Anyone can learn how to weld. That’s right, anyone. It may seem like a terrifying prospect: heating metal past it’s melting point to connect it to more metal? Isn’t welding dangerous? But welding doesn’t have to be complicated.
There are a few things you need to know before you join a welding program, but once you’ve figured out the techniques it can be relatively simple. Whether or not you’d like to make welding a carrier, having welding skills can help you. Many hobbyists enjoy welding just for fun, but it can also turn into a booming side business if you so choose.
Welding can be a lot of fun, many people truly enjoy the activity. If you don’t know if welding is for you, here are 7 welding tips and tricks for you to make an educated decision.
1. The 4 Types
Welding seems pretty straight forward. But did you know there are actually 4 types of welding? All of the types work basically the same way, which is why they all fall under the category of welding. But there are some unique differences. The four types are: MIG, TIG, Stick, and Flux-Cored Arc Welding.
Knowing which type of welding you will use is important so you can learn the correct ins and outs. While all four types are similar in regards to safety, the actual process can vary depending on if you need a continuous gas source (MIG, TIG or Flux-Cored Arc) or not.
MIG is great for welding strong pieces. TIG is best for thin pieces of welding material and having less debris. Stick welding isn’t as precise as a welding method but the equipment is the least expensive so it’s a popular choice to start. (Though stick welding actually takes a bit more skill than the other types.) Flux-Cored Arc is extremely easy to learn if you’re just starting out.
2. Safety First
If you’re a brand new welder or you’ve been welding your whole life, it’s still good to be reminded that you should never wear metal jewelry while welding. It may sound silly and alarmist but this is definitely an example of “better safe, than sorry.” Even if you’re newly married and don’t want to take off your wedding band: never wear metal while you weld.
Even if you wear gloves, which do offer great protection, it is still safer to not wear any jewelry at all. The risk of severe burns or melting your ring into your skin is high. If wearing a ring is important to you, consider a silicone ring instead. They are flexible and won’t conduct heat in the same way as metal, making them a safe alternative.
Your safety is important, always wear protective gear when welding to prevent damage to your eye, face or skin. It is possible to get UV burns while welding. Like a sunburn, you may not realize you’ve been burnt until much later. Cover up your skin for the best protection. Work boots and thick denim are popular choices. Some welders even use leather aprons. So make sure you use the right quality tools for the right job.
3. Practice Makes Perfect
When you’re working with new-to-you equipment it is often handy to practice with it. When you take time to handle the gun before you ever turn on the power, you can get a feel for what welding will be like. Beginners especially should practice without power. Be sure you’re standing in a comfortable position and are able to feel in control.
The more often you weld, the more likely you are to not be nervous. Welding can be intimidating but being tentative with a welding gun isn’t going to achieve good results. Once you feel comfortable with the equipment, welding will still require a great deal of practice before you are an expert.
Even experts need to take test welds as they get started every day so taking your time and not rushing is certainly appropriate. Consider your safety and skill as you set the speed with which you will weld. There is a perfect speed in which to weld however, too fast or too slow can give less desirable results.
4. Clean Metal Welds Easier
No one is saying that the metal you are welding needs to be pristine. But if you attempt to weld metal with significant rust or dirt, the welding process isn’t going to work as well. All of the impurities will get mixed into the repair spot and the metal won’t be as strong as it could be.
Taking the time to clean the metal before you weld can solve that problem. You don’t need to spend tons of time making the metal perfect, but using a powered wire brush to get rid of the bulk of the grime can make a huge difference.
If you don’t have materials available to clean the metal then try to slow your weld down. A slower speed will allow some of the gas bubbles to escape and essentially you can boil out some of the impurities. It isn’t as good as cleaning but it can work in a pinch.
5. Ask For Help
Welding can be complicated. Not every weld is easy. If you find yourself running into difficulties then make sure to ask a more experienced welder for help. There is a welding community out there that takes pride in helping new welders learn the trade or discover the art of welding.
If you believe the worst question is the unasked question you need to seek out help from the people who already know how to weld. Even professional welders run into difficult situations that are hard to fix on their own.
While practical and hands-on experience is the only way to improve your welding skills, asking for help to learn as much as possible is also a great help. Watching videos and other professionals weld in person can also be a useful way to understand more welding tips.
6. Keep Your Fill Rods Safe
If you are working with a TIG welder you are going to encounter fill rods. Fill rods provide necessary flux material during the welding process. But knowing how to store your fill rods is important. In short: keep them out of humid environments. Because the purity of the fill rods will help or hinder a good weld you need to be sure they stay in good shape.
Many welders put their fill rods in PVC pipes that can be capped. This helps store them easily while keeping them clean. When you take care of your equipment, it will take care of you. Spending some time making sure your fill rods are properly cared for and your welds will be greatly improved.
7. Don’t Skimp on Ergonomics
Welding can be physically demanding. Put ergonomics into practice where you weld to help the wear and tear on your body, and keep you safe. Try and keep your welding environment well suited to you.
Store tools where you can easily reach them and use a welding table that is the right height for your comfort. Having a quality welding table is great for projects you would otherwise have to bend down for. When your workspace is set up specifically for you, your welds will improve and you are less likely to have a muscle strain. Proper ergonomics will also reduce workplace hazards.
Welding can be a fun hobby or a rewarding career. Because welding is a skill that not everyone is capable of it is incredibly marketable. Getting hands-on experience is important, so consider getting equipment for home use to practice more could be a great option for you. Stay safe and enjoy welding!