Tate B.

January 7th – January 14th (5.7 hours) –  I began welding. It was very exciting to get to the activity I have been anticipating this year and I was not disappointed. Manny, the new shop foreman, offered to show me to weld even before it was brought up from Randy or me which was all the more encouraging. Manny had me begin by practicing small motions around corners; the secret to welding, he says, is in the wrist. Casey offered to show me a few pointers when Manny went out to lunch, but when Manny saw me working at the other table, he made sure that I was sticking with his program. “Aye, that guy can barely weld. He’s right out of school. I’ll teach you right, I’ll have you welding sheet metal by the end here.” Manny’s enthusiasm to teach with diligence and depth makes me more enthusiastic to learn.

I have begun welding. I put in about a couple hours worth of practice, but I plan to stay after work when I get a little more independent in my practice and the machines are all open for use. I still have a long ways to progress, including the quality of my welds, welding different angles, welding different shaped materials, and welding sheet metal. Manny and a few of the other workers are happy to offer pointers, especially if I ask, but are also willing to let me work and learn on my own. As Manny said, the only way to improve is practice.

If my welds were to continue to drastically improve, I might have the opportunity to complete small or simple jobs. It will take some time for this skill to be anything strong enough to contribute to the shop or its welders. Welding may be decently lucrative career, but I do not plan on using it vocationally. The benefit of welding would be the home improvement or other projects that I would complete domestically.

flap disc – the accessory that is used for moderate grinding on the grinder. The grinder is a universal tool that is always right next to the welder. The grinder has several discs that may be used for different grinds or cuts, but a flap disc is the standard in the shop. This commonly is the disc used to grind down welds to look more aesthetically pleasing.

January 15th – January 28th (12.4 hours) –  Recently, I have noticed the dramatic variations of opinion that is held by each member of the shop. Discussing methods by which to solve problems or debating the meaning of instructions given by Randy or Manny, I am quick to believe the individual to whom I am listening. An example of such is demonstrated with the problem of a door in the shop that warped from excessive heat during welding. While I discussed the matter with one worker, he expressed that it was the lack of skill or knowledge of the welder. The welder responsible for the gate stated that the material was too thin for the amount of welds that were asked by the drafter of the door. The installers noted that the material thinness was required to limit the weight of the door to a manageable quantity. The balance of each job’s interest and responsibilities need to be carefully managed for the shop to function, and sometimes those interests get a little difficult for the other to work around, which perhaps is the reason for a foreman that knows how to fix warped doors.

A “stitch weld” is a method of welding to edges of metal together. Metal edges will often melt from the heat of welding, as I learned practicing my welds. I asked a coworker for advice and he demonstrated welding in short “stitches” of puddle instead of a full line across the seam.

January 29th – February 11th () –

February 12th – February 25th () –

February 26th – March 11th () – 

March 12th – March 25th () – 

March 26th – April 8th () – 

April 9th – April 22nd () – 

July 20th – August 13th (12.2 hours) – Sometime during work, I was told to organize the back cabinet. It was full of a random assortment of endless metal fixtures, knobs, tools, and screws. With such minimal direction, I was not at first altogether confident in my ability to get the job done correctly, but it was with a sigh and a sway, I decided to start anyways. As I sorted through the dusty and rusty odds and ends, I was overwhelmed, but as I continued, I started to see patterns and recognize the shapes I saw. It took a little bit of guessing and some thought and some trial and error, but eventually, the shelves were square and ordered before me. I realized that I didn’t need to understand how and why everything functioned, but just that I needed to start somewhere and get the job done.

I hope to be able to weld and have the ability to craft from metal. I understand it’s a lofty goal, but there is little more I would find being more beneficial to learn from a metal shop. I hope that I will be able to spend more time in this pursuit once I have some more time to spend. Organization is a tricky word. Although I may have my shelves clear and all my shirts hung straight, I am pretty scattered with remembering to contact people and deal with distant deadlines. The phone reminders have been a big help, but I hope I can continue to improve on this very critical business and personal skill.

I have learned that while I can be very personable, I can at a later time be very off-putting. Although I may still be polite, I sometimes lose the energy I often meet people with which sends mixed signals.In terms of being a student to my mentors, I’m learning that I pick up learning fast, but that I can’t assume so. While I often get most of what I’m told to do right, I still need to be cautious and slow down in my work.

August 14th – August 27th (8.5 hours) – I have begun to better utilize my digital calendar which has proven a great benefit to my professional life. When my reminder went off for my second reflection log, it had completely slipped my mind, and it was thanks to my reminder that I was able to meet this deadline. I suppose it is important to believe ourselves capable to do hard things, but not to make our lives harder than they need to be. With dive, government projects, calculus, and friendships, due dates can so easily remain undetected until that stomach sickening feeling of missing an assignment. It is better to plan ahead and casually swipe away an expected notification than to miss a deadline, because life is sometimes unexpected.

August 28th – September 10th (7.42 hours) – This week I had the opportunity of having my own project at the shop. A unique contract was made where an older lady wanted a metal planter to put a small rose garden in. The planter was cut and welded and looked something like a heavy, square tub. It was my responsibility to prep it for rusting and to lay down a HERCULINER finish inside of the planter. If you’re not familiar with this product, it’s the black sealer that is often used in truck beds. I was left to learn how to properly apply the sealer, to actually apply it, and to reap the rewards of Tito, Tommy, and Randy admiring its finish. It wasn’t a big job, but it was mine, and that’s exciting.

There isn’t too much expected as far as personality or professionalism at the work site. Loose language is used, often mixed with Spanish, and Sterling enjoys raising his voice in exclamation or enjoyment. However, everyone is expected to be working and everyone is expected to follow what Randy asks. There’s oftentimes disagreement between how and why things should be done; Tito is the go-to, but nothing gets passed without an okay from Randy. It’s also important to stay out of the way of everyone as they execute Tito’s orders. There’s not a lot of space, and everyone has there own work area. This is especially important for me as the intern to be extra mindful of the more important work around me. My job is to make there’s easier, not stand awkwardly by.

Considering I don’t understand how to use much of the equipment, it’s important that I am careful in finding or utilizing tools around the shop. It is a little embarrassing having to ask how to take off a grinding head or loosen a certain wrench, but I know its understood by the workers that I’m learning and that is my purpose for being there. This however makes it difficult to follow the expectation of doing your work without too much interference on others’, because I am more dependent on other’s knowledge than anyone else in the shop.

I learned what “12-mesh” was when Tommy asked me to wash some. It is a commonly used wire sheeting that is made of 12-gauge wire. 12-mesh is used for screens on doors or gates as a sturdy, but see-through cover.

September 11th – September 24th (9.7 hours) – I have been given the job recently of making cut-outs of cactus leaves and agave plants. Like everything, the plasma cutter takes a little bit of skill to successfully maneuver, and like anything, I have had to practice this skill. Seeing my first cut-outs compared to my later ones was uplifting; I was able to observe the change that I had taught myself, but I realized that I still could do better. I had to swallow my pride and ask for advice from Joseph, the most quiet of the metal workers that I have never really approached. It was simple, and I felt a little silly for asking, but his advice helped me realize what else I needed to change to get cleaner cuts. I could’ve eventually learned it by myself, but I saved a whole lot of time, metal, and frustration by asking someone who knew more than I did.

Xylene is a chemical solvent that is used to clean grease or other industrial waste that cannot be dissolved in soap or water. After applying a metal planter with a coating of truck bed liner, I used xylene to clean off the top edges of the basin where the Herculiner had rubbed on, because it didn’t contain a water-soluble base.

September 25th – October 8th (0 hours) – Last week, I broke my foot. I had to contact Mrs. Polivchak and my mentor about in inability to work for the next several weeks. Luckily, my condition was well accepted and both parties were understanding, but what would my news’s reception had been if I was a working 30 year old and not a teenager? As an intern, my place in the shop is easily undertaken by the other workers, but if I was a more valuable member to an organization, my inability to work could have much more profound effects. I’ve learned to think a little more before my actions, and not only think of the effects on my own life from my decisions, but also the effect it could have on others.

All communication at the metal shop is in person. Often, this communication relays secondary or tertiary information that is required for a job which can be slightly misinterpreted as it passes from person to person. The most frustrated I ever see Tito is when a gate is sent back into the shop because it is too long, wide, or thick. The importance of accurate communication in the shop is critical, and the most effective and practical method of communicating is face to face. The vision that the owner or customer holds of a gate can be very different from what the metal worker envisions, and it is very common for potential customers to meet with Randy in the shop and look around at some of the projects being currently worked on so that everyone is on the same page. Whenever I have a question or uncertainty about what is desired from my work, I ask someone directly, so that what needs to be done is done how it needs to be.

Since all communication is done orally at the shop, there is not too much need to spend time debating the most appropriate medium, but deciding who to communicate to can have more implications. The foreman is usually the most busy on the most valuable job, but he is also the one who is most knowledgeable about materials and the details of other jobs that need to be completed. It takes some experience to understand what you can figure out yourself, what another worker would know, and what only Tito would be able to help with, but after this time, I’m usually comfortable in making that decision.

I learned what a plasma cutter was. Air from the shop is blown through the small end of a torch which is lit to create an ionized and therefore conductive plasma. Reaching up to 40,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the plasma easily cuts into conductive metals and blows away the liquid metal.

October 9th – October 22nd (0 hours) – I still have a broken leg, so my ability to gain new and insightful experiences has been slightly hindered as mirrored in my inability to move at a pace faster than a mild jog. I was reminded about my hours requirement for this reflection log, and I have not meet that requirement. While I am somewhat excused for the time being, it’s important to realize the reality of deadlines, and that a lot can happen in the year never anticipated at an initial planning session. It’s important to have goals, dates, and plans, but it’s also important to be flexible and to understand that life doesn’t always make room for plans. We have to find a way to deal with it anyways. As I’ve learned, things that refuse to bend are often the things that painfully snap and break.

MIG welder – metal inert gas welder is used to bind metal materials together. A thin welding wire is feed through the welder that is instantly a puddle, the process is easier to use and faster than its cousin, TIG

October 23rd – November 5th (0 hours) – I really haven’t had any new experience – I’m sorry. As mentioned many times before, it is critical to the shop that each coworker communicates with each other. Everyday in the shop, I’m required to ask Tito or Tommy what assistance they require and run communications between the two. When I was in charge of prepping some bars for painting, I needed to ask Tito what bars he had completed and then bring them out to wash and dry. When the bars were cleaned I brought them to Tommy. The order in which the bars were painted was critical for the structure’s assembly and so I needed to confirm with both the order of which bars were sent through the process.

Tommy is really the only coworker with whom I discuss nonprofessional things. It is common for us to report on our weekend activities and complain about the heat. Our conversations are usually very simple, short, and initiated with a question of mine, but I’ve never really felt uncomfortable with Tommy. I’ve had short conversations with the two installers, but my most uncomfortable conversations are with Joseph and Tito with whom I never really discuss anything. As the shop workers, they are both quiet and involved, rarely with time to leisurely converse. I have never really understood what they do professionally, and I think that, coupled with their personality, creates a barrier that is very difficult to comfortably pass.

angle grinder – A handle with a rough spinning disk. It has different attachments that can either cut, grind, or polish metal surfaces, and is the most applied tool in metal work. Most angle grinders have a rotatable shield that protects from the shower of tiny metal fragments that spark off material as it is ground down.

November 6th – November 19th () –

November 20th – November 28th () –