search  current discussion  categories  tools & equipment - misc 

types of welding - uses (was: welding and welding equipment) [longish]

updated mon 20 sep 04


Ken Nowicki on sun 19 sep 04

I have found this thread most interesting. For many many years, my father an=
my older brother owned and operated an electric sign company in the San Dieg=
area, "Image Signs". For a time, as a young man in his late teens, I worked=20
along side them both at their sign shop in El Cajon. My Dad was an expert sh=
metal man, and could do just about anything possible with the stuff, and in=20
many ways, like a studio potter, he was a craftsman in many other discipline=
as well... electrician, welder, painter, mechanic, engineer, carpenter,=20
designer, and the list goes on and on. My brother, Pete, mastered all of tho=
talents as well, working side by side with my Dad over the course of 25 year=
s or so=20
until my father's passing over 5 yrs ago.

Pete and my Dad, Rick, were probably the most respected sign men in the=20
business in Southern California... quality work... no cutting corners...=20
professional all the way... total craftsmanship. One of their most notable j=
obs and=20
legacies for their company was a sign that still stands today in downtown Sa=
Diego... maybe some of you walked right underneath it during the NCECA there=
a few=20
years ago... it is the "Historic San Diego Gaslamp Quarter" sign that spans=20
all the way across the street in the revitalized Gaslamp Quarter (near the=20
convention center). It's quite a sight to see, especially lit all up at nigh=
(click here to see sign ---> The=
made it entirely... just the two of them... installed too. Can't tell you ho=
many hours went into that sign... too many to tell. I'm sure that for this=20
particular job... they probably lost money on it... but it probably brought=20=
more business than they could handle too. All of the letters were aluminum s=
cut by hand, each one welded and finished beautifully, backlit by light,=20
surrounded by hundreds or clear twinkling light bulbs... a period piece to=20
celebrate the designs of that era. I was very much involved in the music ind=
back then, playing drums in a country-rock band, trying to get our big break=
. I=20
was burning the candle at both ends playing in nightclubs at night, getting=20=
early to go work for my Dad in the early morning. I finally made the tough=20
decision to bow out of working at the sign shop, because I could no longer d=
both. Call me naive and young, for I was guilty of both at the time. I look=20=
now, and wish I had stayed on, and learned more from my Dad & brother... lik=
how to weld... or be a competent electrician. But what is done is done. My D=
is gone. My brother got out of the sign business. I had children and moved=20
3000 miles away. Never too late to learn though, right? Might look into a=20
welding class one of these days at the local community college.

Pete became an expert welder over the years. In fact, he is now a certified=20
welding inspector, as well as concrete, soil testing, and a host of other=20
talents. He teaches welding on weekends as well and has been for a number of=
People pay him a handsome sum to inspect their welds and insure their safety=
for health and liability reasons... huge construction jobs where a ton is at=

Vince's recent comment below peaked my interest.
"Gas welding is for thin steel sheet and brazing, but never for structural=20
welds. For the strongest structural weld, you would never find a profession=
welder using MIG or
TIG. They will ALWAYS be using old fashioned arc. It is the mainstay, and
everything else has it place in specialized welding proceedures."

From being around my Dad & brother over the years, and hearing and seeing=20
them weld and talk about it... this point Vince made didn't seem so cut and=20
dry... no offense Vince. I wanted to know more about it, so I copied my brot=
her the=20
recent post and asked him about different types of welding methods.

This is what my brother responded with... I think any of you following this=20
thread may find this interesting, as well as enlightening (see below).

"Hey Ken,
Interesting, a welding discussion on a clay art bulletin board. No offense,=
but Vince is giving misinformation on this topic. My students often ask whic=
is the strongest welding process; the answer is all of them. The strength i=
in the filler metal; you can use any process and get 60,000 lbs. tensile=20
strength, mild steel (common angle iron, plate, etc.) has a 36,000 lb. tensi=
le. We=20
are doing a =E2=80=9Chot tap=E2=80=9D on the job I am on right now. That is=
when you weld a=20
branch onto a pipeline without closing down the flow. In this case it is a=20=
high pressure natural gas line. We will be testing it to 300 psi. It must=
be welded with OxyAcetylene (gas welding). If the welder burns through the=20
pipe, the gas pressure will blow out the torch which operates at around 35ps=
oxygen/5 psi acetylene. If he used any other process, all which would emplo=
y an=20
electric arc; the gas would ignite and you would read about me in the paper=20
the next day! We are talking about schedule 80 pipe, almost =C2=BD=E2=80=
=9D thick. Hardly =E2=80=9C
thin sheet steel=E2=80=9D. Most ironworkers doing structural steel these da=
ys use=20
Flux Core Arc Welding; a form of MIG (an outdated term for Gas Metal Arc=20
Welding). They use flux core because it is faster than stick (Shielded Meta=
l Arc=20
Welding), and you can weld in windy conditions, unlike MIG. TIG (an outdate=
term for Gas Tungsten Arc Welding) or Heli-Arc (even older term for the same=
process) is the slowest process, and requires the most skill. Pipe welders=20=
use TIG for their root pass. It is the most precise and uniform process, an=
you can weld any commercially available metal. It is very similar to gas=20
welding; instead of a gas flame, a tungsten electrode produces an electric a=
and filler metal is added much the same as gas welding. I don=E2=80=99t thi=
nk you ever=20
saw the set up we had at the shop for this. I used it for aluminum sometime=
and I welded the spirals around the tapered poles on the Gaslamp Quarter sig=
with it. I bet this is way more than you wanted to know, but if it isn=E2=
just ask!"

Vince, don't get me wrong... I'm not trying to "dis" you here... but in the=20
essence of passing along good and informed information to this list, I felt=20=
was prudent to pass this along to the list. I have always respected your=20
opinion, and acknowledge that you have a wide range of knowledge on many top=
relating to craftsmanship, tools, and pottery... but in this instance, I hav=
e to=20
respectfully side with my brother's expertise on this issue... and share the=
knowledge with the list. Keep up the discussions like these however, because=
that is how well all learn together! :-)

Best regards,

- Ken

P.S. - If someone from this list recently responded to me about the "license=
plate" thread, I accidentally deleted it in my spam folder and never got to=20
read the message. Please send it again if you'd like me to see it. Thanks. (=
it when that happens!)

Kenneth J. Nowicki
Port Washington, NY
Charter Member, Potters Council