This Crappy Hand Cart 2019-06-02
I recently setup a blog at noblogs and while I like the idea, I am probably not gonna stick with it. There were a few minor things I didn't like about using someone else's Wordpress install, but I think that being unable to add/manage plugins is my deal breaker. I did email them to ask if they would add the wpuntexturize plugin and while they didn't say no, they did say "not right now". It isn't terrible, but for a guy who is used to micromanaging the shit out of everything it is probably just better to stick with my manual site.
Having said all that, I really only made one post there and I didn't want to lose it because it is one of my few welding related posts. So here it is:
This is the hand cart I made kind of recently. I welded together some pieces of t-bar that I had lying around and an axle that came off a friend's rusted out trailer. I had to cut everything off the old trailer with an angle grinder, but the rusty old hubs turned out just fine. I sized it to fit a 4×8 foot sheet of wood that cost me about a dozen bucks at the local big box store. Trouble is, the back end is a little too low. I didn't put any kind of suspension or risers on it at all, in fact the plywood bottom is less than a half inch above the axle. Soon I am going to see if I can raise it with some pieces of square tubing, hopefully I'll have an update with photos or a video.
The important thing, is how I welded it. Not too long ago, I had no idea how to weld... so I asked YouTube. I found a fellah who calls himself ChuckE2009 and has a whack of welding related videos. I found plenty of welding related advice for newbies, but found that ChuckE2009's videos were easier for me to wrap my head around than anything else. Here is how my welding education worked out:
A buddy of mine asked if I/we could help weld a shock absorber on to his boat trailer. I started doing a little digital research and tried to decide what kind of welder made sense for the project. Based on what I could see, TIG welding was best suited for new materials and manufacturing. MIG welding seemed like a happy middle ground somewhere between ARC and TIG, but required the use of a consumable covering gas. Lastly ARC welding [sometimes referred to as "stick welding"] seemed cheap and dirty, but easy and functional with minimal consumables. So my buddy borrowed an ARC welder and brought it over to my place. We imitated some DIY videos as practice and eventually got the welding project completed, but we discovered a few problems irritations along the way:
- we had to install a 220V outlet in my garage
- all welding had to be done within about 10 feet of the only 220V plug we had
- we both sucked at striking an arc
- our welds were often ugly
Now ugly welds were of minimal concern [at least to me they were], but having to stay close to the 220V plug was annoying. The boat trailer was maybe 8 feet wide and 20 feet long. Moving it around in the garage was awkward and it was clear that a large welding project that didn't have wheels on it would be a total hassle to work on. The worst of it was, we just were not terribly familiar with the old welder we had access to and how to configure it for use with different electrodes. So at the end of the project, I was a little disappointed (with the welder, not disappointed with the project) and not very interested in spending the money on a nice stick welder for myself (since I figured the borrowed welder might have to go back to its owner one day).
Later, I found myself wanting to work on my hand cart, but not very enthusiastic about stick welding it... when my buddy sent me a link to a flux core welder that was on sale. Now ChuckE2009 wasn't the only person who seemed to sort of shy away from flux core. In fact it seemed a lot of "pro" welders didn't think much of it. As it turns out, I am not a pro welder. :-)
So flux-core looks mostly like MIG welding because of the spool of wire, and sort of behaves a bit like ARC welding. The difference is that instead of the flux being a powder on the outside of the consumable metal (like on ARC welding stick electrodes) it is inside the consumable metal, which comes in the form of a long thin spool. You mount the spool inside the flux-welder and it pushes the wire out through a hose with a nozzle on the end. The nozzle has a trigger to control the wire coming out and the arc pretty much seems to strike itself. In fact, ChuckE2009 referred to flux-core welding as a hot glue gun for metal... and it really is.
Now I had originally ignored flux-core welding partially because professional welders just don't seem to use it and partially because I didn't like the idea of the consumable spools. However, I think professional welders avoid flux-core because it can produce welds that are not as pretty, it creates a lot of smoke, and because humans are often afraid of change. As for the consumable spools, they are really no different than having to keep a selection of stick electrodes around and flux-core requires no gas cylinder. Looking back, I wish I had not ignored flux-core as a viable welding method because:
- It is easy to do (seriously, the glue gun for metal thing is true)
- You can buy a reasonable flux core welder for less than CDN$200
- I think flux-core spools work out to be less expensive than ARC sticks long term
- Flux-core works fine on even slightly rusty materials
- You can even run it off a decent extension cord from any household outlet
As long as you don't give a shit about "pretty looking welds" and are willing to weld outside or with a pedestal fan blowing the smoke away, I'd say you can be up and welding easier, faster, and cheaper than the other methods. If you are interested in learning to do your own welding, I suggest having a serious look at flux-core.