What's New at 120studio.com

2018 October 21



This is from a project I'm working on.  This one is an edge-to-edge glue laminated countertop, made with pine planks. 

I'll try to get an article together soon. 

This is a Stanley bench plane that I got for $8 or $10 at a yard sale, but it's a bit worn, and the blade sort of doesn't stay adjusted.  Some of the newer planes, on the other hand, have unpredictable quality.  I was looking at this one which seems to be a replica of the classic Stanley design, but there again you might or might not get a good one.  There's also this one, a #4 bench plane that's actually made by Stanley and is probably a pretty good choice.  The No. 4 is the best all-around size;  either that, or a #5.  This No. 5 plane, made by Taytools, doesn't have a lot of reviews yet, but the ones that are there seem quite positive.

If I were really into woodworking more seriously, I'd want one of these.  Made in Sheffield, England. 

The manual bench plane may not be a tool for absolute beginners, perhaps, but it is worth learning to use.  In many ways it's superior to the power tool that supposedly replaced it.  (I've messed up a few woodworking projects by trying to use a power planer instead of a bench plane.)  A lot of knowing how to use bench planes is in knowing how to sharpen and adjust the iron.

2018 October 15


Kodak Ektachrome is back!  Actually I just read about it here, because I've been working on some welding articles and hadn't been paying attention at the moment.  That, and this year's autumn color is still mostly green.  Maybe we'll have some good foliage yet.

I'm really wanting to try some of the new Ektachrome;  you might be able to get a few boxes of it through this link.  Apparently it's just hit the market, because in Australia it looks like it's still in the "pre-order" stage.  But there's a USA seller that has it in stock!

Although I like 120 and 4x5, I do actually shoot mostly 35mm even today, so a new Kodak slide film is very much appreciated.

Metal & Shop

New:  Welding Thick Steel With AC.  A fresh look at the basic, no-frills AC arc welder. 

The photo is actually a small crop from a 35mm film image;  I don't remember the settings, lens, or anything, but I wanted a photo showing the amperage settings on the dial.  I don't know why 75 amps has a circle around it.  I think that's about the right current for 3/32" 6011, though, as long as the steel is thicker than 1/8".  (For 1/8" steel I would try starting at 60 amps with that.)

By the way, I just noticed a new stick welder that's made in Ukraine.  The specs seem pretty good if you like inverter welders, and you know how to convert the Europe-style plug to a US-style one (220/240 volts, 50 amps).  This unit advertises 75% duty cycle and 300A output.  Wow.  I can't speak Russian or Ukrainian, but it looks like it says "ZENIT PROFI" on the side.

2018 October 9


Kodak Tri-X 400 @ 400
Ilfotec DD-X 1+9

This was not something I welded, but this gets me thinking of AC arc welders.  I was putting together an article on some quick tips for AC welding;  just trying to dig out a Kodak film photo that I made of a Lincoln Electric AC-225.

Do you like Kodak Tri-X scans to be very contrasty? At times I think maybe I do, but then when I look at them, they seem like they need the contrast turned back down a little.  I like T-Max and Delta to look a bit contrasty in scans or prints, but Tri-X just seems to look better when it's not too cranked up.  The photo above looks about right to me.

2018 October 2


Metal & Shop

When you want to weld really thick steel, there is still nothing better than the old fashioned arc welder.  No argon, no wire feed mechanisms to deal with;  just an AC stick welder and some electrodes.  DC stick welding takes a lot of skill;  AC stick welding seems to take even more skill, unless you don't care what the welds look like. 

I ran some 1/8" Hobart 7018 AC's, welding a piece of 3/8" plate to a piece of 1/4"-wall square tubing.  You'd think this would require huge amounts of current, but I found that 135 amps was almost too much.  It was undercutting a lot at that amperage.  More so, after the piece had soaked up a lot of heat from the welds.  (You can also get undercutting from too fast a travel speed, but I don't think that was the problem here.)  I knew it was too much current, not only because of the undercut, but also because of the amount of weld spatter, the stubborn weld slag... and the sound the welder was making.  Even with metal this thick, it worked a lot better at 120 amps. 

Also I noticed (again) that those plastic containers of electrodes are not as dry as they look.  Go ahead and leave one of those out in the sun for a few hours.  The moisture will bake out of the flux coating and condense on the inside of the plastic box.  So you know these are not exactly "low-hydrogen" electrodes, but they work pretty well. 

One article I've been wanting to do is a collection of reasons why 7018 slag can be difficult to remove.  This is kind of a major thing in arc welding, because if the slag is very stubborn, there is usually something wrong with the weld technique.  (One reason can be too much current, which is sort of counter-intuitive.)  But it could also be a bad batch of electrodes, as mentioned earlier (H2O absorbed from air). 

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