Why a welder should try his hand at different work methods.
I remember, several years ago, talking with a machinist over lunch and what came up in the conversation was his dislike of how most welders have a “sloppy” manner of working. He isn’t one of these fellows who wastes time being considerately more accurate than a job calls for; he is a practical man. And though he couldn’t put his finger on exactly what made him feel that way, I figured there had to be something to it.
The thought that occured to me was what I figured to be the biggest, most fundamental difference between our trades: Machinists worked metal by removing material while welders worked by adding it.
I think that this influences a tradesman’s psyche. One of the joys of being a welder, depending on your type of work, is that there are often situations where you can deal with poor fit-up by simply filling the gap. What does a machinist or joiner do when they make a piece too small? Make another and hope the boss doesn’t notice the lost time.
Surely this makes a lot of us, compared to other trades, appear to take a fast and loose approach to layout work. In the case of an unmotivated welder, he may never develop the ability to accurately fit work together if his job never requires it. The truth is that there are a lot of welding jobs where you can be considered a great fabricator with a degree of skill that wouldn’t qualify you to make coffee in a cabinet shop.
If you’re an impatient welder, then a little time working with wood is a cheap way to force yourself to be accurate. It will broaden your horizons and round you out as a person and tradesman.