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Speaking of saddle cuts (e.g., TM drum smoker post on 1/18/2010), Instructables has a new posting on making perfect pipe saddle cuts with a bandsaw or chopsaw. For same diameter pipes, the author, samson3000, uses two cuts at approx. 35° close to, but not through, the center of the pipe so there’s a flat spot (as shown above), not a sharp point. An end view of the cut, pictured below, shows a pretty tight saddle.

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Long-time Toolmonger and friend Joel Miller sent me some pictures and a link to a blog post about a project he took on to get familiar with his new Hobart Handler 140 MIG welder: a 55-gallon drum smoker. When I think “beginner w/inexpensive MIG rig makes drum smoker,” I envision a drum badly cut in half with some hinges metal-glued on, and maybe a coffee can smacked on the side.

Of course, Joel’s a little more together than that.

In fact, his smoker looks completely awesome — and better and more durable than most commercial models I’ve seen.

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Though you’ll hear lots of weekend warriors spouting the “you have to have a TIG rig to work aluminum or stainless,” that’s not entirely true. In fact, most commercial apps don’t go the TIG route for heavy assembly work: Just like with steel, MIG is faster and easier. Of course, you’ll need a separate feed for the aluminum or stainless wire. That’s where a spool gun comes into play.

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Hobart wants you to venture into TIG, and to help you along they’ve introduced a new model in their EZ line: the EZ-TIG 165i. Like Hobart’s other EZ models, the 165i features a single knob control, simplifying the learning process by combining some of the most common settings into easily-selected presets. Just select your metal type and thickness and you’re good to go.

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I doubt that many Toolmongers have an electron microscope — much less the tiny tin beads used to calibrate their astigmatism — and a focused ion beam in their garage or shop. However, if they did, I’m sure one of them would have created something similar to the 10µm wide (1/5 the width of a typical human hair) “snowman” shown above. The UK’s National Physics Laboratory (NPL) used platinum deposition to weld the beads together to create the nose, and milled the eyes and smile with a focused ion beam.

I first saw this snowman on Fred Langa’s blog (What Comes Next?). Fred lists a New Scientist link that includes the original snowman in black and white plus another image of a microscopic Christmas tree.

One more thing: most Toolmongers and their kids will be building macroscopic snowmen this year. Got any cool/interesting/tool-wielding snowmen in your yard this season? Drop the pics in the Flickr pool!

Season’s Greetings [NPL]

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Magswitch takes two Magswitches and mounts them to a couple of right-angle plates to make their BoomerAngle Adjustable Switchable Magnetic Welding Angle. They sell two versions of the BoomerAngle: an 8″ model sporting two 30mm Magswitches with 155 lbs. of breakaway force each and a 10″ model with two 50mm Magswitches, each having a breakaway force of 550 lbs.

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Full disclosure: I know very little about TIG welding. I’m okay with a MIG rig, and I can stick weld well enough to hook things together, but I’ve never handled a TIG torch. So when I received a press release from Weldcraft indicating that they’d expanded their gas lens line a bit, I had to hit the ‘net to discover that a gas lens is simply a fitting that re-directs the gas normally emitted from the torch, focusing it to provide more even coverage and flow for a given welding situation.

It makes sense to me, then, why Weldcraft would be proud of offering a relatively wide range of lenses in standard size, large diameter, and stubby to fit just about all their air and water-cooled TIG torches.

Gas Lenses Improve TIG Welding Performance [Weldcraft]


If you want to know how the welding supply industry is reacting to the cordless market, take a gander at the Trek 180 battery-powered MIG Welder. It’s awesomeness in a 52-lb. box.

We’re not saying this is meant to replace a larger shop model, and neither is Hobart. What the Trek 180 is designed to do is take care of small jobs when you are away from anything resembling civilization. The rig can run off its own 120 amp 17VDC battery or from an 115V power outlet with a 20 percent duty cycle.

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Are you going through enough LP or oxygen that you don’t have enough safe storage space?  With an aluminum gas cylinder cabinet from SECUREALL you can save space in your shop and store gas outside.

SECUREALL constructs their LP and oxygen cylinder cabinets from 12 ga aluminum with expanded metal sides and doors. The top is solid metal and the floor is framed to prevent the cylinders from contacting the ground. All-welded construction makes the cabinets tamper-resistant and the aluminum is both spark resistant and won’t corrode even if left in the elements.

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Weldcraft recently rolled out two Crafter Series TIG torches, the CS125A and CS200A. Weldcraft says the new lightweight bodies help minimize welding operator fatigue. Though anyone can use them, they look as though the designers had in mind pros that are going to have their hands on the torches all day.

Both torches feature Weldcraft’s D-Handle design, which allows the welder to orient the torch by touch and feel for a little more control. Both are air-cooled as well, which eliminates the need and expense for cumbersome water-cooled systems. The CS125A is rated at 130 amps DC and 100 amps AC. Its bigger brother, the CS200A, puts out 200 amps DC or 150 amps AC capacity and both pump out a 60 percent duty cycle.

From what we hear thus far, expect to see these torch bodies at the local welding supply shop soon with a buy-in price of about $50.

CS125A and CS200A [Weldcraft]
Street Pricing [Google Products]