Because Kevin works alone a lot, he has a pretty good collection of magnets. He shows one of his basic red welding magnets from Harbor Freight. He shows the magnet’s 90 degree angle and its 45 degree angle for an inside “clamp.” It also has a notch that allows you to hold your work from the outside of a piece of metal. The hole in the middle makes it easy to grab and position. They’re pretty basic, and come in a couple of different sizes.
In response to a question, Kevin then explains that the end of the welding magnet is cut off to accommodate a weld or anything else that might be in a joint when using the magnet to hold steel at a 90 degree angle.
Kevin says he often gets asked how to clean the steel dust off of the welding magnets – after a while, they can get pretty “fuzzy.” He uses two different methods to clean his magnets. The first is simply to use a whisk broom over a garbage can, and then pull off anything left. Or he’ll put on a dust mask, safety glasses and hearing protection, and look the other way while he uses the air hose to blow it off – that’s the quickest way to clean loose steel magnets.
There are also welding magnets with on / off switches. Kevin shows one with a big red switch. He places it on his metal welding table and switches it on. He pulls at the magnet, but it is clearly attached to the welding table. Also, when you turn the switch to off, it’s also a lot easier to brush that steel fuzz off of the magnet. It also helps that this type of magnet is sealed – the more traditional red magnets just have two pieces of metal sandwiching the magnetic section. The sealed ones probably last a little longer, too.
Kevin then talks about rare earth magnets. He found his at K & J Magnetics, which has magnets in a lot of different sizes and shapes. [NOTE: NOT A PAID ENDORSEMENT.] He explains how he uses these magnets inside a pipe on a sculpture so he can get it positioned as it would be if it were welded in place. He can put together as much of the sculpture with magnets as possible. He uses a marker to draw around each section, numbers each, then pulls the sculpture apart and removes all the magnets. Now that he knows where the piece goes, he can tack weld them in place.
You can’t leave the magnets in place while welding, though, because the magnetic fields in the rare earth magnets and even the welding magnets are so strong that a welding arc will bend toward them. So you have to remove any magnets before doing any serious welding, whether it’s MIG welding or TIG welding.
Another magnet Kevin says he’s sorry to say he uses a lot, especially when he’s working on a vessel of some sort, is a telescoping magnetic pickup that helps you reach any tools you drop inside.
Next Kevin offers a couple of warnings. If you keep your wallet in your front pocket, don’t swipe strong magnets across your pant leg to clean it; it’ll demagnetize your creditcards. Keep it away from your phone, too, as magnets can negatively affect performance.
Kevin says magnets are a great help in the studio keeping things straight and square and flat, and can even help you pick up things. That reminds him that you can get large, very strong magnets with on / off switches for lifting heavy items such as steel plates when using an engine crane, overhead hoist, etc. They can lift hundreds of pounds of metal.
It’s time to get back to work – unless you want to keep playing, like someone does at the end of the video ….