The image most people have of a welding professional is of a worker hidden behind layers of personal protective equipment (PPE) and performing their craft in relative obscurity. After all, like most skilled trades, welding is an honorable, respectable, and honest way to make an excellent living, but it’s usually not associated with notoriety.
However, since the advent of the internet, specifically the endless array of YouTube videos, several welders have taken advantage of their skills by sharing them via “how-to” videos. Not only have they provided instructions to fledgling welding operators and promoted a career in dire need of more participants, but some have become internet celebrities.
Here are the most successful and celebrated welders and their contributions to the craft.
Who are the most famous welders?
The following five YouTubers have utilized their welding skills, personalities, and teaching abilities to make names for themselves and money for their bank accounts:
His name is Lanse Edwards, but almost everyone knows him as ChuckE2009. Coming straight from the Institute of Welding Technology in 2008, Edwards began to share his interests. Within five years, his channel was getting more than 6 million views, and what started as a hobby became an educational forum with an immense collection of online welding tutorials.
ChuckE2009 was one of the earliest welders on YouTube, and he’s also one of the most controversial figures because of his predilection for sharing his opinions on topics beyond the realm of welding. Nonetheless, his videos were often a lifeline for frustrated beginners trying to get the hang of welding, and his popularity was never questioned.
Jody Collier is from Welding Tips and Tricks and The Weldmonger Store, bringing welding tips that helped him become known as "The Godfather of Welding." Collier spent 13 years welding pipe in nuclear plants and coal-fired powerhouses. He also worked at paper mills and for 21 years as a welding instructor for Delta Air Lines Technical Operations and their metallurgical lab.
With a million subscribers and decades of experience in welding inspection and instruction, it’s hard to imagine a more well-rounded welding instructor.
Although Colin Furze doesn’t promote himself specifically as a “welder,” he does extensive welding in his videos. He’s the first exposure many young welders get to what welding looks like. Colin started early on the internet, but his channel has no tutorials or reviews. Instead, his claim to fame is his backyard underground bunker and a retractable roof on his garage.
Colin’s most recent welding machine was the multi-process Lincoln Speedtec 200c, capable of doing MIG, TIG, and stick from the same unit. Like the Miller Multimatic 215 and the Lincoln Power 210 MP Multi-Process welder, he believes it’s the way when working with different materials on various projects.
Wyatt Swaim (Mr. Tig)
Wyatt Swaim is one of the most experienced welders to grace the internet. Long before YouTube, Wyatt worked on aircraft, motorsports, or anything else requiring precision welding. He has even worked as a sideline welder during the Indy 500.
When YouTube took off, Wyatt recognized it as an excellent fit since welding is typically much easier to show than tell. Because of all the “how-to” videos he has accumulated, Mr. Tig is a great starting point for any would-be TIG welder.
Greg Davis and his Red Beard’s Garage YouTube channel has a following of 360,000 subscribers. The channel showcases Davis’s fabricating, customizing, and restoring skills with mostly small vehicles, such as minibikes, go-karts, and buggies. Most of the work happens in his shop in Sweetwater, Tenn.
Before Red Beard’s Garage, Davis worked in IT for Ford, teaching customers how to use their vehicles’ technology. Being able to teach gave Davis the impetus to start making how-to-weld videos for an online audience.
Who is the best welder in the world?
Determining the best welder on the planet is entirely subjective, and someone will always stand by to shoot holes in your argument for choosing one person. So, we will propose three people who most agree are at the top of their welding game: Anton Kamenskikh, Chandler Vincent, and Justin Friend.
Russia’s Anton Kamenskikh is well respected as one of the world’s top welders. Born in the village of Smolenskoye in the Tver region of Russia in 1990, Kamenskikh completed his secondary education in Moscow before joining a vocational school at 16. After that, Anton studied in a community college for two years.
The world was introduced to Anton Kamenskikh in 2015 after he competed in the International Welding Competition and won third place. He had a successful electric and gas arc welding career for the next 15 years, with duties that included quality control, fault diagnosis, maintenance, and welder repair.
As a member of the Russian Federation’s Solidarity Fund for Trade Unions, Kamenskikh won the 2019 ACIWC championship in China.
Chandler Vincent has gone beyond being a rising star in the welding world. A high school dropout from Utah, Vincent took welding classes at Uintah Basin Applied Technology College after leaving high school.
After completing just one semester, he entered various North American competitions, developing a reputation as an expert welder. He attracted attention after winning the Best of Nation title and participating in the WorldSkills Competition of Abu Dhabi, making the U.S. the best in that international competition.
While training for the Abu Dhabi competition, Chandler worked 16-hour days. His obsession with winning and welding caused his health to decline, and his friends and colleagues hospitalized him after his lack of eating put his health in grave danger.
When Justin Friend decided to attend welding courses at Texas State Technical College upon graduating from high school, those who knew him and his family must have been scratching their heads. After all, his parents worked as university teachers with doctoral degrees, and everyone figured Justin must be heading for a career in academia.
However, Justin’s annual income of $140,000 plus benefits justifies his decision. He won’t be saddled with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt and is building on his strengths of working with his hands. By all accounts, he is an excellent welder, and thanks to an article in the Wall Street Journal recounting his decision to forgo college and earn a handsome living as a welder, Justin has joined the list of the most famous welders in the world.
Common traits of the most famous welders
If you look closely at the lifestyles of the best and most famous welders, you will find some common attributes in each of them: dedication, proper training, hard work, and love for welding.
- Dedication: All eight of the highlighted welders have shown a complete commitment to the welding profession and have gained fame by displaying their dedication to every aspect of welding.
- Training: Excellent welders are not created in a vacuum. They understand the need for education and training to become outstanding welders, participate in competitions, share their skills, or become valuable employees.
- Hard work: Welding is hard work, and the finest welders embrace it. For instance, Justin Friend put in 72-hour workweeks to learn his trade and earn a salary that made him famous and secure. Chandler Vincent worked 16-hour days while training for the Abu Dhabi competition. They combined hard work and dedication to achieve excellent results.
- Love of welding: The best in any field love what they do and don’t hide it. Watch their YouTube videos or how they train for competitions, and you’ll immediately notice the joy and enthusiasm only present in those who love their work.
You probably noticed that the eight welders profiled here are men. We have not failed to acknowledge the female contribution to welding but have devoted our next article to them. “Women in the Welding Industry” highlights those women breaking into a male-dominated welding industry.
As for the men listed in this article, they can be used as role models for a successful welding career. If you are new to welding and mirror their devotion, you stand an excellent chance of rising through the ranks. Who knows? You might one day have a YouTube channel or hoist a trophy from an international welding competition!