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Stephanie Hoffman (IG: underground_metal_works)

Welcome to this week's #weldershowcase - we had the opportunity to sit down with Stephanie from @underground_metal_works and talk a little shop.
If you would like to be featured in our weekly showcase (100% FREE) please send us an email to to get you scheduled in an upcoming week. These showcases are intended to highlight your skill, your business, and your tips and tricks.  Most of all it's to have a little fun!
Enjoy and Grind On!


This week's #WELDERSHOWCASE is...


Name: Stephanie Hoffman

Business Name: UnderGround Metal Works 

Country/State Location: New Jersey, USA

Socials: IG: @underground_metal_works  FB: UnderGround Metal Works, TikTok: @underground_metal

Websites:  Website   YouTube

Specialties:  Custom Fabrication, Furniture, Fire PIts, Signage. Mostly for tattoo shops. 

Tell us about yourself - what inspired you to get into your trade (backstory)? And how long?
My Father worked in the heavy construction industry and he was always so impressed with his welders that worked for him. As a "daddy's girl" I noticed his admiration for what they did and knew I wanted to give it a try. I was about 11 years old when I was first introduced to welding and by 14 I was enrolled in my first welding program. Noe here I am 20 years later still in the trade loving what I do. Though over my 2 decades my time in the industry has taken lots of turns. When I started out I thought I'd only stick weld and work with pipe. Then after a few years I discovered GTAW (Tig welding) and began working as a welder fabricator working with anodized aluminum pipe making tuna towers, bow rails, hardtops for multi million dollar sport fishing yachts. From there I fell into teaching many years later. I taught for several years before going to work for the American Welding Society. I tour the country 18 weeks a year on their Careers in Welding Trailer sponsored by Lincoln Electric. When the trailer is not on the road you can find me doing lots of other video content for the American Welding Society. When I'm not consumed with those projects I am in my fabrication shop UnderGround Metal Works creating all sorts of custom tattoo inspired furniture and signage for some of the best tattoo artists and musicians in the US.
  What keeps you motivated throughout the day?
My biggest motivation is the people I do work for. Whether it's on the road with AWS, making custom pieces for famous tattoo artists around the country. I'm always striving to be the best ambassador I can be for this trade. At the end of the day I work my rear end off to make all those people proud of the product I put out. Regardless if that is video content, attending events or creating custom pieces. My love for what I do keeps me going. I firmly believe in AWS and what they do for the trade, and I love and admire other forms of artistry. I wake up every day stoked to go to "work". 
What is your favorite shop tool and why?
My favorite tool in the shop is my SwiftCut CNC. That piece of equipment saves me so much time. From engraving to cutting it does an insane job at making my life easier and more productive,
  What's your favorite piece that you've worked on?
My favorite thing I have ever worked on would be recently I was asked by a famous comedian JoKoy to create a custom coffin bookshelf for him. I was able to take wood, copper, traditional japanese tattoo aesthetics and give it a gothic flare all in one incredible piece of furniture. It was humbling to have someone who has it all and could ask anyone on the planet to make this piece of furniture for him. Ask me of all people to make it. 
If you could have any job as it relates to question 1 what would it be and what would you do with that?
In the world of welding I think I already have a dream job. I tour the country promoting the trade I freaking love. I get to meet welders and future welders from all over. I don't think anyone goes into welding is thinking one day I'm going to have a tour with a huge 85' expandable tractor trailer with a driver and a tour manager...I still pinch myself. Then I lump on making super rad stuff for some of my idols in the tattoo industry and I don't know how the heck I got here. 20 years ago I was just going to be a pipe welder running stick rod all day everyday.....Now I have even bigger projects coming this summer.
  What BA product is your favorite and why?
My favorite BA product is the 4.5" grinder aluminum polishing kit. That kit has single handedly made me not hate to polish aluminum anymore. 
What BA product surprised you in terms of quality - what about it set it apart from the competition?
Polishing kits and the tiny quick change flapper discs. I used to buy a million products for my orbital sanders, polishers, and still have to do stuff by hand when polishing. Now I can set up a couple of 4.5" discs on my grinder and be done. Then those quick change flappers! OMG those are so perfect for getting in tight spots, or working on thinner stuff where a grinder would rip through it. Love being able to have a tiny drill setup. I thought there was no way these would work and not fall off the drill but wanted to give them a try and I'm so glad I did. 
  What tips and tricks do you have for us that might be different or eye opening for others to try with BA product (insert product)?
Hmm.. maybe some videos on using the polishing kits. I think so many people don't know how to properly finish their work. Taking a 80 grit flapper doesn't always cut it.  (BA Note: You can find a great demo video for our polishing kit here)
If there was one person you could collaborate with - who would it be and why?
I have so many people I would love to build something for. If I'm really reaching for the stars here I would love to work alongside Mareko Maumasi. I have never done any bladesmith or black smith work and his knives are out of this world. I would love to learn from the master. 
  Do you have any advice for the next generation that you wish you had when you first started?
My advice always is keep the hood down and practice. You have to put the time in and learn the basics. Nothing happens overnight. It takes time the people you see all over the internet only post their best work. Even the best make mistakes and have bad days. 
What are your future plans for your shop?
I currently have a 2 year plan in my space now and hope to expand a few more employees with room to host classes. 


A Note From Leo
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Stephanie!  We really admire your drive to push the trade onto next generations and hope to be a part of your journey for years to come. Also, I would love a coffin bookshelf!! 
Previous article Wil Smiley (IG: @_grumpy_gramps_

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