Sunday, January 30, 2022

Saturday, January 29, 2022

What a Tweest

Had some puff pastry left over from making my pot pies last week, so what better use for it than making it into some puff pastry cinnamon rolls?


I suppose I probably should have expected them to untwist. I guess this is why they're usually baked all snuggled up together in a cake pan instead. Duly noted for next time.

Plant Armor

Once a year my palm tree gets a beard trimming. I call up a tree trimmer and trade $200 for the peace of mind of knowing that the job will be done well and safely.

But there's a few plants around the base of the palm, and the purple sage in particular tends to get some damage since its trunk is very woody and brittle.

In order to avoid this, I built a few little frames out of the remains of the old hantavirus shelves that I ripped out of the car hole.

They're each a slightly different size because the wood scraps were not exactly cut with any particular care and attention to... literally anything. Crooked cuts, weird, uneven lengths, etc. I'm glad I got rid of those shelves.

Anyway, it should keep the falling palm fronds from completely destroying the sage plants.

Friday, January 28, 2022

Breathing Easy

I'd put off getting some kind of air filter for the car hole since I was mostly planning to do hand tool woodworking that doesn't tend to fill the air with fine dust like power tool woodworking does.

Then I started welding. Welding, and stick welding in particular, is a very energetic process and while the goal is to transfer most if not all of the electrode to the base metal, the process tends to vaporize a lot of the weld metal and flux into the air. In fact, burning one or two 7014 rods tends to make the air look about as fresh as a donut shop in the 80s.

So, the solution is simple enough: get a shop air filter.

It took a bit of doing to install since my rafters are 24-ish inches apart (and the builders were apparently not too picky about hitting their numbers), so I had to bridge the gap to get something a bit closer to the 14 inch distance between the mounting hooks.

In all the install took me about an hour from end to end. The filter has a convenient RF remote, and it's pleasantly quiet in operation.

I approve.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Popping Jalapeños

As a side dish for some of my meals during the week I had been picking up some mushrooms stuffed with bacon and blue cheese, one of those "made in the store out of produce that's about to expire" products. They were tasty, but had spotty availability.

So occasionally I'd end up buying something else instead, and once or twice that would end up being jalapeño poppers, which introduced me to the idea of making them myself.

Why would I make them myself? Because they were also a product of very spotty availability.

And wouldn't you know it, but it just so happened that both the stuffed mushrooms and jalapeño poppers were out of stock at the same time. So...

They're pretty easy to make. One package of cream cheese, plus 8 ounces of various cheese. In these ones I split it into 4oz of gruyere and 4oz of cheddar. The cheddar tends to make a lot of grease ooze out during baking, so I might sub it out for some emmentaler or fontina or gouda or something. Lots of options.

Meanwhile, the latest batch of pot pies turned out lovely.

It looks more burned in the photo than it was in person. The puff pastry wasn't quite as puffy as I wanted, so there's another technique I want to try on the next batch.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Fillet 'o Fish

So now that I've got a bit of practice under my belt just laying down weld beads on top of a flat piece of bar stock, I decided that it's high time I put down an actual weld between two pieces of metal. So I fired up the welder with a 3/32 6013, tacked two pieces of bar together, and squirted some metal at the joint.

Well, it's not a complete failure, but it's far from good. I had a cold start, then things started flowing nicely, before I ended up running out of rod at the end. It felt like I was struggling to fill up the weld fillet so I decided to bump up to 1/8 6013 next.

But first there was the simple matter of giving the weld a quick break test to see if I was getting good fusion. I put an adjustable wrench on the plate and gave it a bend and... didn't even budge. I clamped it in my vise, gave it a hefty gronk and... nothing. I set it on the concrete floor and beat on it with my 4lb hammer and, well...

Yeah the concrete floor took more of a beating than the weld did. I did manage to get a slight bend between the plates, but that was about it.

So, I decided that rather than smashing a hole in my floor, I'd simply do another weld on the other side of the joint and then I'd grind it off and start over.

The 1/8 6013 definitely seemed more suited for this 1/4 inch bar stock, and the weld laid down nicely after another annoyingly cold start.

So then came the task of separating the two pieces so I could reuse these coupons to make another weld. I got out my angle grinder, spun on a death wheel, and made some sparks, putting a nice deep notch in both welds.

I beat on the plate, and it didn't budge.

So I swapped to a grinding disc and ground down the weld fillet until it was flush with the plate on both sides.

I beat on the plate, and it didn't budge.

I put the death wheel back on and notched into the root of the joint.

I beat on the plate, and it didn't budge.

Finally, it was time to bring out the big guns.

As the saying goes: The fastest way to remove metal in the shop is with a band saw.

With that taken care of, I ground down the surfaces nice and flush again, and went at laying down another bead.

This cold start issue is really turning into a pain in the ass.

I decided to switch things up a little and lay down a bead on the other side using some 3/32 7014.

This rod usually runs in kind of the same ballpark as the 1/8 6013 in terms of amps, but apparently 100A was a bit on the hot side. I learned this when I tried dialing it up to 110A and things got much worse, and the electrode was glowing red at the end of the weld. Oops.

So I dialed it down to 90A and covered up my sin with a few extra passes.

No trouble with cold starts on these, this really is a very pleasant rod to run.

After that, I switched back to the 1/8 6013 and laid a few passes over the weld I did on the other side.

I still had trouble with cold starts (which I went back and filled in afterwards) but aside from that these are some pretty nice welds. There's a technique for dealing with the cold starts, I just need to practice doing it some more.

I definitely don't think these two plates will be coming apart without a little love from the band saw though, but that's a problem for future-me to deal with. Maybe after I buy a table attachment for my portaband.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Beef Jerky

Teriyaki and Chipotle Spice flavor.

Or maybe it's 6013 (left) and 7014 (right). Got some 3/32 rods in and they seem to be sized a bit more appropriately for this 3/16 plate. Which is becoming a bit thicker than 3/16 with two layers of weld on them.

Today's exercise was striking arcs and filling the end craters, so I went for short beads across the coupon rather than along the long direction. I definitely improved from the first welds towards the back to the last welds at the front. I did blow out the near edge on the 7014 at the end but I filled it back in just for fun.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Is That A Stack Of Dimes In Your Pocket?

Or am I just happy to be welding?

So, I've collected enough supplies to start practicing my welding. I was waiting on the set of practice coupons as well as the electrodes (those are kind of important), but they arrived this afternoon so I was all good to go.

First things first, the mill scale needs to come off the coupons.

Silicon carbide abrasives are a miracle of the modern age. Usually mill scale is a royal pain to get off, but with this stripping disc it just evaporates effortlessly.

With that taken care of, let's try out some 6013 electrodes.

Not surprisingly we're off to a bit of a rough start.

Under the slag, things are...

Not great, not terrible.

Just need to calm down a little and keep a short, even arc with a steady travel speed.

Bead #3 is not too bad. Still got a ways to go.

Ok, let's try switching to 7014. Dial up the amps a little and...

Well that's sure something. As before, bead #2 comes out much better.

7014 is a high-deposition electrode, which has a bunch of iron powder in the flux coating to go along with the iron in the rod itself, and it makes for an absolute firehose of metal gushing onto the workpiece.

I ran a couple more beads and ended up dialing back the amps a bit since things were running a wee bit hot, and by the end I was getting pretty good results.

I switched back to playing with the 6013 again and managed to get the mystical slag peel.

Though I only managed it the one time.

By the time I was done I'd burned through 7 rods in total, 3 7014 (right) and 4 6013 (left).

Not quite instagram-quality welds but I'm working on it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Lightning in a Bottle

So when I ordered my welder I expected that it'd be shipping out of some warehouse in Cheese Lake, WI or something, rattling around in the back of some truck that probably needed to make a layover in Florida before heading west. But, as it turns out, Ahp is actually headquartered in South SF not even 50 miles from home sweet home.

In other words, the welder showed up today. Nice.

First things first, I need to be able to plug this thing in. Back when I moved in I noticed that the dryer outlet was a 30a 240v surface mount receptacle that looked like it was made of bakelite somewhere around the mid 40s. It was also a NEMA 10-30R, which is considered obsolete due to technically not having a ground conductor (and I say technically, because it's a hot-hot-neutral configuration, and the neutral is just a straight shot back to the main panel where the neutrals and grounds are all bonded together on the same bus bar anyway).

Of course that also meant that there wasn't a run of 10/3 romex back to the main panel, and instead I only had 10/2 to work with. That essentially ruled out using the more modern 14-30R receptacle, so instead I settled on the 6-30R and decided to call the neutral a ground (which made sense, as it was a bare copper conductor in the romex anyway).

Fast forward to today, and I need to adapter for my welder which comes wired with a NEMA 6-50P connector. This is when I discover that literally nobody on the planet ever uses 6-30, and so the 6-50R to 6-30P adapter costs $50 because it's a low production item. What doesn't cost $50 is a 6-50R to 10-30P adapter and a new 10-30R receptacle.

Out with the new, in with the old. Kind of a bummer, I like the look of the 6-30R.

Now these high current connectors are slightly peculiar in that they're most commonly mounted with the ground or neutral pin oriented at the top, which is the opposite to the way I'm holding the 6-30R in this picture, and to how the 10-30R is installed. The reason for this is that if I installed it in the normal way, the cord would run into my tool chest.

It may look weird, but it works much better this way.

Anyway, I also discovered why welder extension cables are so popular.

I suppose I'll be welding over on this side of the car hole. Not the worst fate, I guess.

After all that, does the machine make the pixies extra angry?

Oh it does, it does indeed.

Now I just have to go order up some consumables and some chunks of practice metal to weld on and I'll be making sparks in no time!

Monday, January 10, 2022

Safety Third

Where first comes "playing pranks, but only if they're hilarious" and second comes "getting home in time to watch the game".

This should keep me safe from the scourge of the artificial sun, at least. I'll probably swap out the shorts for some long pants though, considering these are 100% polyester.

Interestingly I discovered that the helmet will auto-darken if I look at my phone screen, which is clearly a clever feature foisted upon us by the bourgeoisie factory owners to keep the struggling proletariat from stealing the company's time posting sweet rainbow weld shots to instagram.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Miles and Miles

I wasn't necessarily aiming for any remarkable or round number, but as it turns out I managed to hit one cycling this year.

2200 miles is the most I've ever ridden in a year, which is pretty cool.

I also feel like I'm finally at the point where I'm reasonably happy with my cycling fitness; there will always be more fitness I can attain, but I've progressed far enough now where I'm no longer frustrated by where I'm at.

I knocked a bunch of rides off my to-do list, too many to list them all here but needless to say I'm pleased about that. I didn't do a BOB this year but I did do a dirt Bohlman which I think still counts. I'll try to squeeze a proper BOB into 2022.

Saturday, January 1, 2022


Because I'm worth it.

I just happened to remember that I have a jar of cake sprinkles in the cupboard.