Auto body mechanics occasionally have a need to fill a small hole in the metal stock or piece that they working on. Whether it be a small rust hole or drilled out rivet, the preferable method is to fill it with metal weld. The key however, is to keep the molten metal from dripping through and in place long enough to cool and solidify. That is where a welder's helper comes in handy.
The welder's helper is nothing but a copper spoon or paddle placed at the back side of the hole to be filled. This keeps the molten metal from dripping through, the copper quickly draws heat away from the weld to solidify it and not stick to the copper.
Weld spoons are available through many tool distributors, but usually are only available in one size. Using the methods described here, you can cheaply create your own "custom sized and shaped" tool.
Things You'll Need
- 6" of copper tubing
- tubing cutter or hack saw
- ball peen hammer
- medium grit sand paper
- wood dowel to use as a handle
Find a size of tubing that will fit your application. Shown here is a piece of 3/4" diameter copper tubing available at any home improvement store. Cut a piece long enough to suit your purpose and leave an inch or two to mount a handle. This particular piece has been cut to a length of 6".
Place the tubing in a vice, leaving an inch or so that will be used a handle mount outside of the jaws. Slowly tighten the screw of the vice in stages to flatten the long end of the tube.
Continue to move and compress the piece until the long end is completely and uniformly flat. Remove this from the vise.
With the flat face of the hammer, continue to pound the compressed end completely flat. Close examination of the edges may show some splitting . Pound the edges with ball end of the hammer until the splits disappear. What is accomplished is "hammer welding" the splits together.
Clamp a hammer dolly (or a similar rounded metal object)in the vise and hammer the flattened end to form a smooth curve or spoon shape. If you don't have a curved metal surface to hammer on, the spoon can be shaped by placing it loosely in the jaws of the vice and bending it. Shift the spoon about an 1/8" and bend slightly again. Repeat the shifting and bending until your curve is formed.
Sand and smooth any sharp edges. If the round end is somewhat out of shape due to the compressing, tap lightly with the hammer to re-round and fit to the handle of your choice.
I have used the weld spoon many times to fill holes in sheet metal and it rarely gets too warm to handle with the bare hand, so any non-conductive material should do as a handle.
You are ready to mount to the handle of your choice. Make several using different sizes of tubing and formed to different shapes to handle any of your welding needs.
Tips & Warnings
- If you have the time and equipment, annealing the tubing before working on it will make the piece easier to shape and prevent splitting. Annealing is the process of heating the metal to a fairly high temperature and then let it cool very slowly.
- Photo Credit Thanks to Wikipedia
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