Is Your Copper The Same As My Copper?

Photo of a copper mobile

Lovely copper creation

Anyone who’s into DIY, crafts, fine arts, or anything else where you create or repair things knows that the part you need can often be found under multiple different names, often in five different sections of three different stores, and labeled in four different ways… even though it’s all the same thing.

For example, copper tubing can be used for installing refrigerators, in a still, for a craft project, hammered to make jewelry, even work hardened to create a hanger for your stuff. You’ll find the tubing in a variety of places such as plumbing supply houses, craft stores, jewelry supply catalogs, corner hardware stores, and here at

Okay, but so what? Well, to continue the example,  while copper tubing is typically called copper tubing pretty much everywhere,  it comes in different grades and sizes, as well as soft and rigid versions. Your project might require refrigerator grade soft copper tubing because you plan on repairing a water cooler, while an art project may just need the malleability, color, or patina of copper, so the grade may not matter as much.

Photo fo copper tubing

Soft copper tubing

Some places will label their tubing differently depending on what type of person or profession they are marketing to, so whatever you need, definitely confirm that the copper labeled simply as 1/8” is really 1/8” OD (outer diameter), 1/8” ID (inner diameter), or something else you never thought of (what do you think nominal means in the plumbing world?).

While we used copper tubing as our example in this post, the idea really holds true for any component for any project, be it a computer chip, a paint color, or a pipe fitting. So, always be sure to double check the specs of what you need against the specs of what you find to make sure it will work for your project. If you’re not sure, ask! Better “waste” a few minutes double checking and be sure you have the right thing than have to start the hunt again.

Photo of brass compression sleeves

What could you do with these?

Ever found something you needed for a project in an unexpected store/department/location? What was the weirdest project component or component experience you’ve had?


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