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RKM556

How necessary is a welder?

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Hello everyone! This is my first post ever! (woohoo!)

 

Anyway, I blacksmith for a hobby almost every day, I use a gas forge and I have a small coal forge specifically for forge welding.

 

My question is how necessary is a welder to a blacksmith who is just forging for fun? Is it worth the money and training?

 

Thanks!

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A lot of things you can rivet or forge weld. How often have you actually thought: "I really need a welder for this"? If pretty often then you might want to look into one. I think a good blacksmith should have general knowlede of welding, but if you don't really need one for the things you're interested in making I wouldn't worry about it too much.

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Hi, and welcome to the site, if you are blacksmithing then forge and forge weld, that's been the way for a couple of thousand or so years.
 
A welding machine is not an essential requirement, useful, yes, but not essential.
 
If you put your location into your details that may help others to help you.
 
Have fun, and we look forward to seeing pictures of your work. Have fun.

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Hey guys! Thanks so much for the opinions! I think after what you guys said I will stick to forge welding which is really fun in the first place. Thanks for the welcome and I am excited to be here!

 

 

Ryan

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I bought a 50+ year old lincoln "tombstone" welder for US$40 and find it very helpful for making tooling and jigs even with my minimal training (9 weeks of metal shop 40 years ago + some coaching from weldor friends).

In general I do not arc weld on stuff I'm making; but I do do it on the tools I make stuff with.

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There are times when a welder will come in handy and is the perfect tool for the job.  I use a small 110 wire feed welder for welding jigs to my table, welding metal to fullers to be held in my vice, etc.  There are many other uses in blacksmithing when a welder comes in handy.  It's just another tool.  Good luck.   

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There are many ways to attach 2 pieces.  A welder is only one.  Making friends with nabering smiths will often allow you access to a welder when you really want to use one.  It may be something you want for ease of making some tooling quicker later on but it isn't necessary.  Plus not having one will force you to learn some of the fun traditional joinery techniques that are imho a lot of fun to use and much more aesthetically pleasing.

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I prefer the nostalgic challenge of doing everything in accordance with the primitive art, but there are times where I will use the welder... There are certain textures that a welder can accomplish in sculpture... For example, I'm fabricating a sculpture of a snook ambushing a shrimp in sea-grass; the welder makes short work out of details concerning barnacle build--up... Lay a buch of random sporadic beads, knock off slag then hit the bead bulbs with a punch...

 

 

I think where using a welder goes wrong is in the reveal... If you're going to cheat, cover up your tracks. Every time I run into something that's forged, I have to touch it, examine it, look at the joinery, feel it for what it's worth... The more modern joinery I "see", the less the piece means to me... What's wrong with grinding down a weld, bringing it back to a finishing heat, and working it a bit more? Far better just grinding it down and just leaving it looking manufactured...

 

I agree with the above statements... It's far better suited for tooling...

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If you have the money, consider investing in a Ox/Ac kit you can weld but you can also cut metal and heat metal. 

 

Learn to use the forge to it's full advantage. Learn all types of joints and how they are constructed, by rivets, collars, pass through, etc. Look up the Clayton clamp. There is a bunch of stuff out there, but practice is the key to making it work.  Yes, there are times when you will ask Mr. Lincoln or Mr. Miller to bless your project. It is quick and easy but as was stated above you need to cover the weld so it does not show in order to improve the appearance of your work. 

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It is nice to have when I need it. I am learning on my own and getting fairly good with just reading and practice.  I am building a new forge with it.  I built a vise stand with my Dad's before getting my own set up.  I plan to build an anvil stand at some point, but have a perfectly good stump for now.

 

O/A would be nice to have.  Maybe eventually.

 

Welcome aboard!

 

Phil

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Is arc or oxyfuel welding or plasma cutting a necessary skill for a hobby smith? No, but neither are enclosed shops, electric lights, power hammers,  belt grinders or other power tools.

 

If you are going to make serious money at this? Absolutely! Anything that takes the wear and tear off your bones and joints (and eyes!) and lets you be faster and more productive over time. (What with the modern lifespan being so much longer, and indentured servants being so very hard to come by these days, and all.)

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hi ryan  - i dont think you should get one !! i had mig and o/a before i got into blacksmithing, and use them both alot,  and although i do exactly as someone just said, where i often reheat and texture a weld, having them can STOP me using more traditional methods, i would love to be able to forge weld properly, but its easier and quicker to use the mig or the gas...  so i do (this is going to change!!) its cool to do both - but if i could do one or the other really well, it would be your skills every time!! borrow when you need it is my oppinion :) a welder may cramp your style............

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as someone just said, where i often reheat and texture a weld, having them can STOP me using more traditional methods, i would love to be able to forge weld properly, but its easier and quicker to use the mig or the gas...  so i do (this is going to change!!)

 

Sorry to disagree Beth, but if you forge weld, it is quicker than prep, weld, dress, reheat, and redress.

 

I would suggest Ryan concentrate on developing his forge welding skills, and if a welder comes along at the right price/time, consider having one, they are extremely useful,

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When I consider value in my workshop, my welder(s) have given me more "return on investment" value than any other tool or object I have.  They have allowed me to repair or make hundreds of tools, my forges (coal and gas), tool racks, attachments for tractors and skid steers, playground equipment (swing sets, monkey bars) for kids and grandkids.  I have fixed automobile parts, garage door tracks, cut holes, made foundations for powerhammers, fixed exhaust systems and made brackets to hold and hang things.  I can do magic for friends and neighbors (at least they think so) who need help fixing, rather than replacing broken objects. 

 

Of course you need a welder...  and another thing...  it doesn't HAVE to impinge upon your blacksmithing activities.  You can still be traditional in every way with your hobby or profession.  

 

I do a LOT with metal...., a lot of it using traditional blacksmith methods, and more using modern tools to go where no forge weld (not one I can do anyway) can go.  My welders are some of the most useful tools in my shop.  They let me do infinitely MORE than I could do without them.  I, primarily, use an arc welder because that was what I first bought and learned with.  It was probably the best $100 I ever spent

.

Of course, if all you want to do with metal, is make a leaf, or a hook, or stay within the limits of what we can forge weld, you may not have a use for one...

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My tombstone has paid for itself several times over with just one customer. I make tent stakes to their pattern that includes a cross bar welded on them. Forge welding would be *much* slower and trickier due to a pretty large difference in cross sections.

This is for a commercial tent user who is not looking for "hand forged" they are looking for *works*! They pay well and I've had repeat business as they grow, very *nice*. I also offer a lifetime guarantee on the stakes and offered to straighten and repoint them as needed for free---but they have always insisted I get paid for that too.

Building armour making stakes is also much easier with a welder---try forgewelding a 4" dia high carbon steel ball to some 1" sq stock---not a lot of fun in a one man shop; but you can do it without even having to re-harden the balls with a welder!

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a few years ago I got a Hobart Handler 140 with free shipping.     I got it because i didnt want to deal with putting in 220 power.       I plug that thing into 100-150ft extension cord and it still welds great.    It's handy, small, and can go anywhere.     real simple to use.

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If you plan to do blacksmithing, you don't need a welding mach. I totally  agree with JohnB, work on your forging skills. If you intend to do ironworking, and make money to supplement your smithing ( plows, front end loaders, dozers ect ) you should look into a welding mach.

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Thanks a ton you guys!!! Wow I never expected so much helpful and detailed answers from people before! This is great I'm super excited. Judging by what a lot of you guys said I think I will hold off on the welder seeing as they are not necessary. I need to get my forge welding skills up to date though for sure! I need to unclog my coal forge's blower though, tonight all of my coal fell into it and stopped it up. But I thank you all so much for your help again and I am glad to be a part of this website now! 

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john i said its easier and quicker for ME to mig weld and grind than ME to forge weld, not for someone who can forge weld! i too think ryan should stick to forge weld, if you read what i said :)

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i think they come into their own for making other stuff personally, not necessarily smithing products, but making a new forge, vise stand, tool holders, etc...

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Well, let's see............

  •  
  • Interests
    Blacksmithing, metalworking, knife making, architectural blacksmithing, and other things like whip crafting, pistol and rifle shooting, and drumming but those are unrelated.
At 15 years old and MEtALWORKING is one of your interests how could you not be interested in getting a welder......Set no limits..... B)

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Well by metalworking I meant more sculptural things, not necessarily the normal usage of that term :D

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How is sculpture not a normal useage of the term "metalworking"?
 
Scratch that.  At your age, 15 according to your profile, you need to absorb information, practice what you learn, and learn all you can.  Yes intense learning does slow creativity, but it opens many more creative options.  Does your school offer a vocational program?  Can you take an introducton course in ... whatever you are interested in? 
 
Remember there are other directions than a strictly college bound education with your formal schooling. 
 
Sorry if I am starting to rant.
 
Phil

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Rkm556 as you said you are just getting into it. as your knowledge base grows so will your needs and you have to figure out what style of blacksmithing you want to do. If you are a 1700's traditional smith then you probably never need a welder. The best advice about welding I ever got was to take a class at your local community collage in the evening. Great opportunity to see what type welder you want to buy when the time comes that you want one.  

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