Finishing Steel: 5 Do’s and Don’ts and Steel Shaping

Break Bender For Sheet Metal

How Do We Shape Steel?

 

Curve shaping, or bending mild steel is done in a myriad of ways. Brake Sheets  for creating or bending angles in sheet metal, and ring rollers can be utilized to  create circles or scroll shapes,  and are

Ring Roller

Ring Roller

commonly available for your weld shop. Regretfully , the flexibility/size of use for these tools, typically the higher the price-tag. However, you can create makeshift bending jigs that work well using any round, rigid, tough forms of steel, such as piping, salvaged flywheel plates, or pulley systems.

 

B. Flange

You may utilize a flat sheet and pliers that lock to twist and turn the sheet.  Jigs can be created from tons of  tough and circular items on the market today. Flywheel plates (A), flange (B)

A. Flywheel

 

 

Scrolls

 

 

Additionally

You will be able to lock the pliers to hold the sheet strip around the flange pretty easily. Furthermore, utilizing a  scroll bend tool can come in handy if you need designed scroll strips. With these working jigs, it should be a piece of cake to bend rods and a flatten steel into intricate, labyrinth looking products.

Using a shop vise can really aid in forming more acute bent products. Tubes railing capsules, and certain channels of minimal thickness can be twisted with a strong built conduit bending mechanism. This takes a good amount of practice to master but you will be amazed at what you can do with the conduit.

 

Finishing Your Weld

An aesthetically pleasing  finish gives off an added appeal to the welded project. Except for those projects  you intend on  keeping rusted (industrial look furniture, antique appeal) , plain metal requires  some form of coating layer to  help make it stand out.

Corrugated Metal look

Adding a paint coat is optimally executed by spray and not by brush. We recommend Seymour  in spray products, real pop in color and gets the job done. If you focus closely at generally welded furniture or even accessories for the typical garden, you will notice  that they usually have rough weld lines and an unprofessional looking spatter coat.

Your Welds

For your own welds, in particular  with your indoor welds, do your due diligence and take ample time in grinding and smoothing the welds to remove this spatter coat, which will  do wonders in making your piece stand out and give it real cosmetic value.

This can also be critically necessary if the plan becomes applying  gloss end -coat finish, since fluid, glossy paint  will draw attention/ accentuate the tiniest blemishes.A primer coat is essential below all layers except for  bare metal coats,  as in polyurethane clear.

For hard to clean areas, use some base of primer that is made especially for rust or a convertor. Make sure that you read and understand the products label before purchasing, because some of the products out on the market require an oil base for outer coats.

Spray Finishes

There are a myriad of spray finishes available to you in the marketplace. With one  application, you can take a dull product and make an extravagantly detailed  finish, such as a faux hammered texture or even a granite faux. Certain antique finishes & crackle can also come in single spray-on finished paints. Perhaps you just want to make your own version of antique finish, this is obviously up to you and your creative juices.

Consideration for time and money cannot go overlooked, so if both of these play a major factor then you may want to consider a verdigris finish.

A. Verdigris Finish

There is endless potential and choices for finishing metal. Here are just a few:

                                                            A. Verdigris Finish

B. Crackle

 

 

 

   B. Crackle

Sprayed Stone

C. Sprayed Stone

 

                                                                                         C. Sprayed Stone

D. Hammered metal

 

D. Hammered metal

 

 

 

E. Swirl (using an angle grinder)

Note: A method for making an antique look finish can be accomplished by applying wet coats of a few varying colors to a different base coat of some differing color. Preceding the top coats drying out, make sure to  wipe them off in only selected spots with a hand cloth or for a different effect a wet sponge.

If you have the budget for it, then powder & brass plating may also be options, but we warn about the cost. When going for more of an exterior coat, look for suppliers that supply gating or railings; they will have all of  the applications such as patinas primers and paints to give your project a unique touch and also gives your weld the capacity to hold off perpetual exposure to the  natural elements of the world. If the weld will be positioned close to open fire or any kind of heat exposure, make certain to purchase the right spray paint specific to its surroundings.

More

We can’t go without discussing the fact  that bare metal gives off compellingly beautiful products with just a few techniques (heat, sand, grind). One technique would be to incorporate an angle grinder that has a flap disc attached, grinding in circles to form  a special  design along with with texturing. It can take up a lot of time and also you really can’t get away with getting a little dirty utilizing some added muscle, but the finish compensates for the hard work and really stands out. Utilize a grinder in circle-type  motions to produce a glossy textured outcome.

What Are Some Finished Product Techniques?

Developing an antique finished product can be mastered myriad of ways. Here are a few ways:

 

1| Painting surface area using 3 or 4 variations of paint colors, giving each coat enough time to dry all the way through in between each layer of coat. As the final coat completely dries, lightly and carefully sand off  the corners to  expose the variety of paint color layers.

Or

2| Apportion multiple layers of a variety paint colors and keep from allowing each layer to dry in between each time paint is applied. Next, use a wet sponge or cloth  to wipe clean, the layers, corners and if there are any visible high spots. To form the crackly “gator” semblance, use a crackle base with a top coat,(Remember, spray over brush paint every day of the week).

Then, add 2 coats to form the crackle, but make sure not use more than directed!  Make sure to unblemish then add a primer to fight against rust. A shade of white is suitable if the purpose is painting the end product. Once  the primer coat  is thoroughly dry,  layer the final (top) coat of paint. Make sure this top coat is devised for metals.

How Do We Clean/Finish Stainless Steel After Welding?

For this example we will use tubing (very common work) in giving you some clarity on what you can do to finish a stainless steel project.

If you are looking to put a nice polish, satin or any other finish onto the tubing work in a few different ways:

Surfox 205

Surfox 205

Passivation Machine

Using  a vapor (ceramic bead ) honing by blasting the work to clear out the contaminants. This vapor machine works really well clearing out all of the contaminants and can really give you a surgical aesthetic finish. The pressure that is recommended rounds out to about 100 PSI. Works well on B finish steels. We like the Surfox 205 but there are many others that work really well.
 

Electropolishing Machine (DIY cheaper and easier)

Carbon fiber brushing against the work. The electrolyte is sulfuric acid and nitric acid and the carbon fiber brush quickly cleans the stainless steel. Using an extraction fan to not break any fumes is highly recommended. Please use Gloves as you do not want sulfuric or nitric acid, or any other acid touching your hands. You may experience some mini hydrogen explosions( this is very common so do not panic) .

You will need:

  • Power Supply- 30 V / 5 A will work just fine
  • DIY Wand:  One side of the power supply attaches to the work (the parts you’re polishing), and the other side attaches to this wand that you will be polishing with. The wand is constructed using a metal electrode wrapped with a polyester cloth to stop it from directly contacting the work. The cloth carries the electrolyte  and conducts electricity while preventing arcing. It’s vital to grind the corners and  sharp edges of the work since if you don’t it will cause arcing much faster. The electrode connects on a banana plug to an alligator clip . High current clips attach to the electrodes a little bit better then lesser current clips, but this is more of a preference and is not mandatory. The electrode is usually wrapped in fiberglass tape. One layer of tape around the electrode will suffice. Simply soak the fabric in the electrolyte and graze it to the work as the power supply is turned on. This will complete a circuit which will cause an electric reactivity on the work and cleans it.
  • Polish Set: To help keep track, try using a colored wire on the wand and since the work will act almost like a ground, black or brown wire. You would also have the electrode be your negative charge against your work. The power supply will output positive charge, so if you need to switch the connectors do so but don’t for electrode is your negative charge. This is very important! We recommend the Surfox-T as far as the electrolyte. You can use others but make sure it contains a large concentration of phosphoric acid. A good balance of sulfuric & nitric acid will also work really well here. Make sure the pH is sub 1.

Continued…

  • Safety wear: This stuff is extremely dangerous so make sure you over do it with safety here. we recommend a respirator mask, welding jacket or sleeves, rubber gloves, safety glasses..to start. Do not over do it with with volume, you only need a little amount to get the job done, only enough to dip the wand into it and as many applications as you will need. A small jar to carry the electrolyte will suffice.
  • Polishing: to review, you would clip the ground clip to the work ,  power on the battery generator or your power supply, dip the wand in the electrolyte, and gently graze it  on the target area . It is recommended to set the power supply to the max 30 Volts and work with the current adjuster to regulate the reaction speed. If everything goes as planned the wand will conduct loads of current while the power  will have to reduce  in voltage to reach manual settings you adjust it to.  Setting the current control to about 3 Amps is but it wouldn’t hurt to run it up to 5 Amps. If you set your current control appropriately, you will notice the difference with an emphasis on  shininess of the metal. I like to keep the reaction under control to minimize that effect.
  • Post cleanse: When finish polishing,  the electrolyte must be completely rinsed off along with the surface of the work. We recommend a neutralizing solution like Walter Surfox-N. It will have a pH of about 12.5 which will neutralize the acid pH levels, so that the acid doesn’t continue to burn through and corrode the work

DIY Passivation Machine

Commercial passivation machines can be pricey. Here is a DIY step by step to creating your own DIY Passivation Machine:

  1. Create a wand made of stainless steel piping flattened on the end, wrapped in polyster fabric with the end sewn shut.
  2. Get the electrolyte: Goof Off  rust stain remover (hydrophloric and phosphoric acid)- This will essentially be your acid when charged through your power source.
  3. Power source: A battery charger
  4. positive clamp connects to the work piece and the negative clamp connects to the wand

Steps

  1. Graze the work with the wand after dipping the wand in the electrolyte.
  2. Continue touching the wand to the work that you want cleaned/buffed
  3. It may take a while if the rust is really dark
  4. You should not scrub too hard with the wand, because it will eventually wear out the fabric
  5. If the power supply shorts out and you burn a hole through the fabric, so make sure the circuit breaker is active.
  6. Clean the acid off (using water)

Key mention: The more the phosphoric acid the cleaner the finish will be.

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