Meet the teacher: Jim from Welding Workshop

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SANY0954The DIYcave’s success has been more than opening the doors and letting folks build their dreams. We owe our instructors who inspire DIYers to learn new skills a big pat on the back. We talked with Jim Currie, teacher of our popular welding workshop class about what motivates him to keep welding.

You teach one of the more popular classes at DIYCave .. How did you get into welding?

Jim: I’m one of those rare born and raised in Bend natives. When I was 12 yrs old I attending Pilot Butte Junior High and enrolled in the industrial arts class or “shop class”. The first semester I signed up for wood shop and my goal was to build a gun rack, one of those ones with the scallops that mounts to the wall. Well, every day I would gather up my lumber and get in line to use the table saw, and every day just as it would be my turn the “clean up” buzzer would sound. The only thing I got good at was pushing a broom. The whole semester I noticed that nobody was working in the welding shop. I think for the most part the other students were intimidated by the equipment. I told myself that’s what I want to do next semester. I signed up for welding and had the whole department to myself. The first thing I did was round up four wheels and tires, a tangle of scrapped pipe, and “borrowed” the motor from my Dad’s old lawn mower and welded together a Go-Kart, I’ve been hooked ever since.

How did you find out about the DIYCave?

Jim: Dave Danek and I worked together for years as co-designers for a local custom order cabinet shop. Dave and I installed a huge job over in Tillamook that required some on-site welding that I did, and I was always the “go to” guy for fixing the wood shop equipment. When Tim Willis’ busy work schedule out of town didn’t allow him to teach the welding class full time, Dave immediately volunteered me for the welding instructors position. We begin holding classes several months before the official grand opening of the DIYcave.

You’ve taught many welding classes at the Cave … why do you like it?

Jim: It’s exciting to watch the light bulb turn on, so to speak, when people are taking the class. The students suddenly realize that there are so many things that they can now do that were impossible to do before they learned how to weld. The main thrust of what I teach is not a mastery of welding but a confidence building seminar. I cover the core basics of safety, how to turn on the equipment, welder settings, and beginning techniques. Then each student tries their hand at it, a baptism by fire. It’s impossible to practice if one can’t turn on and set up the equipment. My job is to alleviate the fear and trepidation that go along with learning something like welding. The real reward is when the class is over, and the class is heading home and hearing the comments of “now I can finally fix that…” or “I can’t wait to get started building my …” I’ve always taken stock in the old proverb of “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

What are some of the projects you are currently working on?

Jim: I’m currently in the process of building a 3 burner forge. I will be using it for heating and forming steel as well as do some foundry work with lower melting temperature non-ferrous metals for castings. I also have worked up designs for some ambitious large scale metal sculptures. I’m patiently waiting for a break in this wintry weather so I can throw the doors open and get to work on these projects. It’s just been too cold to get the ventilation I need for these projects. Lately, my welding bench has turned into a painting studio as I’m exploring the disciplines of painting with oils and acrylics. If I’m not engaged in either of those endeavors, I’m always up for building whatever in a game of Minecraft with my children. I just can’t seem to stand still if I wanted to.

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