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Learning Something New

I love to tinker. There are a lot of mechanical tasks which I can and do with great zest if for no other reason than I know that I have been successful with them in the past and will get the ego boost of seeing the finished, working product yet again. There are some instances where working on new projects brings me face to face with my personal limitations, however. As with a lot of shadetree mechanics, such barriers often bring a project to a halt until I either acquire additional tools, new skills, or both. Unfortunately sometimes these encounters with my limits tap into a genuine fear of failure and can stretch a delayed project indefinitely. Such is the case with anything that relates to welding.

I work professionally as a manager in the construction industry and have built everything from wood framed shacks to air supported structures, concrete & steel office towers and most things in between. Thus I am no stranger to working alongside and in management of welders and ironworkers. However in all the years of my career digging my hands into all manner of construction methods and materials I never took the time to learn to weld. I have had many small projects which needed welding work and typically just resigned myself to having a friend come over and knock it out for me for a couple of beers. All the while I tried my hand at more and more complex & involved mechanical repairs on cars bikes and boats, but never picked up a welding lead myself. It always seemed like the last best way to serious fuck something up, I mean extreme heat & electricity all combining to either strengthen or weaken a structural member. If I could make it weaker, I reasoned, that was likely what I was going to do and I genuinely feared the consequences of suffering a structural failure in a moving vehicle. I finally tied my courage to the sticking place, bought a cheap welder and an old steel trailer and decided I needed to learn for better or for worse.

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As of this afternoon I have now, with the help of electricity, successfully bonded two previously separate pieces of metal to one another in such a way that I was unable to divide them except by cutting them apart. I need some practice, but once again I am amazed at how easy things are once you push your fear back and take a stab at learning something new. Plus by doing something I had never done before I am now more self-reliant and can view projects from the perspective of being able to repair things in a new way.

Illustration for article titled Learning Something New

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