It is not surprising that a person who loves adventure and travel would enjoy learning new things from time to time. I am never opposed to expanding my skills beyond my printmaking techniques. They have always been a priority concern. There is so much out there and every encounter can be an exciting challenge. As a result of a bit of excess time and energy, I have taken up welding as an adjunct hobby. It is not surprising since I have a friend who plies his trade at metal sculpting. His work is excellent and I have admired it for a long time. I used to ask him about how he does it and he recently wondered why I don’t try my hand at it. It is fun and useful given the many applications of the process. Plain old steel becomes a blank canvas for invention in effect. It just takes some time and motivation, and I have plenty of that. If you are a type who tinkers and likes to fabricate, this is for you…and me.

I have no unreachable ambitions as welding is a delicate art, involving a balance between heat, filler rod and puddle control, but I do expect to master the basics right off the bat. I am not modest about my ability to absorb and organize information. After many sessions with my friend, here is what I learned from the Rate My Welder beginner’s guide):

  1. Buy, rent, or borrow appropriate equipment. Get consumer grade at a reasonable price. Find a place to store it.
  2. Understand the parameters of your project, measure and prepare the pieces, cut them and tack the items to be welded on your workshop floor. Tacking is a series of small welds.
  3. Start welding only when the tacking is sufficient to hold the metal parts together. Assemble all parts. Use both hands to hold the welding gun.
  4. Trimming or coping is next to smooth the parts edges so they fit more closely. Use a plasma cutter, grinder, or hacksaw.
  5. Practice puddle control. Note that welding uses a heat source to melt the edges of your special pieces and a filler rod into one molten puddle.
  6. Learn the different types of welding such as wire feed, TIG, MIG, and stick.
    1. Wire feed: a spool of hollow, flux-cored wire feeds automatically. Best technique for beginners and work outdoors.
    2. TIG welding: this means tungsten Inert gas. The machine uses a nonsummable electrode to strike the arc and produce a molten metal puddle. It also uses a filler rod.
    3. MIG welding: this metal inert gas type uses a solid-core filler wire surrounded with an inert gas like CO2 or argon. It produces a slag-free weld, perfect for aluminum or stainless steel.
    4. Stick welding: the puddle is melted by a flux-coated metal electrode, useful for thicker pieces. It takes considerable practice.

There you have a basic guide in a nutshell!