Figure 6-2.Soldering copper heads.
Figure 6-3.Filing a soldering copper.
The handle, which may be wood or fiber, is either forced
or screwed onto the rod.
Soldering heads are available in various shapes.
Figure 6-2 shows three of the more commonly used
types. The pointed copper is for general soldering work
The stub copper is used for soldering flat seams that
need a considerable amount of heat. The bottom copper
is used for soldering seams that are hard to reach, such
as those found in pails, pans, trays, and other similar
Nonelectrical coppers are supplied in pairs. This is
done so one copper can be used as the other is being
heated. The size designation of coppers refers to the
weight (in pounds) of TWO copperheads; thus a refer-
ence to a pair of 4-pound coppers means that each
copper head weighs 2 pounds. Pairs of coppers are
usually supplied in 1-pound, 1 1/2-pound, 3-pound,
4-pound, and 6-pound sizes. Heavy coppers are de-
signed for soldering heavy gauge metals, and light cop-
pers are for thinner metals. Using the incorrect size of
copper usually results in either poorly soldered joints or
Filing and Tinning Coppers. New soldering
coppers must be tinned (coated with solder) before use.
Figure 6-4.Tinning a copper (solder placed on cake of sal
Also, coppers must be filed and retinned after overheat-
ing or for any other reason that caused the loss of their
solder coating. The procedure for filing and tinning a
copper is as follows:
1. Heat the copper to a cherry red.
2. Clamp the copper in a vise, as shown in figure
3. File the copper with a single-cut bastard file.
Bear down on the forward stroke, and release pressure
on the return stroke. Do not rock the file. Continue filing
the tapered sides of the copper until they are bright and
Remember that the copper is hot! Do not
touch it with your bare hands.
4. Smooth off the point of the copper and smooth
off any sharp edges.
5. Reheat the copper until it is hot enough to melt
6. Rub each filed side of the copper back and forth
across a cake of sal ammoniac, as shown in figure 6-4.
7. Apply solder to the copper until it is tinned. You
may rub the solder directly onto the copper, or place it
on the cake of sal ammoniac. Do not push the iron into
the cake of sal ammoniac, because this can split the cake.
When sal ammoniac is not available, use powdered
rosin instead. In this instance, place the powdered rosin
on top of a brick. Rub the copper back and forth to pick
up the rosin and then place the solder directly onto the
copper. (See fig. 6-5.)
Commercially prepared soldering salts are also used
in tinning soldering coppers. These salts are available in