Been cranking away on this big railing job. One nice thing about railings is that it feels like something that is actually beneficial to the world. A lot of people are going to touch them, and be supported by them.
This is a railing for a commercial space that is being remodeled into an apartment on 2nd Street. Nothing fancy or ornamental, just utility and code compliance. That said, there are details to consider, especially when something's going to have direct human contact.
I'll never mig weld another handrail if I can help it. Tig welding is the way to go. It looks a lot nicer, and doesn't create spatter, which creates a rough texture near the weld. Mitered round tubes are hard to mig weld without getting a lumpy bead in places where the gun angle gets too shallow, as it's difficult to follow the contour around. Spatter and lumpy welds can of course be mitigated after the fact, but I'd rather spend my time welding than grinding.
I've been using a stainless TIG welding filler rod lately, because the humidity in the air makes my non-stainless rod rust, and I don't want to be putting oxides into my molten puddle if I can help it. The resulting weld has this rainbow sheen to it that's really pretty. I've done some research on the mechanical soundness of using stainless as a filler, and in really critical, tight-tolerance scenarios (high pressure pipe, airplane fuselages etc), it would certainly be a no-no, but for something like a railing using large tubing with relatively large weld area it's more than adequate. The rod I'm using costs about three times as much as the standard ER70s-2 mild steel rod, but I go through rod so slowly that it's of no consequence. I estimate that I spent less than two dollars on filler rod on these four railings. Compare that to maybe $20 worth of wear on cutting tools, $30 on abrasives.
Handrail brackets are an area where a little bit of creative freedom can be applied. These are designed to give optimal hand-clearance characteristics. Behold, the bicep flex bracket:
The offset miter allows one's fingers to wrap more fully around the handrail, and the obtuse angle keeps the sharp corner tucked under the rail and away from people's clothing.
In other news, the bike from the previous blog post got powder-coated up all sparkly:
Had a quick trailer repair project for a local farmer. The tailgate ramp's hinges were rusting off; just replaced them with some "bullet" hinges.
I went into that local place here in Corvallis that's called "Wood and Hinge" and asked if they stocked weld-on hinges with grease fittings. Apparently, they're not actually a hinge store.
I'm trying to get out of the trailer work business, because I tend to end up with a sore back and a bad attitude afterward. I have a hard time turning down people who genuinely need help though. And I don't know the contact of any of my competitors, though I suspect a quick internet search would return such info.
I am interested to meet my "competitors". I turn down a fair number of project proposals, and it would be nice to have someone to refer them to. I don't see it as losing customers, I see it as helping them. I bet the local fabricators could do some pretty cool collaborations if they shared some creative interests. I suspect most of them are busy working!
In other news, I now accept credit cards for a 3% fee. When you're enjoying your European vacation, you can think of me and all those airplane miles you racked up by spending money on cool metal projects.