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How to Work Alone: Using Jigs for Welding

Kevin has a motley collection of bits and pieces on his workbench. They're various jigs, or helpers, he uses when he's making art and doesn't have an extra pair of hands.

First he shows one of best-known types of jigs, a "third hand" tool made by Stronghand Tools. It allows him to hold things in awkward positions so he can tack them into place.

Next Kevin shows another Stronghand jig. It has 2 magnets on its base, another 2 magnets on its top, and 2 swivels that move back and forth. This jig is really handy for adding, say, a flange to a piece of pipe.

He uses other jigs, too. Kevin shows what looks like a cutoff, but to him it's a wedge. If you want something at a certain angle, place your wedge however you need it. You can also add another wedge for 2 different angles at the same time.

If you don't have the right tool, make one! Figure out what you want it to do and create a tool that will do that.

Next, Kevin shows a hemisphere, or half a ball. He uses it as a form to make domed welded structures.

He then shows a solid aluminum billet from some metal he was turning on his lathe. It's another way to raise something at the right angle. If what he's working on wobbles, he adds a wedge.

Kevin shows a 1-inch square and a pipe he uses for jigs. You can cut these pieces of scrap to fit. Tack them into place, then grind off the tacks when you are done.

Just like making art, making jigs is a creative and inventive process. Use what you have not for what it's supposed to do but for what you can make it do.

He's ready to go back to work, but you might want to stick around for a little feel good moment ....

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