There was a time when it took a forge, anvil and heavy hammer to weld ferrous metals together — my great-grandfather's father-in-law had a steamboat machine shop on the banks of the Missouri River in North Dakota — his crew was capable of hammer welding shafts up to several inches in diameter. Wow!
As tough as it is for me to imagine that kind of work, the art of fusing metal is one that is every bit as useful as it is enjoyable.
For the average do-it-yourself enthusiast, a welder can be used to make repairs, but you may be surprised at how quickly you will put the device to work fabricating something useful — often using scrap materials. And that's where the fun really begins. Welding outfits that rely on the rapid oxidation acetylene to heat the metal pieces to the transition point between solid and liquid and the so-called stick welder are still highly useful today, and both take a bit of practice, or better yet some serious training to become proficient with.
Today's modern welders, like the wire feed outfits we used today, take much of the guesswork out of feeding metal to the molten pool that forms along the joint, but before you create structures or objects of a nature that failed welds could cause injury or property damage, be sure to read all you can about welding, attend a training session or three and practice, practice, practice.
Once you get the hang of it, welding will give you a lifetime of fabrication and repair possibilities and might even help you tick items off the honey-do list in record time!
Watch the full episode! Hank shares hints like these in each episode of Tough Grit. Visit Tough Grit online to view this episode and many more. The introduction to welding above appeared in Episode 7, "Men of Steel."
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.