When I started this blog almost 7 (!!!) years ago, I had never used a power tool before, hadn’t really ever made anything, and didn’t know what I was doing. All I knew was that I enjoyed decorating and as a new stay at home mom, I had no budget for it, so I was going to have to figure everything out for myself (“on the cheap,” hence the original blog name of DIY on the Cheap). Pinterest had just stormed onto the scene and suddenly I was exposed to a whole new world full of inspiration (along with everybody else). One thing I realized very quickly was that I loved the fact that having a blog incentivized and motivated me to learn new skills, not only to fulfill my desire to decorate our new home, but also just to have some material to write about. And I also realized quickly that I was actually really, really passionate about it. I had no idea! Not only did I feel empowered and truly enjoy learning how to do all sorts of new things, but I truly loved being able to inspire other people, particularly women, to do the same. I’ve always been very clear about the fact that if I can do these things, then so can you. Anybody can. I don’t possess any special talents, I just have the passion and drive to learn. So let’s talk about the latest skill I learned and am so excited about: Welding!
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I have wanted to learn how to weld for so long. If you had told me a few years ago that I would learn how to do this, I would’ve laughed at you. I never in a million years thought I would be capable of doing it. Sometimes things like this can seem extremely intimidating, but the more you try and learn new things, you realize they aren’t as intimidating as you thought. I decided to take a welding class at a local place here in Atlanta called Freeside Atlanta. I had a great teacher (Dominic, for you locals) and I learned so much in those 2 hours. I learned how to weld multiple types of joints, and I learned so much about the welder itself and how it works, etc.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with how welding works, I’ll explain the basics in Layman’s terms, specifically MIG welding since that’s the type I learned. There is a spool of wire inside the welding machine, and it is continuously fed through your welding gun and heated using electricity and consumed as it forms a welding pool which joins two pieces of metal together. Shielding gas is used (there are several different ones you can use, but an argon/carbon dioxide mix is a common option), and is also sent through your gun to protect the welding pool from contamination from oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen in the air. There is also a clamp attached to the welder which you must attach to something touching the metal that you are welding to keep it grounded, because apparently electrical shock is no fun.
Now that I’ve learned the basics and had a chance to practice some, I bought my own welder and am looking forward to getting started on some projects soon. There are a few different types of welding and as I mentioned, I learned MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding, which is one of the easier types to learn. I bought this Forney Easy Weld welder (a good beginner model to get started, which does MIG or Flux Core, and the most affordable I could find), and this auto-darkening helmet. I also bought these welding gloves, which were literally the only ones I could find in a women’s size small.
Ok, let me just tell you how cool these auto darkening helmets are. The second the welding torch turns on, the screen automatically goes black. (You can’t look directly at the light or it will burn your eyes, like looking at the sun.) The helmet protects your eyes and also your face and head from any sparks that may fly. It also protects your face from getting sunburned by the UV rays emitted from the torch. The things that I found most difficult about welding were adjusting to the fact that you literally can’t see anything when the helmet goes dark, except for the arc coming out of your torch. You have to follow the light and hope you’re creating a straight bead. And that’s another challenge, getting a good, straight bead is really hard at first! You have to make sure the torch is the perfect distance from the metal you’re welding, and that you are gliding your hand at the perfect speed. There’s a learning curve and it will take some practice, but I’ll get there.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on the lack of welding attire selection for women! I had such a hard time finding gloves that fit, and I didn’t even bother ordering a welding jacket. I would love to see more options available in the future, and hopefully as more women begin learning and getting involved with welding, that will no longer be an issue. (Attention welding companies: If you want a woman to consult with on this, I’m your girl! Wink wink.)
I plan on building furniture, particularly metal + wood pieces. I have some ideas in mind and I can’t wait to get started.
Here’s the little video I shared on Instagram (excuse the fact that it’s vertical, it was originally posted in my Instagram stories). I was so excited when my new welder arrived!
I look forward to sharing the process as I practice and learn more, and as I get started with actual build projects involving metalwork. I know that the majority of you may not plan on learning how to weld, but I hope you’ll still enjoy hearing about it and seeing the projects that I make. Stay tuned! Oh, and let me know if you have any specific questions or things you’d like to know about welding that I can share in future posts.
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