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Probably a stupid question, but I'm trying to learn how to solder copper pipes and am gathering all the tools I might need. I currently have a fitting brush like this one, but wasn't sure if it would suffice to remove any burrs when cutting the pipes, or if I needed something with a blade.

Bonus question -- would the fitting brush also work for cleaning the outside of the pipe before soldering, or is an emery cloth the way to go for that?

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The fitting brush will work if you use it with the proper sized copper pipes. When I say it will work I refer to cleaning oxidation off pipe and fittings. You should expect reasonable results for both the outside of the pipe using the holes in the tool and for inside of fittings using the brush.

This brush will not work well for removing burrs on the end of cut pipe. For that you need some type of reamer tool for the inside of the pipe and a file for the outside edges if you are cutting with a saw (a rotary pipe cutter will not leave a burr on the outside that would be of any note).

In the end, sans the tools of various types, there is still emery paper to clean up pipes and fittings too. Steel wool works too but may leave more debris inside pipes and fittings.

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The local code in my area requires that the burr on the inside of the copper pipe or tubing is removed prior to soldering. Most well made tubing cutters have a deburring blade integrated into the tool, but for large scale pipe work a separate deburring tool called a reamer works way easier and better. Contrary to previous answers, a hack saw does not leave as much of a burr on the inside like a tubing cutter does, and there is nothing wrong with using a hacksaw if you use a fine-tooth blade and cut straight.

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If you do not remove the internal burr, it causes turbulence downstream of the joint and over time causes damage to the pipe called erosion-corrosion

  • Twist-a-Burr (or other brands) is one of the best tools I grew up not knowing about until I took some metal-shop classes. I wouldn't be without it, and they are not even expensive. Also, using your fitting brush inside pipes may make it not work as well on fittings, since the inside of the pipe is smaller than the inside of a fitting. – Ecnerwal Jul 6 '15 at 17:55
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Having used both the brushes and sandpaper, I can say the brushes are far better.

However, when using the fitting brush on the outside, you can't turn the pipe back and forth - it bends the bristles the wrong way.

If you have a lot of pipe, get the power drill version. Much faster. You can also get pipe reamers for your drill, but if you use a tubing cutter you really don't need it - the cutter provides a clean edge that requires no further preparation unless you are inserting your finger in there. If you are cutting pipe with a hacksaw you will need a reamer, but as cutting pipe with a hacksaw is just nasty we are back at the tubing cutter again.

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