Arc welders are often used to create beautiful artwork from metal. But, can they be used to burn wood? That’s what we’re going to find out in this blog post! In order for the arc welder to work on wood, it needs a special setup. We’ll review the steps and how an electric arc welder works so you can decide if one is right for your project.
Can You Use an Arc Welder for Fractal Wood Burning?
The short answer is yes. When you are burning wood, your goal is to fill the piece with soot and then remove it, leaving behind a wonderful fractal pattern burned into the surface of the wood.
The arc welder works by applying an electrical current between two pieces of metal that can be attracted together very strongly (the weld). This process produces heat along with plasma gas. The heat is what does the burning, and not the arc itself.
In fact, you can use a stick welder for this purpose as well if you have one available to you. They are very similar in function, but stick welders tend to be larger and more cumbersome than an arc welder.
In addition, they require a little bit of work before using them on wood, so it might make sense just to get yourself an arc welder unless your budget prohibits that option or there’s no place where you could store such a large piece of equipment easily (e.g., apartment living).
How To Use an Arc Welder for Fractal Wood Burning?
It is really quite simple. Here are the steps you need to follow:
First, use a metal file to remove any rust from the pieces of steel you will be using for your fractal wood-burning project. Any small bits of rust will impede this part of the process and can even lead to less attractive results in some cases. If they are not removed prior to starting, you might have trouble producing a uniform burn pattern with an arc welder.
Next up is just preparing your work surface by laying down whatever material you’re going to use underneath it, including things like plywood or MDF board (medium-density fiberboard). The space needs only be large enough that both plates fit side by side on top, typically about 18″ x 24″. Place something else nearby that allows you to switch off the welder quickly and safely in case you need to.
Finally, place both steel plates on top of each other, with one plate facing up (the bottom piece) and another face down (on top). Place a small butane torch underneath them next; this is used when welding metal together so that it’s heated enough for fusion.
The flame should be about an inch away from the surface of the steel. Turn your arc welder on at full power and slowly bring it closer until contact is made between the two pieces of metal, where they will instantly weld together.
If everything has been done correctly, you should see some smoke coming out around these areas as well which is normal when working with this process unless there isn’t enough ventilation in the room where you’re working (in which case it’s not safe to be doing this at all).
Also, make sure that your welder is grounded properly before starting because if it isn’t and you touch a metal table with one hand and the plate on the work surface with another, there could be some major problems unless both hands are making contact since electricity will travel through your body from one side of the arc welder to another.
Once they are welded together, slowly slide the entire piece of steel over to your prepared work surface and place it on top. Next, switch off the arc welder.
Now you’re ready to use your torch underneath them again until any additional bits of metal begin to burn away from either side, leaving behind some very interesting fractal patterns burned into the wood.
Once this is done, Flip both plates back over so that none of what was originally against each other can touch anymore (unless you want a specific pattern) and then turn everything back on using full power with an inch or more between them.
For example, if I had four small pieces of steel instead of two large ones for different-sized burning areas, I would have one plate on the bottom with two small ones pointing up and another plate on top containing two more.
This ensures that there is enough room for everything to burn evenly without having any areas where things are too close together (which would result in them touching each other).
Simply repeat this process until you’ve burned all of your patterns into whatever wood you’re working with; it’s really not as difficult as it sounds! You can also check our post on wiring 3 phase welder and welding carbide to steel if you’re interested.