Flaming tetherball: not just a state of mind, it’s this scar right here.
HAZARDFACTORY…Could there be a better place to bring your favorite 13 year-old? On a recent sunny evening, Hank went down to South Park to find out.
Here is his story.
Earlier this summer, Hank drove along Highway 99, delightedly humming, “Goin’ down to South Park…gonna set my friend on fire…” as his wee buddy looked increasingly concerned. It was a perfect summer evening, and a perfect summer evening for some delightfully subversive activity.
You see, Hank had enrolled himself and a wee pal in a welding course, which he thought would be a great outlet for a teen-aged pyrotechnic hound and might also keep said hound out of his parents’ thinning hair for a few hours. So down to South Park they flew, like the proverbial bats out of hell. (Actually, no: They got stuck in the Hades of the once lightning-quick SR 99, and the teen-aged pyrotechnic hound learned a few new colorful figures of speech. Bam! Pop! Blammo!)
But they made it to the lovely industrial area of South Park in time and all was well. Now, the intent of SpeedMetal! at HazardFactory is not to harm your friends, but to offer an introduction to metalworking to see if it just might be “your thing.” Not surprisingly, Hank found that it was very much his thing. Very much.
HazardFactory is the creation of one very chill metal artist and instructor, Rusty Oliver, who immediately introduced Hank and his wee buddy to steel (Hi, Steel!) and explained the concepts of mild steel vs. tool steel, high vs. low-carbon, simple metals identification, ductility and tensile strength. Cool.
Rusty moved on to explain safety, metallurgy, and foundry work and then demonstrate the use of various metalworking tools. Cooler.
Hank really enjoyed looking closely at all the tools in the shop, as most everything had been modified in one way or another. The whole place was a tool-using artistic quadruped’s dream.
A biped’s dream too, apparently: So cool, in fact, that Hank’s buddy promptly fainted.
Yes. Turns out, the poor kid’s a baby giraffe and that’s what happens when baby giraffes don’t eat all day long and then contemplate welding.
But never fear, Rusty to the Rescue! Baby Giraffe perked up quickly with an emergency guzzle of Gatorade and a nice spell by the electric fan.
Whew! With everyone all better now, Rusty fired up the CNC plasma cutter (as in “computer numeric control”) which Hank thinks all the kids will be wanting for home use this year. Imagine: A big cutting table/AutoCAD/robot thingy with massive steel-cutting firepower to the tune of 10,000 degrees Farenheit or some such crazy number. And that puppy was fast.
A candle nearby had been lit for The Baby Jesus, which seemed prudent.
Rusty moved on to demonstrate the use of the horizontal bandsaw, abrasive saw, step and bench shears (kachunk!), nibblers, die grinders, a wonderful old 4000+ lb. milling machine, lathe, and…mig welding equipment. Yes. Which Hank & Giraffe then got to take for spins. Oooh.
And All Was Right With the World.
SpeedMetal! is, frankly, like free crack. Oh sure, Rusty says this class is for anyone who has always wanted to “get into” metalwork, but hasn’t had the right opportunity to try it out (“Oh, here, try some welding…”) but Hank’s here to tell you that once you get into the huge 2200 sq.ft. art studio and see all the tools and possibilities, you’re done, dog.
Hank’s now jonesing to take a mig welding intensive and contemplates finishing the rest of the work on his house with a blow torch which (admittedly) is overdoing it.
Anyhow, aside from the highly increased risk of metal addiction, neither Hank nor his little buddy lost any appendages or burst into flame under Rusty’s expert tutelage, so Hank figures this class is totally parent-approved.
Really, folks—you’ve gotta try it. Welding.
Hank figures all of us are metal heads of some sort. The trick is to work out which one you are and start down your path.
Hank’ll be that good-looking dog in the helmet over yonder, enthusiastically welding what appears to be an ecstatic monument to toilet-paper rolls and other culinary delights found in the average American waste basket.
When cheese gets its picture taken, what does it say?