You guys!! I am in love with this project because it's pretty, but it also happens to solve a major problem in the setup of my master bathroom – which is that there are no towels racks within easy reach of the shower. Our shower is long and while there is a towel hook inside the shower area, it is too high for me to reach, and not long enough for me to try something fancy. This leaves a towel bar outside of the shower area, but it's outside the shower just enough that I have to fully get out to grab a towel and that is just not my fave.
So today I bring you my easy solution. If you need a similar solution or you need a place to hang blankets, this is a great project for you too! If this is your first time checking in on this series, you can catch up here and here, but essentially I will be bringing you a new project each month using one of the many fabulous Bernzomatic Torches! It is a whole new skill set for me, and maybe for you too so we will learn together along the way! Today our project brings a whole new type of metal joining in brazing which is similar to soldering, only it tends to form a stronger joint. This is important for us here since we don't have a typical joint with metal inside of metal but two independent pieces that we are joining.
Here is what you will need to make this project happen…
Safety is extremely important when you are playing with fire… so be sure to wear gloves, goggles and glasses to shield yourself from debris and burns. For this project in particular, it has tricky angles you will be working on so having a flame protector will let you work in an outdoor area without damaging your concrete or stone.
2 – Copper Pipe – 1/2″ x 10 feet
2 – 1/2″ Copper Pipe Caps
Cut your pipes to length and attach your pieces. You can cut your pieces to any length that works for your space or needs, just remember that whatever you use this for will probably need room to hang down a bit. My cut lengths are 4 feet for the tall legs and 3 1/2 feet for the shorter legs – you will need 2 of each of these. My mid sections are 20 inches and 19 inches.
Attach your elbows to the tops of both shorter legs and then attach your shorter mid section. It will make a U-Shape. Do the same for the taller section with your longer mid section.
Once you have both sections formed, you will want to find your best angle. By this I simply mean that whatever your lengths ended up being, they will have their own set of angles they will rest at, without being wobbly. To find my angles, I wrapped the legs together with some string placing the shorter legs on the inside and simply adjusted till they felt sturdy enough. They were roughly 22 inches (my taller leg) and 25 inches (my shorter leg) from where they met to the ground which means they were not making a perfect X-Shape and were instead more horizontal on the shorter leg.
Since this project precludes you from using clamps or a vice grip, you should mark both of you legs with lines that represent the angle of the other leg and then the actual dot point where they will connect. Mark them on the outsides of the legs so you can leave your markings intact when you clean your pieces. This will help you later when you need to re-position them since leaving them tied isn't an option either…
Once you know your angles, you are ready to clean your pipes – yep I said it. Use your sanding cloth and sand until it shines my friends, but try and avoid sanding off your marks. If you want to sand your entire piece now before you braze, go for it, just keep in mind you will have to re-sand a relatively large section afterward to remove the heat marks. At a minimum you will need to sand the area where your legs will meet and the entire area around your joint. This is to ensure a good connection and will help your brazing rods do their job.
Once you are ready to roll, lay out your flame protector and position your legs according to your marks. You don't have to leave your sections connected for this part, and in fact you would be doing yourself a favor by removing the elbows and mid sections for each unit while you braze these babies together.
// You will want to have a bucket of water nearby – just in case – or if you are outside, you can use your hose. If you are working near flammable materials – move them or move your work area – and if you have plants, trees, or mulch that might catch fire, you should give your surrounding area a good hosing before you get started.
You will want to flux the heck out of your pipes and you may even want to dip your brazing rod into the flux because heat and oxygen equal oxidation which is the enemy of brazing effectively. Trust. Brush it on and ready your torch because you won't want this to sit too long before you get to work. It makes a difference.
For a snippet about using your torch, follow the instructions on the package, and also read here – It took me a second to figure out the trigger (because duh, I didn't look at the diagram, and only read the directions…)
The main difference between our last project and this one is that brazing produces a stronger joint, but it also has a higher melting point so it will require more heat to melt your brazing rod. Just as we did with soldering, we will heat the joint and when it's hot enough, the joint will melt the rod. We won't heat the rod directly. So light this baby up and start to move your flame over the section of your pipes where you have your flux. You will want to heat your joint until you see it glow, which is far longer than necessary with solder and for me this part took a couple of minutes at least.
Once you see your pieces glow, move the heat to another part of your pipe so it continues to heat but isn't heating where you will be working. Then touch your brazing rod between the pipes and see if it is hot enough to flow. It took a few tries for me to get to this point where my pipes were hot enough to actually melt my brazing rod so if you see that it isn't happening, move your rod aside and heat a bit more, then try again.
If you notice that your pipes have oxidized before you manage to melt your rod, let them cool so you can clean them and flux them again then apply your heat in the same manner you previously did. This will help you get to where you need to be since the oxidation keeps the brazing rods from working their magic.
Once your joint has been created for both leg units and your pipes look thoroughly charred, let your pieces cool completely and use your files to remove any clumpy sections of your brazing material. If you don't have any clumpy or messy spots, then simply use your sanding cloth to remove your heat marks and you are ready to piece things back together!
If you want to spray your towel rack with a waterproofing sealer, go for it. The oxidation and patina of copper is quite beautiful, but I hardly thing you want rusty towels. Enjoy!
This awesome-sauce project was created in partnership with Bernzomatic and is part of an ongoing series between that fabulous company and The Design Confidential! Yahoo. All crazy talk and opinions are 100% my own… you know – as per the usual.