As a new welder, welding is not the easiest art to master, and you are bound to make a lot of mistakes. Learning to weld requires one to be patient, practice regularly, and acquire enough knowledge to excel. If you are new to the world of welding, these tips will help you sharpen your welding skills and learn what it takes to make good welds.
Tips to Sharpen Welding Skills
1. Do thorough research
Before you buy anything, you must do proper research on different welding processes and what each method involves. For instance, if you’re doing MIG welding, get to know the metals you can use with MIG welder because they vary from one welding process to another.
Furthermore, familiarize yourself with gas shielding capabilities and the welding voltage because these parameters also differ from machine to machine. Make sure you gather all the necessary requirements before you start with any welding machine. Also, welding produces a lot of heat and fire, which can put your health at risk.
Make sure you have the appropriate protective gear and enough working space with adequate ventilation. Your welding gear should allow for free movements and should have enough clearance to allow you to have a better view of the entire workpiece.
2. Make sure everything is clean.
Contaminants such as dust, oil, grease, among other impurities, can affect the quality of your welds if left on the metals. You can use a wire brush or a sander to give the metals a good clean and remove any debris. You can also use a grinder to grind out rust, dirt as well as to remove cracks before welding. If possible, avoid using the same brush on different surfaces to avoid contaminating the area further.
3. Choose the correct electrode for the job.
When choosing the welding electrode, you’ll need to consider many factors, including joint design, welding position, and the specifications of the parent metals. As a general rule of thumb, the rod diameter needs to be smaller for thinner metals and higher for thicker stock.
A smaller diameter electrode produces soft arcs and provides a shallow penetration that prevents burning through on the thinner materials. Also, your goal is to match or at least closely match the composition of the electrode to the parent metal to ensure a strong weld.
The rod should also have a higher tensile strength than the base metals to prevent cracking and other welding defects. If you are welding high-carbon metals or high-alloys steels that are difficult to weld, it is recommended to use low-hydrogen electrodes to accommodate for residual stress and also to avoid cracking.
Besides, these electrodes are versatile, and they offer a smooth and low-spatter arc that simplifies welding. However, remember to remove them from the package only when needed and do not leave them exposed to air for a long period.
4. Welding out of position.
The welding position also affects the outcome of your welds, from penetration, weld speed, and the general weld appearance. For any welder, the horizontal or flat position is the safest and most comfortable position to weld. It allows the puddle to remain in joint, and it is considerably easy to master. This technique requires you to use specialized magnets or clamps to securely hold the workpiece until everything has cooled completely.
Often, welding is done on structures or in the position in which they will be used, i.e., on the ceiling, on the floor, or in the corner. If you are planning to weld out of position, you can use several techniques that have been developed to allow you to weld in any position.
When welding out of position, the key to success is to use the right welding process and choosing the right parameters for the application. For instance, when welding in a vertical or overhead position, you will be required to move more quickly and keep the puddle narrow. Also, allow the puddle to cool faster and steadily so that the puddle does not drip.
5. Strive for hydrogen-free welds.
Hydrogen can be a huge setback when it comes to welding. The presence of hydrogen in certain metals such as high-strength steel is the main cause of cracking in welds, and this can happen hours or days after welding is completed.
As a result, it is recommended to use low hydrogen consumables on materials that are more susceptible to hydrogen cracking. Also, keep the area free from moisture, paint, oil, or any other substance that may contain hydrogen.
Another way you can prevent hydrogen cracking is by preheating the metals before, during, and after welding. This procedure helps to slow down the cooling time, allowing more hydrogen to escape before the metal solidifies. However, it is important to highlight that welding highly constrained, or thick metals can also result in cracking.
6. Weld slowly.
Another thing you can do to improve your welding skills is to try and slow your welding speed. If you weld too fast, the welds will look too thin, and they won’t penetrate as intended. Don’t rush anything and allow the welder to do its job.
Welding speed will also go hand in hand with your wire speed. Ideally, the wire speed will depend on the thickness of the metals. If you are looking for deep penetration, you can begin by reducing your wire speed sequentially, but be careful not to run too slowly to burn through the metal.
7. Always do a practice run
The next thing you can do is learn how to handle the gun and do a practice run without actually welding. Your posture should feel natural, and ensure that and use both hands to ensure that you are in total control. You may notice that certain positions allow you to make longer passes or move your hand without straining. Uncomfortable posture or excess straining can affect your weld quality substantially. Besides, a practice run helps to build a routine, which will help everything fall in place when making “real” passes.
8. Learn different techniques of welding aluminum
Aluminum is a lightweight metal, and it can easily be joined by welding or brazing. However, when welding aluminum, you may require different materials, and sometimes specialized techniques and materials may be required. Aluminum and different aluminum alloys can be welded by metal arc welding, but a TIG welder is often used on complex aluminum welding tasks.
Often, aluminum forms a layer of oxide with a higher melting temperature, and this can inhibit the filler from joining with the metal. To avoid this, the aluminum surface should be free from oxides, and you can use a wire brush or recommended chemicals to remove the oxides prior to welding. The area should also be preheated but do not use too much heat to avoid a burn-through and only use argon or argon-helium to shield the surface.
9. Determine your welding conditions
If you weld indoors or in a controlled environment most of the time, everything will work out smoothly, and you don’t have to do as much. However, welding in an open space can be challenging, and it can affect the quality of your welds. For instance, too much wind tends to blow the shielding gas away, and sometimes the weld might not penetrate.
When working in such conditions, it is recommended to either uses a flux core wire or find a way to block out the wind. Typically, gas-shielded applications work best when performed indoors, while processes that don’t require you to use a shielding gas works best outdoors. Welding in the rain or somewhere with a lot of moisture can be dangerous, and the practice is not recommended.
A Final Word
Starting out on any welding process can be a little complex, and there is a long list of tips you can follow to sharpen your welding. In addition to these tips and tricks, continued practice will always help you gain the best results. However, we cannot stress enough that achieving success while welding is all about choosing the right process for the application and using the right parameters, techniques, and you must have welding tools and equipment.