil torch and flux? But what solder? or do I even need solder….Have spent 3 days on the internet…No answer. Insert crying face….

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  14. Hello… I am looking for the best way to solder brass to brass. I will be making a Sword Scabbard which has Brass bands that wrap around leather and are going to be soldered in place. In my application I will be soldering .005″ sheet brass to approx. 22 ga. Brass. The thinner sheet will have leather under it. The soldering has to be done with the leather in place and I do not want to damage or burn the leather. Do you have any suggestions? Soldering Iron? Micro Butane torch? And what would be the best solder to use in this application?

    • I don’t have first-hand experience of this situation, but my best guess is soldering iron rather than torch .. but a strong one i.e. 100Watt. Using tin/lead solder which is right for brass (or healthier equivalent without lead). I think if you wet or at least dampen the leather first it may protect it enough if you don’t linger too much over the soldering.

  15. Hi, thanks for your super useful article. One quick question: do you have any tips to restore oxidised brass jointing? All my jointing turned white within short period of time, don’t know if it is because of the climate (I live in humid Malaysian weather) or other reasons. Thanks!

  16. I’m a sculptor and want to create a piece made from brass clock cogs and other cook parts, this info you’ve shared is really useful thanks, but i was wondering would a soldering iron be enough? Or would welding be better for the job as its not wires but flat sheets of brass connecting each other?

  17. Hi, I heard 50/50 lead tin solid wire works as well but hazardous would you recommend the silver wire 60/40 as more safe since I live in an apartment! butane or electrical heater!? Fumes etc because I live in an apartment. Plumber’s solder too!?

  18. Is it possible to overheat the brass, for example with a 60 watt iron? I am trying to join 3x3mm square rod, first try with 30 watt iron [and pen tip] yesterday had no joy. When looking into ordering a 40 watt iron with flat tip, I saw a 60 watt… Would that be too much?

    • No, it wouldn’t overheat the brass .. I would definitely go for it! I’m doing a course at the moment and I gave 2 people 60Watt irons to use with 0.8mm brass rod and it went perfectly .. better generally than before when using 30-40Watt irons!

  19. Hi David.
    Very informative article!
    I have a slightly different question for you, please pardon my ignorance on the matter.
    Would it be possible to solder two brass edge-pulls together (for a kitchen cabinet) in such a way that the join would be invisible? Basically, I’m looking to make three 2 inch pulls into one larger 6 inch pull. Link to the product below –
    Many thanks !

    • Actually I’m a bit ignorant as to whether this could be done too! But I’m almost sure not .. because the brass looks quite thick i.e 1mm or more and soldering irons won’t manage the heat needed! .. invisible? almost impossible because the heat around the joint would discolour the metal surface so it would have to be re-filed and re-polished like the rest .. third, solder only gives a ‘soft’ joint so this would not stand up to much stress. No harm in trying .. but I wouldn’t!

  20. Have you worked with rebar tie wire? I’m trying to solder an oval loop of 16.5 gauge rebar tie wire I got at my local hardware store (it’s made of carbon steel). It’s a round shape. I’ve filed the two ends flat that are meeting and trying to join them using a Benzomatic butane torch. I tried Oatey paste flux and Batterns liquid flux and then tried soft, medium and hard silver solder along with basic plumbing lead free solder. Then I went and bought a Stay brite solder kit which was expensive which is meant for steel and I still can’t get it to work. What happens is I heat the whole piece and then the solder slightly starts to melt and then balls up right away or I try to spread the solder around with tweezers. Not sure what I’m doing wrong. I bought a 14 gauge steel wire from someone online and was told that silver solder paste would work (which has the flux and solder mixed together). I’ve already spend so much money trying to figure this out that I don’t want to try something else. I have no problem soldering sterling silver or non tarnishing brass so not sure what the issue is.

  21. Question:
    why solder does nor adhere to brass rudder (carefully prepared cleaned both parts to be joined) used flux and solder with core flux heated clamped parts heated thoroughly solder slides off.
    Frustrated decided to drill/tap parts together.

    • If you’ve cleaned thoroughly, fluxed properly, and solder still slides off the only thing it can be is that the heating isn’t enough i.e. iron not powerful enough. That’s one thing. Are you using separate (grease type) flux? .. I’ve never had a problem when using this.

  22. Hello! I’m wondering if it’s possible to solder bigger beds, like American Girl sized beds. Would this advice work the same, only bigger sized supplies?
    Thank you!

    • I’m not familiar with the size of ‘American Girls’..? Do you mean what we’d call ‘Barbie size’? You’re right, it doesn’t quite work the same for much bigger sizes because you’d have to use metal perhaps 3-4 times thicker which means you’d have to have a heavier duty soldering iron i.e. 100Watt, I’m guessing. I can’t be certain because the thickest brass rod I’ve soldered successfully so far with a 40watt iron has been 2.5mm.

  23. Very interesting, I’d like to give that a go in the future. On soldering I’d like to say that your techniques listed are in need of modifying. I have been doing soldering to Electronics standards for years and there are a few golden rules that make the whole process MUCH better if followed.
    1. NEVER use a file on a soldering tip, the make-up of the tip is such that the essential coating is easily filed away exposing the base metal making soldering more difficult if not impossible.
    2. A damp NOT wet sponge, wet sponges provide a thermal shock which can split off the tips plating again exposing the base metal.
    3. ALWAYS wipe the iron clean (essential to clear off old flux) on the sponge and replace in holder after applying a coating of solder on the tip, the coating will oxidise over time but when one wipes the iron on the sponge to clear away the coating the tip underneath is perfect for use.
    4. ALWAYS apply some solder to the junction of the tip and the workpiece as they come together, this is so the solder will provide a good thermal bridge allow efficient heating of the joint. Once the solder is flowing smoothly (should be near instantaneous because of solder bridge) apply enough solder as needed and remove both iron and solder simultaneously. (Leaving the iron on too long after burns off the flux leaving a spikey/rough joint)
    Good luck and happy soldering.

    • Hello Guy,

      Many thanks for your advice! These are good alternatives .. but bear in mind that the standards/controls are higher in electronics soldering and some of the conditions different i.e. yes in electronics it is often important not to leave the iron on the work too long for fear of overheating the components. When working with much thicker metal .. as is the case here .. I’ve found that often the iron does have to be left in place for a much longer time!

    • Hello Marion,

      Thanks. See you in July then! Soldering isn’t normally covered in the CSM course .. unless it turns out that everybody wants to do it. Yes, it’s probably better to see what else we do on the course first.

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