Finding something to clamp the earth to can often be a tricky proposition when welding, along with needing to ensure it is a good contact, and actually finding something the right size for the clamp’s jaws.
MagSwitch have in their product range a number of different sized Welding Clamps, and I have fitted the 300A welding clamp onto my little GMC Welder, as much to prove the concept as it is to make my life easier!
Here is my modest welding set, including the GMC Welder, Auto darkening helmet and my existing clamps.
The original clamp has a typical sort of opening capacity, but that makes it difficult to clamp onto even a modest bar, and obviously impossible on flat plate, or a 1″ round section (or larger) pipe.
The GMC earth is simply a bare multistrand wire wrapped around the bolt, so after removing the original clamp, I stripped the insulation back a bit to give more bare wire to use with the MagSwitch. The bolt and nut on the MagSwitch Welding Clamp is substantial, and has two good sized washers and a spring washer. This means you can really clamp down on the earth wire, ensuring good contact.
The upgrade took only a few minutes – a very easy adaption. In some instances, where welding non-ferrous material, a clamp is obviously more beneficial, so in those cases (not that I will personally be welding non-ferrous materials!) simply MagSwitch the magnetic earth clamp onto the original clamp and use it as it was originally intended. Once I grind some of the rust off my extremely rusty welding skills, I’ll weld a larger flat plate onto the back of the clamp just for this purpose (ie to provide a good contact area to be able to MagSwitch for those few occasions when having a clamp would actually be more beneficial than the MagSwitch. I can’t think of any for myself, but again, it is a proof of concept rather than addressing a particular need I have…..I need to prove the concept! 🙂 )
I’m sure there are other solutions for clamping in preparation to welding onto something like this 1″ diameter round stock. However the speed, convenience, and contact area achieved with the MagSwitch will be hard to beat.
There have been some discussions that the last thing you’d want to do is have magnets in close proximity to welding, but in reality this is not a problem for the MagSwitch. Don’t weld right next to the clamp, ensure there is good contact between the clamp and workpiece (this is not hard to achieve), and above all else, don’t use the practice of striking an arc off the welding clamp to test the circuit, preheat the rod etc. That will cause significant damage to the clamp. The only reason I mention what should be pretty common sense is I have heard there have been a few clamps returned as being faulty (such as the clamp no longer being able to turn off) and there is an obvious large arc strike on the clamp and it has effectively being welded on!
So an easy upgrade, and more importantly makes earthing your work in preparation for welding a breeze.