The Project Report: Making Sparks

Day one of The Project started out with an afternoon with the cutoff saw:

Photo of flying sparks

This was the result:

Photo of cut steel

It doesn’t look like much, but after a bit of welding those pieces of steel became the top and bottom of the main framework of The Project.

The cutoff saw is the fastest and most precise way to cut steel tubing, rods, and flats down to the right sizes. Unfortunately, the angle adjustment indicator on my saw isn’t all that precise and so the angled ends never quite match like they should. I’d be better off just butting the straight cut ends together, but I keep hoping I’ll learn the secret of getting a good miter cut. It didn’t happen today.

Fortunately, this isn’t a project that will be judged on its aesthetics and as long as enough steel meets steel in the corners to get a decent weld, it’ll be fine.


  1. Those look like pretty good miter cuts to me. Just use a little extra solder to fill in any small gaps, maybe? Or caulking. 😉
    Those gloves don’t look nearly long enough though…shouldn’t they go up to your shoulders. Those are some serious sparks!

  2. Jennifer, you’re right…sort of. The right tools are important, but the skill to operate them properly is equally important. That’s why my tools all have sad faces.
    Wallace, same here. And the “hot dog stand” will probably be finished in time for my retirement, which is good, since that’s where our retirement income will come from.
    Gwynne, you’ve seen my welding work before, I take it. 😉
    I do have some longer, heavier-duty gloves for welding. What you didn’t see in this photo is that I was wearing shorts, sandals, and a short-sleeved t-shirt. Don’t tell OSHA. (I did, however, have on my safety glasses and hearing protectors.)

  3. I was wearing shorts, sandals, and a short-sleeved t-shirt. Don’t tell OSHA.
    Heh, right. Because it’s all about not getting caught, nevermind that your life is in danger. 😉
    Men. *sigh*

  4. nevermind that your life is in danger.
    That’s me…always living on the edge. 😉
    Jeff, how can you expect us to work, now that we have five new books that must be read!?

  5. And this is why I’m glad Tim doesn’t read blogs – he would want one of these things (and probably a welder) because they have the “cool tool” factor. And I already have a basement workshop full of tools that he never has time to use.
    However, he could sell me on his needing it if he could come up with a reason it’s just what he needs to reaffix my towel bar to the wall. 🙂

  6. Becky, there might have been a little singeing going on. But considering the lengths you chicks go to to remove body hair, I don’t think there’s much room for judgment. 😉
    Beth, I’m sending Tim a direct link to this post; he should not be denied Important Tools for his arsenal. However, reaffixing towel bars is like the Mount Everest of Impossible Household Projects, so don’t hold your breath.

  7. Um, I replaced my towel bar this weekend, no welding required. Just a drill and a basic phillips head screwdriver. Beth, if Tim says he needs an “arc welder” to do the job, please report him. I think Eric is only making this “thing” (a box to put brooms in?) to support his claims that he “needed” the welder. 😉

  8. Gwynne, I’m told that the “normal” way of fixing the towel bar won’t work because there isn’t a stud to use for affixing. After that he started mumbling bolt names and something about toggles or plastic thingummys and I went elsewhere. I consider myself fairly handy, but, well, he wants to fix it for me and who am I to question 😉 So I’ll just stay out of the way. Plus, if he needs a welder then, well, maybe I can justify the kitchen torch I want for the once every blue moon I make creme brulee.

  9. Beth, now you’re talking. A sweet oxy-acetylene setup would let Tim do those important brazing repairs, and you could make creme brulee for, like, 800 people at a time. 😉

  10. What else does one do with a towel bar, chin-ups?
    Ooo, yeah, I got a kitchen torch for Christmas and haven’t used it yet. Guess I better make some creme brulee to justify that. Or maybe I could make a box. 😉
    And yeah, the plastic thingies and the toggle bolts came with the towel rack package, for use in hanging on just drywall. I’d say just buy a new towel rack so he can get all the parts included.

  11. Wow. Right after I get finished cleaning out toe lint I’ll be sure to go read up on drywall anchors. Thanks, Eric!
    We had a plastic thingy in there and it still managed to come loose. Tim’s theory is that the initial hole drilled was too large. Now, I drilled the size needed for the plastic thing to go into it, but, well, whatever. Thus why he’s fixing it and I am hanging my towel over the shower door.

  12. I drilled the size needed for the plastic thing to go into it
    And that, amiga, is why you should take some time and read up on drywall anchors! 😉
    Never measure the diameter of the anchor and drill a hole of the same size; the anchor won’t be able to “grab hold” when it’s installed. That’s what I like about the threaded anchors; they’re self-tapping…you don’t have to drill a hole because it makes one itself.

  13. Aha. See, that’s very useful information. 🙂 Drilling and I are not the best of friends, so perhaps I will just leave it to Tim henceforth. Self-tapping, however, sounds really good.

  14. Self-tapping ones don’t require drilling? That is useful information. See, the package directions always say what size to drill (which is helpful), but some of us don’t always a) read those directions, or b) know where the other spouse hid that particular size drill bit. Yesterday, for possibly the first time ever, neither of these presented a problem. But prior to that, we had a different towel rack sitting on the floor for oh, about 2 years, because a) we lost the directions, and b) we lost the screws that came in the package. So I decided just to throw away and start over.

  15. Gwynne, that’s basically what “self-tapping” means. You don’t want to use self-tapping screws or anchors in materials that split easily, like thin or very dry wood, but the anchors work great in drywall where you need as tight a fit as possible. The drywall is soft enough and the anchor threads tall enough that the anchor will be, well, anchored firmly once it’s driven into the wall.
    Throwing away and starting over is an honorable practice, however, one that I’ve used many times in the past. 😉

  16. addendum to consider for your project:
    I am looking at a garden tool organizer similar to the one you are making in a high-end catalog. Yours will be far superior. However, this one sports hanging canvas panels Velcro’d at each end that are “loaded with convenient pockets for smaller items” (work gloves, spray nozzles, spades, scissors, clippers) if you are so inclined.
    Thought this was worth mentioning.

  17. Becky, that’s a very good tip…and so kind of you to offer to make those hanging canvas panels for The Project. Let me know when they’re finished and I’ll send you a shipping address. 😉
    I dunno. “Hanging canvas panels” just sounds too, well, girly for this manly welded piece of spark-generating work.

  18. Hold your horses. You haven’t seen my sewing (because there is none to show). Let’s wait and see how your welded corners look (we’d all like a close up of them shot with that fancy anniversary present of yours). The hanging canvas panels that sound so “girly” now, might just come in handy to cover mistakes if those corners are not quite what you were hoping for.
    Also, your use of the term “The Project” gets my mind thinking:
    -building where church youth group meets?
    -subtitle for Mission: Impossible IV?
    -Middle School Science Fair?
    -FBI covert operation?
    -code name for table-talk between President Bush and Vladimir Putin?

  19. …to cover mistakes if those corners are not quite what you were hoping for.
    Oh, so you’ve already seen my corners! 😉
    I admit it; I suck at corners. I blame my saw, but it doesn’t seem to care. In any event, that’s the good thing about welding: ugly can still be strong.
    “The Project” is just the preliminary working title, by the way. Before it’s over, it’ll be “The &#*(*$@ Project.” IYKWIM.

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