Our shocking introduction to welding in Houston, Texas.
I'm sorry, I just couldn't resist making puns about electric arc welding; fortunately, nobody received any actual shocks during this quick Texas experience.
Last month we started our drive towards California from South Florida to take care of some remaining items we left in storage after a road trip we took in summer of 2018. This trip marks the first of about three phases towards our previously-described goal of sailing around the world.
Somewhere around Beaumont, TX, Shiela, looked up from her phone and asked if I would be interested in learning to weld. It turns out she was looking for experiences for us while we were in Houston. I'm always eager to add to my skills toolbox, and welding is certainly one of them, so I excitedly took her up on it.
We reached out to the organizer and scheduled something for the very next day.
We arrived at Sawyer Weld Shop in Channelview, TX and were warmly welcomed by Mickey, who would be our instructor for today.
Originally from Arizona, our Navajo/Dine Native American instructor didn't hesitate to share with us all she knew about welding. Rapport was immediate as Mickey is also smitten with the travel bug, having traveled to Europe and Asia for fun, and much of the Southwest US, for her welding work. This made learning from her very easy for us; there is a special place in our hearts for fellow wandering souls.
Mickey evaluated what our basic goals were; that we were interested in the basics of welding for practical applications since we plan to sail around the world, and that knowing how to weld may come in handy. She tailored the introduction to accommodate, and didn't dwell on excessive technical details.
We learned that there are several different welding technologies, but on this day we'd experience Stick and then TIG (tungsten inert gas). Stick welding was challenging to pick up, mostly because the welding rod tended to stick to the medium and prevented a good start. Once we got past that she helped us develop our weld puddle (the hot spot where molten material actually welds) and coordinate weld rod usage and movement. It's an intricate dance which requires quite a bit of focus and planning. I was most surprised to learn that welds are done just a few inches at a time. Welders spend the most time trying to make long welds look perfectly continuous, without any stops.
TIG welding was my personal favorite. It's much easier to start the arc, and since the weld rod was held separately to the arc, I could follow the rod to keep my lines straight. Mickey seemed especially fond of the technology, too, since welds could be made to look really "pretty".
All told we were absolutely electric after our lesson, and we endorse finding some used equipment, learning some basics and weld just for the fun of it. Thank you again Mickey!
There are no paid links or sponsorships in this post. This is an honest experience we enjoyed.