Using a welder is the first thing that comes to mind when you have to join two metal pieces. After all, it takes high heat to bring the metals into a plasma state to become one continuous surface after they cool down.
But what if you want to join two metal pieces without a welder?
There are many alternatives to joining metals. Whether it is for a DIY or a home project, here are our top five ways to weld without a welder.
- 1 Brazing
- 2 Soldering
- 3 Riveting
- 4 Glue or Adhesive
- 5 Bolts and Nuts
- 6 Spot Welding
- 7 Wrapping up
Brazing is one of the most popular ways of joining metal without using a welder. In this method, a filler metal is heated to a very high temperature, about 800oF. It causes the filler metal to melt and flow into the adjoining metals and joins them when it cools down.
The most important thing to remember about brazing is to make sure that the filler metal has a lower melting point than the workpieces. That’s because what makes brazing stand out in comparison with welding is that none of the base metals melt.
There are different types of brazing, and each one is used according to the metal you are working with. Some widespread variations of brazing are:
- Torch brazing
- Vacuum brazing
- Furnace brazing
- Dip brazing
- Silver brazing
How Easy is Brazing
If you compare brazing to welding, it is very easy to braze two metal pieces. Since it is easy to braze the workpieces together without melting the base metals, it is relatively effortless.
However, when you compare brazing to other alternative ways to fuse metal pieces, it is a bit tricky. Nevertheless, brazing is not difficult at all, and beginners will face fewer difficulties. Brazing can also be automated, which adds to its effortlessness.
Equipment Required for Brazing.
Brazing is not equipment intensive like welding, which makes it ideal for hobbyists and those who love to DIY. That being said, here are the pieces of equipment you need for brazing.
- A brazing kit – This will typically depend on the brazing technique you employ. But for home use, a brazing kit will suffice. It is because torch brazing using a kit is the most popular technique for hobbyists and homeowners.
- Brazing rods – Brazing rods also vary according to the base metal that you are joining. For instance, to braze steel, the filler metals are silver and copper, and so on. Here are some recommended fillers made from aluminum and bronze.
- An oxy-acetylene gas cylinder or gas torch
- Bonding spray primer
- Woodworking clamp
- Working tabletop
How to BrazeTwo Metal Pieces.
Assemble the workpieces. Chamfering the edges of the workpieces gives the best result in brazing. Besides, cleaning the edges of the workpieces is critical. Using a wire brush is the most effective way to clean the workpieces for brazing. Check out this set of heavy-duty wire brushes from Turboom.
Clamp the workpieces using a woodworking clamp on the working tabletop. Make sure that the working space is clutter-free.
Preheat the workpieces and allow them to cool for about 5 minutes. The preheat temperature depends on the metal, and you can do that with an acetylene flame. This brazing kit from Ameriflame is an excellent choice for brazing at home or performing small projects. Another alternative kit you can use is this one.
You are ready to start brazing the workpieces. All you have to do is to apply the filler in the area you have heated up.
Best Metals for Brazing
Brazing is very versatile as it can be performed on a wide variety of metals. The best metals for brazing are:
- Stainless Steel
- Cast iron
Although not as common, brazing is also performed on metals such as cobalt, carbon steel, nickel, Kovar, tungsten, and occasionally, Inconel.
In addition, brazing is also performed on precious metals. The most common precious metals for brazing are gold and silver.
Comparison With Arc Welding
- Arc welding involves employing an extremely high temperature, which is can be dangerous without the right technique and safety equipment. However, the brazing temperature is not as high, making it relatively safer to perform.
- The base metal in arc welding needs melting for the best welding results. This requires a lot of precision and is not very forgiving. Brazing, on the other hand, does not melt the base metal, so you get clean joints even without a lot of experience.
- When it comes to equipment and cost, arc welding is way up there. It is not uncommon to invest thousands of dollars to start arc welding, even as a hobby. On the contrary, brazing is very cost-effective, which is one of its many advantages.
- The weld joint from arc welding is pretty solid and robust. However, the fused metal pieces from brazing are not as strong. This can be a disadvantage, especially if you are using them in a high-temperature environment.
Soldering is another common way to join metals without using a welder. It shares similarities with brazing as it also uses a filler metal with a lower melting point than the base metal. This filler metal is also known as solder and hence the name of the process. The temperatures where soldering takes place are even lower than 800 F or 420 C.
Soldering is typically used in industries such as plumbing, jewelry, electronics, and the manufacture of musical instruments. Similar to brazing, soldering also includes different types. Soldering variations are:
- Silver soldering
- Soft soldering
- Pipe soldering
- Active soldering
- Stained glass soldering
- Resistance soldering
- Mechanical soldering
Ease of Soldering
Among the many advantages of soldering is how easy it is to perform. With just a few practices, a total newbie can perform soldering with excellent results. In addition, soldering does not require a lot of equipment, which makes it even more effortless.
Equipment Required for Soldering
The necessary soldering equipment includes:
- Soldering iron – A soldering iron is the most important tool of the setup. It is also the most expensive. However, you don’t have to spend more than $10 to get a decent quality soldering iron as a hobbyist. I like this soldering station for its outstanding quality.
- Soldering iron tips – These tips are either conical or chisel.
- Filler metal for soldering. I recommend this silver filler and this tin filler. Silver will work better for most metals.
- A wire cutter – Wire cutters also go by the name diagonal cutters, clippers, flush-cutters, and electronic snippers.
- Soldering stand – Soldering metals can get pretty hot, so a stand can be very handy, especially if you are not familiar with the method.
- Regular sponge or brass sponge. This sponge is essential for cleaning the tip of the iron because contaminated tips can create problems
- Safety equipment. I like these soldering safety goggles as it is anti-slip and also anti-fog and scratch-resistant.
These last four to five components are not an absolute essential. However, they can come in handy if you need to correct the mistakes while soldering and make your project top class. In particular, solder wick and solder sucker can be very helpful if you need to perform desoldering and resoldering.
- USB microscope
- Wire brush and/wire wool
- Wicks for soldering
- Solder sucker or solder pump. Those pumps can help you a lot.
How to Solder Two Metal Pieces.
Begin by gathering all the soldering tools. Make sure that the soldering workspace is free of clutter. At this stage, you should also put on safety goggles, especially if you are a beginner.
Note: Do not touch the tip of the soldering iron at any time during the soldering process. The temperature of the iron tip can get extremely hot, which can give you a significant burn.
Using the right iron tip, make sure that it is attached to the iron very securely. Heat the soldering iron to about 600 to 700oF. If you solder extensive connections, the temperature needs to be higher.
Use the sponge to wipe the tip of the soldering iron. This is important as the solder oxidizes, and this can interfere with heat transfer. So always, work with a fresh iron tip.
Hold the soldering iron with your dominant hand and the solder on the other. Bring the tip of the iron to the components that you want to join. Then apply the solder from the other side by touching it to the hot iron tip. This will melt the solder and make it flow to the joint.
The amount of time it takes to join the components will depend on their size as well as the temperature of the iron. However, the most important thing is to maintain good contact between the solder and the iron.
After you are satisfied with the joining process, remove the solder, then the iron from the components. Allow the joined components to cool by leaving them undisturbed for a few minutes.
Using a wire cutter, trim the lead from the joined area to make it smooth. This wire cutter from Irwin is of excellent quality and is very affordable too.
Best Metals for Soldering
The best metals for soldering according to their solderability include:
- Beryllium copper
- Nickel silver
Comparison With Arc Welding
- Arc welding requires the melting of the base metal, which requires specialized tools. On the other hand, Soldering does not require the melting of the base metal, which means it does not require specialized tools. This also makes soldering very cost-effective and affordable than arc welding.
- The temperature in arc welding is extremely high, about 6500oF. So arc welding is inherently risky and requires a lot of safety equipment. In soldering, the highest temperature does not cross 900oF, so it is not as dangerous.
- Arc welding is best on larger pieces of metal. Therefore, it is used in many commercial productions. However, soldering is best suited for smaller projects such as circuit boards, among others.
- The weld joint produced by arc welding is as strong as it gets. Soldering, on the other hand, does not make exceptionally strong joints.
Riveting is another method of joining metals without using a traditional welding machine. This process involves the use of a metal fastener that has a cylindrical post with a metalhead. A rivet is placed into a hole that is either punched or drilled into the workpieces. The end of the rivet is bucked, which expands and holds the metal pieces together.
Riveting was commonly used in the past before welding was introduced. One of the most famous structures that are built using this method is the Eiffel Tower.
Ease of Riveting
Riveting is not complicated to perform. In fact, you can pick up riveting with a few practice sessions. However, you must have the right tools to carry out the process in a straightforward manner.
Riveting can also be automated, which makes it even more effortless. Of course, riveting manual machines are also available.
Equipment Required for Riveting
The basic equipment for riveting at home or for hobbyists includes:
- A rivet gun – A rivet gun can be a handheld one or an automated one. Automated riveting machines are naturally more comfortable to use. However, they carry a premium price tag. But riveting manual machines are affordable, making them the best choice for hobbyists. If you are not sure which riveting gun to choose, we recommend this 4in1 riveting gun that is an excellent combination of quality and price.
- Rivets – Rivets come in different diameters and lengths and various metals. As a general rule, the rivets should be at least 1.6 times the thickness of the workpieces. Additionally, using the rivets as the same metal as the workpieces are recommended.
- A drill. Having a great drill can help you with many house repairs. Here is the one I recommend.
- Drill bit
How to Rivet Two Metal Pieces
Gather the riveting equipment that is listed above. At this stage, you should also check to see that the rivet gun has the right nosepiece relating to the rivet size.
Drill the holes in the metal pieces that you want to join. The drill bits should be the same size as the rivets at the largest end. Check for burrs on the holes and remove them.
Selecting the right sized rivet, insert the rivet into the gun. Using firm pressure, push the rivet into the hole you just drilled. Squeeze the rivet gun, so the rivet passes through both the workpieces. A properly inserted rivet should make a popping sound when it is secure.
Continue doing the same with evenly spaced rivets to complete your project.
Best Metals for Riveting
The best metals for riveting are:
- Steel including stainless steel and carbon steel
- Aluminum – It is the most common metal joined by riveting. The reason is that aluminum is lightweight and soft.
- Copper – Joining copper pieces is standard in electrical applications as it is a good conductor of heat and electricity. In addition, copper also has a decorative appeal that is not common in other metals.
Comparison With Arc Welding
- Arc welding uses a lot of heat to fuse metals together. Additionally, arc welding involves the use of expensive and special equipment. On the other hand, riveting does not include the use of heat. Besides, riveting does not require a lot of special tools like arc welding.
- The welded joint produced by arc welding is rigid and is a permanent joint. However, a rivet is generally weaker and is a semi-permanent joint.
- Modifications and alterations are very easy to do in welding. This is not the case with a riveted joint. Alterations and additions on riveted joints are not easy at all.
- The metals components produced by welding is lightweight as it does not involve the use of additional features. However, riveted products are not as lightweight as individual rivets are added. In some cases, several rivets are added, which contributes to the weight.
- Arc welding is not as time-consuming as riveting.
Glue or Adhesive
For smaller projects, gluing metal pieces is also an alternative to welding. Using adhesives to glue metal pieces together is one of the easiest ways. One of the best examples where metal glue is a welding alternative is the automotive industry.
Using adhesive to join metals has the advantage of being very cost-effective. In addition, adhesives also prevent rusting, which is fantastic.
How Easy is to Glue Metals
Bonding metals with adhesive is extremely easy. You just need to have the right adhesive for the workpieces, and you are ready to go. In addition, using adhesives to join metal pieces does not require any special training.
To glue metals together, you do not need any special equipment. The necessary components required for gluing include:
- Adhesive – The adhesive is the most critical component you will require. It is vital to pick the right adhesive that corresponds to the workpieces. The different types of metal glues are:
- Cyanoacrylate or, commonly, superglue or instant glue. It is a great adhesive for brass, copper, steel, and aluminum.
- Acrylic metal glues work best for copper and aluminum.
- Epoxy, typically 2K epoxy, is best for metals such as aluminum, brass, copper, and steel, including stainless steel.
- Anaerobic metal adhesives work best for mild steel, copper, and stainless steel.
- Gloves, preferably nitrile or latex ones, are best. But gloves made of cotton, nylon, or PVC will not protect your skin from the glue.
- Acetone or mineral spirit
- Clean cloth
- Fine-grit sandpaper
How to Glue Metal Pieces Together
Clear the working area from clutter and debris so that small fragments will not adhere to the joint. If there is any furniture in the working area, cover them with paper or cloth. Make sure that the working space has good ventilation.
Assemble the components and put on the gloves. This pack of nitrile work gloves is a great choice.
Clean the edges of the workpieces with a clean cloth. If the edges are too smooth, use fine-grit sandpaper to roughen it. This texture will make the glue stick better. This packet of sandpaper is of good quality and comes at an unbeatable price.
Apply the glue to the clean surface to join the metal pieces. Follow the manufacturer’s guide to know how much glue to use. The types of adhesives that you use will depend on what metal you are working with. For epoxy, the JD Weld is a classic. In addition, the Gorilla glue and the Loctite super glue are great choices.
Press the metal pieces together firmly with both hands. Allow the workpieces to cure without disturbing them. The curing time of the adhesive will depend on what type you use. Instant glue does not require a lot of curing time. However, others, such as epoxy, take up to 60 minutes to cure.
Comparison With Arc Welding.
- Arc welding uses intense heat to weld metals, which can require welders to take precautions. But gluing does not involve any heat to bond the metals. Beginners can use glue to bond metals without any training or intensive safety precautions.
- The product of arc welding is not flexible without affecting the bond of the workpieces. On the other hand, metals bonded by adhesives are flexible, which makes it a great choice for parts and components that undergo vibrations and temperature fluctuations.
- To perform arc welding, you need an expensive set up with a lot of equipment. This can also kick up the total cost of the process. On the other hand, gluing is very cost-effective as you don’t need a special or expensive setup.
- Arc welding can be a time-consuming process. However, using adhesive is not time-consuming and is, in fact, very quick.
Bolts and Nuts
Using bolts and nuts is also a great way to join metals without a welder. The bolts and nuts method is very similar to riveting, but they are not the same. Using bolts and nuts to join metal is very common, from small toys to cars and automobiles.
This method of joining metals without a welder is easy. In addition, metal pieces joined by this method are very sturdy and reliable. Furthermore, the use of bolts and nuts makes it very easy to disassemble the unit in case you need to. The only disadvantage of this metal joining method is that the connection of the joint is not leakproof.
How Easy is to Join Metals with Nuts And Bolts
Joining metals with bolts and nuts is straightforward. Ensure that the bolts and nuts are the right sizes according to the holes.
Joining metals with bolts and nuts does not require a lot of special equipment, which is one of its greatest advantages. However, since different projects need different size of bolts and nuts, it is tricky to pinpoint the exact set of equipment for this method. Nevertheless, the basic equipment for this method includes:
- Drilling machine with a drill bit
- Bolts and nuts of various sizes
- Hex wrenches
How to Join Metals With Bolts and Nuts
Assemble the equipment needed for joining the metal pieces. Keep the work area free from clutter.
Using the right drill bit, drill a hole in the workpieces. This cordless drill with a gamut of accessories is a good choice.
Next, insert the bolt through the hole in the workpiece. You can then screw on the right sized nut on the other end. The size of the nuts and bolts will depend on your project. However, this fantastic set is a great choice for small to medium-sized projects. In addition to different size nuts and bolts, the set also includes washers and hex wrenches.
Comparison With Arc Welding
- Arc welding requires extensive equipment, which can make it an expensive project. On the other hand, joining metals with bolts and nuts requires basic equipment, making it very cost-effective.
- An intense amount of heat is required for arc welding. But using nuts and bolts is completely heat-free.
- To produce a good quality arc welding, a certain level of expertise is also necessary. On the contrary, using nuts and bolts does not require skill or special training.
Spot welding is a popular alternative for joining two or more metal sheets without using a welder. In this process, a combination of pressure and heat is applied through an electric current. The other name of spot welding is resistance spot welding.
The mechanics of spot welding is pretty straightforward. Using the two copper alloy electrodes, the metal sheets are brought together without using a filler material that is common in traditional welding. An electric current passes through the electrodes to the metal sheets, thereby melting the sheets into one smooth piece.
The automobile industry is one of the most common industries that employ spot welding. Industrial robots are another area where spot welding is common.
Is Spot Welding Easy to Do
Spot welding is one of the easiest ways to join metal sheets. It is primarily because; it does not require filler or fluxes to complete the welding. To perform spot welding, you don’t require special tools, although some basic training levels can be quite helpful.
In addition, the process does not involve a high-intensity open flame. This reduces the risk of physical danger to the person.
Another reason that makes spot welding straightforward is the use of automated machines. Automating spot welding is also easy, which makes it even easier to perform.
Equipment Required for Spot Welding
For spot welding, two main pieces of equipment are required. These are:
- Electrodes – Electrodes are typically made of copper, which is a low resistance alloy.
- Tool Holders or a welding gun – A tool holder to hold the electrodes as well as support the water hoses. The water hose conducts the coolant to the welding gun, usually a water and brine solution. There are different types of tool holders: paddle-type holder, universal, light-duty, and regular offset tool holder.
Of course, this does not include the materials, aka metal sheets to weld, and the electrical circuit. The recommended thickness of the steel metal sheet is 3mm or 1/8in and lower. When it comes to the electric current, it will depend on the thickness and the material that needs welding. Typically, for 2mm steel sheets, the standard welding current is about 8.3 to 11 kA. For aluminum alloys and other materials, a higher electric current is required.
How to Do Spot Welding
As already mentioned, spot welding is relatively easy to do. Here’s how to do spot welding.
Note: Before commencing the spot weld, you need to wipe the metal sheets as well as the electrode tongs. Dirt and lubricants on the metal surface and tongs can compromise the efficacy of the weld. Furthermore, dust and dirt can also cause sparks, which can be dangerous.
Assemble or line up the metal sheets to weld. This is assuming that the spot welder is already assembled and plugged in, ready to go. You should also check that the tongs /electrodes are in correct alignment. Use the adjustment knob to align the electrode in the right position.
Wearing a pair of welding gloves and eye protection is the next important step. Check out these leather gloves that are also heat resistant.
Using a pair of vise-grip pliers, clamp the two metal sheets and position them to the electrodes. We love these vise grip pliers from Irwin Store.
Once you position the swelling joint to the electrodes, hold the pliers steady with one hand. Using the other hand, press down the handle so that the tongs come in contact with the spot to weld. Turn on the switch and hold down the tongs for about 3-5 seconds.
Turn off the switch and remove the metal sheet you just welded. Allow the metal sheet to cool down before you use it.
Best Metals for Spot Welding
Spot welding is best for the following metals.
- Low carbon steel – This type of metal has high electrical resistance and low thermal conductivity, which makes it ideal for spot welding.
- Galvanized steel – This type of steel is coated with Zinc and hence the name. It is also a metal suited for spot welding. However, it requires a higher electric current than that of steel.
- Stainless steel
- Some other metals that can be spot welded are titanium, nickel alloys, aluminum, and cooper. These metals typically require high current and an electrode with exceptionally high electrical resistance, such as tungsten and molybdenum.
Comparison With Arc Welding
- Similar to arc welding, spot welding also uses electricity to fuse metal sheets together. However, the voltage for arc welding is substantially higher than that of spot welding.
- In arc welding, no external pressure is necessary. However, in spot welding, external pressure is necessary to form a successful weld.
- Arc welding requires a filler material in most cases to make the weld strong. On the other hand, spot welding does not require a filler to fuse the two metal sheets
- The temperature for arc welding is quite high. This needs careful handling so as not to damage the worksheets. But in spot welding, the temperature is quite low.
- Arc welding is best for repair works where some amount of metal needs to be deposited. On the other spot, welding is ideal for mass production.
The above list of welding metals without a welder is by no means exhaustive. However, these are the most common techniques and also straightforward ones. In addition, these metal joining methods are beginner and wallet-friendly. So you can try them out as a DIY at home without spending a fortune.
However, if you still want to try welding at home, these are the best welding techniques.
- Spot welding – For welding on metal sheets or wire mesh, spot welding is the best way to weld.
- Stick welding – To weld thicker metal with exceptionally strong welds, stick welding is recommended.
- TIG welding – This is best for welding smaller joints.
- MIG welding – This is great for indoor welding projects on a larger scale.
- Flux core – Flux core welding is ideal for large welding projects outdoors.
As a parting word, use protective gear such as gloves and goggles, especially if you are a beginner in the field of joining metals, without or without a welder.