Friday, September 12, 2008

A Scrounger's Guide to Welding on the Cheap

Step 1: Set up a workspace if you don't already have one for welding. In my case, there is no workshop space at our house. My husband has a garage at his late mother's house, but this is strictly gearhead land, a mechanic's paradise with very little in the way of a carpenter's tools or accessories. Oh, and did I mention that said garage is pretty much filled bumper to bumper with old cars? However, the beancounter/gearhead did volunteer some goodies for my welding experiment. Voila! We have rotted sawhorses that have stood unused by the shed for decades, but remarkably, they still stand. Now, what to use for a work surface? Here's the big sacrifice, and trust me, if you know a gearhead, then you will understand why the gift of this car hood means almost as much to me as any gift I've ever received from my sweetie. When you live with a gearhead, you quickly learn to appreciate and respect cars. You do not lean on a car, doing so would leave scratches in the paint from the rivets on your jeans or from the keys in your pocket. You do not write in the dust on a car, no matter how tempting, doing so just grinds those dirt molecules against the paint and makes scratches. Heaven forbid you should ever set an object on a hood, doing could cause a major buckle. Taking all of this into consideration, then the gift of a spare car hood for me to clamp things to and melt things on and generally wreak havoc with-- that's quite a gift :)

Step 2: Be damn grateful for your packratting, junkloving relatives, for they will hear you say you'd like to try something, and they will inevitably produce an extra piece of equipment that you can have! Thank you, Uncle Ralph, for passing along the arc welder you bought sometime when I was just a wee anklebiter (and quite possibly a bit before I came into the world). I LOVE IT!! It works fine, and it will even weld thicker pieces than I thought (of course, I have to practice that particular skill, but it's nice to know the capacity is there when I'm ready). Thanks for the helmet, too! I replaced the regular dark lens with a daylight lens (my only real $ expense in this welding on the cheap experiment-- a whole 49 bucks).

Step 3: Play! Practice! Do something fun! I really wanted a welder so I could make raised designs on metal scraps, so that's what I played with the last two days while the kids were at school. I still suck at sticking two pieces of metal together, but I can see it just requires more practice. "Writing" with the welding rods is rather addictive, though! Oh, my, did I mention I had fun? After a bit, I was making crude designs, like these roses and vines I made all around this piece of scrap. Definitely need more practice, but hey, why waste an interesting piece of metal?

Step 4: Never throw away a practice project if you can possibly think of a way to use it instead of wasting it. Why waste it, indeed? I brought it home, proud as punch, and have proceeded to give it some faint color by coloring it with Sharpies! Unorthodox, I'm fairly certain, but once again, FUN! A little more grinding to soften the top and bottom edges, a bit of glass torching to make a sculpture to go with it, and I'll have a new Beadalina creation.

P.S. Did I mention I'm having FUN?


Anonymous said...

Well it seems that you need lots more practice . Now when I feel you can actually weld 2 pieces together that will stay together more than the time it takes to cool down you will be allowed to use the big boy toy , MIG WELDER . Then when you can weld / not melt stuff together / you may get to weld on my car . Not on the roll cage though , not that i don't trust you dear sis , I don't trust your welding . Do you have any comments

angelinabeadalina said...

Of course, I *always* have comments! I did indeed practice sticking things together yesterday. They weren't pretty, but I am learning. Each time I thought I had a weld, I would then take the two pieces and throw them down onto the sidewalk a couple times to see whether or not they held. If they held, then I banged on them with that handmedown hammer (what's that called, anyway? for some reason, I'm thinking it's called a slag hammer, but maybe I just made that name up?). After much @#$#$@% spewing from my mouth, I made an owl face out of an old pair of pliers of some sort and a couple of rusty washers. I thought often of what Uncle Ralph told me when he gave me that welder, too-- "If you aren't already an athiest, you will be by the time you get done playing with this thing." I don't know about changing religions, but learning it sure enhances the vocabulary :) By the way, why ever would you not trust me? You know I want just one chance to take that baby down the strip, so I have a vested interest in the roll bar being sturdy. Wait, I don't mean it that way...What I mean is that *I* will have no need to test the sturdiness of the roll cage, but I do want you to be safe!

Ramblings of a lunatic mom and lampworker said...


Now you got me thinking and my poor hubby dreading!!

That is so cool. I cannot wait to see where this all goes.

Have a super weekend.


ellen said...

So glad you're having fun. Pretty much - that's what it's all about. Can't wait to see what the future brings.

Deb said...

Sounds like you are having a blast Ang! Welding is fun!!

Nice to see some brotherly support & encouragement -lol ;o)

Ang - when you can weld two pieces together that will stay together *if that is your intention* - you might prefer a Big Girls Toy - a TIG WELDER ;o)

rosebud101 said...

I've wanted to learn to weld, but in actuality, I wanted to learn to solder. I didn't know there was a difference. The welding looks good! I can hardly wait to see what evolves from this.

angelinabeadalina said...

Hmm, I like your Big Girl Torch better than Bubby's Big Boy Torch, Deb...but I better not say that aloud if I want a chance to play with the MIG.

Mallory, you know what, I'm not too sure about the difference, either, except for the size of the tools or what you can do with it.

Mich, I think maybe I need to make a "boss button" here on my site so you can hide it if Ant starts to read over your shoulder and see what I'm up to that you might find interesting, LOL

Yep, fun is the word, Ellen :)

Right Turn ArtWerks said...

Holy Cow, now that looks like fun. BIGGER SOLDERING, yes! You need to make some custom stands for your totems with stained glass, fused glass, torched glass....whoo hoo. Gearheads and Wood Tics (my DH) sound a lot alike. Only difference I can see is sawdust and scrap as opposed to oil and grease. Here here for the handy guys and girls.

Deb said...

Ang - I think that instead of your hubby going to Australia again (after all that's where they sent all the convicts -lol!)- you should come to New Zealand.
We could have so much fun...for oh so many reasons. The garage here isn't allowed a car .....why? Because it's my garage...& I have power tools. Now if I want bigger power tools than those I have in MY garage - I go & visit my cousin - he has a workshop...his power tools are very VERY impressive. You know maybe I should go visit him & take some photo's.....

Maybe we could wrangle a deal, call ourselves students & work on some sort of international cultural exchange ;o)

angelinabeadalina said...

Hey, Sharon, I like the name "wood tics"-- now I know what to call my little brother :)

Dang, Deb, girl, you're making me drool over your garage! That would be so cool to have it all at your fingertips (and be just a visit away from your cousin's workshop, too). My little brother likes to tease me about being an utter newbie with all this stuff because I was the bookworm who never spent time in the garage at home and never took shop in high school. . . and now I'm regretting it! Oh, well, better late than never, LOL. Oh, yeah, there oughtta be some sort of international exchange program!

Cindy said...

Hi Angela,

Ooooo - you lucky girl - welding! Whoo Hoo! I love that flower. It definitely looks like you're having fun. Glass and metal are perfect companions. Look forward to what you create!