Making the mark - welding

Somewhere along the way, a welder eventually needs to know how to read and use a tape measure. Whether its fabricating a new project for a customer or simply double checking to make sure a part is in spec before welding it up completely, at some point a tape measure will be required. I have talked to so many people interested in welding, but could not tell the difference between a 5/8” mark or a ½” mark on the tape measure. A welder/fitter that cannot read a tape measure is not around the job site long before he is fired. Plenty of information is available online about how to do this, and even convenient calculators are available to make any needed conversion of measurements from metric into standard U.S. or English measurements. Alternatively, many local high schools have a vocational instructor that would be more than glad to offer a few minutes of instruction, and training, if not a night class on measuring tools. A tape measure isn’t the only measuring device that is helpful to a new welder. Getting instruction on all sort of measuring devices isn’t a bad idea. Knowing how to read a caliper, or even a speed square is a helpful tool. Another issue that new welders face is correctly marking a spot so that a weld or cut can be made precisely where the mark was made. A lot of welders prefer to use soap stone, a chalk like rock that easily writes on the metal. Some use marking pens and pencils…others use tungsten awls to scribe a mark on the metal. The finer the tip, the less room you will have for error. But, a couple of things can be done to improve marking accuracy. The first is to create two marks that angle toward the center of the exact spot to be cut or welded that form a V…or an arrow. This will allow for little mistake in cutting. A heavy, thick single mark may curve, or wander even if free handed, but cutting the center out of an arrow that is pointing to the precise point of cut or weld is much easier.