Women in Welding

Women in Welding

Welding – the act of joining two pieces of metal in a permanent bond – has long been a male-dominated career. According to the American Welding Society, only about 5 percent of welding personnel are female, but that number may be growing.

More than ever before, women are breaking in to the welding trade. And it’s not just the “she-shed ideas” crowd looking for a new hobby. Women see the benefits of a career that provides steady work and good pay – and which does not require a college degree. 

In spite of popular conception, welding is not always a tough, dirty or dangerous job. Not all welding takes place outdoors or at great heights. In fact, welding is a creative skill, like art. Building something you can hold in your hand is satisfying work, and can be more gratifying than pushing paper or sitting behind a computer eight hours a day.

Great Need = Great Opportunity

On the employer’s side, there is a huge NEED for women in welding – and it’s not just to rack up diversity points. Manufacturing industry leaders, government statisticians, and CTE educators all agree that a wide gap exists between the number of open positions and the number of workers with the necessary skills to fill them. 

The American Welding Society (AWS) predicts there will be a shortage of over 450,000 skilled welders by 2022.  This follows along with a general “skills gap” in technical industries as older, more experienced employees retire, taking their knowledge with them. 

The crumbling infrastructure in the US requires repairs and replacement, and with promise of government funding, employment projections for welding jobs are positive – there is a shortage of welders. And because welding often must be done on-site, these jobs are not likely to be exported overseas. With all these factors in play, and more women being trained in welding every day, the US will continue to see more female welders building airplanes and working on bridges, highways and oil pipelines.

Women Wanna Weld

Getting women in the welding business hasn’t been easy in the past but now new initiatives are being pursued. There are exclusive classes for women, many taught by female instructors. Also, there are now several high profile women who have brought more attention (and great skill!) to the welding industry. One of those women is Jessi Combs, a television and off-road racing star who got her start in an automotive fabrication training program at Wyoming Tech (click here for more about Jessi’s career). 

In the past few years, Jessi has been joined by other women making a name and a career for themselves in welding and metal fabrication. It turns out there’s a large community of women welders on Instagram, following YouTube star Barbie the Welder, and Samantha Farr, who founded the Detroit non-profit Women Who Weld, and many others.

What You Should Know

Most welding careers don’t require a four-year college degree, but you do need training, either through a high school cooperative education program, privately owned welding school, a vocational-technical school, or a local community college. Manufacturing companies and unions also offer paid apprenticeships.

To help pay for training, you can apply for specific scholarships for women in welding, as well as a number of general scholarships through the American Welding Society (AWS), and other groups. Organizations like Women Who Weld, offer free or low-cost workshops, programs and classes for women taught by female instructors. Community colleges often offer welding classes and community metal shops like LA’s Molten Metal Works have both classes and open shop hours to practice.

Other organizations that are specifically tailored to teach women how to weld include:

According to Samantha Farr, sexual harassment of women in the welding field can still be an issue, though with more women entering the field and the awareness generated by the #MeToo movement, this should decrease. Women Who Weld teaches students how to respond to harassment, report & document incidents, and protect themselves. 

Welding is a skill that can take you many places – building construction, metal art sculpture, furniture manufacturing, welding inspection, training & education, auto repair – even working on the Space Shuttle for NASA! You can use welding as a way to finance college without debt. And as you develop your welding skill and gain specialty certifications, your take-home pay can dramatically increase.

Like Jessi, Barbie, and Samantha, women also can use welding skills as a jump-off point to many other careers, such as educator, business owner, project manager, or welding engineer. A career in welding is a great place for women!
Contact Industrial Metal Supply for all your welding equipment and supplies. Visit us online or at one of our six locations in Southern California and Arizona.

Automation and the Metal Industry

Automation and the Metal Industry

Industry 4.0 is the latest buzzword in steel industry news. This term reflects what historians see as the fourth world-wide industrial revolution, which is going on today though it’s not yet fully realized in the sheet metal industry. 

The first industrial revolution occurred when humans learned to build and harness mechanical equipment powered by fire or water to produce goods in a more efficient way. The second came about with the development of electricity to power this mass production even faster. Next came computers, which added super-human computational power to operate factories with even greater efficiency.

The fourth revolution is bringing even more technological advancements in steel industry that promise to propel future metal fabrication shops to far greater productivity and efficiency.

What is Automation?

One of the advanced technologies that make Industry 4.0 possible is automation. For the sheet metal fabrication industry, this means that rather than shaping metal manually with human power and agility, robotic equipment is used to bend, cut, weld, finish, and paint metal.

Technicians must repair and maintain the equipment and program it to perform all tasks that were once done with human strength and reasoning. These tasks may include moving, lifting, positioning, measuring, and cutting metal, and even welding it in place. Each of these different operations must be coordinated with each other for the greatest operating efficiency.

Automated robotic equipment can produce the same parts faster and more accurately than humans without ever tiring. Some factories can even allow their machines to operate “lights out” overnight or all weekend.

Harnessing Data in Real Time

In addition to automation, the concept of Industry 4.0 relies on full data interconnectivity between all the machines on the factory floor – and with the enterprise software controlling the supply chain, product design & development, customer relationship management, human resources, and financial reporting.

This type of data networking allows engineers to collect and analyze data in real time, in order to ensure equipment is maintained and operating properly and to make adjustments on the fly if things start to go wrong. Such a system also keeps track of customer orders and supplies, so that when a sheet metal roll is required, it’s already available. This reduces warehouse space needs, minimizes scrap, speeds up time to delivery, and improves overall quality of the end-product.

As industrial automation technology continues to advance, the sheet metal fabrication shop of tomorrow may also incorporate artificial intelligence and even virtual reality to continue to improve efficiency, productivity, and overall business performance.
Industrial Metal Supply Co. (IMS) is the Southwest’s largest metal supplier with six branches throughout Southern California and Arizona. IMS offers the broadest line of metals available from a single distributor, coupled with service offerings including plasma, laser and waterjet cutting operations.  For more information, contact IMS.

metal numbers

Things You Didn’t Know We Stock: Metal Numbers

It’s DIY Time and we’ve got lots of fun accessories to get you started – like metal numbers! Feel in an arts and crafts mood? Patina, paint, texture…you can do whatever you want with them. The numbers are in Tahoma font and cut out of HRP&O (hot rolled pickled and oiled) steel sheet, which has been bathed in acid to remove scale and then rinsed and “pickled” with dry oil to prevent rusting.

These metal numbers are ready to go for your next project. The most common way a DIYer might put these pre-cut numbers to use is to attach them to a wall, fence, gate, post, or even a large rock, to indicate the street address. But for even such a mundane purpose, let your creativity shine through in the way you finish the metal. Here are some suggestions to get your imagination going:

  • Weld a metal stake to the back of each number and “plant” them in your garden.
  • Add a patina to create an antique or rusted look for a down-home (or upscale) look.
  • Paint or etch the numbers with an artistic freehand pattern to give them a handcrafted or vintage appearance.
  • Add the numbers to a base plate of metal sheet or ceramic tiles to create a unique number plate.

More Creative DIY Project Ideas for Metal Numbers:

  • metal Numbers eblastCombine your house number with a three-dimensional metal art silhouette such as a dolphin, antique Ford, or palm tree for even greater impact.
  • Use them to create a giant metal wall clock, indoors or outside near a patio, barbeque or pool area.
  • Design a unique wall mural featuring a wide range of different sized numbers, along with other artistic elements, including frames, lighting sconces, plant holders, or floating shelves.

All Industrial Metal Supply stores stock these unfinished steel numerals from 0 to 9 in four sizes (4”, 6”, 8”, or 12″). Stop by, pick up a set, and while you’re there, check out our extensive supply of metal finishes, including patinas and lacquers to create unique and beautiful metal accents for your home.

Industrial Metal Supply is the Southland’s largest supplier of metal and metal accessories. Visit one of our six convenient locations today.

Industrial Look and Feel

Give Your Space An Industrial Look With These Metals

Industrial furniture style makes for great DIY metal fabrication projects. From mirror polished stainless steel to aged and oxidized copper tubing, metal, in all its varieties, forms the heart of industrial design. Add the organic warmth of weathered or reclaimed wood, exposed pipes, earthy brick or concrete, rivets, and a touch of leather to round out your industrial style.

An Industrial Style Table

If you’re lucky enough to score a pair of vintage cast iron legs from an old lathe mill or workbench, re-purpose them into a side table or, depending on their length, a small café table. Craft a tabletop from reclaimed oak.

Industrial Bed Frame & Headboard

Rectangular steel tubing can be cut to make the legs and frame for an industrial style bed. Use two longer tubes for the headboard and two shorter tubes for the foot of the bed. Weld all four supports to a rectangular frame made of steel angle. Then weld crossbars between the legs of the headboard and footboard, and several more across the base to support a mattress and box springs. Sand, prime, and paint the frame an industrial gray. To make an interesting headboard design, add horizontal strips of reclaimed wood coated in a non-toxic finish.

Industrial Computer Desk

Use square steel tube to build a framework for an open-shelf computer desk. Weld together two “pillars” consisting of four legs and two perforated steel shelves each. Weld a large rectangular frame across the top of the pillars, leaving a large enough space between them for your knees. Bolt a piece of polished, weathered wood across the frame to create the desktop. Hang a pull-out shelf for your keyboard under the central section of the desk.

By cutting a hole at the back near the base of one of the desk legs, you can string electric cables through the tube and up to the desktop, avoiding a messy tangle of cords. You could also build a matching steel tube stool with a wooden seat. To complete the industrial look, place wire or woven wood baskets on the open shelves for storage.


More DIY Industrial Metal Projects Ideas

  • Metal hardware casters can turn any size or height table or bookshelf into an industrial design showpiece.
  • Create a large metal wall clock reminiscent of an old-time factory.
  • Use woven or welded wire mesh as shelves for an industrial bookshelf or baker’s rack, or even the walls of a wine cabinet.
  • Create a pendant light with a steel or cast iron basket cover – and try finishing it with an antique patina.
  • Replace the wood doors on your kitchen cabinets with chicken wire or wire mesh.
  • Use copper tubing or steel pipes to support floating wooden shelves.

Find more creative ways to use sheet metal for DIY industrial projects on our blog.

Shop Industrial Metal Supply for all your DIY metal fabrication needs. Click here for the location nearest you or visit us online at www.IndustrialMetalSupply.com.

Build Your Own Welding Table

Build Your Own Welding Table or Workbench

Joe Mooney of Homesteadonmics built a welding table/multifunctional workbench for his shipping container shop, using steel sheet and tubing. He plans on using this table for more than just welding, so he built in added functionality, making it a multipurpose workbench for more than just metal projects. This welding table build should also help him out a lot for the next few shipping container shop additions!

Gather Your Metal Materials

weld a table measurementsTo begin this project, Joe made a trip to his local Industrial Metal Supply, checking out the reference board and the scrap room for ideas. After purchasing materials, he measured and cut steel plate for the top and steel tube into lengths to make the frame and legs: four (4) legs, four (4) long frame struts, four (4) short frame struts, and, ultimately, five (5) cross pieces.

Laying out the tubing on the table’s top to ensure fit and spacing, Joe used large, powerful welding magnets and an L-square to square the frame corners. Then he tack welded the rectangular frame together, turning it over to ensure it was square before continuing to weld. He made sure to work on opposite sides of the frame so that the tube didn’t heat up too quickly.

Welding Your Table

Next, Joe welded the sides of the frame together, adding three cross pieces on the top and two on the bottom. He also welded small square pieces of plate to the bottom of each leg to serve as a base for the wheels.

To add to the versatility of the table, Joe installed some perforated steel tubing across the length of the table directly under the level of the table top. This allowed him to add a slide-out section from each side of the table to hold his table saws.

Using four pieces of steel tubing cut on a 45-degree angle, Joe welded together two rectangular drawer frames. He welded a hinge on one outside corner of each drawer, to allow them to swing out from beneath the table top. After adding some perforated sheet to form the bottoms of the drawers, he welded the other side of each hinge to the back table legs near the top. Then he added a piece of scrap underneath the table top cross braces to act as a backstop for the flip-out drawers.

Next, Joe built a large pull-out front drawer using some flat steel bar scrap, along with a piece of the perforated sheet for the bottom of the drawer. He mounted that drawer on a couple of slide-out rails hung from the top cross-pieces.

The Finishing Touches

To finish the frame, Joe sanded it all smooth, went over it with paint thinner, and then sprayed it with a couple of coats of gray paint.

He added heavy-duty poly casters to the four legs. Then he added a clear coat of Penetrol to a large rectangle of perforated sheet (to maintain the metal look) and screwed it to the base of the frame to form a shelf that would allow metal shavings to drop through.

Joe welded tabs to the steel sheet used for the table top and then attached those to the frame with sheet metal screws. He also screwed bent flat bar at various spots on the legs to make handy brackets and accessory hooks.

To create a pull-out expansion section, Joe slid steel tube into the perforated tube already mounted on the frame and welded a cross piece to each end. He added some clever leveling stops to the bottom of the frame to allow him to level the table on uneven surfaces.

For complete details on Joe’s welding table build, visit our YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcdMMgUfH6o.

Industrial Metal Supply Co. partnered with Joe on this How-To DIY project by supplying some of the steel for this build! Visit www.IndustrialMetalSupply.com for the Southwest’s largest supply of metal and metal tools and accessories.

diy magnetic board

DIY: How To Make a Magnetic Board on a Budget

Magnetic boards can be found in almost any room of the house, or at the office, for that matter. These practical items can help you organize and display everything from crafts and sewing notions to children’s artwork and school papers to dried herbs and spices. Here are some tips for making a DIY magnetic board without breaking the bank.

Start With a Pre-Made Frame

The easiest – and most cost effective – way to make a magnetic board is start with a frame or framed piece of artwork. Remove the glass, cardboard backing, and the art. Then use the cardboard rectangle as a template for a piece of sheet metal.

Select The Right Metal Sheet

Though you made find small sizes of metal sheet at a hobby store, a metal supply stores carry a larger variety of steel sheet. Make sure you don’t choose aluminum sheet, because it’s not magnetic. Galvanized steel sheet will resist rust and corrosion over the years. Choose a thickness that’s easy to work with and not too heavy – for example, 16-gauge galvanized steel sheet, which is about 1/16-inch thick.

Cut The Sheet to Fit the Cardboard Template

Very small-gauge steel sheet can be cut fairly easily with tin snips, or you can ask the hardware or metal supply store for custom cut-to-size sheet.

Prepare The Frame

Before assembling the magnetic board, you may want to change the look of the frame to fit the style of your home. If it is bare wood, sand it lightly and then stain it, following the directions on the package. If the frame was already stained, start by sanding it down to the wood grain before re-staining or painting. If you’re going to paint the frame, you may need to sand it and coat it with a couple layers of primer, let it dry, and then apply the final color.

Assemble The Magnetic Board

Insert the steel sheet into the frame, followed by the cardboard backing. Use the same hardware provided to lock them into the back of the frame. Add hanging hardware as needed, and then hang and enjoy!

For a wide range of steel sheet, visit Industrial Metal Supply today.

repurposed metal projects

Items That Are Perfect for Repurposed Metal Projects

Many DIY projects make good use of repurposed metal. The result can be not only practical and aesthetically pleasing, but also good for the planet. Most metal objects do not break down quickly in nature, so it’s important to keep them out of the landfill as much as possible. Here are some creative ideas for projects that breathe new life into metal:

  • Build a new frame for an old metal fireplace screen to create a decorative wall hanging.
  • Repurpose old rebar into chairs, end tables, bookshelves, and more.
  • Frame a rectangle of rusted corrugated sheet in recycled wood and add lettering for a custom sign in the bath or hallway.
  • Recycle old metal sheet into rustic planters for the garden or flower boxes under windows.
  • “Upcycle” colanders or metal washtubs into lampshades.

Simple tin cans can be reborn as wall sculptures, flower vases, arts & crafts organizers, drink holders, luminaires, lamps, alarm clocks, and much more!

Imaginative souls can dream up an unlimited number of fun and fancy sculptures for home and garden by welding together repurposed metal objects such as horseshoes, old keys, bike chains, wrenches, hammers, nuts and bolts, washers, axe heads, springs, shovels and rakes, pipes, forks and spoons, chain links, railroad spikes, and the list goes on.

Repurposed weathering steel corrugated sheet adds a rustic look to outdoor structures, such as fences, barbecue pits, potting sheds, barns and garages. Indoors, it lends a modern farmhouse style to accent walls in a bedroom or media room. Use it to face cabinets, wrap around a kitchen island or cover a bar or backsplash.

Painted sheet metal can be repurposed for many uses, both indoor and outdoor. Pre-painted aluminum sheet has a hard, abrasive resistant coating that is extremely durable. Build all sorts of furniture, accessories, and sculptures with this versatile metal sheet, which can be extensively formed and fabricated without cracking the finish.

Aluminum sheet works with almost any style décor, from retro to farmhouse, minimalist to eclectic. Create a custom headboard with matching side tables, benches, and even lamps. Build a bookshelf, desk, dining set, coffee table, or bar.

For a wide range of pre-painted aluminum sheet colors and pre-cut sizes from 12 in. x 48 in. up to 48 in. x 96 in., contact Industrial Metal Supply.

TS Ironworks, Phoenix Customer

IMS Customer Spotlight: TS Iron Works 

In this post, Industrial Metal Supply highlights another loyal customer of the Phoenix location.

Industrial Metal Supply’s Phoenix customer, TS Iron Works, LLC, is located in Queen Creek, Arizona.

TS Iron Works is a small machine shop with three employees, headed by Travis Rupp.

“We do mostly commercial welding and fabrication, and we do CNC plasma cutting in-house,” Rupp said. “We’ve got a big 5 ft. X 10 ft. cutting table that we use to run everything from stainless to aluminum to steel.”

How did TS Iron Works first connect with IMS?

“Before this, I worked for Key Tech International and we bought through IMS off and on,’ Rupp said. “Then I left Key Tech and started my own business about seven years ago.”

After meeting Roger Cundick (Phoenix IMS General Manager) three years ago, TS Iron Works has done business exclusively with IMS.

“I work with Roger directly, or with Jon Carden (Inside Sales) or the sales office, calling in my quotes and orders,” Rupp said.

For their plasma cutting work, TS Iron Works buys a lot of sheet steel, mostly plate, in a variety of sizes.

The company also orders quite a lot of tubing, angle iron, and other metal, and has it all cut to size at IMS.

What appeals to you most about working with IMS?

“I’ve worked with all the big metal companies here in Phoenix, and Roger at IMS has given me by far the best customer service out of anybody,” Rupp said. “I even order structural iron and beams from Roger and pay the higher price just to buy it from IMS, because I’d rather I’d rather pay more to get their customer service.”

For example, Rupp takes advantage of the brokering services provided by IMS.

“A lot of the big structural stuff we use is not a stocked item at IMS here in Phoenix, but Roger orders it out for me,” he said.

“IMS has gone above and beyond for me a couple times on last minute orders that I needed right away, and I’ve even had them bring an order out in a pickup truck just to get it to me in time,” Rupp said.

A two-way partnership

IMS also buys parts from TS Iron Works, which makes for a great business relationship.
“I make a couple of different things, like a heavy duty weld-on gate latch that IMS now carries in all its stores,” Rupp said. “We’re actually working on an order for about 105 of them we’re building right now. I’m just really happy working with IMS and hoping to stick it out for a long time here,” Rupp said.

For photos and updates on TS Iron Works products, such as a 16-ft. custom 3-D metal sign with LED backlighting for Greenfield Acres, visit the TS Iron Works page on Facebook.

“Everything we build and every single thing on our Facebook page is made with metal from IMS,” Rupp said.

We hope that stories like these from our customers will inspire you to check out Industrial Metal Supply products and services.

Grate Solutions Joe Fischer, Phoenix Customer

IMS Customer Spotlight: Grate Solutions

In this post, Industrial Metal Supply highlights just one of our many loyal customers.

Grate Solutions, a supplier of heavy duty highway gratings and other storm drain metals, is supplied by Industrial Metal Supply’s Phoenix location. Grate Solutions employees 18 people, with three mobile trucks on the road doing installations in and around Phoenix, and throughout Arizona.

What products and services does Grate Solutions provide?

In addition to gratings and storm drains, Grate Solutions builds and installs:

  • Bridge pedestrian rails
  • Guardrails
  • Catch basin frames
  • Trash racks
  • Scuppers
  • Manhole frames & covers
  • Safety posts

The company also provides mandrel bending, welding, custom hole cutting, plasma cutting, painting, galvanizing, powder coating, and sand blasting services.

How did Grate Solutions first connect with IMS?

“Roger Cundick, the general manager at IMS Phoenix, reached out to me a few years ago and said they were interested in carrying the products that I buy regularly,” said Joe Fischer, President of Sales and Operations at Grate Solutions.

“Roger is a great guy and I typically work directly with him, but I also work with Jon Carden (Inside Sales) and Johnny Grumm (Outside Sales),” Fischer said.

Which IMS products does Grate Solutions rely on most?

To make the grates, the company uses quite a bit of ½-in. thick flat bar steel, anywhere from 2 inches to 6 inches in width, and also a lot of angle iron, up to ½-in. thick, and 2 inches to 6 inches on a leg. They sometimes use specialized services from IMS to cut bars to size with a band saw.

What keeps Grate Solutions coming back to IMS?

“Price and service from IMS has been impeccable,” Fischer said. “For hard-to-find things, sometimes it takes a couple days, but Roger’s been able to take care of pretty much everything I’ve needed.”

According to Fischer, IMS has even come through for Grate Solutions in a pinch.

“There have been a couple of times we’ve forgotten to order things, and I’ve called Roger and he’s had them there later that day,” he said. “I’ve even texted Roger on a Saturday, and he has sent an order to me on Monday morning – so he’s gone well above and beyond for us.”

We hope that by connecting with customers such as Grate Solutions and hearing their stories, you will be inspired to check out all the products and services Industrial Metal Supply has to offer.

Office Design Inspirations

Sheet metal décor can bring a whole new look to office interiors. When looking for industrial office design inspiration, consider the many creative ways that metal sheet and pipe can be used.


Lightweight aluminum is the ideal sheet metal material for a wide variety of architectural applications, including wall panels, stairways, and more. Aluminum privacy panels, either plain or perforated, can give a modern, clean look to industrial office décor.

Aluminum diamond or tread plate provides traction on stairs and protection for walls and columns. Pre-painted aluminum sheet offers a hard, abrasive-resistant coating that can be extensively formed and fabricated.

Steel Chic

Steel is the classic industrial office design material, used for everything from shelves, window frames, and air-ducts, to walls, floors and ceilings. Steel combines well with wood and glass, and can support ultra-modern, mid-century, eclectic, and almost any other style.

Steel pipe and sheet can be used for light fixtures, desks, chairs, and other furniture. Steel accessories, such as planters, door hardware, towel bars, and coat hooks carry through the industrial design scheme.

Corrugated Steel

For a more traditional style, use corrugated sheet for a backsplash or line an island in the company kitchen – or lend a rustic look to an outdoor bar, complete with a corrugated “tin roof.” Bathrooms are an excellent place to incorporate corrugated metal sheet on stalls, backsplashes, and shower enclosures.

Use corrugated sheet as wainscoting in a lobby or entrance area, or to line the half-wall around a staircase opening. You can use galvanized or Galvalume sheet to prevent rusting, or go with plain steel corrugated sheet that has been rusted in the open air.

Embossed and textured sheet

Deep-textured, three-dimensional, Rigidized® embossed and textured sheet in a variety of metals and patterns adds the perfect design touch for industrial office projects. The deep-texturing process enhances the durability and beauty of metal sheet, while adding strength, impact resistance, and the ability to hide scratches. Textured sheet also eliminates glare, which can be a critical design factor.

Rigidized sheet is available in stainless steel, copper, and brass – in a wide range of finishes and patterns. These materials can add drama to an office wall, floor, ceiling, or countertop.

Click here for more information on the wide range of metals available for industrial office décor.