I can now add "welding" to my resume. Friday my husband showed me how to turn the machine on and how to get started. My first welds were far from pretty but they held. The more I did it, the better the welds looked. This is definitely one of those things where practice makes perfect. I'm not perfect yet by any stretch of the imagination, but I can tell I will not hesitate to do this again. In fact this week I may do a little more "fixing up" around the cow pens, now that the sheep pens are done.
Me in my welding gear!
The machine we have is a little Lincoln welder, a wire feed. I know it uses gas (I don't know what kind--it comes in a big, heavy cylinder) and a copper wire spool. I ran out of wire and had to run to the welding supply store to get more and I figured out how to put the new wire on. I've been told that this welder can also weld without the gas but then you need to put a different kind of wire on. Supposedly the gas allows one to make a more asthetically pleasing weld, a "pretty" weld as it were, but I'm really not at that stage at this point. I'm just happy the welds I made are holding.
My first welds. Notice all the "strings".
In the summer of 2006 our local Harbor Freight Tools had one of their many sales and I'm glad I had the foresight at the time to pick up an auto-darkening welding helmet. I have no idea how it works, but what happens is you can see through the little window and when you start welding it automatically turns dark so you don't harm your eyes. Other welding helmets are already dark and it makes it difficult (for me at least) to see when you start the weld.
One of my later welds. Still not perfect but much better than the first.
Carli and Marcus came over Saturday as I was finishing the sheep pens. Marcus finished the last gate for me. We all agreed that the pens look so much better now, less shabby, more professional. Okay, I'll say it. They don't look so "Okie" now.
One of Marcus's welds. This is what it's supposed to look like!
I actually had fun doing it. If I were to give another new welder any advice I'd say: wear sturdy clothes; jeans, not shorts, a long-sleeved shirt (both to prevent little burns from the flying sparks), and absolutely invest in the auto-darkening helmet.
The pens look much better now.
It's amazing how empowering it is to learn a new skill!