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):
- Buy, rent, or borrow appropriate equipment. Get consumer grade at a reasonable price. Find a place to store it.
- 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.
- 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.
- Trimming or coping is next to smooth the parts edges so they fit more closely. Use a plasma cutter, grinder, or hacksaw.
- 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.
- Learn the different types of welding such as wire feed, TIG, MIG, and stick.
- Wire feed: a spool of hollow, flux-cored wire feeds automatically. Best technique for beginners and work outdoors.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!