Sculpture Workshop: Time
Chess Clock – ever wonder how much time you are actually in the shop? Wondering why your projects are taking so long to finish? It is very easy to take a restroom break, grab another cup of coffee, do an email quote, return a phone call – suddenly an hour has gone by. This clock will keep you honest. I label the right clock face “In” and the left face “Out”. My general philosophy is do to a minimum of 25 hours in the shop each week, and another 25 hours at the desk. Desk work is for quotes, marketing, website & photoshop work, answering phone calls, accounting, blogging, new designs, research, etc. As a sculptor, I have to wear many hats and be good at everything. It’s the nature of the business. Fortunately, I seem to enjoy whatever I can focus on.
Sculpture Workshop: Comfort & Safety
Standing Pads – I buy standing pads at Lowes. They are economical but come in a 9×9 grid. I cut these into 3×9 sections with the band saw, just the perfect size. 6″ of 50 year old, super-hard concrete is very hard on the feet after a few hours.
Red Wing Boots – These are wonderful, and American made. I can’t tell you that they are they best work boot ever made, but I was so happy with my first pair I wore them out and am now on my3rd pair. I am happy to spend $200-$300 on a pair of boots that keep me on my feet all day. I usually buy the steel toe boots – nothing has ever fallen on my toes, but sometimes I need to kick something heavy to get it to move. Then I enhance the comfort with their heat-moldable ultra-cushioning inserts. Right now I am wearing the #4437 6″ boots: luxurious. Incidentally, they will resole your old boots for $75. I plan to try that soon.
Welding Masks – I buy these from Enco, but there are probably many suppliers. Ask for their free catalog – many great products for the sculptor and metal artist. I went too many years without wearing a breathing mask when welding, grinding and sanding. Don’t you do that too.
Sculpture Workshop: Welding
Heat Sponge – warpage is a constant problem with all welding but especially when welding aluminum. This stuff can really help, especially with 1/8″ aluminum. You don’t want to be spraying your welds with water as you weld – that really screws up the welding. With 1/4″ aluminum plate, which I use for bases, you will also need to put a wet towel beneath it – heat sponge isn’t enough. Generally with heat sponge, I put a thick layer on about one inch from where I’m welding. You know it’s working when it starts steaming. It can be re-used: scrape it back in the jar, add some water and stir.
Latest thinking: this stuff is messy and hard to clean up. Just use a normal sponge soaked in water, or a wet towel.
Tig 1/8″ aluminum: use AC, balanced and a 2% lanthanated 1/8″ electrode – doesn’t ball up! Keeps a nice sharp tip at 125 amps.
Tig amp reminder: Set amps to match metal thickness + 5%. 16 gauge steel = .062″ –> 65 amps. 1/8″ aluminum = .125 –> 130 amps. Sometimes you want to set it a tad higher, to get that heat on fast to get the puddle started, then back it off a bit with your foot pedal.
Tig electrode reminder: Usually match the electrode to the metal thickness. 16 gauge steel = 1/16″ metal –> 1/16″ electrode. 1/8″ aluminum –> 1/8″ electrode. However, a thicker electrode handles the heat better. I will stay with the largest electrode for welding aluminum.
Splatter Guard – Finished your sculpture, but seen one spot that needs a little touch up welding? Protect the rest of the sculpture from splatter with your old green welding coat. Non-flammable and saves a lot of unnecessary clean up time. Frankly, I don’t like the spray stuff, except to spray the mig welder nozzle. The spray stuff creates a silicon-hydrocarbon greasy film. Just more mess to clean up with the acetone. And keep those acetone rags away from the welding. A welding splatter spark set one of those on fire yesterday.
Incidentally, if you are getting splatter, it means your travel speed is too slow and you are shooting your wire into the puddle, not at it’s leading edge.
Does Alumaloy cosmetically repair holes and dents in aluminum – nope. You can buy this stuff at the hardware store, etc. but it’s basically crap. Brittle, breaks with the slightest bend. Bonds poorly to aluminum. Maybe the Durafix stuff will work.
Sculpture Workshop: Coatings
Aluthane – I am constantly amazed by the number of products for sale that don’t work as advertised. Aluthane is a good example. It’s a moisture-cured urethane metallic paint. It is supposed to protect steel from rusting. I tried it over some steel that was rusting on the van. First I wire brushed, then applied Jabsco’s Prep & Prime, dried that, applied Aluthane: 6 months later and it’s rusting again. Which makes sense, on reflection. Any product that requires moisture to cure will have an excess of moisture to react with the steel. Next time I will use a two-part epoxy and be done with it. No, it doesn’t look good over aluminum either – very dark gray.
Alvin Lab Metal – here’s an interesting product. Another moisture-curing product. Okay on aluminum but not on steel. Dries to a very hard surface, also a dark gray, easy to sand. The Hi-Temp product would be good for patches on aluminum prior to powder coating.
Nova Silver 137 – almost a perfect match for the color of bright brushed aluminum. Perfect for filling that tiny black hole you missed and just noticed.
That’s it for today. More postings soon.
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