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Posts tagged ‘kayak rack’

Welding: Kayak Rack (almost) Complete!

It’s taken me a while to finally get this posted.. My welding class ended a few weeks ago, and I finally got the chance to photograph the kayak rack I made on the truck yesterday! It works! I am utterly amazed that I was able to create something with right angles and exact measurements that is actually functional. It’s definitely not my natural tendency – I prefer organic shapes and just making things up as I go along. Ok, I admit it, that’s partly because I’m lazy and measuring things and planning them ahead is well, a lot of work! But with welding, I found that I really had to plan ahead, especially with something functional… so this project definitely pushed my out of my comfort zone.


Above: Removeable center piece for carrying two kayaks. Holes serve as tie downs to secure cargo!

Even though I went into it kicking and screaming a bit, once I started seeing this precise, exact thing come together that I made with my own two hands, it was pretty amazing. Something so new for me, and ended up being so rewarding to stretch myself into areas I’d previously defined as “things I just suck at”.


Details, Left: Loop to attach chain for the pin. Right: Vertically adjustable, with pin to secure.

A nice thing we realized when putting one of the kayaks on the rack is that it will be one we can grow into, as we have pretty short kayaks right now, but plan to buy longer ones down the road. It can also be used for transporting just about anything else long, like lumber or ladders… and with a piece of plywood laid out on it, it becomes a temp work table! I still have to get the it all painted, definitely going to rust if we use it like this at all! So painting will come soon! To paint myself or to have it painted? Hmmmm!

Welding: It Takes Forever…

So if you’ve been reading along with my quarterly project of welding, you know that I announced that my first project in the class would be a truck bed extender/kayak rack. It’s been a while since I’ve posted progress on this so here we go…


These pieces will end up creating something similar to the image below, minus the pivot point.

Tada! Yes… sadly this is as far as I’ve gotten in like two months of class. With only about a month left, it’s beginning to look like my first project will become my ONLY project. I’ve learned that there’s a lot that must be done before you can actually get around to welding pieces together. You have to plan and design, purchase metal from steel companies that are only open when you are at work (of course), measure measure and re-measure, cut all pieces to size, grind down cuts so they are nice and smooth and safe to handle, drill any holes or do sandblasting or any other thing you might need to do… and THEN… FINALLY… you can start welding shit together! Sheesh…

So this past Sunday I spent grinding and smoothing out a few remaining cut pieces, and then… I got to try my hand at the giant drill press!


Drill press… this thing was at least 6 ft tall
. Machinery bigger than me = effin scary.

I was surprised that drilling holes into metal was nothing like I’d imagined (I had conjured up images of sparks and very loud, jarring metal-on-metal screeching and grinding sounds). The trick is to use lots of oil and drill slowly… (refraining from dirty joke here). To my surprise the process was really quiet and smooth… like butter folks, like butter. My fear instantly dissolved as I drilled holes where holes needed to go!

Next week I plan to finish drilling a few holes I didn’t have time to get to Sunday, and then at long last I can finally start welding the thing together! Man, I better not eff this up… over $70 and endless hours of time already put into it! Here’s hoping that in 1-2 weeks I will have a totally completed kayak rack… just in time for the paddling season!

Quarterly Project: Welding Is Definitely NOT Sexy

This past Sunday was my second welding class – and we got to do a bit of welding finally! I’m definitely not having the same awesome “fish in water” experience with this as I typically do with most artsy things. A little frustrating to not feel like comfortable as quickly as with drawing or photography – but we’ve all got things that don’t come naturally for us! So I’m having fun realizing that my vision of being this sexy welding chick is not exactly fitting into reality…

Yup. That is me. And I look like man. Lord almighty, welding is definitely not very flattering, particularly when it’s cold outside and you have no choice but to wear a 3XL leather welding jacket in which you can barely bend your arms enough to do the welding. I went to buy some leather work boots yesterday –  an area of women’s clothing that could really use some help. They make my feet look so immense that I look like Meg from Family Guy. Despite my disappointments in being able to retain a ladylike appearance in any form, I did grow up a tomboy – so really I quickly forget about all that and am suddenly lost in learning this cool new process!

Oh yes, and that helmet? You can’t see anything (and I mean anything) through those things until you make a few sparks – so it’s pretty impossible to actually weld where you planned on.

In the shot above I’m doing some MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding – which is essentially like a big hot glue gun. There is a piece of steel wire that runs through it, and when you hit a button on the nozzle it comes out and uses an electrical current or arc to melt the steel onto your metal surface. Pretty neat stuff! It took me some practice to figure out how to comfortably hold the nozzle and all, but after a short bit I started to get the hang of it.


(Instructor and one of the other classmates doing some stick welding)

We were introduced to stick welding too – which made me a little nervous. You use two giant positive/negative clamps like you’d use to jump your car. One clamp attaches to the metal table you’re working on and the other will hold a stick of steel that you weld with. Yeah… this just sounded like a bad idea to me. Alas, I did try it – and sucked pretty bad at it – but proud of myself anyway! Really hoping I can do most of my welding with the MIG welder though!

We’ll be starting our first projects in the next week or two. Right now, I’m thinking of making a truck bed extension for Andrew’s truck, so that we can more securely transport both of our kayaks this summer! It’s a pretty basic construction, just an L-shaped piece that fits into the trailor hitch with a bracket or bar on the other end to hold the kayaks. I’m a little nervous about making something functional – but going to give it a shot! Very excited!!

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