Jesse must be psychic...I was just curious about this same topic this week. I have a question about the final application of textures though, when using intersecting geometry with this method.
If I have two pieces like this, and the UVs are going to be separated
1) simply painting it in Photoshop obviously wouldn't work, because the weld normals wouldn't be accurate across both UV chunks.
2) Doing it with modeling should generate correct normal maps, but the color and spec would likely be incorrect, and therefore cause a seam split.
So how would you tackle this same process with two elements that would have separated UV chunks? The examples you guys have shown look great in the modeling phase, but the UV's and texturing of something like this are were I get confused, particularly in the example of multiple cylinders intersecting or other odd shapes that will require unique UVs.