Category: Safety (page 2 of 2)

Tig Welding Thin Wall Steel Bike Tubing

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This weekly video is on tig welding tubing… thin wall steel tubing.

What kind of steel is this tubing made from? I don’t really know except that it seems to weld a lot like a plain carbon steel and that it is used for custom bicycle frames.

According to Mike Zanconato of Zanconato Custom Cycles (thanks for all the help, Mike!):

“Compared to 4130, this alloy has about half the carbon and chromium content that 4130 does, but it has about 3 times more manganese and also vanadium added. This allows the wall thickness to be reduced to 0.016″ in some cases.”

The manufacturer of this thinwall steel tubing recommends using weldmold 880 tig rod because it provides excellent strength and elongation properties.

Elongation is basically how much a weld will give or stretch before breaking. You want welds on bicycles to have a bit of stretch to them.

So using the rule of 33 ( thats my rule and its not really a rule…just an easy way to remember pulse settings that work) I set the pule rate to 33 pulses per second, and I set the background current to 33%, and the % on time also known as pulse width to 33.


Because thin wall tubing can be hard to weld if it has any gap in the fitup and pulsing at 33pps allows a bit of time before a hole is blown. It gives me an extra second to get the rod in there when I see that I am about to melt a corner off, blow a hole, etc.

There are plenty of bike builders who never use pulse tig because pulse is not absolutely needed. But I just like it on thin stuff. I think it helps.

Another tig welding technique that helps is to back up the arc while you are adding filler rod.

On thin metal, if you move the arc ahead too far, wait too long, dont add filler quick enough….you can have a hole quickly.

Backing up the arc while you add filler puts the arc over a thicker area that is less likely to melt away.

So which rod is better? ER70s-2 or Weldmold 880?

I think I would have to say the weldmold 880 rod was more fun to weld with. It was prettier and flowed like honey.

But does that make it better?

But both rods passed the hammer test and ER70 tig rod is very cheap and works just fine for tig welding chromoly tubing as well as other alloy steels like the tubing welded today.

I would feel safe riding a bike made from this tubing welded with either rod.

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Arc Welding Overhead with 7018 Rods

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Arc welding overhead with 7018 can reign down slag and fireballs in the most unfortunate places.

Especially when you are just learning.

I was young and dumb when I was learning to weld so I got lots of scars on my arms and other places while I was figuring out how to put the weld metal where it belonged instead of all over me.

I finally learned and so here are the main tips that make most of the difference.

Most welders I have trained have leaned toward decreasing the amperage for overhead welding.

Some text books even recommend less amps for arc welding overhead.

Not for me.

my best piece of advice for overhead welding and most other arc welding is to crank up the amps until the rod wont stick when you hold a tight arc.

Then…..hold a tight arc.

But there is one more thing that can make a lot of difference for overhead arc welding.

Rod angle.

Dont use much rod angle.

too much angle can cause a crowned weld.

instead, try to maintain a rod angle that is almost 90 degrees. Even trying to maintain 90 degrees you will typically have a 5 or 10 degree drag angle.

Thats what I have found works.

any tips from you?

Oh yeah….in this video , I used 100 amps for the 3/32″ excalibur 7018 rod and 140 amps for the 1/8″ 7018 Techniweld brand rods.

Amperage will vary with each different machine but that will get you in the ball park.

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Plasma Cutting Table – DIY Downdraft Table

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One the most useful things I ever fabricated was a downdraft cutting table.

I made one about 20 years ago and it turned out to be one of the most useful things I ever made.

I have used it as a plasma cutting table, a downdraft grinding table, a paintfume downdraft table, oxyfuel cutting table, and even a table to weld on galvanized coatings so I wouldn’t have to breathe the fumes.

It’s made with a funnel/vent hood that directs all the sparks and dust into a sliding tray where they can be dumped periodically.

This time around, I intend for it to be even more useful and am including a few improvements.

For example, I am including a telescoping handle that can be used to support short lengths of angle iron, flat bar, etc. without needing a roller stand.

I have a few other ideas as well… so stay tuned for the follow up videos.

I estimate this thing taking at least 3 videos to include enough details and dimensions to make it easy for schools to take this on as a student team project.

You will notice I am using the Stronghand Tools BuildPro Table as well as one of their 3 axis clamps. That helped me to knock out the frame in just a few minutes.

Also, being able to visualize the vent hood by using a riser block to transfer a point in space was extremely helpful and was a time saver.

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Miller Welding Helmet – Digital Elite Auto Darkening

Looking for a review on a miller welding helmet before you plunk down over 300 bones? Auto Darkening welding helmets come at widely varying prices and quality. The Miller Digital Elite is one of the best auto darkening welding helmets available.

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