Another VERY important factor that must be considered in order to produce high-quality torch-brazed joints is that special people with special skills are needed. What do I mean by this?
Torch brazing is a special process that needs to be done by qualified personnel who not only know how to properly handle a brazing torch, but they must be very comfortable doing so. Not everyone can perform good brazing using a torch, even after much training. Some people are just not comfortable holding and using a torch with that hot flame on the end of it.
I like to use the analogy of a football game. Which players are out on the field running the plays and trying to score a touchdown? It’s the star athletes – those who are not only trained in the details of the game but who can carry out those details with wonderful skill and dexterity. The want-to-be players are those sitting on the bench because they’re not quite good enough to be the starting players on the field. Who are the people in the stands watching the game? Those are the people who may know all there is to know about the game but lack the skill necessary (for a wide variety of reasons) to become someone on the field or even on the bench. The same applies to torch brazing.
Torch brazing, in my opinion, should ONLY be performed by “brazing athletes” (i.e., those who have the skills and the comfort level necessary to be able to braze well with a torch and produce good-looking brazed joints time after time). I’ve seen situations in a variety of companies where torch brazing was just a slightly better-paying job given to those with more seniority in the company instead of being treated as a critical-skill job offered only to those who could demonstrate that they were a “torch-brazing athlete,” so to speak.
Many people I’ve worked with tend to assume that torch brazing is a skill that anyone can learn and that if they go through a certification process it means they are indeed good enough to do high-quality torch-brazing work on a high-volume basis. Unfortunately, in my opinion and in my experience, that just is NOT the case. Yes, torch brazers should become certified if possible, but certification itself does not guarantee a quality job. The torch brazer must also have the innate skill to do the job well.
In part 4 of this blog series, I’ll look at some of the details surrounding correct torch settings for good brazing, as well as how and where to position the torch for proper brazing productivity.