Welder wearing PPE working with steel pipe with sparks flying

Brazing Rod for Steel: A Comprehensive Guide

Welding is a complicated science, but that doesn’t mean it should be unapproachable to people interested in learning how to do it. Brazing is a type of welding that can seem complicated at first.

However, it can be much easier to grasp over time than you might initially think. With the proper tools and education, you can use to join steel with other metals.

Let’s get into what brazing is, what the use of brazing rods is, and why steel needs its own kind of brazing rod to function correctly.

What Is Brazing?

Brazing is the process of joining two or more pieces of metal together by melting a “filler metal” in a joint placed between the pieces meant to be put together.

This filler metal should have a lower melting point than the metal being joined. This process differs from welding or soldering because it is usually simpler and can result in a much stronger bond than those other types of metal joining.

This makes brazing a highly sought-after kind of metal-joining practice for many people. However, it can be rather complicated and requires the use of a lot of different equipment. Let’s get into what brazing requires and what you need to start brazing.

The equipment required for brazing is:

  • Torch for melting or a propane tank
  • Protective gear (thick heat-resistant gloves, protective eyewear, apron, etc.)
  • Brazing rod

Something else that plays a role in brazing is the presence of flux. Flux is a material that prepares metal to be joined. Sometimes, brazing rods have flux already on them, and other times they don’t.

Either way, it’s essential to the brazing process. However, you will want to make sure that you remove all the flux at the end of the brazing process, as its presence can induce corrosion.

Once you have all of your equipment together in one place, then you’ll be able to get started with the brazing process. Altogether, it’s a pretty simple operation once you get the hang of things, but getting over that initial intimidation can be a process. Let’s get into brazing rods and what differentiates them from one another.

Technician using brazing torch on pipe

Is Brazing Better Than Soldering?

There are a few differences between soldering and brazing, but the most obvious is that brazed joints are typically joined by a much stronger bond than soldered joints.

In fact, in most cases, the brazed joint is stronger by a factor of five. While soldering is preferable in some cases – for example, if you’re working with sensitive materials or electronics – if strength and supportive ability are your primary concern, then brazing is probably the process you’ll want to go with.

Make sure that you know what you’re getting into first, though. Brazing can damage substrates and cause problems in the long run, so ensure that the materials you’re working with are up to snuff before going down the brazing rabbit hole. Otherwise, you could be looking at some costly jobs to repair or replace.

What Is a Brazing Rod?

Since we’re talking about brazing rods, you might be wondering what exactly these rods are. What is their intended use, and how do they fit into the brazing process? Well, if you recall how we mentioned a filler metal earlier – that is the brazing rod! Different metals being joined will require different types of brazing rods. Not only does the type of brazing rod matter, so does its thickness, whether it's covered in flux, and more.

Brazing rods are also known as welding rods, as they join two or more pieces of metal during a welding process. During brazing, temperatures are typically much higher than they would be during a soldering process or other kinds of welding processes.

This means that brazing rods often need to be made of more resilient materials. However, they also need a lower melting temperature than the parts they are joining.

Type of Brazing Rods for Steel

So, what kind of brazing rod do you need to join steel? The answer is that it depends on what your brazing process will look like. Many different filler metals are used in brazing processes, including copper, copper-zinc, copper-tin, silver, and more.

If you plan on dip brazing your metals together, you can utilize nickel-silver brazing and welding rods. However, you can also use bronze rods for the stainless steel brazing process. Let’s dive a little deeper into what that looks like.

Welder using copper brazing rod

What Using a Bronze Rod for Brazing Looks Like

The first step in the brazing process when using a bronze rod is to thoroughly clean off the surface of the rod and the stainless steel pieces. There are various ways to do this, but one standard method is simply using a wire brush to scrub any rust, dirt, or grime away from the surface.

You can scrub vigorously and not worry about scratching or damaging the metal. The brazing process will cover up any potential damage you cause to the steel you’re joining and the filler metal itself.

Removing any potential debris is essential because dirt or other particles can weaken the resulting bond – so make it shine! After cleaning, you’ll want to apply flux to the bronze rod if there isn’t any on it.

You can do this with a brush or rag – just ensure the rod is thoroughly coated with the flux to form the strongest bond possible. Once this is done, ensure the brazing material is ready to be joined by breaking it into small pieces and heating it one side at a time with your heat source.

Make sure that one side is attached before moving on to the next side. Ensure that the first side has cooled thoroughly before you begin joining the other side – otherwise, the seal won’t be as strong as it could be.

Is That All I Need to Know?

The brazing process is an intense welding process, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to perform it over and over again. Steel is a versatile material, so you can use many filler metals during a brazing process.

However, you’ll want to check to make sure you’re using the right metal with certain types of steel. Stainless steel is very different from cold-rolled steel and the like. Always check to ensure that the brazing rod you’ve picked out is compatible with the steel you’re joining together.

We hope that this guide was helpful to you and that you’ve picked up enough to take on your first brazing process confidently!

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