Womack Report

May 21, 2013

More welding

Filed under: General — Phillip Womack @ 9:38 am

So, my willpower gave out, and I had to go play with my new workbench.

Also, I’m barbecuing for Memorial Day, and having a whole pack of people over, so I really wanted to finish up that charcoal shelf for my smoker.

Went well.  Clamping bench was, indeed, super-handy.  Combined with a bunch of random pieces of angle iron I have around, holding everything in position while I welded was a snap.

The actual project turned out well.  Barely.  I reduced the dimensions of the charcoal shelf by an inch each direction, just to be sure it would fit, since last time I only gave myself half an inch of clearance, and the project grew.  This time, it wedged its way in, rubbing the sides of the smoke box.  I had to do a little shoving, but I got it in.  I have no explanation for how hard it’s been to fit this thing.  I actually measured the interior of the smoke box, I swear.  Several times.  Either I have forgotten how to read a tape measure, or that smoke box’s internal dimensions vary from top to bottom, or something.

New lesson:  Welding rusty and/or dirty metal is lousy.  I had some expanded metal I’ve been using for the grate.  I figured I would just attach it to my new frame, after a little cutting.  I’m lazy, so I didn’t knock off all the surface rust and ash.  Lots of sparks, and the whole process was a lot more tempermental.  And I’m still not really confident that most of those spot welds are any good.  Doesn’t matter much, because they aren’t structural and there’s a lot of them, but it’s a good lesson in why you shouldn’t do that.

Also, I’m having buyer’s remorse over my chop saw.  I got tired of cutting angle iron with a hacksaw and a dremel, so I bought a cheap abrasive cut-off saw from Northern Tool & Equipment.  Six inch blade, which is very small for this type of saw.  This saw.  I figured that, as little metalworking as I do, having kind of a mickey mouse saw wouldn’t hurt me.  And the price jump for a larger, more powerful saw is big.  I’m on a budget, here.

To be fair, the thing worked just fine.  Cut right through the 1″ by 1″ angle iron I was working with.  It was way easier and faster than doing it by hand or with a Dremel.  Just line up the piece, and cut away.  Has a built-in vice to hold your work, which was nothing special but perfectly functional.  I don’t trust the miter gauge on it, but, when can you ever trust a miter gauge?

However, that abrasive wheel wore down fast.  I made a total of eight cuts, and on the last two cuts the wheel wouldn’t get all the way through the piece I was cutting.  And buying more wheels is apparently going to be an ordeal.  Apparently, six inch chop saws are uncommon.  I’ve only found them on Northern Tool’s website, nowhere else.  Not even in stock at the local store.  Trying to decide right now if I should try and return the thing and upgrade.  Seems like dirty pool to return a tool after I’ve used it and worn out the blade, but I’d hate to be stuck with a white elephant of a tool.

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