When I did my article with 10 year old, up and coming BMX superstar Aiden Weaver, I told his dad, Joe, that he’d be next. I finally sent off my questions and got back some great answers.
Joe and I meet at the Arnold classic Sports Festival a number of years back and I’ve been staying in touch and following him on his various pages ever since. He’s manufactured a couple of one off things for me and while he makes beautiful, functional welds, he also uses his unique eye and talent to build the best product/work of art that he can.
JG: What got you interested in welding and how did you learn it?
JW: Back in my early bmx days I broke a lot of parts, frames and wanted custom stuff, so at about 12 yrs old my brother bought me a super crappy 110V stick welder and it snow balled from there . I learned all I could until I got in high school and then I went to a vocational school for CO OP so I could learn to TIG weld (a key skill to building my own frames and nicer parts) .
JG: What kind of stuff were you building at first and what were the first jobs that you took as a welder?
JW: Man, I was trying to build everything lol . I built all sorts of random stuff from BMX pegs, grind rails, flower holder for my mom, chain tensioners , all sorts of little brackets and stuff . My “professional welding career ” started when I was 16 during my CO OP and started working for a scrap yard building dumpsters. I knew within days I needed to really step up my game and get to a higher level because I wasn’t going to be content running a squirt gun building trash cans for a living. As soon as I could go full time I quit and went to work for a performance group who specialized in modifying Dodge Vipers… my neighbor Mike worked there and gave me a chance. He took me under his wing….. he was so good, really helped sculpt my fabrication and welding skills which basically launched my career path.
JG: I know that you worked in the NASCAR arena for a while, who did you build for and what kind of experiences did you have there. Because of the nature of the equipment you were making, did you pick up any new skills or tricks that you still apply to your welding?
JW: Yeah I did, after bouncing around learning all I could I ended up in North Carolina working for Michael Waltrip Racing ( MWR ) . Man those were good times! MWR was a perfect placement in time, money, energy and co workers…. we were a new team and basically started from scratch, we did tons of development, r&d and really pushed each other to be better. I’d dare say everyone there learned a lot, it really bred the ” figure it out ” mentality! I definitely learned a shit load from my peers , co workers and by pushing myself which all flows still to this day.
JG: I also remember a TV show that you were on briefly, how was that experience?
JW: Oh TV…. go home you are drunk! TV was definitely an experience, its a lot of hurry up and wait but fun. I’ve been privileged to do a few shows now that have aired for a couple years. Longest one was Chop Cut Rebuild… 12 episodes and it was showing a more educational view of a 70 Cuda build for the SEMA show in Las Vegas. I have some clips on my You Tube of the episodes.(Joe Weaver) .
JG: You made a couple different things for me under the Area51 company name. Are you still actively working for your self or lending your talents out at the moment?
JW: No, I shut Area51 industries down, the fitness industry wasn’t my thing but we had a good run. I’m currently working for Gary Turner BMX / g2bmx designing , developing and welding BMX frames .
JG: You do some beautiful welds and I’m actually following a couple different welders on Insta because of you and wanted to know first off, does the make the weld stronger or just pride in the work?
JW: Thanks, I try to push myself to be better every day.
A weld pic posted on instafacetwittergram is 276.6% stronger!!! ……
It holds you “accountable ” to a point, Try to make every weld or part internet worthy … (really sad to say but in today’s social platform its mandatory to stay current)
JG: Also how the hell does welding work. It’s electricity and gas and how does the welding tunsten not melt, what’s the damn cup have to do with anything anyway?
JW: Well, it depends on the type of welding but for Tig welding (what I do most ) it’s magic…. wave the magic wand, snap a picture and it exposes like an old Polaroid hahaha.
But seriously …. so in a very short explanation the welding machine produces amperage (which you control with your foot) that travels to the torch, the part you hold , the Tunsten is what the electrical current is guided by since it is ground to a razor sharp point. Tungsten is super hard and and doesn’t melt easily. ( note: there is different grind techniques, chemical make ups and size tungsten for different jobs )
Once the amperage is on the sheliding gas flows to protect the weld puddle from contamination, basically keeping oxygen away from the weld area until it cools from the liquid state. The “cup” controls the gas coverage. Think of using a hair dryer vs a box fan … both have their purpose just really depends on application. Damn that wasn’t so short haha.
JG: No it wasn’t, haha, but it clears up the magic of welding. I grew up with the guys from This old House and loved Dirty Jobs. Chopper shows are still all over the place and car builds/ house flips are still hot but, even though guys like Mike Rowe, in particular, are pushing for vocational schools and hands on jobs, many people still put a greater value on sending their kids to college versus a manual labor position. People tend to look down their nose at hands on, hard working people. Do you run into that much or are you seeing a change in mindset with what guys like Mike Rowe and Nick Offerman are doing?
JW: I’m going to apologize in advance , I cannot be held responsible for my vocal actions at this point…
Sigh……. I’m with you, I grew up on the same shit! I still love them. People really need to pull their heads out of their asses, not everyone is destined for a desk. People need to do what they are good at instead of trying to appease everyone around them ! I’ve been blue collar my whole life, people judge because you might have a little dirt under your nails or burn holes in your pants but, what these judgemental dick heads forget is I’m the guy building all the cool shit you want to play with when you out of your cube farm! Its sad, its funny, and frustrating at times but it is what it is.
The fucked up part is everyone wants more and more money so industries are getting more and more automated to replace hands on workers. It’s a catch 22 … just like order taking machines at fast food joints. Blue collar is dying …
In all , get an education, be smart, but learn some damn skills people! Remember you can always wash your hands, a little dirt never hurt. (Joe posted this pic last year but it fit so well I had to use it.)
Most of the people that I write about have some kind of excellence that continues to draw me back to their projects/pages, … or they play guitar, it’s pretty simple. Joe, while I don’t think can play guitar??, excels in his craft and constantly amazes me with what he tackles. I look forward to more innovative and interesting projects out of him and if you haven’t followed him yet, get over and see what he’s up to.