by Jason Becker
If you have ever worked with polished stainless steel, you know that it is very easy to scratch the polished surface. As a welder, you know that we usually use a lot of clamps when we weld. Clamping stainless with your typical finger clamps can cause deep scratches that will cause excessive re-work to get rid of.
A while ago, one of my buddies showed me a tip on how to prevent scratches left behind from using clamps, it is a simple and effective remedy to the situation.
By brazing some silicon bronze on the feet of the clamps, you can prevent scratching up the surface of the medium you are working with, in this case, stainless steel. Since the silicon bronze is softer, it will not scratch or mar the surface. Prior to learning this technique, I was putting cardboard or scraps of wood between the stainless and my clamps. It was effective but required 2 hands and a balancing act to secure the clamp where it was needed and to keep the wood or cardboard in place while clamping. In addition, clamping usually took place very close to where the welding needed to occur. Now, I am sure you know what happens to cardboard or wood once its next to an intense heat source. This actually created more problems than it solved.
I have heard of other who glue a small piece of leather to the bottom of their clamps. That would be another solution, but it's temporary. It's something you will have to do quite often to be able to use the clamps. With the brazing method, you only have to do it once, yes it will take a little bit of time; roughly about 10 minutes per clamp start to finish. But it will last forever. I have used the same clamps that I brazed back in my apprenticeship nearly 10 years ago and they are still going strong. This is a handy tip that you can do on a rainy day what will save time on future projects.
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