Want to Learn to Weld?
You might want to reconsider. It’s dirty and dangerous! But if you still want to do it, I’ll show you how!
Equipment You Need for Welding
First, there’s some things you’ll need to pick up at the store. On the shopping list are a welder (of course), welding gloves, a welding helmet, flux cord wire, a metal-cutting saw, an angle grinder, discs for the grinder, and a set of good aviation snips. You may also want a sheet metal bending tool.
Materials to Weld
You’re also going to need some metal to be the object of your welding. You can get that in the same store as your other supplies. Consider things like rebar, which is good to learn with because it’s cheap. Some big, plain steel nails are good, too. When you’re ready to move to better materials, check for stuff labeled weldable steel.
Sometimes, Size Matters
Back in the shop, we’re going to get set up to weld. But first I want to show you some differences between small-scale welding gear and some of the bigger stuff I regularly use.
Setting Up to Weld
It’s not too complicated, but there are some things you definitely want to know and a few little tricks to get your gear set up. I’m going to take you through all of that.
Let’s Get Welding!
Now is when we really get down to it. But remember, you need to be use, plain, normal steel. Nothing plated or treated. Just bare steel. And no aluminum! A good way to be sure is to see if a magnet will stick to it. We’re going to set the current to match the thickness of the materials, and also set the speed of your wire feed.
It’s Like a Giant Battery
You’re going to be bringing together two things to complete a highly charged circuit. That completion is where the the welding happens. You REALLY don’t want to get in the middle of that.
The Welding Table
It’s not pretty, but it’s very functional. My welding table has a post for the ground clamp which makes the entire surface a welding area.
Your First Weld
After you put on all your safety gear (gloves, helmet, jacket, etc.) there are some things you want to remember. You want to always pull the gun toward you, not push it away. You want to keep it as steady as possible, and you can use your gloved hand to help with that. You need your area to be as wind-free as possible so your shielding gas doesn’t blow away from where you’re welding. Don’t hold the gun too close to the surface, or it will stick. If you get too far away, your wire will get too long. If you go too slow, you’ll leave too much welding metal behind, if you go too fast you won’t leave enough. Make sure you can make a good long weld line on a single piece of metal. Do this over and over until you KNOW you can do it correctly.
Joining Two Pieces of Metal
Now we’re ready to move on to connecting two pieces of metal. Position them together and make a couple of little tack welds to hold the join where you want it. For a strong join, you want to mix melted metal from both pieces, plus have the addition of the wire as filler material.
Now Go Practice!
You’ve got the information you need to get started, now you need to practice. A LOT!
And make sure to check out Part 2!