Tuesday, June 08, 2010


Another night at Metal Shop. The class has dwindled from 5 to 3; Becky, who's a guidance counselor at a middle school, Fred, a sweet kid who's building a motorcycle trailer, and me. Ron, the farmer, already had skills well beyond our class so I'm not surprised he gave up on the rest of us. Still, he was sharp and engaging, I miss having him around.

Today we began by welding coupons, again. I made a few practice welds and decided to try something a little different. I used a scrap piece of steel bar and bent it using a vice and a metal tube as a fulcrum. I shaped gentle curves into two coupons using the vice and a ball-peen hammer and then welded them to the bar. I used a grinder to shape the coupons into leaves. Eventually I had a passable flower stem with a couple of leaves. What I didn't have was a flower.

Luckily, we learned how to use a plasma cutter last night. The plasma cutter uses a powerful arc of electricity to cut metal relatively precisely. Our instructor cut out a seven foot marlin complete with gills and scales. I cut out 5 sad flower petals.

I welded my petals to the flower stem but two petals fell off right after I turned off the welder for the evening. Ron had taught me to adjust the welder according to the thickness of the metal, but I still burned through the thin petals. Kevin told me that I should have welded from the thick metal to the thin, letting the weld melt into the thinner piece. I was sad that I didn't leave class with a completed project, but next week I can start class by putting the metal to the petals.

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