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

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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Not to disparage TIG at all, but I don't think TIG will be "way less" than O/A. The $199 job from HF does not include an argon tank or regulator, so add those plus an auto-darkening helmet to the cost. O/A: about $130 for a Little Torch set with hoses and 5 tips, two tanks, two regulators, and about $15 for goggles with a shade 4 lens.
Recurring gas cost with TIG will be higher than with O/A because argon gas flow rate is higher (20 cu ft/hr) than O/A to a torch and argon is more expensive than either oxy or actylene.
TIG can make very nice welds quickly, but it doesn't offer the additional option of brazing. If I were building an RB, I'd go with stainless rod silverbrazed with Handy & Harman Easy-Flo 45. http://www.handyharmancanada.com/TheBrazingBook/Section%203/Part%202-3.htm
Treebeard, if you'll email me your mail addy I'll send you a little sample of Easy-Flo 45 to play with. I don't sell anything, just have some that another RCM'er (Jerry Martes) shared with me.
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OK Don, I won't argue with your corrections to my numbers. I went with the Little Torch approach as well, and while I spent significantly more for the two tanks and regulators, upon review, I retract my earlier cost comparison. But when I googled for the 23-1004A (the acetylene setup) I found a cost of $495...
I also used the Handy & Harmon silver solder, but I would have to go dig it up to be certain of which exact grade.
This is the pointer to the double-headed torch tip: http://www.littletorch.com/tips.html
I still like my Pocket Pulse TIG setup better though...
Having written these messages, I think I am going to sell my Dillon/Henrob and Little Torches after I do some ebay research to figure out what they are worth.
I'll post the eBay numbers once I get around to listing them...
Thanx!

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On Sun, 8 May 2005 19:27:42 +0000 (UTC), "Don Foreman"

I was looking at the web site http://lucasmilhaupt.com/ (thanks for the link) Good information on brazing, and I was looking at some of their products, now that you've mentioned the Easy-Flo.
Easy-Flo 45 liquid at 1145 F 24% Cd     Joining ferrous, nonferrous and dissimilar metals and alloys with close joint clearances.
Easy-Flo 35 liquid at 1295 F 18% Cd     Similar to Easy-Flo 45, but used where joint clearances are large and fillets are desired.
The Easy-Flo filler has cadmium, which I'd like to advoid. (lol, I'm a picky eater, too.)
The following "Silver-Based Cadmium-Free Filler" , Braze 452, looks interesting:
Braze 452 liquid at 1260 F 45% silver (same as Easy-Flo 45) Low temperature, free-flowing, Cd-free alloy.
(http://lucasmilhaupt.com/htmdocs/brazing_products/brazing_filler_metals/silver_cadmium_free.html )
The biggest difference that I see with the Braze 452 is the higher liquid temperature.
So it looks like either the Easy-Flo 45 or Braze 452 .
Thanks for all the help!... I'll buy a torch, tanks, rods, filler, a helment, gloves, ......a big vice...... and then get some experience......It'll be weeks while I scrounge for some time.
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Hi, Emmo!
I'm in Georgia, but appreciate the offer.
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Flux-coated rods, or bare rods with flux from a can. Experiment with different brazing materials, including "silversolder", to see which you like best. Silversolder is pricey by the ounce, but a little of it goes a long way and it can be very strong. It also works well with stainless. It runs at barely-red temperature, so distortion becomes a non-issue.
Flux removal will be an issue, is easily accomplished with boiling water. Don't be stingy with flux. If you don't use enough it can load up with oxides and be difficult to remove. Excess flux that isn't loaded is quite easy to remove. Much or most of it will pop off if the joint is quenched with a squirt of water after brazing.
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Don Foreman wrote:

I'm going to watch for one of these torches, statements like that make me want one.. I've got to ask though, can you get a weld on the material in question with this torch quick enough to not anneal the material a distance down its length equal to its diameter? That's the point where I figure the annealing is going to become a serious issue and that's why I wouldn't have suggested a torch.
John
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I would say no unless the adjacent regions were heatsunk or otherwise chilled.
TIG might be better choice there, though I'd think even TIG would have a HAZ of a diameter or more without heatsinking. But annealing isn't an issue with mild steel. I've had no problem with stuff made out of 1/8" rod or even silverbrazing HSS twist drills on the ends of 18" mild steel extension rods for running wiring thru walls and floors -- including intervening studs and joists if that's what's on the other side.
If heat control of adjacent regions were an issue, I'd use TIG and "Heat-Stop" paste near the joint. http://www.brownells.com/aspx/NS/store/ProductDetail.aspx?p 21 Similar stuff is available at my welding store, probably at yours as well.
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Don Foreman wrote:

Yeah, maybe I felt more concerned about annealing than the situation would warrant. I'm going to watch for one of them torches though..
John
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Don Foreman wrote:

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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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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.
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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.
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treebeard wrote:

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..
John
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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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| 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.

I'd say for sure that you are very aware of all safety issues! However, you do need to look at them in the context of size and application and you'll see that most of the issues are small for your issue, eye protection notwithstanding. I had two ideas. One being brazing, and at higher stress points and for ease of assembly, slap some hog rings on the joints. You didn't describe how the wire crosses, so I assume that hog rings will do the job for a lot of points. Brazing right over the hog rings is definitely easier. My other idea is the spot welder. If you ever have a chance, look over commercial screen and grating and you'll see the wire is all connected with what appears to be spot welds. Continuous spot welds, done between rollers. For your money I think its the way to go. Harbor freight sells a 115V model for $150, with a max capacity of 1/8". For that kind of capacity, I'd actually go for the 220V model, but that depends on if you have 220V in your garage, and what kind of extension cord you need to run for your project. The only safety equipment I'd get would be some basic dark safety glasses, assuming you already have good clothes and gloves. Once you get going there'll be lots of flashing you'll see too much of with bare eyes. They sell replacement tongs for them and it might be worth having a set modified to fit your specific application. Best bang for your buck, as far as I'm concerned.
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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 Amazon.com 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.
Dan
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wrote:

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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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) snipped-for-privacy@7cox.net

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Personally, I'd choose brazing myself for this project, not just because I think it would be easier than welding, but also because I think the bronze color of the copper-based filler metals will add to the beauty of your work. After all, you are making an ornamental sculpture.
Here's a good source of brazing info:
http://www.lucasmilhaupt.com /
Regards, Michael
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