Heavy Metal: Things To Look For In Welding Material Selection, Dimensional Accuracy - Part 4

Checking your welding metal for dimensional accuracy.

From the last blog article on Heavy Metal: My sawmill trailer project build was in trouble. The angle iron legs were uneven in length! As luck would have it, both tracks pieces also measured within 1/8” high of each of other. This was not ideal either but passable since the mill accommodated adjustments in the saw head to correct for this, but the varying height in the log bunks was unacceptable. I spent half a day trying to figure out if it would be better to cut everything loose, or just start completely over. Neither seemed like an appealing answer. Fortunately after thinking about it, and calling a friend with plenty of millwright experience who confirmed my thoughts, the solution was fairly simple though a little time consuming to correct. I had to mill all the bunks and track to an even height with a small angle grinder. I quickly fashioned stop gauge which put everything level. The moral of the story though is a warning: Always check your metal for dimensional accuracy. You would think that metal would be fairly accurate in dimension since those dimensions are important to building and construction, but you’d be wrong. Many metal suppliers, in order to remain competitive will source metal from the cheapest source, sometimes from China, Mexico, Turkey or whatever foreign country mill quotes the best price. In some cases, the metal even if it is true and straight may not be to the exact same English measurement (or standard classification), but rather to the closest metric European or Asian equivalent. Though metal suppliers mean well by trying to provide competitive pricing, this is an issue that should be checked on every piece and every load before use on any critical project that depends upon exact metal dimensions for accuracy. I already knew this from other experiences with another supplier, but my current supplier had always delivered good quality to me, and I had no immediate reason to suspect otherwise. Big lesson learned. Measure twice, weld once.

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