Learning Path — Intro

What is welding and why is it so awesome?
Welding is when you take two pieces of metal and melt them together so that they become one piece of metal. As a result, welding makes incredibly strong bonds — ever try to rip metal? It ain’t gonna happen. Learning to weld gives you the ability to make super strong steel structures or sculptures or furniture or whatever you want. And the best part? It’s actually not that hard to learn how to do it. While it takes years of practice and experience to become a great welder, it can take just a couple weeks to become a good welder. Maybe not good enough to make a submarine, but definitely good enough to make a bookshelf or a support frame for a walrus-shaped gokart.
We’ve put together the following list of classes as a “curriculum” of sorts that we recommend for people new to welding. It’s only a general guide — the more you learn, the more you’ll know what you want to learn next — but we think it’s a good place to start:

Class Details: Usually 7-10pm on Fridays. Cost is $80 for one person, $140 for two people.
Class Description: This is a quick 3-hr class that covers a ton of material. While it’s not enough for you to go and do any of it on your own, it does give you good exposure to three different kinds of welding — MIG, TIG, Torch — as well as some other fun shop tools, including the Plasma Cutter, which is like something out of a James Bond movie. Plus you’ll get to make a cowbell, and as Christopher Walken always says, “gOtta HAve more COWbell.”
Requirements: No prerequisites or experience required. Standard clothing. 18 or older or instructor permission.

Class Details: Every Sunday and most Wednesdays from 10am–4pm. Cost is $200 for one person, $360 for two people.
Class Description: In this six-hour class, we will cover the basics of welding using MIG welders, to have you safely and effectively ready to start your very own furniture, bicycle chopper, or top fuel dragster project. We will be emphasizing skills and techniques that will make welding more accessible to those without extensive workshops, toolsets, or experience. During the class we will cover safety, metal procurement and selection, welding technique, and finishing/rust prevention techniques. We will then apply all the new skills to make a 12″ pillow that we’ll try to destroy.
About MIG: A MIG welder is like a hot glue gun for metal. It uses electricity to melt steel and feeds out more steel as you go, so it’s the fastest and easiest welding technique to learn. It’s also ideal for making furniture, making gates, doing general welding repairs, and building scrap metal sculpture.
Also, after Intro MIG, you can come in and work on your own projects during Open Shop.
Requirements: No prerequisites or experience required. Standard clothing. 18 or older or instructor permission.

Class Details: Roughly every other Friday from 4–10pm. Cost is $250 per person.
Class Description: Welding with TIG is a lot like driving a Ferrari: it’s precise, powerful, and difficult to do really well (except I haven’t driven a Ferrari). It requires the use of both hands and one foot and expensive machines. But it’s worth it. With TIG you can make beautiful welds on steel, stainless, aluminum, chromoly, bronze, copper, titanium, magnesium–you get the idea. You can even weld dissimilar metals. And you can do it all with tiny little welds that look so pretty you won’t ever want to grind away a MIG weld again. Plus, if you can TIG weld, it’s a pretty damn good life merit badge.
About TIG: TIG uses electricity to melt the metal. You generally hold the torch with the right hand, add filler metal with the left, and use a foot pedal to control the amperage (heat) as you go. TIG allows you to adjust the temperature and filler deposition rate as you weld so it allows you to make much more precise welds. They’ll generally be stronger and prettier than MIG and you can weld more exotic materials. But it’s way harder and slower to do.
Requirements: Nothing is required, but Intro MIG is strongly recommended. Standard clothing. 18 or older or instructor permission.