Monday, January 24, 2011

My rebar garden arbor

Yes, I'm still going over the many projects I consider myself to be actively working on.  Meaning there are plenty of other unfinished projects, but I'm not working on them.  So far we have covered my website, my 3 cafepress shops, my zazzle shop, my deviantART page, and conversion of my old VB6 apps to android.  Today, I am writing about a rebar garden arbor I am welding.

Power Mig® 180c
I took a welding class over this passed summer and learned how to mig weld.  Then I bought a Lincoln Power Mig 180C.  The C means that the voltage is continuously adjustable.  I learned in the mig class that, at least for me, a tiny variation may be the difference between a good weld and a bad weld.  It's easier to play with the voltage to get the machine to work with the way I am welding than to try and adjust my positioning and such to one of the presets on the machine.

Anyway, I finally got the machine and had some projects planned, but I needed something to practice on to get the feel for it again.  During the class, I was welding 2 days a week constantly, but I had been out of the class for a couple of months.  Plus, each machine is different, so I needed to get a feel for this machine anyway.  So I decided to start building a garden arbor.  I decided on rebar because it is flexible and relatively cheap.  The picture at right shows how far along I am so far.  (Yes, I know it sucks.  It's cold and raining here, and I'm not going out in it.  So I just leaned out of the garage and snapped it.)

It doesn't look too bad.  When I'm done, I'll put a coat of that paint stuff that supposed to turn rust into primer, then I'll paint it all with another coat of standard black paint.  I'm going to stick it in the ground, so It's going to rust out eventually anyway.  But maybe the vines I plan on letting grow on it will be holding it in place by then.

You can see the top of the arbor here.  I have now passed the half-way point, but it gets harder from there.  I started out at the bottom, laying in one piece of rebar and welding it on each end, then laying in the next one and welding it on each end, etc.  But one end of those bars was always in the middle of the previous bar.  Now that I have passed the half-way point, I don't have that other bar yet.  As you can see, the piece on the left, coming up from the center at a 45 degree angle, is only anchored on one end and in the middle.  If I'm off on my angles or anything like that, the next bar is going to be even further off.  Eventually, I may not be able to get them to match up with the edges at all.

I could start back over at the bottom of this next side, but then I risk the bars not meeting correctly in the middle.  I should be able to just measure across and make sure that my bars on this side all hit the edges at the same distance from the bottom as the bars on the other side did, but the arbor isn't perfectly even.  I don't have a bending jig or anything like that.  I just bent it by standing on it and pulling up on one end.  So one side isn't bent exactly the same as the other end, and I'm afraid just transferring measurements straight across won't be enough.

Oh well.  There's one thing I like much better about welding vs. woodworking.  Welding to me is like gluing.  You just put the piece in place and then glue it there.  So if I have screwed up, I can take a grinder, cut the bar that is out-of-position off, and then glue it back in place correctly.  No big deal.  The grinder doesn't have a very large kerf, so I only lose a small amount of metal, and if it ends up needing that bit to fit, I can fill in the gap with the weld metal anyway.

Anyway, hopefully I'll finish this sometime soon.  Since it is just for my enjoyment, not my wife's it goes on the back burner when her project's come around.  For that matter, it goes on the back burner when my more important projects come around as well.  I started out using the flux-core wire that came with the machine.  When that ran out, I bought a gas bottle off of craig's list and switched to mig.  When I did, I had to build a welding cart.  One day maybe I'll post about that.  I recently went to the Big Texas Toy Run as well.  I needed a cargo-rack for my motorcycle to carry toys on, so that took priority over the arbor as well.

In my next post, I'll write about the drafting table I am welding up for my wife, so check back soon.

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