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I began welding in 1976, fresh out of Lincoln Electric Welding School in Euclid, OH. Working as an independent contractor a few years later, I was responsible for providing my own equipment. I furnished the most reliable equipment to use on my welding rig because I needed it in the oil patch working on plant and pipeline construction. It seemed that one problem I came across at the most inconvenient times was slag blowback which was costing lost production time. Normally, I just threw my cutting tips away because drilling them out was so time consuming, and because when the tip drills snapped, they would jab me in the finger. I was throwing away not only the cutting tips but my hard-earned money – and wasn’t at all happy about it!

Every time a cutting tip went into the trash, I told myself that there must be a way to clean out the slag and reuse the tip.  Finally, one day, I was playing with ideas and put together a primitive solution on the back of my truck that used hydraulics to force the slag back out in the direction it came from. I used it and shared it with co-workers for a few years. What was really great about it is that the tool could be used anywhere without the use of external power. All I needed was a hammer and some water.

Over the years, I noticed that the problem of slag blowback had never been resolved by any of the leading industry manufacturers. I thought about the problem of torch slag blowback as the unsolved mystery that has been around for decades.

In 2016, I finally decided to do something about it.  My son, Sean, and I produced prototypes, designed and redesigned until we had a tool that looked nice, worked well, was a quality, precision-made tool that anyone would be proud to own and would last the owner’s career life.  Jeff, my brother, helped with the website and marketing.  And Jeff’s brother-in-law, Roger, did the patent work. slagRebel was born from a joint family effort.  

Along the way, I’ve learned about marketing, fulfillment and customer service.  slagRebel is selling, tips are being reused, welders and welding companies are reducing production costs, and I’m as proud as can be that I’ve been able to help so many people.

-Van Steel

Van Steel
Van Steel