#WhyWeWeld: James West
Hey James, thanks for taking the time to speak to us. So, let’s start at the beginning! How did you get into welding?
I graduated high school in the mid-’90s and went on to do a welding apprenticeship. I started out learning stick and MIG welding then moved onto TIG. Right now I work at Milton Cat as a large construction welder. I work on excavators, loaders, and things like that. Every day is different and I get to use some really cool techniques like plasma and air arc gouging. They’re huge welds but as it's industrial, there’s not a huge emphasis on the appearance of the weld - as long as it works! I missed the artistic aspect of welding so that led me to start my own company, James West Welding.
That’s amazing! So outside of your day job, what sort of welding do you do for James West Welding?
It’s currently a small shop set up in my garage and is mainly specialty welding. With my experience working at Milton Cat, I work with materials that are typically unusual, like titanium and aluminum. So that means I can with strange alloys, for example on prototype products or equipment, that many other welders would struggle with.
I also spend a lot of time doing creative stuff; right now I’m working on a line of stainless steel furniture. My daughter does all the designs for that, so it’s pretty cool.
That’s awesome! So is it like a father-daughter enterprise?
A little, but she’s more into the design. She designed the spired owls which you can see on my Instagram. She liked to get involved with the welding a little when she was younger, but now she’s 18 she wants to be off doing typical teenager stuff.
So what is it about welding that inspires you?
Well, it’s not the money! I think it’s that, if you can weld you can make anything. Making something out of nothing is an incredible achievement. It’s easier and more satisfying than buying things from the store, plus it’s completely unique and often better quality.
What’s your favorite piece of welding kit?
For TIG, it has to be Edge welding cups, they’re a really innovative company and I enjoy working with them. There’s also ShaySpec, they make caps for TIG torches. I had no idea that caps would make such a difference to the quality of the weld - I haven't looked back since using them!
To you, what qualifies as #weldporn?
It should be a sharp picture with beautiful colors. The weld should be consistent with no undercut. I’m a big fan of the rainbow effect created by TIG, but every photo I upload has the #weldporn hashtag. The more eyes we can get on welding work, the better.
I love that the #weldporn hashtag is used to inspire us all with the quality, craftsmanship, and creativity that welders have to offer. Weldporn.com also has some awesome innovative products too so it’s good to check that out.
What advice would you give to those thinking of taking up welding, or just starting out?
Keep trying! Welding is hard, but you will get better the more you try. It’s well worth sticking with - especially in the current climate, where job security is huge. Put it this way, I’m so glad I chose welding as a trade to get into!
I love helping people so if I can offer advice, tips or help in any way, people can drop me a message on my Instagram. We’re all in it together so if I can do something to help someone, I’m happy to do it!