Thursday, August 8, 2013

Want A Great Career Path, Work In A Trade Job

Experience in any trade or craft is absolutely a must. What if, god forbid, you lose that boring corporate gig where the middle managers have really no other skills than just knowing how to network? Yep, it will happen to everyone at some point if you work in a corporate gig. Don't get mad, get even. The chess game you are playing is with your life and career, so take charge.

If you listen to any college representative they will consistently you that a college education will get you a better job. As a part time college professor I can tell you with absolutely certainty, that is absolutely not true. The bigger truth being hidden is that college enrollment is big money for it's parent companies and many students will ultimately not even finish college, nor have the proper job training. There are more students graduating college with no jobs waiting for them as there aren't enough white collar jobs, for the amount of students graduating with useless degrees. It is a sad reality and the one gripe I have as a professor is the lack of interest from the students. Many of these folks, think they can just buy a grade and expect it to be easy. That is why I consistently tell them I will see them in the checkout line at the local store, while I pay for my ice cold beer.

College loan debt is at a trillion dollars, yet there are over 3 million jobs in the US nobody wants. Quit listening to the damn mainstream news and pay attention to the trades jobs that are readily available and pay good money. Do you like to ride on a nice highway, have modern plumbing and electricity? Well a white collar job isn't for everyone, nor should it be sold as that, as a blue collar trade job often pays better. If you need even more great anecdotes and witty humor about the job situation in the US, listen to Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame over on his site, Profoundly Disconnected.

Now that my tirade on lackluster college students is finished, do yourself a favor and read about a stand out individual that shows how a trade job in welding and fabrication can yield many benefits. Not only do you have a career path that pays the bills, but it also creative and challenging from an engineering perspective. Big shout out to Josh over at Brown Dog Welding for his consistently great metal sculptures and for always showcasing his process. As a novice welder, it is damn cool to see how he works so I can better understand new ways of approaching metal crafts. Thanks hombre!

"It's a simple trick, but one that's really handy and yet flies under the radar. But first, some background: Stick and Tig welding are both done with constant current machines(as opposed to constant voltage mig welders). That's why many tig machines available(like my Miller Dynasty 200DX) are also stick capable. When tig welding you've got the torch, which on top of supplying the juice is also plumbed for gas. Your electricity goes through the torch, runs down the tungsten electrode, and completes an arc on the steel(provided it's grounded to your machine). In this case the gas shields the molten puddle from the atmosphere and you add the filler rod separately.

Getting hard to reach hunks of steel to stick together. Also ROBOTS

You can initiate the arc several ways, but the most common way is by remote...either via a foot pedal or finger control. And remote activation is gonna be the key to this trick.

Getting hard to reach hunks of steel to stick together. Also ROBOTS

Stick welding, on the other hand, doesn't require a "torch." The electrodes not only carry the arc, but they are also the filler rod and covered in there is no need for shielding gas. You just need the juice, so instead of a torch you'll usually use a "stinger;" a simple holder at the end of a power cable plugged to the machine on the other end. You're "on" all the time. That stinger is always hot, which is why it's insulated. As soon as you get the electrode to the work piece it's go time, no need for a pedal.

Getting hard to reach hunks of steel to stick together. Also ROBOTS

Understanding the "why" and "how" of these two processes can come in handy. Using the tig torch as an electrode holder is more of a matter of convenience. If I've got a quick stick job and I don't want to swap out set ups, I'll just tighten a stick electrode into the collet, just like I would the tungsten for tig. 

Getting hard to reach hunks of steel to stick together. Also ROBOTS

Now the other part is much more useful. You could do it with either the stinger or the torch. A nice thing about stick welding is that the flux right on the rod...which means you don't have to worry about gas coverage...which(along with the long, flexible stick) means you can get to some hard to reach places. The difficult task is actually getting the business end of the stick into the tough spot without it arcing out. But here is how:

Set the machine so that the remote output is "On." If you've got the capability leave the Tig HF start on as well. Now your electrode won't get juice until you hit your pedal. In this case I needed to weld to bolts together to hold the arms in for my nephew's 4th birthday robot. It was at the bottom of this aluminum body, and there's no way I could have tigged down there. So I sneak the electrode to where it needs to be, step on the pedal, get some fusion, step off pedal, and pull out.

(tip: leave the ceramic tig cup on torch. Less chance of arcing out and destroying copper collets. Do as I say, not as I photographed)"

Getting hard to reach hunks of steel to stick together. Also ROBOT
Getting hard to reach hunks of steel to stick together. Also ROBOT

(Note: Blurry photos are mine. Clear photos courtesy of Matt Trombley Photography)