I got a Hobart Handler 140 (120v) MIG welder. I rented a couple of videos to figure out how to use it. From there, I started planning a wrought-iron style fence for my front yard. The fact that the fence was going to require about 3,000 individual welds didn't occur to me, right away. The fact that I was planning on putting my first project right out in front of my own yard and house occurred to my wife, but I told her there was nothing to worry about. We'd plant vines on it, which would hide the imperfections. And if it's still ugly, I could always tear it down and sell it for scrap.
I'm posting this to show the process I went through -- it might be useful to other weekend hobbyists who are thinking about a project like this. I'm also interested in more-experienced guys' opinions on what I might have done wrong, along the way. It's too late to fix most of the problems on this project, at this point, but I'm not so self-impressed that I think I didn't get any (probably many) of the parts wrong.
Here's the front yard. I've got a retaining wall that I used to think was 40 feet wide (more on that later), and stands out about 20 feet in front of the house.
I had a neighbor with a wrought iron style fence on his wall, and my thinking was that I could pretty much copy his project -- but at a fraction of what he probably paid. Here's his fence.
His fence uses 3/4" pickets and 1-1/4" supports to make 9' sections. I decided I wanted a slightly 'lighter' look, and would use 5/8" pickets and 1" supports. I decided to add a support in the middle of each of my 8' sections so that there wasn't more than a 4' span -- as insurance against sag, since I was working with 16 gauge steel.