More Power + Metal = Melting Metal!

Not quite a tech tip, but still pretty darned fun and interesting, is the subject of welding. For me, this means playing with the MIG welder that I own and am steadily improving my skills in using. If you plan on doing any serious car customization work and don't have a welder - either buy one or make friends with someone who already has one. They are an invaluable and very handy tools once you learn how to use them properly. I've now used mine to work on custom engine brackets, fix stress cracks in the inner door skin of my son's car, and helped my friend Fred to rebuild his weight-lifting/workout machine into something much more useful than it was before. (Hey, I didn't say you could only use it on the car! :-)

Once you get a welder, you'll quickly find out that you need a way to cut all that metal you're melting together - and that means hacksaws, grinders, files, possibly a welding torch, and for the truly deep-pocketed maybe even a plasma cutter. The basics are cheap enough - a hacksaw, some metal files, and a small air grinder will get you a long way. Getting into more serious "power" metal cutting tools, you might want to look into an air nibbler, a grinding blade for your circular saw, an air body saw, and maybe a reciprocating saw with some metal cutting blades. I've found the "start small and buy as you need for bigger jobs" method to work well and survive the inevitable budget scrutiny from my wife. Your budget and mileage may vary.

Once you start working with metal, you'll find that although it's a lot harder than wood, the same sorts of principles are involved when you cut it and shape it. (You can't weld wood, though...) If you're new to all of this, consider a class at your local college or trade school to "get your feet wet" and learn the basics.

 

Two pieces of hard won advice if you plan to buy a welder - 1) If you get a MIG welder make sure you get one capable of using shielding gas and use it, and 2) Get an auto-darkening welding helmet from someplace like Harbor Freight. These two things are a bit pricey, but they will help improve your welds dramatically, especially as a beginner.

 

MeltingMetal.jpg (577024 bytes)

(Thanks to Fred Walton, a good friend of mine, for taking a picture of me in action with the welder.)


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Page last updated 01/02/2009 01:51:39 PM