Frequently Asked Questions
Molten Metal Works is located at Keystone Art Space in the Glassell Park neighborhood of Los Angeles (this is the new address as of 8/15/12).
2558 N. San Fernando Rd.
Los Angeles, CA 90065
Feel free to use the loading docks to unload material, but please park on the roof for classes (ramp is on the south end of the building).
The building looks like this:
Answers to FAQs
Awesome, glad to have you. First thing you should do is to take a look at the answer to the next question and see what kind of welding you might be interested in learning. Most people who come into the shop start with either the Intro MIG class or the MIG/TIG/Oxy Taster Class. The Intro MIG is about five hours of welding on a Sunday, where you really get a feel for that welding technique. You get a lot of practice and you learn how to use grinders and it allows you to come back for open shop hours and work on your own stuff then. The other one, the MIG/TIG/Oxy Taster, shows you all three kinds of welding in about three hours on a weeknight. You’ll get a chance to try each of the techniques, learn what they’re good for, and build a cowbell. We cover a lot of material quickly and it’s a lot of fun, but it’s not enough training to come back for open shop. Of course, some people also dive right in and sign up for one of the oxyacetylene series classes where you get 6-weeks of classes in using a gas flame torch, building a Calder mobile, a chandelier, or a sculpture.
What’s the difference between the different types of welding?
I currently offer group classes in MIG, Oxyacetylene, and private classes in TIG. MIG and TIG are forms of Arc welding, which means that they both use electricity and an electric arc to weld. Both are much faster processes than Oxyacetylene (because that arc heats up to 7,000-10,000*F almost instantly), but both MIG and TIG have their downsides.
MIG (Metal Inert Gas, also called FCAW or SMAW for flux-core arc welding and shielded metal arc welding) is like using a hot glue gun. Not super precise, but quick, easier because it’s largely one-handed, and great for putting things together, especially when you are just cutting and welding straight pieces. TIG I’ll get back to in a second.
Oxyacetylene uses a flame torch (between 5,800*-6,200*F) to heat steel up and weld it together. It’s best for material under ¼” thick but with the same tool you can cut, weld, braze (aka solder), or heat-and-bend. Oxy is great for making curvy shapes, or wrought-iron looking things. If you’re good, you can make really pretty welds and it’s not super-bright, so you don’t have to wear a welding helmet. It’s pretty quiet too.
TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) is like a combo of the above two. It uses a super-hot arc to melt pieces together. It’s the hardest process of them all, as well as being the most expensive (hence only one machine and only private classes). It requires using both hands independently and using one foot to control the amperage of the arc. Benefits of it are that it’s very precise, you can make very pretty welds, and you can even join dissimilar metals. It’s also the best for fickle aluminum or stainless (though we can MIG aluminum in the shop). TIG is best used on those specialty metals, or when precision and reducing grinding time are the primary factors. Good on straight or curvy materials.
What about stick welding?
I do not teach stick welding. Although stick welding is very versatile, cheap, and makes really strong welds, it’s hard to learn, it creates fumes unhealthy for an indoor shop, and it’s overkill for what we’re usually doing (it’s best for steel 3/16” thick or above—which gets really heavy very quickly). Stick is mostly used for structural welding: building bridges, building buildings, and shipbuilding. Check out the welding classes at LA Trade Tech.
What’s the deal with open shop?
Open shop is a good time to work on your own projects with some supervision. It is not lesson time, but I’ll be available to answer questions, particularly if they relate to a matter of safety or tool usage. You must have taken intro welding with me and signed a waiver.
What’s your refund policy?
Classes are refundable (minus a $25 deposit) one week out from the start of the class. Classes are half refundable 72 hours from the start of the class. Classes are not refundable after that. Additionally, classes are not refundable after the first session of a multi-session class. Though if you sign up for a multisession class and miss one, sign up for an open session and I’ll try to cover anything you might have missed.
What about canceling classes?
I hate to cancel classes, but MMW reserves the right to cancel classes for underenrollment. It’s partially a matter of money, but more so, it’s a matter of class experience. Classes are more fun and informative when there are more people in the class. Not only do other people add more energy, they also ask questions you didn’t think of right then. Generally, I’ll need two people in the intermediates and four in the intro classes.
What should I bring or wear to my first class?
You should wear all natural fibers clothes (cotton, wool, leather) in long sleeves and pants, with no holes for sparks to get down. Additionally, you should wear all leather or canvas shoes. Things like cowboy boots, Vans, Converse are great. No running shoes or mesh or synthetics. Definitely no Crocs, comfortable as they might be.
Feel free to bring your own sunscreen and safety glasses, though I’ll have off-brands available for you. Yes, my sunscreen makes you smell like pina colada. And I like it that way.
All the other safety stuff (helmets, gloves, etc) are provided. None of the other classes require that you bring anything to the first class. Second class maybe, but that’ll be discussed in class.
Where can I buy steel (or this or that)?
Check the resources page.
Who can sign up for the classes?
Everyone is welcome to join the classes (provided they are 16 years old). I have taught people from age 14 to 76 how to weld, although the older students often have issues of being able to see well while MIG welding. The welding helmet has a very dark lens and it can be difficult for people who have trouble with things like night-driving or low-light vision. Other than that disclaimer, come on down.
I should also mention once again that these classes are not designed for people looking to become professional, structural welders. That usually requires training and certification using stick welders, which I do not teach. These classes are designed for amateurs, craftsmen, DIY-types, artists, and enthusiasts. People who’ve always loved working with their hands and want to add metalworking to the arsenal.
Do you offer private lessons?
You bet. Give me a call or shoot me an email and we can set something up. Cost is $60/hr solo, and drops $5/hr per additional person (2 people=$55/hr, 3/$50, 4/$45, 5/$40, 6/$35). $80/hr for TIG. A non-refundable deposit of 25% will be required to reserve the shop time.