Easy to learn and particularly useful — what smallholder can afford to be without welding skills?
PART of the fun of smallholding life is the opportunity it affords people to try out lots of new skills and practices. From rearing some, or most, of your own food, to plenty of making, mending and all-round doing besides. Welding is a hugely valuable skill which can be transferred to any number of money-saving repairs around the home, car or, indeed, workshop. I was taught how to weld a few years ago by a neighbour — in my case to fix a broken spade. As well as finding it a lot easier — and less scary — than I might have imagined, the fixed gardening tool is still going strong.
Yet not as many people as you might imagine actually know how to weld. But tutor Rob Buckley is trying to change all that at the Dorset Centre for Rural Skills in Blandford, where he demonstrates how you can arc, mig and gas weld safely and effectively at home.
The centre runs plenty of great days and experiences throughout the year and its welding course is ideal for everyone, from car enthusiasts to wannabe sculptors and anyone generally interested in learning this most useful DIY skill.
Over the course of a day, wannabe welders are taught in the fully-equipped workshop the correct way to go about things by experienced tutor Rob. The day includes a health and safety briefing and introduction to the equipment and science behind it before it is time to get down to the practical business of learning how. Most of the day is then spent under Rob’s supervision making good, strong welds and getting to grips with judging the heat of the metal by its colour, dressing welds and honing your skills so that you can leave confident in your ability to use this new skill safely and effectively as and when required at home.
Groups are kept deliberately small (there are no more than four places on each day) to enable students to obtain hands-on experience with Rob’s careful and experienced guidance. The centre runs scheduled dates throughout the year and companies, groups and organisations are also able to arrange bespoke days upon private request. Advance booking is recommended to avoid disappointment as the centre has been running welding days for more than 10 years now and they are extremely popular. Places sell out fast.
All equipment is provided on the day, although course attendees are welcome to use their own if they prefer. While most of the course involves practical experience making test welds, if you have a particular project in mind, Rob is happy to discuss this on the day and offer advice. Any which way, welding is a very useful and widely transferable skill to have under your handy smallholder belt, and this course comes highly recommended all round.
During the day wannabe welders are taught in the fully-equipped workshop by Rob Buckley