Have you ever dreamt about doing something?
Bucket list kind of dreamt.
Something that someday, somehow you’ll do.
Welding has been on my list for yeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrssssssssss.
I know. I’m an odd duck. (At least I’m not an ugly duck. OHHHHH!!!!)
But seriously. For me, welding has been something that I wanted to learn how to do.
I want to learn to weld.
I kept telling people. Putting it out into the universe. Someday. Somehow. Somewhere. I want to learn to weld.
This week, I got to do it for the first time. (!!!!!!!!!!!!)
Turns out, all you really need to do is make friends with a guy who lives in a firehouse and owns a welder, then ask and keep asking if he’d teach you how to weld.
Of course he says ‘yes’ but it’s merely a hypothetical, nice thing to say to the slightly crazy chick who has this weird obsession with learning welding. Until she texts you, “How’s Wednesday at 4?” Suddenly, shit just got real.
Being the gracious human being that your firehouse-owning friend is, Wednesday at 4 is fine.
And just like that, bucket list dreams start coming true and you see Lisa Frank rainbows with unicorns & puppies frolicking alongside a kitten with some wings.
“So what, exactly, are we welding?” you may ask. Fabulous question.
The base to my kitchen island.
Because the house is so narrow, I want the flexibility of a rolling island with the storage capacity of a built-in island. I’m making the kitchen island out of a 30″ 2+2 drawer base cab and a 15″ 1 drawer, 1 door base cab.
Knowing how much I can load up a cabinet (you would really be amazed at my packing abilities), this island could get pretty heavy. But I still need it to roll easily. That means larger, high quality wheels. I can’t just bolt the cabinets together and shove 4 casters under it though. There needs to be some sort of base to tie everything together.
2×4’s would be too big. I still don’t want the island to be more than 36″ high.
Plywood might not be strong enough. Plus then I’d have to finish off the raw edges to make it look intentional.
Angle iron! 1.5″ angle iron. Strong. Visually appealing. The L part of the angle iron would make a skirt to cover the top part of the casters. Annnnnnnnd I would finally have an excuse to learn to weld.
You should know that this island has been in the works for months. Assembling the cabinets. Spec’ing out the iron and getting it cut.
Dad knew a place by him to get the angle iron that would also miter cut the corners, so I gave him the measurements.
I have never been here but, given the jumbled assortment of rusty metal and amount of awesome looking stuff, I’m pretty sure I’d love it. Anywhere with a looming threat of tetanus is my kind of place.
Dad then hand cut the interior supports for the casters and Mom took photos so I’d have them for the blog.
Everything arrived to me completely dry fit & ready to weld. #bestparentsever
Then it was just a matter of me welding it up.
Let me just tell you. “just a matter of me welding it up” is a completely honest reflection of how naive and unprepared I was for how difficult welding actually is.
I have done research. I get the concept of welding. I understood the instructions that were given to me. I thought I would totally rock welding.
Look at how cocky & confident I was before that first weld. I so got this.
I packed up my To-Go bag of tools and carted everything over to “just weld it up.” (what? you don’t have a to-go bag for your tools?)
Everything started out so smooth. The pieces dry fit together nicely.
It went pretty square without too much of a fight.
I got good instruction. It looked so easy!
And then it was my turn.
And I sucked at it so.bad.
REALLY incredibly bad.
My crappy weld. | What it is supposed to look like.
But I kept going.
I got some help and it took way longer than it should have but ultimately, I DID IT.
That last one was probably my best.
I did that. It looks like crap. But I did that. I melted metal and made something. Pretty proud of myself.
I could have given up when I got frustrated and melted through yet another spot of the angle iron.
It would have been faster, cleaner, and better results if I had just handed it over and asked – please just do it for me.
But I didn’t. I wanted to do it. I wanted to be able to say, ‘I did that. I welded that up.’
I picked the island base for my first weld project for a few reasons.
- It didn’t have to be pretty. Most of the welds will be forever hidden under the base of the island or under the cabinets, never to be seen again. The only ones people would ever see are on the outer corners and, well, that’s why God made grinders.
- None of these welds needed to be structural. Overheating and redoing the welds can make things brittle and compromise the structural integrity of both the iron & the weld. I did plenty of both. Luckily, I’m not building a bridge.
The 1.5″ angle iron will carry the weight of the cabinets just fine. The cabinets will get bolted to the angle iron and the castors are bolted to the angle iron. It’s basically flat on flat on flat. Ultimately, I could have probably assembled everything without welding and it would have stayed together simply because, well, physics. And gravity.
The welds certainly make it easier but I’m not counting on them to carry any load. They’re not what holds this all together. Thankfully.
- It seemed like a win-win solution. I needed a relatively thin, strong base for the island and I really wanted to learn to weld. SOLD.
I came home and spent a few minutes with the grinder, smoothing everything out. The corners are now shiny but I’ll deal with that when I attempt to finish the metal. And because I was SO excited to see if it worked, I slapped the casters on it.
And hopped on.
I’m the man. Or at least I felt like it.
And I have awesome friends and family who help make it all happen.
Now what have Sarah and all our other kitchen maniacs been up to??
what a badass! welding looks difficult and dangerous…i’ll gladly leave it to the pros. you’re so brave!
anyway, you mentioned lisa frank, so i thought i’d pass on this VERY interesting article i read a while back about her, the company and all the crazy shit that came with it. it’s a fascinating and disturbing read. http://jezebel.com/inside-the-rainbow-gulag-the-technicolor-rise-and-fall-1179495705
congrats! i did the same thing a couple of years ago & took a class at the local community college (my dad welds but i live 900+ miles away from home). i tell people it’s alot like a giant glue gun. a really dangerous glue gun, but with practice, doable. i don’t stick weld though, i found MIG to be easier for a beginner. i enjoy it so much & have made so many things for our home that my hubs and i cashed in our spare change canister last year and bought our own welder. money well spent! my fave has been the garden bench we finally made: http://blondemafia.blogspot.com/2012/04/i-got-pot-ting-bench.html
keep at it though & keep filling that bucket!
Congrats! What sort of welder were you using? I found it easier to learn with an Arc welder, then used a Mig (electric) with an auto feeder.
Awesome! I have very little experience with welding but enough to know that it’s not easy to get a good bead. I’ve long wanted to make my own welder from 2 old microwaves, but have never had a good reason to be quite that badass.
Nice! Most I ever attempted in the metal melting category was soldering. Welding is just soooo badass! Awesome!
I took a welding class at the community college. It is really hard to see what you are doing! Good for you.
I love this!! I learned to weld with an MIG auto-feeder and it was still super hard!! It’s true that you can barely see what you’re doing and you have to actually get a feel for it instead. Girl power! Way to be a badass!!!! I
You can actually have a reason to show off if you are wearing a Burberry shirt.
Because lighter ink was screened twice on the
garment. To get the best effect, you should wear a slightly loose
Abercrombie & Fitch shirt.