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Methods For Attaching Small Decorative Items


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I'm starting a project where I need to attach a very small, thin stamped steel dragon fly to a small diameter (approximately 1/8" - 3/16") forged mild steel tree branch.


My first thought is to try to attach it by tack welding the underside of the body to the branch with 0.024" wire and my mig welder set on its lowest heat setting, but unless I can precisely edge the puddle up just to barely contact the dragonfly, I'm betting I'll burn through it.


My second Idea was to drill a small hole through the top of the body and do one small plug weld and then dress the weld and blend it in, of course it would take a lot of time & effort to clean it up good enough to not easily notice the weld.  Or to flip that idea, I could drill through the forged branch and then plug weld the dragonfly to the branch from the underside through the branch, and then dress the branch in an area that won't easily be seen anyways.


I also have a small oxyacetylene torch and a acetylene "B" tank torch and some 95/5 Silphos.  I thought about trying to braze it on, but I've never brazed anything except copper and brass and not really sure if it's even possibly to do on steel, if it was possible, I imagine it would require something like pure silver solder.


I've got some tiny copper rivets (1/16" diameter x 3/32" long), but they are too short, so if I were to drill through the body and use a rivet I would have to create a resistance fit hole to drive it into because the rivet won't be long enough to make it entirely through the branch I'm going to forge.


The actual dragonfly is about 2" long and it's stamped out of 0.02" (25 gauge) thick steel - pictured below.


Any ideas?






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Silver solder is probably the way to go with the tools you have available to you. You don't need pure silver. You can get industrial use silver solders from your welding supply. The most common one is usually a Harris product. Don't forget to pick up the correct flux while buying the solder. 

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Yeah, a tig welder has been on my wish list for many years.


Would I just braze it one from the underside near the thickest part of the body?  My brazing experience is purely from years of copper refrigeration line installations, where the method is to heat the pipe and fitting to cherry red and focus the heat on the fitting, such to draw the silphos into the joint.


I'm not really sure what the appropriate technique is for brazing mild steel, I need to study up some on that.

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The blind rivet method can also work.  Generally, you drill a slip fit hole part way thru the anchor piece, add an unheaded piece of wire or rod, stake the piece in place with a sharp chisel and finally install the decorative item (with a pre-drilled hole) to the rod, followed by conventional heading.  A lot of French leaf work is fastened this way, making for a sturdy and traditional joint.


In this case, you can attach small wires to the branch first (welding is fine), drill holes in the dragonfly, install the piece and head over to make a rivet joint.

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Ahhh why not buy a foot of copper grounding wire and MAKE your rivets the correct size?

Well.....actually I never even thought about doing something like that.  So I suppose all the scrap romex I've got laying around can be of use afterall :)!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Tig welding was, and still is your best answer and you'll love it for cleaning up spots you don't want to nick with a hand or electric file. 

The best part about this for you is that you'll only need the smallest tig welder for the job at hand. An older Miller or Lincoln is perfect for this and can usually be had cheap as they aren't good for anything other than the smallest material, which means that most metal heads have kicked them to the curb already.

 Or, you can go scratch (no foot pedal, you scratch the electrode to start the arc like stick welding) Tig with a lincoln tombstone (stick welder) of any era. TALK to you local welding supply shop and they can set you up with the RIGHT (you need a tig torch with the gas control nob built in) torch and gas bottle. It takes some practice and scratch isn't ideal but turn the machine way down and keep turning it up till your fusing without burning everything up. 

You'll weld 10 dragonflies for everyone you braze and you'll have Tig welding capacity! Which will open up a range of metalworking that will make brazing look like using elmers glue. 

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I suggest either the make your own  copper rivet path as mentioned earlier or silver solder.

Going down the tig path is a good option too and does open up other areas but you have the extra expense of gas and other consumables that you may not be prepared for.


In fact my choice would be silver solder as with the pre flux coated hobart bronze rods you mentioned, I imagine there are a number of silver solder alloys available in the prefluxed form as they are here.

There's sure to be one to suit your application.

Silver solder (silver brazing to be correct) is very fine and flows beautifully, surely you've used it with copper tube, pardon my ignorance but I don't know what silphos is but it sounds like its got silver in it.

Clean and degrease the surfaces to be bonded, fix together, heat as you do your copper tube, apply the sliver solder to the joint and around she goes. The prefluxed sticks will come with instructions on the packet, I buy them in packets of four or so depending on their size.

It is soft if you need to file it and easy to clean up as John from Gearheart Ironworks mentioned.

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  • 4 weeks later...

SilPhos is a Silver _Phosphorus  Rod. It is / was used a lot on refrigeration lines where copper tube is connected to steel. Mostly on commercial condensers where the throttling unit were connected and then on the high press side from the compressor. A little goes a long way and it is best to spend a lot of time in the prep work. Not sooo long but doing the job completely reduces failure.


For you application on the dragonfly this product will or may flow to areas not desired to be showing the weld. And this weld does not easily get removed. You may use a whole bunch of "Dremel" time. Proficiency is paramount.


Tig welding is a doable thing but is best with a machine with a foot pedal. The variable voltage there is more important than the amperage. When you acquire that technology and experience you will truly state that you should have had it years prior. For home use air-cooled tig is adequate...no need for water cooled torches yet.



Carry on

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