Learning to Weld

Some­thing I had want­ed to learn for many years is basic weld­ing. I’m not plan­ning on switch­ing careers or any­thingTh­ough you can make an excel­lent liv­ing as a welder and I would encour­age any young per­son inter­est­ed to learn about that trade.; I just want­ed to try it myself. As a struc­tur­al engi­neer, I’ve spec’d count­less welds on paper. I’ve only ever done very lim­it­ed met­al work (most­ly just cut­ting, drilling, & bolt­ing), and I want­ed to get a feel for what it’s like to join met­al with welds. I’ve learned from some of my engi­neer­ing friends, as well as watch­ing Grady at Prac­ti­cal Engi­neer­ing, that I’m not alone in this inter­est.

But it’s not nec­es­sar­i­ly easy to find a teacher for a curi­ous per­son rather as opposed to a stu­dent who is seek­ing a career. I don’t have a lot of friends that weld, either. But, mak­er spaces often have intro­duc­to­ry cours­es. So, I found a great “Intro to Met­als” course at Fort Hous­ton here in Nashville.

For bet­ter or worse, I was the only per­son who signed up that Sat­ur­day, so I got a three hour, one-on-one course from Court­ney Dai­ly, who is a local artist who hap­pens to work & teach at Fort Hous­ton. I real­ly rec­om­mend check­ing out Fort Hous­ton for all sorts of class­es. Court­ney, espe­cial­ly is a great teacher (and, from what I saw of her work, a tal­ent­ed artist and damn fine welder).

Fort Hous­ton Met­al Shop

I first made a bunch of real­ly ugly test welds to prac­tice on some scrap. We also prac­ticed cut­ting & drilling, which though not new to me was (is) still some­thing I had a lot to learn about.

Ugly welds

My lit­tle begin­ner project was to make a frame. I made a rec­tan­gle out of 1″ angles. Since we had the extra time, I also got to spend some time grind­ing it down (which prob­a­bly took longer than actu­al­ly weld­ing did, giv­en my work). It end­ed up look­ing bet­ter than I would have expect­ed for the my first project. I’ll prob­a­bly find a way to mount some art in it (or maybe use it for a gui­tar ped­al board, though it weighs a lot for that).

Ready to grind
Fin­ished frame
Ground to the core

So, as I was fin­ish­ing up grind­ing I made the com­ment that it looked shiny now, but it’d prob­a­bly rust over by the next day. Court­ney cor­rect­ed me that the steel would stay fair­ly pol­ished where I ground it for a long time. Well, it’s over three months lat­er and it has­n’t rust­ed a bit.

  • Smart welder lady: 1
  • Know-it-all dude: 0

Reminds me I always need to lis­ten & learn.