On Welding - Armstrong Tire

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Tuffy's Tips

Tuffy's Tips

On Welding

Every Friday, Tuffy fields a question that benefits from his worldly wisdom as #TheMostInterestingRhinoInTheWorld.

This week’s question is: “Hey Tuffy, I went to an art show last week and loved a metal sculptor’s work. I want to do the same, and be a great welder, but don’t know how to weld. Do you have any pointers for me?”

Tuffy’s answer: “My friend, I learned to weld many moons ago, and the man who taught me was a master metalworker named Bob (aren’t they always named Bob or Mike?). I was really gung ho to learn welding from him, because he’s an incredible technician and craftsman, but was puzzled when the first thing he had me do was sit down in his office. Here I was, replete with my brand new welding helmet, leather gloves and apron, ear muffs and steel-toed boots, and instead of cutting stuff up and putting the torch to work, I was sitting in his small, air-conditioned office while he philosophized. “Tuffy”, he asked me, “have you ever caulked a tub or a window before?” Puzzled, I answered, “Yeah, man. I’ve done it lots of times”. “Well, then you know how to weld, but that’s where you also don’t know how to weld”. I literally scratched my head, and my helmet slipped and whacked me on my horns. “Let me explain”, he continued, as I winced in pain and pushed the helmet back up. “There’s a lot more to welding than meets the eye, but the part that people focus on the most is the part where you put the torch to your workpiece and press the trigger. That is the sort of thing you can learn in a class at a local community college, or maybe even at your friendly neighborhood welding business. It’s important to know how to do that well, of course, but there are other considerations that are necessary in order for you to be a great welder. Above all else, you need to make sure that you exercise proper safety precautions. When you weld, you’re dealing with high amounts of current, heat and radiation, and you need to make sure that you’re adequately dressed and wearing the right protective gear. The sparks, ultraviolet light, heat and infrared light can burn your skin, and cause arc eye, where your cornea is inflamed, or even burn your retinas and lead to blindness, so a good welding helmet, leather gloves and long-sleeves and pants are basic requirements. A welder who is alive and healthy is almost always better than one who is not, I assure you. Welding is fun, but not something to be trifled with, and being safe gives you the latitude to enjoy what you’re doing.

Once you’ve taken care of all the basic safety requirements, you can then focus on the actual task of welding. You’ve gotta remember that the most beautiful welds are preceded by a lot of preparation. Choosing the right metal stock, measuring and cutting properly, grinding stock to get rid of burrs and ensuring the welded surfaces are clean, using the right welding technique for the job, and choosing the right settings on your welder are just some of the things you need to consider to be a great welder. Those are things that many people gloss over, and hence, their ability to weld is severely limited. The trick here is about maintaining a specific mindset – that welding is a process, not a single action. There are many steps to getting from raw stock to finished product, and every part of it is important”. That lesson has stuck with me, and has served me well as I’ve made go-kart frames, awnings, a motorcycle trailer, and even a giant aluminum Christmas tree that was filled with bicycles for underprivileged kids one year. So while I can’t be there in person to teach you how to stack dimes as you’re welding, I hope that I’ve provided you with some tips that will help you become the best welder you can be. As with almost anything else, it’s the preparation and approach that allow you to achieve greatness. I wish you all the best, my friend, and hope to see some of the beautiful work that I trust you’ll create someday.”

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About Tuffy

TUFFY the Rhino is more than just the Armstrong Tire mascot. On the surface, TUFFY appears to be a tough, hardened character, and arguably there is “none tougher.” In fact, he’s really a softie at heart, charming folks wherever he goes – a gentleman, for sure, but one who would equally be at home blazing frontiers as he would be dancing the waltz at a grand soirée. Often referred to as “The most interesting rhino in the world,” TUFFY has traveled the world and made many appearances representing Armstrong Tire, from advertisements co-starring stars like Lucille Ball to being featured on many eBay listings. However, he remains a simple, Midwestern rhino at heart, one that’s rooted in empathy, humility, and family values.

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