Welding nails together

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Forum topic by Moron posted 07-27-2011 02:46 AM 8010 views 0 times favorited 52 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5032 posts in 3167 days

07-27-2011 02:46 AM

I know this isnt really a woodworking question but its sorta related.

I want to weld nails together. Over the last 30 years I have bought, acquired, been given old building to which I have salvaged the wood (reclaimed) and I have saved the old wrought iron, hand forged/hammered rectangular nails and I now have thousands of them.

I want to make a sculpture with them by welding.brazing. soldering them together.

Does any one know the least expensive method, without leaving big globs of molten iron where they get joined together.

Solder doesnt work.

is a mig, or tig, or stick welding ………….?


-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

52 replies so far

View Loren's profile


8035 posts in 2921 days

#1 posted 07-27-2011 03:16 AM

You’re going to need gas of some sort to make a clean weld without
much excess filler in it. That means mig or tig or oxy-acetylene.

I’d try brazing them. Brazing is like soldering but done at higher
temperatures and I’d bet most of the stuff you’ve seen made from
old nails is brazed.


View tblank's profile


55 posts in 2244 days

#2 posted 07-27-2011 03:18 AM

Mig, Tig, or Stick all will work, the wire feed is my choice but you can also use a torch and braze. I like a wire fed tig welder and it is quick and easy. A good welder is not cheap. Lincoln is my brand.

View vinceuk's profile


18 posts in 2048 days

#3 posted 07-27-2011 03:30 AM

I’d go with MIG clean welds, relatively easy to learn, reasonable cost wise (although fair outlay if thats all you use it for) and safe no flamable gasses

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 2324 days

#4 posted 07-27-2011 03:45 AM

What ever you use, you will have to control heat. Brazing on that small a piece will be difficult unless you let the piece cool a bit before adding a new piece. That will take time during which you’ll burn gas which is expensive. Small mig would be better, but rusty, dirty nails will be tough for mig wire to stick; it’s mostly for fabrication with new steel, not repair on dirty stuff. I’d say stick using a 7018 3/32” electrode which can be run as low as 25 amps ac or dc, but that’s still a lot of current for something that small. I agree with Tblank on Lincoln; or Hobart. Check with welding suppliers for a very-low temp solder or brazing material and a really small torch setup. They should have the solution; it’s their business.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3167 days

#5 posted 07-27-2011 04:14 AM

3 opinions and no consensus

I’ve been looking at welding equipment, used and new and can afford to buy “1” kind. Not all three as I have yet to see the TIG< MIG<arc><STICK welder made like a shop smith cause they are sold separately. ………..only $$$$ for one choice and I dont want the wrong choice………..please, “wrong” is expensive.

I’ve experimented with a torch, cheapy CT stuff and I can easily heat the nail enough to twist and bend it into the shape I like, I just need to join the delicate (at times) joints,……..if that makes sense ?

If you could memorize every bone and muscle in the human body, and if you had enough nails, you could bend them and weld them together, and form a human body into different shapes and tasks……….I want to play, and I only have limited funds………….its not exactly like what TS should I buy, similar…….but not quite.

I know for sure, that there are “welders” and “fabricators” on this forum and being woodworkers, that even if you didnt know the answer you might have a friend that did, a son, a daughter. I sorta want to make a carving…….out of nails that I pulled, bought, and toiled for.PM if you like.


-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3167 days

#6 posted 07-27-2011 04:18 AM

stick so far

am I wasting my money, if I buy the “hobby” stuff, …… as its a one time deal, and I am a tad “isolated” which things even more expensive.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View gfadvm's profile


14779 posts in 1964 days

#7 posted 07-27-2011 05:02 AM

A wire feed mig would be the answer for me. You can get a 110 volt mig for very little cash and they are dead simple to use. The tig has a much steeper learning curve and the cost is MUCH greater. That said, I will warn you that migs do NOT like rust, paint,dirt, grease. If you sand/grind/buff a tiny clean spot where you want to weld you will like the mig. I prefer the gas sheilded migs [can use straight co2 rather than argon mix] but the flux core is cheaper and requires more clean up of welds. I have made thousands of bridle bits with my 110 v Miller mig and it has been trouble free for many years. You asked for a definative answer and thats mine! Gas [ox/acetylene] have a steep learning curve and will not weld anything rusty at all. Stick welders are difficult to weld small parts unless you have a way to firmly clamp parts. Hope this helps.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 2292 days

#8 posted 07-27-2011 05:16 AM

I was a welder in my professional life and now retired. I would say your best bet would be a small 150 mig that runs on 110 volts. you will need an inert gas with it. This set up would be the easiest to use. Tig would be the cleanest but you would require using both hands to weld and what would hold the nails while you weld? It would be too time consuming to use this method. With mig you would have to be sure your metal nails were clean and not greasy, rusty, dirty or galvanize coated (by all means do not use galvanized nails, the fumes from it will kill you or sicken you really bad, I know!!!!) Good luck with your project.

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3167 days

#9 posted 07-27-2011 05:27 AM

very very old nails, certainly older then and b4 the day of galvanization

I wish I had a friend who was a welder and that friend lived near me.

We could experiment.

no consensus yet

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3167 days

#10 posted 07-27-2011 05:31 AM

must be frustrating for aspiring woodworkers,

to ask a question and get such a wide answer

maybe there is no right answer

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Grandpa's profile


3251 posts in 1949 days

#11 posted 07-27-2011 05:46 AM

Well you got the answer from a welder but I am not a mig welder so….. I can’t disagree. I do have an oxy-acetaline set and think I could do it with that system and possibly not have to use any rod. I do plan to try it but it might be awhile before I get to it. To much stuff to do in teh wood working shop.

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3167 days

#12 posted 07-27-2011 05:55 AM

I am an amateur welder

please keep that in mind

eh Grandpa……….would love it if you could find 5, to play.

I would love to avoid tanks of gas, between torches, tanks and gas………………an expensive route

dont mind spending it, just dont want to if I dont have to

hate to waste any ones time, …………………including mine : )

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 2324 days

#13 posted 07-27-2011 06:40 AM


Here’s the problem as I see it. You want to weld nails of various sizes (even big ones are small in the context of welding), that are old, dirty, and rusty, which make them impossible to braze or silver solder as those processes REQUIRE scrupously clean joints, but the rust, dirt, etc is part of the art you are trying to create. Mig similarly requires clean joints. Tig allows SOME leeway as to cleanliness, but not a lot, is more complicated, has a much steeper learning curve, and is way too expensive to consider for most of us to play around with until we get good. Stick (arc) welding can work, takes very little practice, sets up quickly and would not be affected by subsequent joints very close by as would brazing or silver soldering, and with the right welding material, is amazingly tolerant of rust, dirt, and other contaminants. It is also very inexpensive to start up.

Considering that you will not be welding ships together and do not need the finest Miller welder out there. You need small, cheap, (inexpensive in Canada; you guys do seem to have a better grasp of the Queen’s English) and dependible. Check out the Harbor Freight 98870 120 volt arc welder. At around $120 it is not a bank buster, has rave reviews, and welding material is readily available and inexpensive (see, I’m learning). I suggest you try one, if you don’t like it, they accept returns without question within 30 days which should give you ample time to decide. If you can’t get it from HF in Canada, try someplace like Busy Bee. They may be higher priced, but still a reasonable alternative.

I’m really trying to help and I hope this does in some small way. Let us know how you progress. I’d like to see one of these.

PS Years ago, when I was in the business, a customer had a BEAUTIFUL bud vase on his desk that his Grandfather had welded by building up concentric rings of steel using a home-made arc welder (this was late ‘20’s, early ‘30’s). His welding material of choice? Coathangers! No flux of any kind. It was all he had, all he could afford, and he used the bud vase in lieu of an engagement ring. I guess it worked, because the recipient was his Grandmother. Keep at it. You’ll figger it out.

-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3167 days

#14 posted 07-27-2011 08:10 AM

arc says “fussy”

next question

I dont want to burn my cornea, nor retinal nerve

is it worth spending the “loot” on the quick flick helmet, ………no “flash”

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3167 days

#15 posted 07-27-2011 08:11 AM

see, point, shoot

no blind spot helmets ?

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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