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View Full Version : What material do you use for your wireframes?



szaske
01-08-2013, 04:46 PM
I'm interested in building some wireframes this year, and want to buy a welder. Can you guys post links to the material you use to build your wireframes with? I've seen mentions of 1/4" rod from some.

I was leaning towards this inexpensive welder (http://www.harborfreight.com/90-amp-flux-wire-welder-68887-8494.html), but not sure it's up to the task.

-=Steve

crazy_carpenter
01-08-2013, 05:12 PM
I've been using 3/8 rebar. Only reason is because I can get it around the corner at HD. That welder is fine, it is the one i use. Their instant on helments are decent too for $40 bucks. Only advice about that unit is after you use the roll of wire that came with it is to buy Lincoln wire at HD. It is better quality and actually cheaper than the HF junk. Just my 2 cents as a self taught hobby welder.

imbluenote
01-08-2013, 05:17 PM
I use a wire feed craftsman (similar unit) and 1/4" steel rod. It was my first time welder and works fine. 3/8" as crazy carp mentions would work too but my guess is you have to work on each weld a little longer making the process longer to not exceed the duty cycle on the unit (i've made it shut Down using 1/4" rod)

rstehle
01-08-2013, 05:20 PM
The HF welders are fine for light duty like we use. However, I would STRONGLY suggest you purchase a welder that can use gas. Welding with gas is much easier, cleaner with far superior looking welds. Believe me - I learned that one the hard way..........
Also, IMO, 1/4" hot rolled is the cheapest and easiest material to use for Wire Frames. Find a local steel supply shop and you can usually buy 20' sticks for around $3.00 (or less). (they will cut it to 10' lengths for ease of transportation if you ask, they are used to it) Much cheaper than buying at one of the home stores.

THurrle
01-08-2013, 05:27 PM
The HF welders are fine for light duty like we use. However, I would STRONGLY suggest you purchase a welder that can use gas. Welding with gas is much easier, cleaner with far superior looking welds. Believe me - I learned that one the hard way..........
Also, IMO, 1/4" hot rolled is the cheapest and easiest material to use for Wire Frames. Find a local steel supply shop and you can usually buy 20' sticks for around $3.00 (or less). (they will cut it to 10' lengths for ease of transportation if you ask, they are used to it) Much cheaper than buying at one of the home stores.
+1 I too learned the hard way and would not even go back to the flux core wire. The gas shielded welders are worth every penny. I got the Harbor freight 220 volt one and it has been a good little welder.

szaske
01-08-2013, 10:12 PM
IMO, 1/4" hot rolled is the cheapest and easiest material to use for Wire Frames.

What exactly is 1/4" hot rolled? I'm imagining a rod that is 1/4" thick and that sounds WAY too heavy/thick. Is it really 1/4" in diameter?


I would STRONGLY suggest you purchase a welder that can use gas.

I've seen people say this, but what does that mean? Do I need to have a tank of some gas connected to my welder? I'm a potential customer for Harbor Freight, but all I see is that I can "add gas later". I'm a complete newbie with welding, but I'm the type of person who likes to buy quality tools. If everyone suggests the best way to weld is to "use gas", why don't they sell a complete setup with gas? It seems like folly to expect someone who has never welded before to buy a welder AND a gas optional add-on...put it together and use it without killing myself. I am pretty worried that I could hurt myself if I don't ground it correctly...or if I touch something while I'm welding.

I don't expect I'll be doing a LOT of welding, just building some tree or snowflake shapes as a wireframe for my christmas lights. How important is gas for this type of use?

-=Steve

szaske
01-08-2013, 10:16 PM
I got the Harbor freight 220 volt one and it has been a good little welder.

My house was built in 1922. The only 220v outlet I have is for my dryer (and oven). So I'm limited to something that can run off standard 110v power...right?

imbluenote
01-08-2013, 11:08 PM
Yes 1/4" is the diameter. Cold vs hot rolled is how it is made one is formed while it is hot, cold is allowed to cool before forming. The latter had better tolerances dimensionally.google hot rolled vs cold rolled. Personally I have used both and not seen a difference, cold is usually more expensive though.

"Gas" they are refering to is TIG or MIG welding where there is a shielding gas. Harbor freight does selle them. I think they start at upper $100 low $200 if memory serves. For me, not saying I never will, but aside from the wire frames I have welded one thing so far. The flux core wire welder is good enough for me and I am satisfied with the results. If you do plan on doing other welding you do want a TIG or MIG welder.

rogelio
01-08-2013, 11:37 PM
1/4" hot roll is the way to go. Unless building a really large frame that needs more support, then use 3/8". hot roll will bend easier. Cold roll tends to get harder when worked. Cold roll is probably "stronger" than hot roll, but it is only supporting lights.
Most common clips to hold lights to frame are 1/4" too, though others are available.
And wire feed with gas is the best, though i usually end up using stick rods because its quicker to set up.

djulien
01-09-2013, 01:10 AM
I'm interested in building some wireframes this year, and want to buy a welder. Can you guys post links to the material you use to build your wireframes with? I've seen mentions of 1/4" rod from some.

I'm not sure if this is the type of wireframe you are interested in, but I use ~ 18 gauge fencing and duct tape for very light weight but quite sturdy wireframe props:

http://downloads.eshepherdsoflight.com/Howidid-NativityFigures.pdf

don

dirknerkle
01-09-2013, 01:17 AM
Lowe's sells 50-ft. coils of 9-gauge galvanized wire for about $12 -- it's is bendable by hand (but after a while your hands get really tired) and you'll resort to using a couple pliers. It's weldable if you like, too.

rstehle
01-09-2013, 01:53 AM
What exactly is 1/4" hot rolled? I'm imagining a rod that is 1/4" thick and that sounds WAY too heavy/thick. Is it really 1/4" in diameter?



I've seen people say this, but what does that mean? Do I need to have a tank of some gas connected to my welder? I'm a potential customer for Harbor Freight, but all I see is that I can "add gas later". I'm a complete newbie with welding, but I'm the type of person who likes to buy quality tools. If everyone suggests the best way to weld is to "use gas", why don't they sell a complete setup with gas? It seems like folly to expect someone who has never welded before to buy a welder AND a gas optional add-on...put it together and use it without killing myself. I am pretty worried that I could hurt myself if I don't ground it correctly...or if I touch something while I'm welding.

I don't expect I'll be doing a LOT of welding, just building some tree or snowflake shapes as a wireframe for my christmas lights. How important is gas for this type of use?

-=Steve

Unfortunately, HF, HD and Lowes can sell you all the parts, but don't carry the shielding gas. You will have to get that at a welding supply house no matter where you buy your welder. The only place that can sell you everything at one time is a welding supply house, and you will pay top dollar there. Every welding supply shop will know exactly what gas you need for MIG welding.

szaske
01-09-2013, 06:20 AM
Well I've been watching Youtube videos that describe MIG welding. They were helpful but they didn't go into some basic questions...so I'll ask them here.

1. What type of work surface is needed? All of these video's showed people using metal tables. I'd be doing this in a small garage most likely on a wood table or surface.
2. How can you ground these small wireframe shapes? do you just clamp onto the wireframe? Does that mean it's getting grounded from my power plug?
3. Can I get shocked/killed by touching the item (or table) while welding? Here is what is going through my mind...tell me where I am wrong; Imagine I'm welding a large 10 foot long odd shape and clamp the ground to one end of it. I'm welding the other end. Now in my mind that means electricity is flowing through the whole wireframe...from one side to the other. If I was wearing a short sleeved shirt and my arm came in contact with the wireframe wouldn't that shock me? Kill me? If this is a problem/dangerous, what precautions do you take?

Sorry for the such basic questions. -=Steve

n_gifford
01-09-2013, 08:47 AM
Electricity follows the path of least resistance, which would be the steel your welding. It is possible to get shocked by a welder, but highly unlikely as long as you use some common sense.

Everyone recommending gas needs to remember that we're hobbyists. Most of us are not concerned with perfect welds and the second you take that gas welder outside in the wind, you'll hear yourself swear with words you didn't know existed.

imbluenote
01-09-2013, 09:23 AM
Everyone recommending gas needs to remember that we're hobbyists. Most of us are not concerned with perfect welds and the second you take that gas welder outside in the wind, you'll hear yourself swear with words you didn't know existed.

+1

Also remember saftefy first, yes you could get hurt, but unless you were don't something unusal not likely. Also remeber to get some protective equipment, mask, WELDING gloves (not just a pair of leather gloves) and wear pants & long sleeves while welding, unless you like molten metal on your skin.

rogelio
01-09-2013, 09:08 PM
Welding tables are metal for several purposes but not a necessity. they provide the ground connection, your ground lead is clamped to the table, the wont catch fire, they give you a place to tack your work onto to hold things in place ... But you can weld most places. Concrete works well because it wont burn but will spall off and pop if it gets too hot. Wood would not be my choice. :)
Yes you just clamp the ground lead onto one of the pieces you want to weld.
You can get shocked, it is electricity after all, but not very likely. at the current needed for 1/4" rod, the voltage is fairly low. Maybe 20 to 50 volts. depends on the welding machine. Just dont lay across your work while changing the welding rod.

JNEisert
01-09-2013, 10:48 PM
First sorry this is so long, bear with me. With 10 years of oil field construction under my belt the only time I personally was shocked using a welding machine was using a cutting/gouging rod to cut a small equipment skid out of the way. The best way I found to prevent this was to have a pair of rubber/latex examination gloves on. Two reasons for this: first they are cheap and do not restrict your dexterity in any way, and second they provide the rubber barrier between you and your whip (welding lead). I have only had to do this in very wet spots around the platform or in rainy weather.

As someone else stated earlier, electricity travels the path of lest resistant. Out here what we do is ground whatever we are welding on to the platform itself if not already attached to the platform, and ground the welding machine itself to the platform. As long as the piece you are working on and the machine you are using is grounded you are fine. But as everyone else has stated PLEASE and I mean PLEASE use caution. It is electricity that is melting the metal you are working with to bond the two pieces together. Electrocution is always a possibility no matter how unlikely it is. But the number one issue with welding is the hot slag and sparks that it produces. You would be surprised how many people get burned welding.

Keep your work area clean and combustion free. Remove any and all combustibles from the area i.e. gas cans, spray cans, rags, anything that can catch fire. Always have a competent fire watch (a person to watch for fire) with you at all times. When your hood is down you cannot see what is happening around you. If you weld around any kind of wood wet it down constantly, and watch it for 30 min after the job is complete (time frame we require out here) or place it somewhere that if it catches fire it will not burn down your house.

Always use caution when striking any kind of arch. As for the units for home use either a tig or mig is just fine. If you get into larger projects go with stick welding. It’s cheaper, but not as clean as tig or mig.

frederic
01-09-2013, 11:39 PM
My house was built in 1922. The only 220v outlet I have is for my dryer (and oven). So I'm limited to something that can run off standard 110v power...right?

Since you have 240V for the dryer and the oven, your house as 240V at the panel. Your panel might be too small to add another 240V breakers, but you do have 240V.

I had the same issue, and before I upgraded the main panel, here is what I did.

I removed the 40A electric stove breaker, and the 20A electric dryer breaker.
I replaced the 40A stove breaker with a 60A breaker.
I wired that 60A breaker to an 8-slot sub-panel, then put the original 40A stove and the 20A dryer breaker into the subpanel.

This left me with two double pole slots on the sub panel for "other". One, which is a 20A, drove my air compressor. The second breaker was a 40A, feeding either my MIG welder or my plasma cutter, depending what I plugged in.

Obviously, I couldn't run the welder/plasma cutter, compressor, dryer and oven at the same time.

mkozik1
01-10-2013, 12:13 AM
Welding tables are metal for several purposes but not a necessity. they provide the ground connection, your ground lead is clamped to the table, the wont catch fire, they give you a place to tack your work onto to hold things in place ... But you can weld most places. Concrete works well because it wont burn but will spall off and pop if it gets too hot. Wood would not be my choice. :)

The tailgate of your pickup is not generally a good place to weld either! I have learned that Rhino Linings CAN'T stand up to everything!!

Dan@
01-13-2013, 12:50 AM
Tack welding with the rod on wood should not pose any problems since tack is quick. I wouldn't try finish welding on the wood. Just hook your ground to the rod. Wear leather gloves and you won't get shocked. I've been MIG & TIG welding for 15. I can't remember i time i've ever been shocked MIG welding, even if i wasn't wearing gloves. TIG welding I have been shocked many times.

JackFrost
01-19-2013, 11:19 PM
Well , something else I don't recall anybody mentioning . If you are going to build taller wireframes ( like I did with 2 snowmen and 2 Christmas trees ) , then the 3/8 rebar will have a LOT of give to it ( more than I was happy with )
And you could also get a stick welder for 110 AC ( usually 90 amps which is plenty strong enough for 3/8 rebar and 1/4 also )

Dan@
01-20-2013, 10:10 AM
Taller wireframes i would suggest putting a 1/4 or 3/8 as a backbone (depending on size of wireframe). Run them from to bottom, depending on the width, may take a couple to help stabilize and you may need to use guide wires front and back.

Stick welder would work, but would not be as easy for a beginner to pick up on as a MIG would be. MIG is the easiest for a new welder to get the hang of.

Skunberg
01-20-2013, 02:37 PM
I've seen many people here and other forums start with flex core wire then move up to mig. The comments are always "why didn't I do this sooner". It's quicker, easier, easier to tell if the weld is good. So I would move up to one that can do MIG.

Brian

rstehle
01-20-2013, 02:55 PM
Taller wireframes i would suggest putting a 1/4 or 3/8 as a backbone (depending on size of wireframe). Run them from to bottom, depending on the width, may take a couple to help stabilize and you may need to use guide wires front and back.

Stick welder would work, but would not be as easy for a beginner to pick up on as a MIG would be. MIG is the easiest for a new welder to get the hang of.

When I build my frames, I always reinforce the sides with 3/8" or 1/2" round cold rolled steel. Keeps them rigid, and you can not really bend it much without heating it with a torch. The larger dia. steel also forms the 'legs' which goes about 8-10" in the ground for support. I tack the 1/4" frame to the front of the larger bracing, leaving a 1/16" gap to allow the light clips to be attached, which is not necessary if you use rope light (I use LED mini's on my frames). Also, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND having all wire frames Powder Coated. I don't care how carefully you paint them, you will get rust developing at welds and scratches at some point. It's a real PITA to have to unstring a frame to touch up the rusty spots. Once Powder Coated, they are ususall trouble free for years.

As for flux core vs GAS, believe us, there is NO COMPARISON in the quality and strength of the welds for a newbie welder (like me).:(

Jachip
03-07-2013, 06:30 PM
I have made lots of wire frame 3/16 and 1/4 hot steal is the eas to go for bending any welder will do unless it is going to hold lots of wgt you can buy it at home depot in with the thread rods most hardware stores carry it you can also call around to some steal suppliers it is cheaper from th
em.

11Bravo
09-03-2013, 08:01 PM
I made a Bell and a Angel Bell from # 9 wire from the pattern of eShepardsOflights.com. Now I need some way of attaching the LED strings to the wire. It seems I can't use the same 1/4" hardware cloth with #9 wire because it is too tight of a fit. eShepards used ceiling hanger wire which is smaller in diameter which would work with 1/4" hardware cloth.

I deviated from that pattern And not realizing the mistake I made till I started trying to use hardware cloth, I now need a different way to attach LED strings to the #9 wire and make it look good.
Any suggestions?

djulien
09-04-2013, 10:02 PM
I started trying to use hardware cloth, I now need a different way to attach LED strings to the #9 wire and make it look good.
Any suggestions?

If the LEDs almost fit, you could put a screwdriver or something into the target cells and gently enlarge them.

For other props where hardware cloth did not fit well, I used duct tape successfully. An example photo is on page 8:
http://downloads.eshepherdsoflight.com/Howidid-NativityFigures.pdf

I used gray duct tape, which was slightly visible. Black would not be so obvious.

Yet another option would be to zip-tie, glue, or tape those little light holders onto the wireframe.

don

11Bravo
09-04-2013, 11:41 PM
Thanks Don, I did try to enlarge the square but there still was not enough space between the bulb socket and the #9 wire so that the socket could lie down and I couldn't get the insulated wires in the other side very well. And with those sharp pointed wires possibly poking holes in the insulation, making a it a hazard. So I gave up on trying to use the 1/4" wire cloth. I think if I could find some 5/16" I could make better progress. But that isn't a popular size and more difficult to get locally.. Another thought I have going is to try some coroplast. Place the frame on the coroplast and make holes in it along the frame and insert the bulbs and tye rap it to the wire. I'm going to try and pick up a piece or coroplast tomorrow and give it a try.

djulien
09-05-2013, 10:27 PM
Place the frame on the coroplast and make holes in it along the frame and insert the bulbs and tye rap it to the wire. I'm going to try and pick up a piece or coroplast tomorrow and give it a try.

That sounds like a good option. Let us know how it turns out!

don

11Bravo
09-06-2013, 05:02 PM
This is what I came up with so far. I can take the frame off the coroplast and make another outline on another piece of coroplast. I don't really need the frame after I punch the bulbs thru the plastic. But I'll probably make some sort of frame on the border to stabilize it. I plan to hang two of them on the front of the chimney at an angle to each other. and they won't be subject to any wind load.
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/gosvtqkcnbmjwzy/EfRqboU4OO

djulien
09-06-2013, 10:43 PM
https://www.dropbox.com/sh/gosvtqkcnbmjwzy/EfRqboU4OO

looks great!

don

11Bravo
11-12-2013, 11:00 PM
I made a frame from cpvc to strengthen the coroplast while it is hanging on the house fireplace brick. I will have two of these at an angle to one another. they will alternately blink to the beat.
http://doityourselfchristmas.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=21167&d=1384310485
http://doityourselfchristmas.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=21168&d=1384310500

nickdico
08-01-2014, 11:52 AM
Hey team!

I was thinking of starting to make small wireframes, maybe 13"x13" (nothing larger than a foot or foot and a half). I don't own a welder, nor could without having a stable place to use it (no garage just an older wooden shed).

I tried using some old tomato stakes, but it is a pain cutting them up by hand. However they hold form pretty darn well.

Any recommendations on other materials to do small scale wireframes for the outdoors? Thanks!

T.D.Sutton
08-02-2014, 10:37 AM
I have made a number of "small" wireframes out of so called Galvanised or zinc coated "Number 8 wire" and soft soldered them together at the joints using an overlap for strength. I get mine from a local "big box" store in the garden department in coils of about 20 yards. Four, four-channel stars for the top of my "shooting poles" were made this way for last year and handle the weather and winds fine, they are about 18" - 20" across. See pic below prior to installation.

24468

I figure out each length, plus a bit, then straighten it by bending about 1 inch at one end at 90 deg, fix that end in a vice and then put a battery electric drill on the other end in very low gear and twist the wire along it's length. This has the effect of straightening the wire and partially "work hardening" it which helps to keep it straight. If a joint looks like it is going to be a bit weak I bind the joint with thin copper wire and then solder over that to keep it all in place.

Soldering Galvanised or Zinc coated wire you will need to have available a hydrochloric acid based flux, this combines with the zinc and accepts the solder beautifully. I am often lazy and use the liquid flux and still use my supply of rosen cored solder to do the soldering, it is no problem at all. Beware though you must thoroughly wash the job down with water to remove any traces of the acid flux after completing the job.

The flux I use here in New Zealand is named "Duzzall" this comes in a green container, and is a mixture of Hydrochloric acid and Phosphoric acid, which allows easy soldering of stainless steel as well as Zinc plated steel.

Terry

nickdico
08-06-2014, 10:30 PM
That's great and very helpful. Thanks Sutton!

Rick Todd
08-16-2014, 05:55 PM
Hi Terry,

Those stars look great! When you say solder them together above are you using a gas torch (propane or Mapp) or something else? I'd like to try something like that and I already have a Mapp gas torch and I'm hoping to use it.

Thanks

Rick

T.D.Sutton
08-17-2014, 03:57 AM
Hi Terry,

Those stars look great! When you say solder them together above are you using a gas torch (propane or Mapp) or something else? I'd like to try something like that and I already have a Mapp gas torch and I'm hoping to use it.

Thanks

Rick

Thanks for your comments, Rick,

I use a mains powered soldering iron, one with a "reasonable" sized copper tip. The one that I soldered the star frames with was a 65 watt "english made" "Henley Solon" iron. I have had it for more years that I care to remember - likely 60yrs!! In fact it was the first Iron that I owned and given to me by my father as a present. It is effectively a lower powered version of a plumbers, tin-smiths, or sheet metal workers iron. You need to have a reasonable amount of heat reserve available in the head to keep the heat transfer going to get reliable & strong joints. I have just finished modifying 16 small "Mini-trees" made exactly the same way as the stars, and on this occasion I used a slightly higher powered Iron that I acquired recently and this actually worked better, I think it is about a 125 watt version and as with the 65 watt they have no temperature control, and appear to stabilise themselves at a suitable temperature for good solder joints.

I have attempted using a gas torch, but have not had much success as the flame is too concentrated and hot which easily "burns" the solder, making it crystalize, while taking away any flux in the process. This is really counter-productive as the flux is essential to to a good joint, and does not allow the opportunity to build up the solder as the joints is created, to smooth out the joint and correct and irregularities - ie. make it "Look Good" :-)

I trust that this is an answer to your question, best of luck with your project.

Terry

arw01
08-17-2014, 12:51 PM
Photos please gents of the good the bad and the ugly, especially joints that hold up. On the list yet this year, are large balls to hang from a "mega tree" bull pine I have. This has been a bucket list item for the wife since she was a child.

Sent from my Sony Tablet S using Tapatalk

Rick Todd
08-17-2014, 02:31 PM
Thanks Terry,
That's exactly the answer I was looking for. I tried the gas last night and had no success. I'll try a bigger iron and see how that works.

Thanks for your help

Rick

T.D.Sutton
08-18-2014, 12:01 PM
Thanks Terry,
That's exactly the answer I was looking for. I tried the gas last night and had no success. I'll try a bigger iron and see how that works.

Thanks for your help

Rick

Having a "sizable" heat reservoir/reserve in the soldering iron tip makes this sort of soldering a lot easier as the wire draws the heat away quite rapidly and attempts to cool the tip. If the tip is too small, without sufficient heat reserve, the result can be that the soldered joint can cool below the melting point of the solder, producing a rather "dodgy" joint.

This is exactly what can happen if a "low powered" soldering iron is used to solder up a PC Board. My experience over the years has been that using a "hot" iron to make a soldered joint, with minimal time in contact with "whatever is being soldered", is far better than using a low powered iron and having to stay in contact with the joint component for a long time. If that happens the iron's heat transfers all over the board and components while it is trying it's best to bring the joint up to soldering temperature, possibly destroying/damaging the components and/or the board in the process.

My $0.02 worth anyway :-)

Terry