Why Learn Fitter Math?
A good understanding of basic Fitter Math is most important for welders or any skilled craftsman. The reality of Fitter Math, or any trade-related math, is that it is basic high school math! Over the years, I have worked with many fabricators and lead people who lacked the ability to figure out angles and simple formulas required to do their job right. Some of them having over 20 years of experience, yet sadly still doing things the hard way.
The one incident I still remember to this day is when we were putting up a pipe and it had to be placed on an angle between two other pipes. The guy I was working for had me go up and down a 20 foot ladder at least ten times before he was able to get it right! I tried to reason with him by explaining that there is a mathematical formula that will PRECISELY figure the required angles. Heck! Just whip out a simple protractor and you’ll save yourself a whole lot of time! I could not believe it when his exact words lashed out, "That is a bunch of mumbo-jumbo!” Needless to say, I was the one who paid the price over the years for his, and many others’, ignorance of basic math and geometry; the exact, indisputable, and finite rules of mathematics.
I know a lot of people get intimidated by math, but it truly is not that hard to learn. Personally, I’m lazy when it comes to doing things the hard way, and on top of that I dropped out of high school at the age of 15. When I left school I could barely read or write, and to this day, I do not know how to do long division. Thank goodness for calculators! When I started working I learned on my own using the ‘trial and error method’ but it wasn’t long before the calculator became my best friend! Finally, I took a class on Fitter Math in welding school. I only know the formulas, how to manipulate them, and change them for my needs…but that IS all you need to be able to do!. There are NO EXCUSES for anyone to say it's too hard. Approach math, just like anything else in life, with the right attitude and you will make it easy!
The key to learning math and fabricating is having patience! Rushing is for those who wish to create more work for themselves. Taking the time to learn these formulas, and learning patience will make your job easy. On top of that, your boss will be more than happy with a job done right the first time around! Not to mention the money your boss saves on wasted materials and time.
Many new welders and fabricators think that blueprint-reading is about learning welding symbols, as they often teach in welding books. However, that could not be any further from the truth!
Picture this: I have a need to hire a fabricator, and the choice is between candidates A and B. If A knows welding symbols, but B is excellent at math, I would hire B hands down! I would quickly supply B with a chart of welding symbols, and their individual meanings. Having a good understanding of math is the only way to accurately and consistently interpret blue prints.
When fabricating, most engineer-drawn blueprints do not have all the dimensions and reference points that you’re going to need. Also, it is common for engineers to overlook details and make mistakes. They are not perfect; they are people just like anyone else. Many times they are so overwhelmed by their work load, tight deadlines, and their supervisors pressuring them to work faster that making mistakes is unavoidable. It's the fabricator’s job to make the engineer’s designs work, and understanding math is a critical part of that job.
When I am about to fabricate something new, the first thing I do is sit down with the blueprints. I take my time to anticipate any trouble I may have, figure out all of my math formulas first, and calculate my reference points. Meanwhile, I watch other fabricators jump right in and get a sizable head start towards getting themselves into trouble. Although my jobs have a tendency to crank up a bit more slowly, they inevitably come in on time or early, and at absolutely no additional expense.
Learning Fitter Math is the Easy Way Out!
Ultimately, it is up to you whether or not you want to learn. I learn out of necessity because I always desire and look for the easiest route possible, and I enjoy fabricating to the point I make it look easy because…It is easy! What it boils down to is that you really only have two choices to pick from:
- The easy choice of spending a little extra time now to learn the proper math and have a skill that will make the rest of your life easy
- The hard choice by not learning today and working harder and getting frustrated for the rest of your life.
If you want to Get Started Right Now then Check Out Kahn Academy. All classes are free and you can take classes in any subject including computer programming and engineering. Just remember there is a lot more out there then welding!