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How to Weld Copper to Steel for Art



Kevin helps out a fellow artist who wants to weld copper letters and emblems to horseshoes. Kevin demonstrates two different methods using his Longevity TigWeld 250 AC/DC. First, Kevin explains that he is not a certified welder and that welding copper to steel is not structurally sound, but for art, well, that's a different matter. He prepares a real horseshoe by cleaning the metal, then cuts some .060 copper so that he has some tabs like the other artist uses. His first approach is to jig up the horseshoe and copper so they are in a position to weld. He tacks them together, then turns up his welder to "kill." He gets the horseshoe hot and molten so the metal is ready to flow. For rod, he uses romex house wiring, which works great for welding copper. He fires up the welder, turns it all the way up to 250 amps on the foot pedal so everything is controlled right where he is working so he doesn't need to touch the machine itself. He's using a water-cooled torch with a number 6 cup and some of the new E3 tungsten, which he likes a lot. He gets the puddle going and then tacks together the copper and steel. The first tack was good, but the second was a little hot and burned through a bit - he should have backed off the pedal a little quicker. As Kevin notes, it takes a lot of practice! The other way, he says, is cheating. He puts the horseshoe into a drill press vise vertically. Just like tinning two copper wires, in which you put a little flux on the exposed wire and then use your soldering iron to put a little solder on it so it soaks right into the wire so the two halves are ready to be joined, he puts a little bead of copper onto the edge of the horseshoe. Then he puts the horseshoe back in the jig so he can add a little dab of copper and joins another set of copper tabs to the horseshoe. The second approach clearly works better. You don't need anywhere near as much amperage, and you can't even see the tacks on the second set of tabs.

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