Monday, January 17, 2011

To Weld or Not To Weld

I was working for the boss in the Monster Pit (engineering dept.) and I had to repair a prop that was proudly labelled "Made in China".  That should say it all right there. But it is so sad to see products made so cheaply, by unskilled labour, for pennies, and at gunpoint...possibly...maybe.
The point is that a metal prop was held together by a dot...a miniscule dot of solder. Not even a spot weld. Poo poo caa caa. As a millwright I hear a certain saying a lot in the field. As a courtesy, I will be clean. But it goes like this - "You put crap in, you get crap out." You get the picture.

Getting back to the issue here, sometimes there are instances where a project or prop needs a sturdy frame. Or perhaps there may be a consideration of strength where twisting wire just will not do.
So consider welding that frame. Sure it can be intimidating. So was riding a bike, or trying that mystery meat casserole. But you lived! You don't have to be a millwright to be a home hobby welder.

Most home haunter's could easily get used to a small mig welder, which incidently is a wire spool feed. It doesn't take much to operate one and they are pretty forgiving. Unlike a stick or arc welder that really gets hot and can literally melt away steel and blow holes in your work.

The downside to migs up here in Canada is the cold. As I write this it is warming up to -4 degrees celsius or 24 fahrenheit, up from -19c (-2F). That unfortuantely makes the spool wire brittle inviting many wonderful opportunities to learn and use expletives in new languages.

But aside from the cold a welder can assist you in projects in a great many ways. Think of how much wood it has taken to build that frame. "This #%*!! thing is so heavy." What if you had made that frame out of tubular steel or aluminum? Totally tubular. Sorry had too.
It's stronger and lighter in some aspects.

Right now I have an AC only arc welder. Sure I wanted the AC/DC model but this one was on sale at Canadian Tire for 75% off.

I was like a cougar on a wounded chicken.
It has done wonders for me especially with a project that will be exhumed at a later date.
I have the flexibility to work with different thicknesses of steel, from thin sheets to heavier angle iron. I can also get a wide variety of welding rods to suit my task as required.

As in the picture I have the 1/8th standard rod on the left, the 3/32 rod in the middle and the 1/16th rod on the right. All are E6013 rods (easy weldablity) and each thickness is for a different application with different levels of heat. Think about it and the possiblities. Do you know someone with a welder (not me) who would be willing to show the basics just to fart around for an afternoon? To weld some scrap steel, chip some slag and get an awesome sunburn from the UV's. Great! Try it, consider it as a way to add on to your skills as a home haunter. Plus the neighbours think it's pretty cool watching the arc flash and realizing too late that their cornea's are fried and that their eyeballs are about to melt. 
Have fun, grab a stinger and strike an arc, but please, be careful, don't look at the arc flash without protection, don't weld near very flammable foam - POOF instant cyanide, and be aware of who is around you, kids are drawn to the arc. Good luck. 


  1. How strange, I was trying to decide whether or not to learn welding this year for props. I'm personally going to design a new prop and first see how much a local company might do it for against buying a welding machine and learning myself, unless I find a great bargain on one like you did. I agree, welding is the way to go (and have had a good case of cornea burn before! Wheee! Got to play Helen Keller for 2 days while my eyes healed!).

  2. We hear you. Great advice! Love our welder, we have several types depending on the project. And you are right. We love to use aluminum frames for things, so much lighter.