Failed adventures in brazing
Sometimes, you try something new and it just doesn’t work right. This is one of those times!
I had a pair of brackets for the back of the shield that were supposed to be basically how you hold the shield – where the leather straps go. The saga of getting these attached has not gone well. Initially, I pasted the backs of each bracket up with JB-Weld and tried clamping it down to the shield. This worked out okay until the clamps came off, at which point the metal started flexing away from the shield enough to start popping up, which made me seriously question how strong JB-Weld would hold for this kind of application.
This is the point at which I probably should have said “it’s not a big deal, this is a wall-hanging piece, nobody is ever going to see it, who cares”. But I didn’t, because I’m stubborn. I knew welding Aluminum required a better, more robust setup than my Harbor Freight MIG welder, so I started looking into brazing. Brazing is a process where you use a blowtorch to heat material up and insert brazing rod into the joints, to the point where you basically create a quasi-welded part. This was a bad idea for the shield, in hindsight, because a giant disc of aluminum is actually a shockingly good heatsink! I barreled my way through trying to braze the brackets onto the shield and got to this point:
It actually looked… not too bad? Some messy spots, but surely that worked! Nope. No it did not. The brazing stuck fine to the brackets, but the shield refused to get hot enough, so as soon as I pulled with any force against the brackets they started popping off, revealing a disastrous mess of burned JB-Weld underneath.
Sigh. Okay, well, both brackets would have to come off, then.
Did a hell of a number on this thing! But hey, you live and learn. I have no way of getting the entire shield up to the 700-ish degrees Farenheit required to properly braze the material.
As a consolation prize, I showed the situation to my neighbor, who works at a company with a proper welding shop. He brought the shield in with him, and while he was not able to undo the mess I did, he was at least kind enough to tack-weld the brackets on properly.
Unfortunately, I have no way of improving on this further at this point, so I will focus on getting the front of the shield cleaned up and painted and just console myself with the thought that this is a wall-hanging shield anyway. Live and learn!