Now, the existing welders probably don't need to take offense, or even take notice that I have taken up the fun and rewarding endeavor of MIG welding... If things continue the way are turning out though, having this tool in our arsenal will make a huge difference in the work that is leaving this shop. In fact, I wonder how I got this far without a welder? (I know the answer: I paid others to weld projects for me)

When I visited Dan's shop in Yarrow BC (Canada), he introduced a technique that looked like it would work for projects that I had envisioned and never pursued, but this week they are coming together. My first experiment with this technique is in full swing- a residential house number sign.

Customer calls a few weeks ago and has a budget and idea for a sign, a number on a post at the end of his driveway- simple enough. By the time I started work on this project, we had graduated to a carved concrete post over a steel frame with a 3D routed number sign panel... Now that's what I call fun!

No, not me. It's Meila (8 year old daughter) trying her hand on the sign stand.

In full safety regalia (that she likes to wear even when not holding the electrode), our new welder Meila with the first official project.

Having a sign shop located behind the house provides lots of opportunity for me to be distracted while working, but also provides lots of opportunities for kids that want to learn- and Meila is one of the most interested. She can always be counted on to hang around and help with the jobs that aren't fun, so she is usually in the right place when something fun comes up- as was the case when she had the chance to lay a bead on the leg for the stand to hold this sign up while we worked on it in the shop. There was no instruction to give her because she had been at my side the whole time I was learning... I'm hoping she can take on all of the welding projects some day?

We put the sign frame together based on my loose design that would allow for some creative expression in the shape of the wood (determined by the form of the frame) and size that wasn't restricted because it's freestanding by itself- so no space to fit into once installed.

The frame before correcting the location of the collars. The thin metal rod that creates a box around the frame is supposed to contain those collars (and conceal the post mounted in the ground) and support the lath that will hold the reinforced concrete.

One of life's lessons popped up after I had run the final bead along the base collars at the bottom- and had them on the wrong side of the post (red shows wrong location, green shows the intended location). No problem the Sawzall can not solve. So, many lessons to come, hopefully they are all realized at an early stage, like this one. Along the lines of learning, I have over 23 hours invested into that automotive sign project and am writing it off to 'learning'. This will undoubtedly be a learning experience, for which latitude I am grateful of to the customer Jason. For his understanding, he'll have the coolest house number in the neighborhood!

With the stand holding the sign post up for us to work on, the vertical lath has been attached to the frame, the sign panel frame is in place, and the framework to hold the horizontal lath is ready to cover. When complete, the sign will be simply lifted off of our work base, and installed at the customers residence by sliding it onto their newly installed post. Wind will not be an issue with this sign. (You can see the collars have been moved into the concealed space within the lath)