A welder can work for any trade.  In fact it is a trade in itself.  In the union they refer to it as a tool of the trade.  That means a plumber, an electrician, a carpenter, or a sheet metal worker (Tin Knocker) could be a welder.  But not all in a specific trade can weld, including me.

For one thing you can ruin your eyesight from the welding flash if you don’t wear proper PPE (personal protective equipment).  There are electric welders, gas welders (acetylene), and other types.  Many times in my years as an electrician, people have assumed that all electricians are welders.  Not true.

One time I was called out to a job on a farm in the back country to wire a shop.  One of the requirements was to install a receptacle for an electric welder.  That was fine.  I could do the wiring – the farmer could do the welding.

When I finished the wiring portion of the job I put my tools and left over material in the truck.  I was in a hurry to get home because it was getting late.  The farmer asked me to show him how to use the welder.  I responded that I can wire for a welder but didn’t know how to weld.

Since it was an electric welder the farmer said; “You’re an electrician, you must know how to weld.”  Most farmers I know are expert welders, but at the time the REA (Rural Electric Association) had just come into the area.

The farmer said; “You must know something about it.”  So I told him I would give it a try.

He found two pieces of iron and set one on top of the other.  I had no idea what setting I should use but took a weld … er … wild guess, put on the mask, and … everything was totally black.

Did you ever try to run a stick along a crevice when you can’t see the crevice, or the stick for that matter?  More wild guesses.

Every time the welding rod would touch one of those pieces of metal it would flash and I could see momentarily.  Then the rod would stick and I would twist it off of the metal and try again.  Each effort I got a little closer to the spot I was trying to weld.

I finally caught on to the process of holding the rod close enough to the metal that it would arc, but not so close that it would stick.  The light from the arc would tell you where to go.  I finally “welded” a few spots on those pieces of iron, took off the mask, shut down the welder and told that farmer; “That’s how you weld.”  Then I went home.

I often wondered if he thought that all of that flashing and slashing I had done was part of the process.

I felt like I was the world’s greatest pretender.  (cue music)