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Well Done, Weld One: 10 Paragraphs On Welding

In Be a Guy, Cat Skull Studio, Did You See This?, Tool Kit on March 16, 2013 at 8:02 pm

This originally appeared at the Good Men Project and I thank them for the exposure.

2Anvil (1)

Back in my bar days more than once we started and accomplished a drunk just talking about welding. I recall a guy who worked on 6″ thick aluminum tank armor discussing tricks. Another pal had learned from ship makers and tried to explain how they could move massive plates into alignment with the heat of the weld. As with most besotted lessons I didn’t learn how to do these things, but I was aware of the possibilities.

A good man’s skill set includes changing physical things, to create wealth & tangible items, to make & repair. A good man knows you can’t heal the world, but you can change your immediate surroundings. In much of the country the question is “who’s got a welder?” I’ve heard plenty of guys say I wish I knew how to weld. I can weld, I’m not a welder.

1It is not rocket science unless you are working on rockets. Or high pressure steam. Or gas or oil transmission. Or fire escapes on which people’s lives depend……

Weld Burn- a 6' high top rail on a lax goal is overhead for me,

Weld Burn- a 6′ high top rail on a lax goal is overhead for me,

2Safety Rules. I’ve rarely started a fire with a clean station and a fire extinguisher handy. Don’t stand in a puddle of water. Work in a well-ventilated place. The leather thing is not a Village People thing- protection goes a long way towards strong welds; it is tough to concentrate on the puddle when you are on fire. You don’t need the full kit- but don’t wear polyester which will melt and weld with your skin. Yeah I know; eye protection is for sissies & one-eyed mechanics, I wear glasses under the welding helmet or face shield. I wear a leather apron because I’m tired of pulling cup brush needles out of my scrotum. Once you use an auto-darkening helmet you’ll never go back.

3- MIG Welding is not as easy as caulking. [neither is caulking .] You can buy a wire feed welder for the cost of a golf outing. Get a pile of scrap, cruise YouTube and you can make stuff pretty damned soon. Follow the directions, flip open the cover on a MIG welder and there will be a handy guide for setting amperage and wire feed speed. Technically I’ve been talking about flux-cored arc welding. Add inert gas and a different wire and you really are MIG welding-gas metal arc welding- which has it’s advantages.

Flux Core Welding vs. Solid Core Welding With Gas – Kevin Caron

4- Stick welding, shielded metal arc welding isn’t as hard or dangerous as it is supposed to be. It does raise sparks and the work gets red hot. Make sure you have the right electrode, both for your machine and for the application you plan. Read the package for amperage. Buy new rods for anything semi-important; if you are getting anything from this piece you don’t have an oven. Yeah I know it’s not the tool, it’s the craftsman but dry electrodes work a lot more effectively. In my experience woodworking, carpentry, logging and bar tending were a lot more dangerous than welding.

How To Weld: Understanding Stick Welding Duty Cycle by ChuckE2009

5- I have no personal opinion on TIG welding, other than I pay a pretty penny to have it done, it is worth it and it is pretty. Anyone who would like to assist me in having an opinion on the subject I’m available nights & weekends. I’ll bring my own hand tools and lunch.

Tig Welding Stainless Steel Repair  by Jody Collier

6 Torch welding/brazing and faggot welding are subjects for another article. [Faggot welding is a blacksmithing process here; it’s a marriage equality issue on the rest of GMP.]

Blazing Brazing byKeith Fenner

Faggot Welding by Keith Aspery

7- Cheating isn’t cheating, 40 some years of on & off welding and within the past year I saw a guy guide the end of a new, long, rod to the joint with his off hand- Brilliant. Lay the project on it’s side or set it on milk crates, whatever makes it accessible. You don’t need to make each assembly a 6G test. I recently clamped a plywood angle to the table parallel to a joint I wanted to look great and drew the rod against it; it worked. Clamping is not cheating.

8- Preparation is time well spent, clean rust, scale & oil off of the material. At the level that I weld there is no percentage in blowing through rust, paint and grime. Grind bevels at the joints, space the joints & preheat the pieces. A good ground is as important as a good lead. Make a dry run through the length of the joint, better to know how you will get there before you have to get there, wear your helmet during the practice. Clamping is a must.

Stack of Dimes by Jody- a Big Boy

Stack of Dimes by Jody- a Big Boy

9- A stack of dimes bead in not inherently strongest- but when you run one, you will take a picture.

10- Certification is a bit tricky, there is AWS (American Welding Society) certification , In-House certification (let me see you run a bead) and Get-Er-Done (can you fix this?). With a welder in your tool kit things need welding. My rule of thumb is: I’m certified to do whatever I feel comfortable doing. I’ve been paid to make things and that qualifies as certification for that project. That being said I wouldn’t touch anything “go fast” like a motorcycle frame. I would repair a bumper for you. For me I’ve got joist hangers holding up the floor of the bedroom where I sleep most nights that were inspected by an engineer and that I made.


Octagon Box

The Complete Anvil Stand

Anvil for Cat Skull Studio

In Cat Skull Studio, Tool Kit on July 12, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Fisher 1893- why not Oxblood?

Since I can’t find a 200 # unit, nor do I have the room- this will have to do for now. The plates add maybe 50# to the equation.

Historically anvils are supported on a log butt or a concrete plinth in shops.

There are some subtle details that I’ll brag on a bit here. The bevel on the bolts is a nice touch. To do this I put the bolts in a die & ground them by eye on a bench grinder and rethreaded the ends backing them out.  I did think about hardening the ends by heating and oil quenching and decided that would be onanistic.

Welding the stand pipe to this will be a chore- I sold my old Sears Home/Farm AC buzz box. Frankly it was a pain in the ass to even strike an arc on this machine, the amperage was inconsistent and one didn’t get all that much penetration. For this I will either use my woefully under powered Lincoln MIG or maybe try to get some time on Tom’s equipment. If I do the work in house I will gap the joint, preheat and run multiple,passes. I’m thinking this morning that it could be a real bone breaker if this stand fails.

Tacked it and played with it, turned out one of my framing squares is out of whack. Gapped it just about 13/64th.. Preheated the hell out of it, turned the amperage all the way up & the wire feed way down. The root and first cap passes were cherry, the others probably just for show.. Ground & cup brushed between each pass. Looks pretty good, sounds solid. Seems I got the layout correct too, if it balanced without the base. The center of mass & the geometric centers are different.

Please read the rest of this and view the pictures

Craftsman Circle H Ratchet

In Cat Skull Studio, Tool Kit on May 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Circle H Craftsman Maybe a cheaper/value line rather than extremely old... The ratchet mechanism does not lock in forward or reverse. Evidently the Circle H means it was made in New Britain, CT between 1931-1947. Sears rolled out the Craftsman line in 1927.

Circle H Craftsman Maybe a cheaper/value line and not extremely old… The ratchet mechanism does not lock in forward or reverse. Evidently the Circle H means it was made in New Britain, CT between 1931-1947. Sears rolled out the Craftsman line in 1927.

The Need to Putter

In Cat Skull Studio, Tool Kit on April 26, 2012 at 3:39 pm

When I started this Blog I was unemployed and needed the intellectual stimulation. Now I need the physical.

There are a few things going on here:

  1. I’m close to some major changes in my life- so time to think is important.
  2. I’ve noticed over the years in this kind of situation mastering a new skill set is important.
  3. I’m returning to my hippie roots?
  4. This is a tune up for a major piece of furniture which will include wood and metal.
  5. Somehow this shape jumped into my head one day.

Don’t know what got into me, cold roll 14ga steel, 16d cut nails, Lincoln mig wire & bee’s wax– maybe the last of my bee’s wax…

Thought about templating the layout onto Mylar or flashing and then decided to one off it…

Glued paper to the sheet for layout and visibility- too much time on the computer plus age… cut it out with a saber saw

The wings are eyeballed to be ¼” (1/2 “ overall), on each top side, wider than square, to accentuate the flare….

Textured the metal on a 30# usher anvil (no such thing in the anvil forums) I pulled out of the trash (same haul that I got the machinist vise and a woodworker’s vise that needs some babbet pouring), which I’m probably going to bust if I ever mount it the proper height…. Read the rest of this entry »


In Be a Guy, Cat Skull Studio, Tool Kit, Work on July 30, 2011 at 10:21 pm

I was an outlier in an arcane art- hammering. Mostly nails, but I busted a lot of things with a hammer and have driven many stakes and fence posts.I can tap down the concave in Japanese chisels and plane blades.I can peen bolts to hold forever and set saddle rivets. I’ve driven a few nails in hooves and hammer forged tools and implements in iron and steel.

I own dozens of hammers; from 10 pound mauls with 30″ fiberglass handles to 200-year-old upholsterer’s tack hammers. 28 oz waffle faced framing hammers and rig axes. Shake axes and dry wall hatchets. Ball peen hammers of all weights. Shot filled, rubber and wooden mallets. Steel handled Estwings and a nifty Tim Allen with a wooden doe foot handle. Curved claw and ripping claw. Shop sledges with jury rigged pipe handles and a 22 oz trim hammer on which I fit an 18″ hatchet handle.

I have hammers with friction grooves, magnets and spring-loaded ball bearing gizmos designed to allow the mechanic to start the nail with an awkward reach. While I eschew novelty hammers- I’ve driven more than a few staples with the hammer on a fence tool.

My grandfather taught me to drive nails in workbench top projects in a front moving circular method that I’ve never seen anyone else use and only use as a trick.

I taught myself to swing a sledge and a maul when my mother decided to stop paying for split firewood. (I also became adept at putting new handles on these instruments of destruction).

I installed kitchens with nails before there were cheap electric screw guns and cheaper phillips head screws.

I’ve driven Jesus Spikes on log cabins and pushed wire brads into picture frames.

I set a million roofing nails w/ one tap in a million 3-tab shingles and the same goes for 8dHG’s on cedar shake roofs, masonite siding and T111.

I know how to shake roof barbs in a stripper and I can bundle and align a handful of commons while lighting a cigarette.
I know 6d on cedar shingle siding and 4d on asbestos siding.

I’ve hammered the driver on flooring machines to cover an acre.

I still feed nails with an odd under hand hold that has my fingernails towards the work which exposes less chance of busting a fingernail. (Another aside I believe in and use the practice of melting through a fingernail with a red hot nail to relieve a blood blister.)

When I started framing houses, California style, it was all about driving 3 1/4″ 16d (penny) Cement Coated Box nails– box nails have a smaller shank than common nails. Like the big boys I could soon knock them home with one swipe. I pioneered, or invented, the technique of simultaneously driving two framing nails to pull crowned boards into alignment. There are dozens of guys who would still think of me when they use this trick I taught – if anyone still used nails.
I drove thousands of pounds of finish nails into trim. Turning the point to cut and not split was second nature to me. I could drive a nail flush without leaving pecker tracks and bring a nail set into play without fumbling the nails in my hand. Someone taught me the trick of setting the head of a common nail on exterior work with the head of another nail held sideways and extended that technique to breaking the skin on hardboard siding. I figured out it is more effective to clip the points off nails, rather than try to blunt them for a board end where splitting is a concern. I’d like to think there are dozens of carpenters who still carry Klines after seeing that trick.

I dumped a handful of clothes washing powder into 50# boxes of framing and drywall nails to make them easier to set. I greased trim nails with soap, wax and in a pinch by rubbing a 4d along the side of my nose, or an 8d through my hair. I now know this lubing significantly effects the nails holding power.

When I first hung drywall blue ring shank nails were the only way to go. The first nails I drove into concrete were cut nails.
I was partial to Plumb brand wooden handled hammers- steel gave me tennis elbow.

Now 90% of nailing on a job of any size is done with tools using pneumatics, gas combustion, electric battery or powder.

Better yet half the assemblies are now screwed together.

My pride in this skill is the same some old boy felt in 1911 because he was adept with a buggy whip.

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