Making a dwarf welding helmet out of fiberglass.

Hey everyone,

I've been thinking about a new project lately. And for that I need a lot of tips. So here is what, why and how.

I'm currently making a welding helmet out of an old beer keg as in the instructable of bricobart. When I started with it I though about using the keg as sheet material to make a papercraft mask, probably Dr. Doom or the ABC warrior Hammerstein from the first Judge Dredd movie. I quickly realised it wouldn't provide me the result I like to have, so now I'm just making the 'simple' version from bricobart.
But I don't give up that easily. I also want to make something out of fiberglass and epoxy resin for a while, just to have the experience and to try it. So my quest for the perfect helmet/mask continued. I found Fallout helmets, which have tubing on which I could attach a breathing device. But finally I came to this Erebor helmet from the Hobbit.

The plan:
The plan is to make the Erebor helmet with a hinged visor. I am planning on using several pepakura helmet models and combine them to make the helmet suitable for my welding purpose. The hinged visor and all other mechanics like that I can work out myself. The paper helmet will then be covered with epoxy and fiberglass as can be seen in several other instructables. To make it smooth and for details, I will use car body filler. (I already know EVA foam is the better choice for the helmet, but I don't trust is with the temperature of the welding and I read things about epoxy resins not werking properly on EVA foam.)
However, I never used epoxy resin/fiberglass/car body filler or any of these kind of materials. So therefor I need al the help I can get from here. What kind of stuff is suitable for my welding helmet due to high temperature (gradient)? What is the best way to go so all parts will connect properly? Is it wise to start this project?(Please don't answer no, because I will probably won't listen). Painting tips, epoxy tips, general tips etc.

Thanks in advance.

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Kiteman2 years ago

I keep wanting to ask this, every time I read the title of this topic:

Why do you need to wear a special helmet when you are welding dwarfs?

Sorry, but it had to be asked...

RuudvandeLooij (author)  Kiteman2 years ago

Dwarfs are extremely rare so I can't blame you for not knowing this. But when welding dwarfs they tend to spit in your face. So you need to disguise yourself with a special helmet so he doesn't know your going to weld him/her.

RuudvandeLooij (author) 2 years ago

I discovered a next problem, the pepakura model will not give me all the details I wan't, so how can I get the details I want? Do I need to add them before applying resin, this gives me the problem when doing body filler? Is it better to do it after the body filler using epoxy clay or a thick version of rondo? For what kind of details do I use epoxy clay, when do I add details before resin? And of course many more of these kind of question.

crapflinger2 years ago

doing a quick search....there are a lot of welding helmets on the market made of fiberglass, so it seems like the material is suitable for use as a welding helmet with regards to the heat etc... I don't think any of the ones I found would have used anything custom as far as materials but I can't say for sure.

if you start with a pepakura model and make it out of thick enough card you should be able to lay the fiberglass mats (I'd suggest actually using the matts for this and not just resin) directly over the paper to make the actual mask. you might even seal the paper first so it holds up to the resin (maybe some mod podge sealer or something). if you get the thinner glass mats it should be fairly easy to get started and then you just build up from there. with the right diligence in sanding you wouldn't necessarily need the body filler over the fiberglass.

RuudvandeLooij (author)  crapflinger2 years ago

Thanks for the reply. I did some research myself as well and like you I found some welding helmets of fiberglass, so it is possible. But first I thought it could be they used a special heat resistant resin. But now I'm not sure anymore whether that is neccessary. Since polyester and epoxy resins are thermosetting polymers they will form 1 molecule which can not be melted. Most of these resins also can withstand high temperatures. With welding I guess normal resin temperature resistance should be enough, since I never weld very large things in one go.

The paper model I will make from 180gr paper. I will first coat it with resin without using fiberglass. I will do this to maintain shape during the fiberglassing as suggested on several instructables. I also read something about rondo(body filler mixed with resin) to coat the inside, but I want to keep the helmet as light as possible so won't use this. And like you suggested I'm thinking about several layers of thin fiberglass over 1 thick layer.

RuudvandeLooij (author) 2 years ago

Well, I guess making a mould for multiple products will be a little to much work for me. I like to stick with this one build. Other people can visit my instructable afterwards for building it themselves.
About the pigment, that sounds as a plan, that would save me an extra step of painting.

Toga_Dan2 years ago

Depending on how thick it is, fiberglass can be translucent. To make it opaque, I suggest a coat of silver paint, followed by black. Or is it possible to mix pigment with the resin?

I believe you can. When making large objects, a glass cloth is used with the resin, and an addition of coloring wouldn't harm it one bit.

Pazzerz2 years ago

We had a great hobby shop at some of the bases I was assigned to in the navy, and they provided the moulds for making fiberglass boat hulls, particularly a little hydroplane speedboat for a short shaft outboard. I was thinking that you could make your mask and smooth it out, etc., with the pepakura model. Once you have the fine finished product done, make a silicon mould for it, then use the mould to make a fiberglass finished product, and even several of them.