Have you been looking for a good way to make cut or weld marks on your home metal fabrication projects? Get some soapstone and start making marks like the pros!
This is actually kind of a big deal. When I first started welding in my garage, I used Sharpies…because that was what was handy in my house at the time. The problem is, the black marks they make are hard to see with a welding helmet on, and the Sharpie is toasted in ~10 marks or so.
My experience with marking instruments and metal:
- Sharpies – can’t see with weld helmet on, severely shortens sharpie life, gets gummed up with grease and does not work, expensive
- Pencil – haha…umm works on paper only
- Pen – no worky on metal
- Grease Pen – better, does mark on metal but hard to get it to stick sometimes and I always end up breaking it in half (like a Crayon)
- Paint pin – can get gummed up with grease, runs, and has dry time
Which brings us to what the professionals use – Soap Stone!
Wikipedia tells us:
Welders and Fabricators use soapstone as a marker due to its resistance to heat; it remains visible when heat is applied. It has also been used for many years by seamstresses, carpenters, and other craftsmen as a marking tool because its marks are visible and not permanent.
I pretty much always use soapstone on my fabrication projects. It is easy to use, and the white mark from the stone shows up well with a welding helmet on. Works almost all the time as long as your metal isn’t really greasy. It can easily be sharpened with your grinder that is usually already close by. Best of all, it can be erased with a wipe of your glove!
There are two main different kinds, round and square. They are both good, I usually use the square kind (though it really doesn’t matter). Soapstone is cheap…seriously. Buy some like the kind below that comes with a holder and never look back, you won’t regret it. I consider this a necessary metal fabrication tool.