Teaching myself to solder - looking for feedback

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jburt09

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Hello all! I've learned so much from this forum - you've all done something really great here. As titled, I've taken on teaching myself to solder. I watched every single one of Got2Learn's videos on Youtube on soldering as well as a ton of others before even attempting my first one. Went out and bought a few feet at Home Depot as well as some different fittings and set myself up a jig to start.

Using 1/2" copper Type M
Bernzomatic TS8000 torch head with MAP/PRO cylinder
Oatey Solder Kit with H20 (5) Water Soluble Flux and Safe Flo Lead Free Solder

A few observations and questions I've come up with:


  1. Is there any difference in MAP vs Propane these days? In one video of Got2Learn's, he mentions to use MAP because it burns hotter, but in a later one he refers to and mentions that true MAPP gas was discontinued in 2008 and anything you use these days is a MAP substitute. What would be the best thing for me to get on board with for someone that is obsessed with doing things the right way?
  2. The Bernzomatic TS8000 flame dispersion seems to be way too large. I'm still trying to figure out how to balance between keeping a smaller, more concentrated flame while still opening it up with enough gas to really heat the fitting. I think the answer is a different torch head but interested in what everyone is using. In the videos I watch, the flame folks have is way more concentrated than what I'm getting.
  3. I've seen some recommend fluxing just the pipe while others recommend fluxing the pipe and the coupling. I started doing both and then eventually switched to going a LITTLE heavier on the pipe and none on the coupling. Is there a right way or just preference? I know one of the cons to doing both is that flux can be leftover in the fitting and corrode from the inside if it's not completely boiled up/out, which I can't even begin to fathom how you figure out whether or not you're good there.
  4. I've noticed when heating the fitting, it gets to the the point where the flux starts to boil and bubble, but I've had some instances where the flux starts to bubble and spring up and off the fitting like I may be heating it too much/hot? Is this normal or is my assumption correct that I'm heating it too much and need to reduce?
  5. Is there a right way as to whether you push all of your solder in at one point in the fitting versus whether you feed it in all the way around? I've struggled to 'trace' my way around the fitting with the solder while feeding it in but have had more success with just pushing it all in at one point, like say the top of the fitting while heating from the bottom.
  6. When tearing apart my joints (as seen in the last two photos), I notice there are what appear to be some air pockets. Is this normal? Am I doing something wrong?

Thanks in advance for your time and feedback! I know there's a lot of hoopla around solder versus press couplings but I wanted to learn the original methods before moving on to anything else! I made a couple of the below contraptions and this is the final one I finished with yesterday.

2024-01-14 - Solder Practice 1 Reduced.JPG

2024-01-14 - Solder Practice 2 Reduced.JPG

2024-01-14 - Solder Practice 3 Reduced.JPG

2024-01-14 - Solder Practice 4 Reduced.JPG

2024-01-14 - Solder Practice 5 Reduced.JPG
 

Chucky_ott

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I'm not a pro but based on the color of your pipe, I'm guessing you are heating it too much.

I use propane and usually only flux the pipe. But first, I de-burr the end and lightly sand the pipe.

As for applying the actual solder, I heat the female fitting and then occasionally touch (every seconds or so) the joint interface with the solder. When the entire joint is hot enough, the solder will melt and should quickly wick across the entire joint. You really don't need much solder.
 

jburt09

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I'm not a pro but based on the color of your pipe, I'm guessing you are heating it too much.

I use propane and usually only flux the pipe. But first, I de-burr the end and lightly sand the pipe.

As for applying the actual solder, I heat the female fitting and then occasionally touch (every seconds or so) the joint interface with the solder. When the entire joint is hot enough, the solder will melt and should quickly wick across the entire joint. You really don't need much solder.

Thanks for providing your feedback! I've been using the technique where you use approximately the length of solder as your pipe diameter. For these, I was using just shy of 1/2".
 

Chucky_ott

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I never paid attention to how much solder I use but that sounds about right.

Your joints look good to me, other than the possible overheating.

MAP will be hotter than propane so it will heat the joint faster. Which also means you need to work faster. Maybe use propane until you refine your technique.

Heat the female fitting and then apply the solder at the joint interface on the opposite side of the heat source. You don't want the flame to hit the solder and melt it. You want the hot metal to melt the solder.
 

John Gayewski

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Heating: The objective is to get the pipe and fitting to the same temp that your specific solder will melt and flow. It doesn't matter what tip you have with pipe that small as anything bigger than a cigarette lighter will get it hot enough. It's easier to overheat 1/2" and 3/4"pipe then it is to control the temp. Once your flowing you'll pull the heat off until the flowing slows, then re apply the heat. It's actually a lot easier to practice with bigger pipe and fittings like 1.25" or 1.5".

Flux: you want a thin layer of flux on everything that you'd like the solder to adhere to. That can be achieved by luck or by applying flux to the inside surface of the fitting and outside surface of the pipe. If flux runs down the outside of the pipe then so will your solder, this is why I say thin coat. You should have to look closely to see if you have flux on every surface, but it should be on every surface, while staying where you want it, and not streaking down the pipe.

Solder: the cup of the fitting should be full, this means the edge of where your solder shows should angle up to the outside diameter of the fitting. Like a weld your solder should fill the 90 degree edge where the fitting and pipe meet and be more like a 30 degree ramp. Yes you need to touch the full circumference of the pipe and fitting jointly.

Modern soldering can be different and more difficult than in the past where the solder had more lead in it. Getting the right temps of copper to brass with no lead brass can be challenging. Every solder has a paste range. This is when the solder will flow nicely and not turn into thin liquid that runs everywhere. The wider the paste range the better you can control things. A lot of no lead solder has a very thin window for their paste range.
 
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