More Bad Welding


Tearing my shop down (my project for late last week) was depressing. After going to all the trouble to assemble the massive benches and bolt everything down to it, I had to unbolt everything and begin disassembly. It amounts to a repudiation of my own work.

Making sure everything is right has safety consequences, though, so I’m doing “full stop” whenever I can think of a way of making things better. That means a lot of re-arranging and re-thinking.

One of the things I realized was that putting my tools on the floor means I have to bend over in order to pick them up, and that means getting my face near my anvil, which gets hot. Time to re-think things!

My new design is that I will stand in the center of a circle, with the most frequently-used things to the front, near each other (“the very hot zone”) and less frequently-used things (like flux, annealing tub, etc) toward the rear. That means clearing more space and moving things around. The spare oak tree-round that I was using as a seat/stand – I moved it to another room – it appears that none of what I am doing involves being seated. Having a “lap” is just an inviting landing zone for sparks.

I got some L-bars, and a sheet of steel, and welded a pretty solid tray-oid thing. It’s intended to resist having hot tongs thrown at it, etc. It’s intended to be sprayed with plentiful WD-40. It is not intended to be pretty.

It seems about right. The angle can be adjusted by wrenching on it with a pipe-wrench.

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Oh, and to whichever of you it was who suggested that my annealing tub should be full of pearlite not cat litter: “you’re not kidding.” The fuller’s earth turns to a nasty powder when it’s put up against red-hot stuff. I’m setting up a new annealing tub with pearlite. It’ll also be lighter. It turns out that putting 4 or 5 bars of red-hot steel into a 15gal container of cat litter holds the heat really well. By the time it has sat for a while, the whole can is unpleasantly hot to touch, or open – and it smells.

Comments

  1. says

    “Pearlite” is a phase of steel, you probably mean perlite, expanded obsidian flakes? Those are very insulating. Also wery light. They float.

  2. dashdsrdash says

    Probably doesn’t need to be said, but just in case — you’ve got clear escape routes from your circle of equipment, right? And it’s not so small that you’re going to back away in a hurry from the piece you’re working on and fall on something which isn’t room temperature?

  3. sonofrojblake says

    Holy shit you were putting hot stuff on cat litter? The fullers earth is the least of it. Cat litter often contains PTFE, and you do NOT want to be nearby when that sees more than three or four hundred Celsius. It decomposes into all kinds of horrible stuff. Google “polymer fume fever”. If you’ve anything with Teflon in it near the forge, take note.

  4. says

    sonofrojblake@#3:
    Holy shit you were putting hot stuff on cat litter?

    Only red-hot thermal masses on the order of 4-5lbs of steel.

    I did, however, put a lid on it. So I didn’t breathe much from in there.\\

    Nothing else with teflon in it that I can think of.

  5. says

    dashsrdash@#2:
    Probably doesn’t need to be said, but just in case — you’ve got clear escape routes from your circle of equipment, right?

    Yep! And the escape route is not “into the milling machine” or “run past the bandsaw” (although I have a ‘all powered machines are off while working the forge’ rule)

  6. says

    Patrick Slattery@#4:
    Whatever you do don’t use the organic kitty litter!!! ;-)

    “Experiments showed that various combinations of nitrate salt, Swheat Scoop®, nitric acid, and oxalate self-heat at temperatures below 100°C. Computer modeling of thermal runaway was consistent with the observed 70-day birth-to-breach of Drum 68660,” the summary of the report concluded.

    You had me at thermal runaway. That’s two words that don’t go well with the other two words “nuclear reactor.”

  7. says

    Charly@#1:
    “Pearlite” is a phase of steel, you probably mean perlite, expanded obsidian flakes? Those are very insulating. Also wery light. They float.

    Yes, obsidian rice krispies.
    I’m going with a full-size garbage can, because I have room. I’ve been using a half-size and it gets tight and hot when I have a lot customers jammed in there.

  8. jrkrideau says

    Have you considered calling up the local university and asking for their kinesiology department?

    They and the industrial engineering department are likely good sources of advice on how to lay out your workshop.
    Knowing universities, a chance at a 4th year project, or even a master’s project like this would have them salivating.

  9. says

    jrkrideau@#9:
    Have you considered calling up the local university and asking for their kinesiology department?

    Never occurred to me! What a cool idea. I’m going to see what Penn State has for those departments and drop an email to the chair(s). It may be a problem that I’m almost an hour drive away.

  10. avalus says

    To learn in a dangerous environment nearly always followed up by rearrangement before something happens. (The other possibility is rebuilding from scratch after disaster.)

    It is good to see you taking action and putting safety as top priority even if it means a lot of work! And I think there is some beauty in the rough, no-nonsense welds.

    Better get rid of the litter. “A lid” does nor sound like a good way to deal with stoping gasses.

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