February 3, 2014
As I was watching the weather last night, the meteorologist mentioned that Chicagoland had already experienced the third most subzero-degree days in one winter, according to records that go back more than 140 years. That’s pretty depressing, considering that it’s not even February.
So as the outdoor temperatures remain frigid and the snow continues to fall, the mind wanders. Some people think of tropical locales. Some yearn for baseball. I dream of smoking ribs on my charcoal grill.
I wouldn’t go so far as to call my love of barbecuing a hobby, but I don’t mind spending several hours in hopes of creating the perfect smoke ring on a slab of pork or on a turkey. It’s a slow and easy-going process, something that goes perfectly with a nice, lazy summer day.
Barbecuing also happens to be one of my favorite offshoots of metal fabricating. Simply stated, you can’t barbecue in a cardboard box. A barbecuer needs some sort of metal contraption to deliver the smoky results, and those products really do run the gamut from simple to extravagant.
The end product might be a simple metal holder for charcoal that slips right into a traditional kettle-style device, or it could be an elaborate smoking machine that gets towed behind a truck. It could be a traditional gas-powered grill for those with tight family schedules or a newfangled grill that uses wood pellets as a source for smoke. Metal fabricators or barbecuers with some experience in metal manufacturing definitely have some strong opinions on the best way to impart flavor to meat.
That’s what is so great about metal fabricating. The trade has a way of touching almost everyone’s lives, even if they don’t know it. Appliances, automobiles, gardening tools, and recreation equipment—all contain metal fabricated parts, and the stories about how those parts are designed and created are typically interesting tales.
One of my favorite aspects of visiting a metal fabricating shop is walking through the shipping area where managers can point to a part and give me the background. What is it? What was the challenge in making it? What could have been done differently to make the part less costly to fabricate or to make it a better-performing component? The stories are almost endless.
That’s what excites me about metal fabricating: The creation of goods that make our lives more interesting. Metal fabricating is not about cutting a form or bending a blank into a box. It’s the act of creating something out of nothing, and from my standpoint, there’s nothing better than creating a device that helps me turn a cold, lifeless hunk of meat into a mouth-watering meal.