I have a confession to make—I am the world’s worst weldor. But it wasn’t always so; at one time, I could weld a bead that couldn’t have been prettier if it was done with a caulk gun. But then I let modern technology get involved. I inherited my first welder from my dad. Its brand name was Hammett and it weighed about the same as the main case of an 830. One of its most incredible features was that the case had wooden sides. My dad created all sorts of things with it over the years and made many a traveling welder salesman slink off in shame when their new Forney or other wonder machine couldn’t hold a candle to its ability to pour a strip of molten metal.
However, time marches on and eventually the old Hammett’s limitations began to pose problems. If you were using a 6013 rod to do a horizontal weld, it was great. However, it ran only AC so if you wanted to use a DC rod or something high strength like 7018, it couldn’t handle it. It also had a tendency to give me a shock now and then. So a couple of years ago, I decided that it was time to look for a new welder. Having previously been burnt on a $79 mig welder, I drove right past the local farm chain stores to a real welding supply company.
The salesman listened to my needs and told me he had the perfect welder (what else would a salesman say?) and pointed to a bright blue machine that he said was perfect for most farm shops. It had a wide range of amperages and could weld with either alternating or direct current. Though I had no idea why you use one or the other and why I would want to change polarities, I was impressed and ended up taking one of these super machines home with me. Somewhere along the 25-mile trip home, I forgot how to weld. Oh, I can still lay down a bead, but in most cases, I lay down two of them, one on each side of the seam. AC or DC, low or high amps, positive or negative ground, it matters not. I read the manual, bought a welding for beginners book and sought advice on an internet message board. I became more confused than ever and my welds continue to look like I was manipulating the electrode holder with my foot. On my best days, I can get a horizontal butt weld to hold two pieces of metal together. On other days or when I need something to really hold weight or look good, I call a friend who could weld the foil wrapper from a stick of Juicy Fruit to an anvil. And since I’ve already gotten him involved in coaching girls’ softball, I might as well ruin the rest of his life by getting him involved in some of my wacky projects.
Author’s Note: Since I wrote this article about fifteen years ago, I have bought at least one more book on welding and watched countless videos online to try and improve my skills. I have even found some help in phrases like “if it slags it drags”, but I am still THE WORLD’S WORST WELDOR.