March 6, 2012

Welded tool organizer
Photo by Jim Ruen
During my welding class, I created a tool organizer for my workbench.

When my wife, Wendy, gave me a one-day welding class as a gift for my last birthday, I had no idea how much fun it would be nor how hard it would be. The class was sponsored by an arts center, but held at a nearby factory. Not only did the twelve of us who signed up have access to helmets and metal inert gas (MIG) welders but also pallet boxes filled with pieces of steel of all shapes and sizes. To the company, it was scrap. To those of us in the class, it was better than candy.

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Welded garden art
Photo by Jim Ruen
My wife took the welding class, too, and designed garden art.

Wendy joined me for the class. Although we compared techniques at times, we had separate welding stations and developed our own projects. Our instructor was a metal artist, who gave us basic instruction (placing an emphasis on safety) and then stepped back to let us learn for ourselves … and we did.

It is amazing how quickly you can burn through solid steel when you just wanted to lay a bead, aka making the weld. And laying a bead is an art form in itself. That’s especially true when you lose track of the two metal edges you hope to join and end up an inch or two off.

In the end, I made a somewhat abstract piece for my workbench with multiple places to set tools, while Wendy made several pieces of garden art (rather abstract in their own right). We aren’t quitting our day jobs anytime soon, but I am trying to figure out how I can justify buying a small MIG welder of my own.

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