Constructing a Copper Pipe Trelliscomments (2) March 19th, 2009
by Margaret de Haas van Dorsser
from issue #23
I’ve been making copper pipe trellises since reading Build a Copper Pipe Trellis in Fine Gardening magazine. To make the trellises, I use copper plumbing pipe from the hardware store. It comes in 1⁄2-inch and 3⁄4-inch sizes, with fittings to match. I prefer the 1⁄2-inch size for smaller trellises. When designing the trellises, keep in mind the available fittings are Ts, sleeves, and 45° and 90° angles. With these as the only limitations, you can create great works of art to support your vines.
In addition to the pipe and fittings, you’ll need a few special plumbing tools: a 4-in-1 brush for polishing the copper pipe and fittings; a paste called flux, which cleans the copper and keeps it from oxidizing before the solder can be applied; a roll of silver solder wire; and a self-lighting propane torch.
Set up your workstation where ventilation is good—outdoors is perfect—and wear eye protection while soldering. Avoid heating any flammable things around you.
To solder the joints, first clean the inside of the fittings and the outside of the tubing with the 4-in-1 brush. Smear the cleaned places with soldering flux (wear latex gloves to keep your hands from getting filthy from the flux and the copper residue). Then assemble the parts. Finally, heat the joints with a soldering torch while touching silver wire to the joints. When heated sufficiently, the flux will pull the silver into the joint, making a tight seal. Voilà—a beautiful trellis.
For a detailed discussion of soldering, see Soldering copper pipe (FineHomebuilding.com).
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