Welders of Instagram: @cavemanwelder

This week we had the pleasure of sharing some work from one of our favorite welders on Instagram, Alex Brown (@cavemanwelder). Alex has some of the best looking welds out there, and we often get comments and requests to do  a "cavemanwelder" video. Alex has become notorious for his two, three and four rod TIG weaves; some of which we featured in the past week. We had some questions for Alex to see how he got started in the trade and what his advice is to high school students interested in welding.
 
Weld.com: What type of work do you do in your day to day activities?
cavemanwelder
 
@cavemanwelder: My full-time job is at TCR Performance in Bakersfield, CA, which I would call a metal fabrication job shop. We take in any kind of jobs including, but not limited to, welding, fabrication, design, prototyping, machining, sheet metal, repair work, production style jobs and one-off type work. I get to work with many different materials including carbon steels, alloy steels, several stainless steels and aluminum alloys, and occasionally less common stuff like magnesium and titanium.
 
The main processes I use are AC/DC TIG, pulse arc and spray arc MIG, but not much short circuit MIG or SMAW, which I think are less common in a shop environment since they are relatively not very efficient. It is difficult to answer exactly what I weld on because there are so many different things, which keeps work fresh and stimulating. My Instagram page is a good place to get a small glimpse at some stuff I work on. There are days where I am welding all day, but then days that I may be on the lathe or milling machine, or a combination of both.
 
In the TCR shop, much like other fabrication job shops, it is important to be a well-rounded metalworker, not just a welder. Also, on the weekends I work at another machine shop where I mostly TIG weld small stainless part but tackle all kinds of odd jobs and fabrication projects as well. I landed my weekend job as result of being known as a good stainless TIG guy, but I also run the lathes and milling machines there as well. I am known mainly for my welding but I consider myself very capable in many facets of the metalworking trade.
 
Weld.com: When did you know you wanted to be a welder?
 
@cavemanwelder: About five years ago I started out at the TCR sitting in the office at a desk, working on our internet store. That went on for just a few months, when one day I decided I would rather help on the shop floor for a change. Obviously, that was much more fun than sitting at a desk typing all day, and from that point I worked out in the shop.
 
I did not immediately fall head over heels for the metalworking trade, but it felt like the natural thing for me. It just felt right being out in the shop, making things with my hands. From my very first project, welding was a part of getting jobs done. It is difficult to put into words, though, how I went from just seeing welding as a small part of my job to something that I decided to really practice intently and try to become good at. And now, I want to not just be good, I want to be the best out there.
 
Obviously, Weld.com and Jody’s Welding Tips and Tricks Youtube.com channels have been a huge influence for me. I watch videos repeatedly and just soaked in as much visual and technical information as I can, then put what I learn to work for me. Since I have never had any formal training for welding, fabrication or machining, my boss often jokes that I went to the “University of Youtube.”
 
Weld.com: What advice do you have to high school students or anyone looking to enter a welding career?
 
@cavemanwelder: I have never had any formal training for welding but I have seen maybe a dozen young welding school graduates come through the shop looking for work, and there are many reasons they either never start or don’t last. The first reason is their actual welding, unbelievably! These guys come in with a long resume with all their school “certifications” which from the history of our applicants, means basically nothing, and frankly, makes me wonder how they squeezed through school when they can’t run a decent 8” MIG bead on a tee joint on the bench. One piece of advice I can offer to high school students is to practice beyond the bare curriculum requirements. Unless you were somehow born with a stinger in your hand, if you are one of those who are counting down the seconds before quitting time in welding school, you are not going to excel in the trade. It is truly a skill where you get out what you put in. As cliché as it sounds, it is simply true.

Special thanks to Alex for taking the time to allowing us to share his work and taking the time to answer some questions for our audience. If you don't already follow him on Instagram, be sure to go check out @cavemanwelder and give him a follow!