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"Every time I go by the [Mighty Owl Oak] there are children, parents or teachers standing around it. It is wonderful to see the kids bring their parents into the school to see the tree and their leaf."
--Lisa Pavlet, project coordinator, Litchfield Elementary School PTSA

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How to Use a Spool Gun on a MIG Welder

The Voice: Hey, Kevin. What are you doing?

Kevin Caron: Hi! I'm here in the studio finishing up on my public art sculpture The Seed. I'm going to weld these aluminum brackets into my aluminum base so I can bolt the kernel down where it belongs. And for that I've got to use my spool gun.

Ever see a spool gun? If you've never seen a spool gun before, this one is hooked up to my 251 Miller and it's got a one-pound spool of aluminum inside this drum.

It's got a set of dry rollers in it, very similar to what's in the machine, only really tiny. You don't want to have to push that aluminum 15 feet from the machine all the way through that liner out to the end of the gun because it will kink inside.

It's very difficult to do, so you've got the little dry rollers in here, a little short piece of liner inside the tube, and a nozzle at the end - makes it really easy.

It's kind of bulky and heavy to haul around. It requires two hands if you're working over your head, but it does a great job.

Instead of adjusting the wire feed on the machine, you adjust it over here in the bottom of the gun. The voltage (and this one is set at 19 and a half, I think) you set on the machine.

Because I'm working with aluminum, I've got to have argon - no mix. But you get your argon from the bottle. That's what all the cables are for, to bring your power and the controls and the gas and everything else.

Let's make some sparks.

Well clean it up a little bit with a stainless steel brush to get any oxidation off of the aluminum.

Got your helmet on? OK. Let's go to work. (welding)

That's all it takes: zap! You're done.

Ill brush that off a little with the brush, get that clamp off. Then I can go to the back side of that bracket and hit all the brackets, get them all welded, both sides, maybe a little spot on the bottom.

The kernel portion of the sculpture only weighs about 20 pounds, so I don't have to be super tight here. And since this is an indoor sculpture, I don't have to worry about the wind, so I'll just hit them enough just to make sure they stay on. Then I can set the kernel back in place.

I'll use the holes in the base of the kernel that I've already drilled to align my drill for drilling my holes in the brackets. I'll put four bolts in and then we're ready to go.

Let me get back to work here and we'll see you when it comes time to install the sculpture. That's going to be fun! Later.

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