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As you learn to weld, you'll discover the job incorporates a variety of shop skills and tools. In fact, entry level welders spend most of their time on assignments that involve no welding at all. Metal stock frequently requires grinding and hand filing, hole drilling, cutting and bending. Cleaning, polishing and painting are other common tasks. All of these jobs are taught in high school, college and apprenticeship classes as part of the the welding curriculum.

Heat treating of metals is a lesser known, but frequently used skill that welders perform on the job or in the shop. Just as a blacksmith heats metal in a forge prior to forming it with a hammer, welders sometimes have to preheat and /or post-heat metal in order to get optimum fusion without compromising the molecular strenght of the atoms in the work pieces. Too much heat can make some metals brittle, while too little heat will prevent proper fusion and tie-in between the base metal and the weldment

Heat treatment may also involve quenching. Depending on the properties of the metal (e.g. mild steel, high-carbon steel, etc.), your work piece may need to be quenched in water, oil or air. The process of heat treating is usually performed in order to harden a work piece (e.g. a drill bit), or soften it . Steel that is hardened may be submitted to a second step , known as tempering, to relieve the stress created by the hardening so the metal won't be brittle. This concept was first developed during the Roman Empire to make swords last longer on the battlefield.

Cutting metal can be accomplished with a variety of tools, including a gas torch, a plasma torch, a grinding disc specifically designed for cutting, or different types of saws (similar to those used for cutting wood).

Watch the videos below to learn more about some of these skills, or follow the links to the right for more info. (You'll also find more info on the Shop Tools page.).

Using Tools

Heat Treating Metal

Blacksmithing Techniques

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Resources/Docs

Case Hardening of Mild Steel
TechnologyStudent.com

Guide to Hardfacing
TheFabricator.com

Intro to Heat Treating
Heat Treatment Terms
KeenOvens.com

Preheating And Postweld Heat Treatment ESAB

Hardening Techniques and Heat Treating Metal
The Fabricator.com

Sheet Metal Bending
BendWorks

How to Bend Pipe
Ocean Machinery

First Lessons in Metalworking MetalWebNews (PDF)

Four factors to consider when purchasing a grinder
The Fabricator.com

Gauge Metal Thickness Chart
MetalWebNews

Steelmaking Process
U.S. Steel

Sheet Metal Glossary
U.S. Steel

Metalworking Terms
Engineers Edge

Geometry Calculations
Engineers Edge

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