Sunday, March 09, 2008

"Sweating Metal" & YouTube

So, this week flew by rather quickly--about as the fast as the winds blowing through this region yesterday at gale force. I had to go check out a fallen tree at work. Thankfully it landed quite safely on the grass. Anyone under that thing would have been gacked.

Determined to learn the art of soldering copper, I re-embarked this week on the craft as we move to towards completion of Phase II of our office renovation project at work, the kitchen/work area. With the exception of the electrical and floor tiling, we are doing everything ourselves from the demo to the plumbing to the finish work. We will probably have the counter installed, too, since I don't think it comes any other way.

Anyway, part of the job is to plumb for the kitchen sink. I ripped out the old one, cutting the copper lines that led to the faucet in the process, figuring (correctly, thank goodness) that I could just solder on some new and improved connections for the faucet.

Back in August, I gave soldering a shot in the rectory and it was very nearly my downfall. When the rectory was built, the builders did not install shut-off valves for any of the exterior faucets, let alone access panels. So when I had to take out the exterior faucet, I had to rip out the drywall and then cut the pipe. When I tried to resolder everything back together I failed at every turn. No matter what I did, failure became a closer and more familar companion.

So I learned the hard way that you don't just go cutting copper pipes with abandon. I eventually called a really cool plumber to handle the situation, but that's not a scenario I want to repeat, especially since I was at the rectory that night until 10 PM, trying to figure out a temporary solution to my problem. With no shut-off valve other than the rectory water main, I ran a long piece of black tube out the window and into the grass for the night until my rescue the next day.

Part of me thinks I was at the church so late because, as I found I out the next day, other events were afoot. The church food pantry was broken into that night, sometime after 10:30 PM, and I think the Holy Spirit conspired to keep me there for whatever reason. And let me tell you, if God doesn't want you to succeed, you will definitely not succeed. In this case failure certainly seems to have been part of His will.

So anyway, with not a bit of trepidation, I bought some more plumbing stuff, went to my shop, lit the torch and began heating the metal so I could solder. I have never seen this done, though I knew the elements, sort of, of what you are supposed to do. Having always considered myself the friend of the torch, I was not too put off, but after five or ten minutes of torching I began feeling that my technique was incorrect.

Well, I was right. I went online to see if I could find some soldering videos and came up with a bunch of great, illustrative stuff on YouTube that showed me the error of my ways. Instead of heating for 10 minutes, which, I learned, actually oxidizes the metal and prevents you from soldering correctly, you heat quickly for 8-10 seconds and the solder gets sucked into the joint, zips around the metal, drips and then you're good to go.

Simple! I was making it way, way more tough than it had to be. After my YouTube instruction, I started soldering like a moefoe, which, as you can imagine, with my history of soldering misadventures, felt entirely too good.

So if you have a home improvement or construction question, YouTube may be the answer to your woes.

Good luck and over and out!

--Nick-Dog

1 comment:

Don said...

They are drills with holesaws you can purchase at Home Depot..the mere idea of using a glock to route the copper pipe is a bit of an eyeopener to say the least! ...