In the medieval guild system, an aspiring craftsman first became an apprentice, sweeping the floors and learning at the feat of the master. After some years he (almost always a he) graduated to the status of journeyman, entitled to earn wages and, on his own time, create a piece of his finest work, something good enough to prove to the elders of his guild that he was ready to assume the title of master of his craft. His masterpiece. If there had been a medieval guild of aluminum welders, and if Ethan had lived back then and were even old enough to be a journeyman, this would have been his masterpiece. Unfortunately aluminum had not been discovered and arc welding had not been invented, nor was Ethan born, before the disintegration of the guild system, so this is nothing more than a beautiful, beautiful demonstration of the art and craft of TIG welding. (TIG stands for Tungsten Inert Gas, meaning that a solid tungsten electrode conducts an electric arc to the work piece, heating the work and a stick of aluminum welding rod fed in at the same time.)
Welding aluminum is particularly difficult because aluminum conducts heat extremely well, so as you are trying to weld in one spot, the rest of it is getting hotter and hotter, and if you're not careful, whole sections of it will melt and fall away before you finish the weld. Careful control of the applied heat, and a good feel for the rate at which to move the electrode and feed the rod are necessary to get a good clean bead, such as you see on this cube. Seriously, it's not easy to do this.
Source: Ethan Currens
Contributor: Ethan Currens
Acquired: 1 July, 2006
Text Updated: 19 November, 2007