Due to all the various movies, people tend to think that welding metal is incredibly simple – just plug something in, run your tool across the surface and voila! You have a smooth, clean connection. Unfortunately, that is not so – if you want to get good at welding metal, you are going to have to practice, but here are a few pointers:
Before you start, remember safety first! There are a lot of misconceptions out there about getting hurt while welding: a lot of people believe that getting burned is the worst that could happen. Unfortunately that is not so your eyes can get damage from the extensive exposure to the light that welding produces. Electrocution is also a danger due to the nature of some metal welding techniques.
When you start a welding project, make sure you are wearing the right PPE (personal protection equipment) that will protect your eyes as well as your head. Furthermore, remember to wear heat resistant gloves and clothing. Lastly, remember to read the owner’s manual.
Using the oxyacetylene
Oxyacetylene welding is the type that is often. Despite its popularity, this type of welding is quite uncommon because despite its cheapness and easiness, the joints made are not as strong due to a longer cooling period. Albeit, you still should practice oxy-acetylene welding in addition to other types simply because it will be a useful skill to have because it’s the type most commonly used for simple cutting bending and welding jobs, such as pipes.
Today, the most common (and useful) technique for welding is arc welding. Rather than melting the metal conventionally, arc welding melts it using a high voltage. This causes a spark, or an arc, to arise and melt the two metals, welding them. This type of welding is so useful because it creates a cleaner and stronger weld. There are a few methods of arc welding:
- Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) is preferable when a rough weld is acceptable, or you are working with large sheets of metal or in a weird position.. With this method, the electricity melts a rod, which creates the weld.
- On the other hand, MIG Welding, (Metal Inert Gas Welding), or Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW), are used when time is of the essence. With this welding technique you send power through a heating tip which melts the filament which is fed through it (like a glue gun) which forms the weld.
- TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) Welding is similar to MIG welding, but is used when working with thin materials where high quality is needed. As you learn you will also hear of other methods, such as Flux-Cored Arc Welding (FCAW), Submerged Arc Welding (SAW), Plasma Welding, etc. but focus on getting a technique done one at a time.
Other Welding Methods
While we have cowered the two largest welding methods, there is a multitude of other methods which are more obscure. Don’t let them overwhelm you, as you will rarely need them.
Now that you know of all the various methods, you can have an idea at where to start at. Despite there being a whole lot of methods, each with its own unique purpose, style, equipment and speed, there are actually only a of the most common methods that you will have to know. To get started, use an inexpensive arc welding setup.
Buy a welder and start practicing on some scrap pieces of metal (after reading the manual, getting all the safety equipment and checking out YouTube if you are unsure). Get the hang of the machine. You will soon discover what is and isn’t comfortable for you. Look into buying some Oxy-Acetylene equipment too, to try it out. With a bit of practice, you will soon discover that you can nail any common welding project.