A Little Grind and a Little Paint

Help yourself get professional results, even when you're just starting out
Eric Goodwin

When you're first learning to weld, your welds will look terrible. No doubt about it. Welding is fairly easy, but great welding… that's hard to do. It takes lots of practice to learn how to weld well, and while you’re still practicing your inexperience will be reflected in ugly, blotchy, splattery welds. Enter the classic saying:

A little grind and a little paint, makes you the welder you ain’t

This is to say that while you’re still inexperienced there are things you can do to make it look like you’re a better welder than you actually are. You just need to grind down your blotchy splattery weld, give it a coat of paint, and all of a sudden you have a pretty nice looking weld.

This concept applies to nearly every skill you could imagine. There are almost always tricks to make your work look more professional than it really is when you’re first starting out. Learning the ropes of any new skill is tough, so make it easy on yourself. Before you start your project consider your skill level, and see if there are any tricks to hide your inexperience while you’re still learning.

In sewing you can colour match your thread and fabric so seams don’t stand out. A lot of jeans use gold top stitching which contrasts with the deep indigo of the denim. This looks great, but only if your top stitching is perfect (which is something that home sewing machines can’t usually do on denim anyway). Any slip up and it becomes very obvious, so try using a deep blue or black thread to blend in with the fabric for your first few pairs of jeans. This is going to give you a way more professional look, since someone would have to get right up close to your seams to see they aren’t perfect.

If you’re starting out with woodworking, consider projects that have an intentional ‘roughed up’ appearance. This can help hide less than perfect joinery and finishing. You can also opt for using danish oil instead of wood stain. Wood stain can be tricky to work with, and it sinks into and darkens imperfections. Danish oil on the other hand is much more forgiving, and gives a more even tone without sinking into imperfections.

All this isn’t to say that you should never use contrast thread or wood stain, or leave a bare weld. Some of the most beautiful projects use these techniques. But when you’re starting out, make it easy on yourself. Accept the skill level you’re at and understand that you’re practicing to get better. Don’t expect to be perfect on your first try, because no one is.

So remember, you’re not a bad welder, you’re practicing.

It just needs a little grind and a little paint