Novice questions: easiest safest way to join 1/8" round stock? Safety Issues

I've read a book (Richard Finch's) and some internet material, own no equipment but can buy what I need, and have no prior experience.

I would like to make what amounts to ornamental "sculptures", as a hobby

100 pound load, about 2 yards X 2 yards in size draft then design as I go over several months, -- I need to do the welding myself using only 1/8" round steel stock welded together and about 1000 small welds.

oxy-acet-- I don't have a safe place to store the tanks -- I have a house with an attached non-ventilated garage which gets to 130F in the summer. Covenants forbid storage sheds. I could probably put a small

1-2 yard tall box with ventilated sides in a well-shaded area, although it would get a little wet. Would this work? Summer temperatures reach up to 110degrees here. If I could get around the storage issues, I would use small tanks since tank refill versus convenience is not an issue. What kind of torch would I need?

wire-feed mig -- will a 115volt house current welder be able to do the job? I'm really concerned about the ultraviolet radiation which is why I would prefer the oxy-acet. But I suppose mig is what most novices are using. Would a decent fan blow safely blow away the toxic fumes? Probably. I've read the automatic darkening eye helmets allow some UV radiation through while they're darkening. UV eye damage is cumulative.

brazing? Not sure if I could join two 1/8" round stock rods together so they'd stay together. I'm trying to imagine two rods, one lying on top of the other, perpendicular, and I see not much of a contact area for a braze (1/32 of an inch?) particularly for someone who doesn't know what they're doing.

spot welding? -- too thick

So, from what I know up to now, it looks like a 115v wire-feed mig with a good helmet and all the other clothing protection, with a fan to blow fumes away, and some type to sight baffle so kids and pets don't look at the flame, or, if the storage works as described, some type of oxy-acet welder, which I would prefer. I would buy from the local supplier and make sure they would refill.

here's a link to fume and other safety issues:

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UV eye damage Prevent Eye Damage - Protect Yourself from UV Radiation fact sheet at
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You are smart to seek out the dangerous parts of the task.

Of all the processes you mentioned, I would use the MIG.

Yes, it is dangerous. Protect yourself at all times. Buy the best equipment you can afford, especially safety equipment.

UV rays will give you skin cancer, but that is to EXPOSED SKIN. Wear long sleeved shirts, I prefer Wrangler with the snaps. Wear welding hats. Wear boots that slip on so that the dingleberries (molten BBs of metal) don't go down into your socks. Don't wear any pants or clothing that has frayed edges. It WILL catch fire. Wear good gloves. Good welding gloves are around $15 a pair.

Get a good autodarkening hood. Wear it at all times. I like the ones with the 4x5 window.

Wear ear protection. A molten dingleberry will burn through your eardrum in an instant, and can mess up the rest of your life when it comes to anything that requires balance. I like the spring clips that hang around the neck when not in use. The sponge rubber types get dirty too easily.

If you will be spot welding, the fumes won't be bad. You can't have wind blowing on your weld with a MIG, but you can have a fan pulling the air away from you. I wouldn't be concerned about the fumes unless you are welding in a confined space. Clean the metal, because that is the source of a lot of smoke.

Buy a good wirefeed welder. Cheap ones are attractive, but you can't get parts as easily. Good ones last a long time, and are easier to get serviced. A cheap one isn't a deal if it isn't working or in the repair shop. Look for used. I would stick with Lincoln or Miller only.

Buy good tools. They last, and are safer.

Observe all safety rules. Particularly shop clutter, and having flammables around the welding area.

Good luck.


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1/8" is coathanger stuff (well, heavy coathangers). Welding is almost impractical.

Sure. Get a torch, any torch will do, even a small propane plumbing torch, it'll take a while though - heat up the joint evenly keeping an eye on temperature, heat the tip of the rod, dip in flux (a box of borax laundry booster is a lifetime supply), melt the borax and, when liquid, dab it on the joint. It'll spread out above red heat. When it reaches orange heat, the rod will melt and slightly hotter, flow into the joint by capillary action.

Two 1/8" rods crossing isn't much strength, but the surface tension of brass braze is enough to make a pretty thick connection. If you stick two pieces together well and try bending it apart, I bet you'll find it bending and breaking outside of the joint.

I see stuff like this spot welded all the time; just a matter of finding a spot welder spec'd for it. Probably not a problem; such thin material I bet can be done with the Horrible Freight unit.

Personally I would go for O/A or oxypropane (gas is cheaper) and braze it.

Arc welding is probably going to blast right on through, not to mention all that machine and capital for teeny 1/8" joints. It would definetly be the best thing if you have any solid stuff to tack together.


-- "California is the breakfast state: fruits, nuts and flakes." Website:

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Reply to
Tim Williams

Why not simply store your tanks in the corner until needed? Its not rocket science. Try to keep them away from open flames and check your valves periodicly for leaks. If worst comes to worst...Rubbermaid makes a very low profile outdoor shed..what I call a shovel cabinet

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Tuck it up against the wall outside, put a padlock on it and voila..instant outdoors safe storage.

as for toxic fumes, ultra violet and whatnot...simply open the garage door (assuming your home owners ass. lets you keep it open). Maybe a breezebox fan in the corner.

No one is going to go blind while watching you weld, from the street. Children on skateboards will not suddenly swerve into traffic or mailboxes, dogs will not go catatonic and cats heave up glowing in the dark hair balls (it only sounds like it). If you cant keep your own kids from watching the have bigger issues afoot.

I think you would be best served with O/A or even tig. Mig is not really designed for this sort of fine work in my opinion..which is worth exactly what you paid for it. Least not in the hands of beginners like you and me.


"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

- John Stewart Mill

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Until you get better answers from some experts, a couple of comments:

You're smart to think safety first. Keep thinking that way as you learn.

Brazing would be more than adequate, although I'm not recommending it (nor anything else -- recommending specific things is for the experts). Brass ("bronze") brazing rod will make a nice, strong fillet. I have made a campfire grill and a charcoal grill from 1/8" mild steel rod and brass brazing, using a MAPP torch for heat. It was slow, too slow for 1,000 joints, for most people, and it heated so much of the wire that both grills wound up being a little noodle-like. However, the joints are strong as hell. I'm still using one of them after 20 years.

If you're cheap (something I can identify with) and if the appearance of the joints isn't important, consider stick. The first welding I ever did was stick-welding of this type. It will stick things together, and, physically, that's all you need. If you graduate to welding airframes, move away from stick.

If you're going to be doing 500 joints at a sitting, consider MIG. But I can't see why you'd need the gas. I'd first try flux-core. It's better in the wind, anyway. Then get some good brushes for clean-up.

Have fun. If you enjoy it, it's a very liberating way to do metalwork.

-- Ed Huntress

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Ed Huntress

I'd use O/A. MIG is too fast to have any control joining 1/8" rods to each other. TIG would work well, but O/A would work very nicely with a lot less investment.

You could make a lot of such joints per fill, either welded or brazed, with small O/A tanks that are easily portable to a space of habitable temperature when not in use. I'd go with a 20 cu ft acetylene and 40 cu foot oxy, the pair mounted on a light hand truck. No problem going up and down stairs with such a rig, and the bottles are easy to handle when going for refills.

I would strongly recommend a Smith Little Torch with a #4 or #5 tip for this work.

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this and .035 MIG wire for filler, I'll bet with a little practice you'd be making sound welds of good appearance. The small torch will offer better control while using significantly less gas than a larger torch. Another plus is that the hoses are very light, which contributes to control and lack of fatigue on small work like this. Don't be deceived by the size; it is quite capable of welding 1/8" steel rod as quickly and well as a larger torch. Might want a #6 or #7 tip for 3/16" or 1/4" rod. The web page says "up to 1/8" steel, but they must be referring to angle iron or sheetmetal. I braze 3/8" rod with mine with no problem.

Your weld time would be a few seconds per joint: quick enough to be acceptable while allowing enough time to retain excellent visual control of the process. Crossings could be welded, but they might be better done with brazing which the Little Torch also does very well. There's plenty of contact area for a good braze because the braze metal (bronze or nickel silver) will form a fillet. Strong cross-joints are very easy to make quickly with these materials.

I'm not making this up. I've had and used a Little Torch and bottles as described for years. I also have MIG and TIG, but I'd use the Little Torch for the work you describe.

Safety: these joints are so small that the precautions prudent when doing heavier arc welding are a bit absurd here. Use of good goggles with a #4 filter would be mandatory. Kidskin welding gloves as Tillman TIG and MIG gloves aren't mandatory but might save some burnt fingers. These gloves are thinner and much more supple than arcwelding gauntlets, afford much better feel and control. I don't bother with gloves when using the Little Torch.

Have fun!

Reply to
Don Foreman

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Hey Everybody!! This is great!!! Thanks to all for the detailed specific advice and encouragement. Everybody gave really helpful advice. I'm excited!

After reading all the messages, I'll try the oxy-acet and weld and or braze (whichever seems to work best), the small bottles mentioned above, and the safety clothes and equipment mentioned.

I plan to store the bottles outside in a cheap plastic box (like Gunner mentioned) with ventilated sides. It shouldn't get too hot out there, and theft shouldn't be a problem where I put it. I could store it in a downstairs storage room, but that's underneath the kitchen and I'm paranoid about blowing spouse and daughters up.

I'll take it slowly....., peeking around the corners as I go...

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Hmmm. Then I wonder where those nuclear hairballs are coming from? Might be proximity to Indian Point plants....

I would also point out that 1/8 inch stock would be just fine for even a reasonably sized spot-welder, if he's only making crossed joints.


Reply to
jim rozen

Spotwelding would be best. Exceedingly efficient on this joint, minimal warpage (your work will end up more like you want than with other processes) and very fast. Don't believe the "too thick" idea, I think you'd find that even a little hand-held Miller unit would perform well on this. Look at the joints on a shopping cart, they're spot welded (bunch of wires at a time, typically, on a serious machine) and very seldom fail.

Really, that's the best process for the job. Anything else is going to be slooow and will present you with all sorts of warpage and annealling issues.. You'll have no fumes, or at least very few, no eye protection needed outside of good glasses..


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JohnM wrote in news:427d14ed$0$28841 $




I really think what we are talking about here amounts to spot welds.

1/8 stock is almost going to be a limp noddle before you ever get it weilded with A/O A good 115 volt wire weilder is what he needs
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My wife recently had " Surely you're Joking, Mr. Feyman " on cassette tapes from the library. In it Mr. Feyman desribed how ho watched the first test of the Atomic Bomb from inside a pickup truck becasue the glass would absorb all the ultraviolet. So although sunlight can be really bad for the eyes, wearing glasses protects you. THey don't even have to be dark glasses.

But the way to go is a spot welder. Welding wire at right angles is perfect for spot welding. The current has to go thru right where you are welding. With sheet metal it can and does go out to the sides and to the other piece of metal. So a spot welder that is rated for 1/8 metal total thickness, would probably do two 1/8 inch thick wires even tho the thickness is twice what the spot welder is rated for.

I have a mig welder and would never recommend it for what you want to do. Brazing with propane and air would be better than Mig.

In Seattle we recently had a meeting of the Seattle Metalheads. Grant as usual did a good job of organizing it. He arranged for Michael Porter to talk about gas burners. Michael is the author of " Gas Burners for Forges, Furnaces and Kilns " ( available ot for $16 plus. ) You could buy his book and make your own propane torch which you could use for brazing. Or you could buy a " Hi Heat Torch " which uses propane and compressed air. Michael says it works really well and produces higher heat than his burner ( that does not require compressed air, so it really isn't apples to apples )

If you let me know your address, I will send you a couple bits of 1/8 inch welding rod brazed at right angles with silver braze, and maybe a couple joined by spot welding. I will have to kludge up a spot welder so that might take a day or two.


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A post script to this after sleeping on it: another good choice for you might be the Meco Midget torch.

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I've not used this torch but I've found that The Tinman's recommendations work well. There is some overlap in capability with the Smith Little Torch. The Little Torch will do smaller stuff than the Meco, the Meco will do heavier stuff than the Little Torch, both are very suitable for joining

1/8" rod. If you're more likely to want to go larger than smaller (than 1/8" rod), the Meco Midget might be a better choice. Another consideration might be that additional tips for the Meco are about half the cost (each) of those for the Smith Little Torch. Yet another is that the Meco has a bit more standoff distance, which would be an advantage for heavier work where more heat is involved. Kent (the Tinman) sez the Meco gets pretty hot with the larger tips, but he does mostly sheetmetal: more area radiating heat. I have no problem with the Little Torch with a #6 tip, but I'd use an aircraft torch (more like the Meco) for sheetmetal that I wasn't welding with TIG or MIG. That would be thin aluminum (
Reply to
Don Foreman


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Little Torch

A Little Gem or other micro torch would be great for your application. They use a fraction of the gas that regular sized OA rigs use. If you can afford it, TIG is also very good. It is basically an electric torch that can be set to work very fast to minimize warpage. Bugs

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"Bugs" wrote in news:1115548687.313995.267880

IIRC from illumination on the subject of warpage vs method, in the sci.engr.joining.welding newsgroup, O/A is the worst, followed by TIG, then stick, with MIG generally causing the least. I think this was comparing the same welding job.

Reply to
Ken Moffett

Perhaps for fab work as in building a trailer. Warpage isn't an issue when working with 1/8" dia wire. If it bends while welding it, bend it back after welding.

Reply to
Don Foreman

I think the big issues will be melting through, warpage, and the biggest: HOW YA GONNA KEEP THAT JOINT TOGETHER WHILE YA . . .

My wife wanted me to save one of those old fold up "bring it home from the grocery store" wire things. It was bent a little and many of the original welds had let go. I tried OA, but the stuff drooped like spaghetti and I had the devil of a time keeping the joints together. I finally used fluxcore wire feed with the Orange County Chopper method of tacking (closed my eyes). I really wanted to try a spot welder, I still think that would be the direction in which to head for looks and ease.

(top posted for your convenience) ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Keep the whole world singing . . . . DanG (remove the sevens)

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Thanks, Dan. (see my reply to Don for the project details) Looks like I'll be brazing and welding with the O-A, the welding for the butt-welds to join the rail sections together. The roller ball sculpture that I saw years ago, from what I remember, looked like it was brazed together only, with a tiny gap between rail sections, although I didn't know enough back then to tell the difference between a braze and a weld and memory is kind of fuzzy. I do remember the gap between the rails, though. I plan to butt weld the rail ends together.

Michael (treebeard)

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Where are you located? I too have been inspired to make RBSs, and have already been down this path. I started with O/A and a Little Torch, silver soldering stainless rod. I used the two-headed torch tip to heat the joint all around, and used a flux and food grade silver solder. Then I bought a Henrob Dillon O/A/ torch. But I was still dis-satisfied with the joints.

So I have now gone to TIG. I took a series of welding courses at the community college and then bought a small Daytona Pocket Pulse Tig Welder for $450 on eBay. But if I was starting over, I would buy the Harbor Freight TIG welder for $199, which is way less than the O/A Little Torch setup will cost you.

If you are near Austin, I would be delighted to have you come over and try these out...

Good Luck!

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