Category : Best Of Welding and Blacksmithing

13 posts

Anyone who has experience with fireplaces knows that burning wood directly on the floor of the fireplace doesn’t really work. A good fire needs good air circulation, so it’s almost imperative that the logs are lifted off the ground a few inches. There are many types of fireplace accessories out there that will solve this problem, although andirons are usually the best and most attractive option.

Using Wrought Iron Andirons

Many people use a traditional wrought iron log rack in their fireplace. They work well, they’re sturdy, and they can be nice to look at. Wrought iron andirons have one major advantage over fireplace racks, however. Since andirons are not attached to each other, you can move them closer or further apart from each other depending on the size of your logs.

Andirons have some major design advantages as well. Since they’re always made with tall front support beams, they can really become the focal point of your room. People’s eyes are always naturally attracted to the fireplace, and having beautiful wrought iron andirons framing your hearth can really look impressive.

There is one final benefit of using wrought iron andirons that many people never consider. Iron has the ability to absorb and retain quite a lot of heat. Even when your fire has gone out, your andirons will remain hot and will continue to heat the room. In this sense, they’re also great for energy conservation and for keeping your room warm for longer periods of time.

I have an ’89 F-250 with an externally regulated alternator. I researched weldernator conversions and I wanted to get some first-hand experience before I altered my charging system. I collected some parts and built an alternator welder powered by a lawnmower (see my blog for details). It worked well enough for me to justify converting my F-250.

Modification Process

I picked up a large project box from Radio Shack, a double-throw switch, an automotive battery disconnect switch, a choke/throttle cable, and a 200 volt DC gauge from eBay. I had some 6 gauge wire, jumper cables, 110v outlet, and a 60 amp winch disconnect plug laying around the garage. I made my welding cables from the 6 gauge wire. I used the jumper cable clamps for the ground and electrode clamps. I used some scrap 5/16″ copper tubing to make some butt connectors to attach the wire to the winch plug.

I fitted the volt gauge, outlet, and double-throw (DT) switch into the project box. I used the studs on the volt gauge as the junction for all of the wires. The battery disconnect switch breaks the connection between the alternator and the battery to prevent overcharging. The center post of the DT switch is wired to the “field” post on the alternator. One of the remaining switch posts is connected to 12v+ and the other post is connected to the “field” wire from the voltage regulator. The switch allows you to bypass the voltage regulator and full-field the alternator by sending 12 volts to the field post on the alternator.

Most guys use welding disconnects to attach the wire to the control box, but I had the winch plug so I used it. I was going to use welding ground clamps and electrode holders, but I wanted to be able to reverse the polarity if needed. The welding plug prevents me from plugging the wires in backward so I used the jumper cable claps as the ground and electrode holder. They can easily be switched from ground to electrode and the price was right (free).

The 110v outlet is wired to the positive and negative posts on the back of the volt gauge. It can be used to power a 110v AC tool that has brushes (saws all, grinder, drill, etc). It can also power anything that uses a transformer like a cell phone charger and incandescent light bulbs. The choke/throttle cable is needed to bump up the engine rpm and generate the voltage needed for welding or operating the power tools. I swapped my large alternator pulley for the smallest one I could find. It spins the alternator faster and lets me keep the engine rpm’s lower while welding. I upgraded the positive wire from the alternator to a 6 gauge wire. It runs to the positive post on the volt gauge where it connects to the positive side of the winch plug, 110v outlet, and the battery disconnect switch. The battery disconnect switch is connected to the positive side of the battery. The negative side of the volt gauge is connected to the alternator with a 6 gauge wire. It’s also connected to the negative side of the 110v outlet and the negative side of the winch plug.

How to Use it

The first step to using the welder is to turn off the battery disconnect switch separating the battery from the alternator. Plug in your welding leads and flip the DT switch from charging to welding. Pull the choke cable until the engine reaches the desired rpm’s. My large body Ford alternator generates about 70 volts at 2,000 RPMs. I get good penetration in 1/4″ steel at that setting with a 3/32″ 7018 rod. I was worried about overloading the 6 gauge wire and the winch plug, but they were not hot after burning through 3 rods. The alternator was warm but did not seem to be too hot. Make sure to switch back to charging mode before you reconnect the battery to the alternator.

If you have an alternator with an internal voltage regulator or do not want to modify your charging system you can add a bracket for a Ford alternator to your engine. You can search the junkyard for a bracket to modify or make one from scratch. If you do not have room under the hood you can simply remove the second alternator when you are done welding and store it inside the vehicle.

For cabinetry with a more hand-made look, many people choose to use wrought iron hardware and accessories. While wrought iron may not be the most durable of materials, many people are drawn to the rustic look and feel of it. Wrought iron provides a medium for many artists, so if you are looking for handmade, one of a kind items, wrought iron is a good place to start.

Because wrought iron has the propensity to rust over time, make sure to choose a durable lacquer or finish when selecting hardware made of this material. Some may choose to pursue the darker traditional look, letting the true color of the iron shine through with the aid of a protective coating. Others may opt for a color lacquer, with will also protect the metal against damaging moisture.

What is so Special With Wrought Iron

Decorative hinges are easy find when seeking out this particular material, largely due to the history of the material itself. There are actually three types metal that are classified as wrought iron, yet only two of these materials are actually true iron. Charcoal iron was the original version of wrought iron, and was the metal of choice for blacksmiths before the eighteenth century.

During the nineteenth century, technology was made to improve the strength and malleability of iron, whereby puddle iron was created. When you come across genuine antique wrought iron hardware, it is most likely made of puddle iron. Because the consistency of this iron was easier to control, more decorative accents could be included within the hinge and handle design.

Finally, most new wrought iron hardware is actually made of mild steel, as it has recently replaced puddle iron in the hardware industry. While this material does tend to be stronger than traditional wrought iron, it also tends to corrode and has a shorter life span. However, despite this shortfall, mild steel’s strength and consistency has given wrought iron hardware a broader range of options in style and design.

Blacksmithing is a 3,500-year-old profession. Blacksmiths were working on metal projects as far back as the Bronze Age. In the past, blacksmiths had to rely on manpower to get the job done, but nowadays, industrial blacksmithing power hammers are helping to make the work much more efficient.

Significance

The Blacksmithing profession has come a long way from manual labor to a more automated process. Blacksmiths no longer have to toil long hours over the same slab of metal; industrial blacksmithing power hammers now make the job easier. Additionally, metalworking products are of superior quality compared to what was produced in the past.

History

Blacksmiths have been around since the beginning of modern civilization. In fact, the blacksmith profession can be traced back to the Bronze Age (about 3000-1500 BC). Blacksmiths were the toolmakers and manufacturers of their time. They were responsible for constructing tools, weapons, and machinery out of bronze, steel, and iron. There were also decorative and architectural blacksmiths who made gates, fences, and artistic pieces.

When completing these projects in the past, Blacksmiths had to rely on pure manpower; they had to hammer steel and iron by hand. This is why many blacksmiths had to be strong and able-bodied.

Luckily, today there are industrial blacksmithing power hammers available for metalworking projects.

Benefits

Compared to elbow grease, industrial blacksmithing power hammers have a lot to offer modern blacksmiths in the way of convenience and ease of use.

There are two main types of blacksmith power hammers: mechanical hammers and air hammers. Mechanical hammers use a crankshaft to power the machine, while air hammers are powered by air cylinders. These motorized hammers can deliver up to 500 pounds of force. The additional power allows modern blacksmiths to bend metal more accurately. You can easily adjust and move the metal you are working on, which helps shape the entire metal piece with greater precision. For example, if you need the metal to bend at a sharper angle in a certain place, you can set your blacksmithing hammer accordingly. So all in all, you will get a better quality product when you use a power hammer.

Challenges

There are a few downsides to industrial blacksmithing power hammers. For one, these hammers are much more complicated to use as compared to a regular hammer. With the basic hammers Blacksmiths previously used, all that was required was a good grip on the handle and some manpower.

But you have to be trained to use an industrial blacksmithing power hammer because there are many settings to navigate. Also, a power hammer is a dangerous tool; you have to be sure that you are taking every safety precaution when using one of these machines.

A lot can go wrong when welding and metal fabrication is involved. Let’s watch a real incident that I personally saw.

The Incident

As I drove toward Morton, IL to go to my weight loss group, I could see huge billows of smoke rolling into the air. I was still in Washington, IL, and heading toward whatever was on fire. I assumed it was in the commercial area of Morton to be throwing smoke in such huge amounts.

As I got closer and closer, I could see that it was Morton Welding that was on fire, and I was astonished at the amount of black smoke that was being thrown from the building. The traffic was moving at a crawl so I had the opportunity to snap some photos of the smoke. As I got to where I could see the fire itself, the flames looked like they were shooting 100 feet in the air. It was approximately 6:15 pm that I drove by.

The traffic was horrible and I was astonished at the number of people that were pulled alongside the road and standing outside of their cars just watching this scene.

The fire began at approximately 5:50 pm on Thursday evening. Reportedly, a pile of plastic pallets had caught on fire, then caused several propane tanks to explode. I have never learned how these pallets caught fire in the first place. Still, protection is vital when it comes to metal fabrication. Employees said that the blasts were so large that they could feel them rumble the building.

Thankfully, all of the second shift employees escaped unharmed. Morton Welding employs approximately 500 people in the facility, and approximately 130 people were working on that shift.

The damage to the building was not as bad as it could have potentially been. The exterior metal was melted by the heat of the flames. After a few hours, the employees returned back to work, and only a handful of night-shift employees weren’t able to work that evening due to damage.

It could have been a terrible loss to Morton had the fire been worse. The company has been in this town for 40 years and makes parts for such large companies as Caterpillar and John Deere. We are thankful that no one was seriously hurt and that it was under control quickly!

My husband was brave enough to share his experience in tig welding with me. He is not the most patient person, but he does enjoy showing me what skills he has acquired when he can slow me down enough to teach me. Sometimes being asked to step into the man’s world is a benefit for the relationship. I know I was impressed at how much he was able to convey to me in such a short time, which didn’t even touch the amount of knowledge he has to carry around in his brain on a daily basis!

So, from a woman’s point of view, an amateur welder by far, and from the perspective of a wife, here is what I learned about tig welding in one afternoon! Although I was proud of the courage I showed to give it a try, I was still amazed at how something can look so simple but require so much thought. My list is not necessarily in the proper order.

1. Argon comes in mixes. The best tig weld to be had requires 100% Argon gas.
2. Know how to hook up the Argon.
3. Know how and when to sharpen the tungsten. The tungsten is the metal piece that you strike to begin and continue welding.
4. Know how to strike your tungsten.
5. If you have no Argon gas, it will burn up your tungsten.
6. Know how to keep your tungsten from sticking to your metal.
7. Know how to hold your torch.
8. Wear your gloves to protect your hands from accidental injury (burns included).
9. The cup comes in different sizes. The cup is the sleeve around your tungsten.
10. The cup gets very hot.
11. Know how to ground.
12. Hook up the lead to the positive side of a tig/arc welder for tigging so that the Argon gas can flow.
13. Know how and when to adjust your temperature.
14. Know how to turn on your welder.
15. Know how to grind your welds to clean the rough edges.
16. Know how and when to use filler rods.
17. Filler rods come in different sizes.
18.ALWAYS wear your welding helmet.
19. The best welding helmet is adjustable for the size of your head and has an auto-darkening lens.
20. Know how to change your lens should it become necessary.

Let it be noted that while I definitely would require much, much more practice before I could claim any positive achievements in this field, I still very much enjoyed what I learned and observed. Thanks to my husband and to all those welders (male or female) out there who make this skill a part of their lives to help provide something useful for our world.

By taking what is considered one of the most intricate manufacturing processes and automating it, companies can increase efficiency of output at a lower cost, to keep profit margins higher and sustain better levels of quality. This article will explain the benefits of hard automation.

Traditionally, most manufacturing companies in the business of assembling parts have taken great pains to automate the factory floor, but have failed to address the welding process. In some cases, manual welding is still required. However, in many cases these days, most welding processes can be automated, given the advancements in software, tools, and technologies that support it.

Important Factors

The key to knowing if welding automation applies to a process relies on some key considerations:

  • · Is the quality or function of the weld critical in the final piece? If so, these are the applications that benefit most from automation.
  • · If repetitive welds are required on identical parts.
  • · If parts have collected a great deal of value before welding.

Some examples that are perfect candidates for automated welding are:

  • · Capacitor Cans
  • · Valve Elements
  • · Batteries
  • · Sensors
  • · Pipe Fittings
  • · Medical Components
  • · Fuel Filters

Automating the welding portion of the assembly for these types of items bring costs down, increase quality and consistency, and decrease waste.

The overall quality of a weld consists of weld integrity and repeatability. Using automated welding systems, like that offered in orbital welding machines, yields integrity through automated weld process controllers that consistently apply the correct amount of weld on every application, for every part.

Efficiency and output increases when welding is performed by machines. They can be tuned to weld to exacting standards, which is oftentimes not attainable on a consistent and long-term basis through manual welding. Automatic and semi-automatic systems remove the human factor from welding to increase production rates.

Human factor and errors are also removed by automation of the torch and any moving parts. Automation guarantees each weld is like the one before it. The same consistency, the same application rate, and the weld only occurs if all requirements are met. Humans tend to overlook small inadequacies and weld over them. Machines will not do this, which means results will be consistent and less product will be scrapped as waste, another savings in cost.

Most semiautomatic systems can produce, at a minimum, twice the output of a skilled welder with quality results. Machines also are on duty when you need them. If workers are unable to come in, you lose production rates, unless you can find skilled replacements. Finding skilled workers has become more challenging. However, finding a core set of skilled welders who can operate automated machinery is an easier goal to reach, which makes automated welding an option that bears increased cost-savings.

Conclusion

It is always important to remember that automation does not always guarantee profitability. The welding process being automated must fit the criteria for automation in order to yield desired results. Taking care to study and analyze what you plan to automate before making the investment will help you make the most of your investment dollar, and achieve greater profitability.

 

Blacksmithing requires many tools that help the blacksmith make objects from metal. Many wonderful items are made by a blacksmith like gates, horseshoes, and plant hangers. The metal is heated and pounded into the desired shape. Hammers, tongs, and files are some of the tools used by a blacksmith.

Most blacksmith tools are made of iron but some have wooden handles on them. These wood handles need to be kept clean. You can keep them clean by taking a clean soft rag and soaking it in some tongue oil. The tongue oil cleans and conditions the wood to keep the wood moist. If the wood gets too dry it can split or crack and ruin wood. A wood handle that is not cleaned and oiled will eventually need to be replaced and that can be more costly and time-consuming than keeping it clean in the first place.

Protection from Corrosion

Hammers, tongs, and other metal parts need to be oiled as well. The metal can rust even if it is kept in a dry place. Humidity can create rust on the metal in the best conditions and it can make the tools less desirable to use. If the rust is allowed to get too bad it can destroy the tool. To prevent your tools from getting rusty you need to coat them with a thin layer of oil to protect them. You can take a soft rag that has some tongue oil on it and rub it on the metal parts. Make sure you only spread a very thin layer of oil on the metal and then rub the tool with a soft dry absorbent rag to soak up any remaining oil. Let the tool air dry for a few hours before you use it.

Tools that get wet should be dried off as soon as possible to prevent the metal from forming rust. You can use a soft cotton rag to soak up the moisture and let the tool air dry completely before storing or oiling the tool

Blacksmithing tools should be kept in a dry place. The less moisture that the tools are stored in the better the tools will keep from rusting. You can hang the tools on a wall so air can get all around the tools. You can also keep them in a dry toolbox until you are ready to use them.

Conclusion

Those were some of the most important methods that you can use. Take good care of your tools so you can enjoy forming hot metal for years.

There is no clear cut way to becoming a blacksmith in this day and age. There are no apprenticeship programs or university degrees in blacksmithing. But if you are determined to become a blacksmith, there are ways you can learn the trade.

Blacksmithing, once a common occupation, is no longer a necessary trade due to modern machines and technology that can much more quickly and easily make the tools and other metal work that blacksmith made in the past.

As there is no formal education system for blacksmithing, you will need to forge your own path on the road to becoming a blacksmith. Some blacksmiths will take on an apprentice, but you will need to do the work to find one who will. You will need to network and make calls, and ask around. Some blacksmiths don’t like to have an apprentice. It can be a liability to have an unskilled apprentice underfoot. A blacksmith’s shop is a dangerous place, with expensive tools and equipment.

Tips for Becoming A Blacksmith

If you are serious about becoming a blacksmith, you should have some skill in metal working. You can take a courses in welding and metal working at your local college. You should have some form of industrial safety training, and these courses teach safety measures for working with hot metal, and you will learn how to use metal working equipment properly. Taking these courses may also help in finding an apprenticeship faster, as any blacksmith you approach will take you a little more seriously, plus he will know you will be less of a hazard in his shop if he decides to take you on as an apprentice.

The Artist Blacksmith Association of North America, or ABANA, is an excellent resource for those trying to enter the world of blacksmithing. Go to their website and find a local affiliate group, (or the nearest one to you that you can find), and attend meetings. You will be able to gain important knowledge on blacksmithing opportunities, and meet professional and amateur blacksmiths. Networking is important for many career choices, but in blacksmithing, it is almost a necessity.

There is much to be learned from books, blacksmithing publications and websites. Much of your training will come from classes and workshops run by other blacksmiths. You will have to do your research, as these are hard to find.

Conclusion

In the world of blacksmithing, you have to dig for opportunities. They certainly won’t come to you. You must be diligent and persistent, and do a lot of research to find your way to becoming a professional.

Floral forms and leaf work are among the most challenging types of metalwork. This is due, in part, to the visual delicacy that must be achieved in metal. Then there is the inevitable comparison with the ‘real things’ found in nature.

The range of leaf and floral motifs is as broad as the types of process that can be employed to achieve them. They can be incised, chased and made from sheet, plate, round or square bar, with processes that are hot in some examples and cold in others. This new series on floral motifs will cover the processes that produced everything seen here and more.

As you work through different leaf or floral forms realize that much of the leaf work seen in a historic context was the product of specialists. They were blacksmiths who just did leaf work in styles, and with tools, that they had begun to use as children in an apprenticeship. If they started at 10 years old, by the time they were 30, they had 20 years of focused experience.

Tips for Creating Such Patterns

As blacksmiths today, we are usually generalists rather than specialists so it may not be practical to focus and master the entire realm of floral process and effects. Instead, pick what you would like to master in the way of style and process, then learn the tools and techniques while doing test (practice) pieces.

 

Pay close attention to each step taken, each tool applied and the temperature (color) or annealing of the metal, so that specific adjustments can be made. Things to consider include a more polished, softer-edged tool to reduce tool marks; the need to anneal more often to end cracking, to use rivets instead of a weld or where to modify a pattern to make cutting easier.

 

Floral forms and leaf work, in architectural ironwork or furniture, need to be addressed at the drawing board before the first metal is cut or forged. Here are some things to work through at the drawing board, using a leaf as an example.

 

Purpose: What is the leaf supposed to do for the design? Is the leaf to fill a space, cover a joint between two or more bars, be a decorative flourish, add color?

 

This decision (“hmm, all of the above”!) leads to; Process choices: Will the leaf blank be repousse’ in sheet, forged and formed from bar stock or cut and chased from either a forged blank or sheet metal? Before this answer is chiseled in steel, one other consideration is…

 

Joinery: How will the leaf, as it fills a space, covers joints while adding a colorful, decorative flourish to the work, actually get ‘fastened’ to that work? In some cases, joinery can influence the choice of process. Hence, having decided the use or ‘purpose’ for the leaf, joinery and process are co-considered. What follows is an example.

 

The room divider shown above has bronze leaf work that covers joints in some places and serves as colorful finials in other places, such as on some scrolls. The leaves in both applications use the same patterns* and forming process. Where the leaves differ is in the joinery. The stem of the leaf that covers a joint is formed and then riveted onto the bar stock. The stem of the leaf at the end of a scroll is rolled into a tube and gas welded onto a forged bronze bar which is in turn brazed to the prepared end of a forged steel scroll. The leaf patterns had to bemodified so there was material in the right place for their respective joinery. Once these location-based joinery decisions are made, the process and pattern can be addressed.

 

Now it’s time to head to the shop. Full scale patterns with the joinery resolved and which are matched to the right materials, tools and process, will make floral forms and leaf work much easier.

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