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For those who want to learn to Weld

Discussion in 'The Tool Shed' started by Joel_BC, Nov 24, 2011.

  1. Nov 24, 2011
    Joel_BC

    Joel_BC Super Self-Sufficient

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    Hi. A couple people here have mentioned their desire to learn welding.

    A couple years back, I came across some oxy-acetylene welding equipment at an estate sale. For $150, I got at least $600-worth of equipment in good shape. I had seen welding done before, but had never had any training (not even any dabbler's experience) with it before.

    I found that the guys locally who were skilled with welding were either disinterested in teaching a complete beginner, or just too professionally busy to do so - and did not want to do more welding in their after-hours. Going to day- or night-school for instruction was too difficult, as for me that would require an hour and forty minutes of driving for each class session. So, I'm self taught, though since I got started I've been able to ask a question now and again from a person with experience.

    I've used two main sources for learning on my own: books, and Youtube videos. I borrowed a good book from our local library. Later, I got a couple more good books from used bookstores. I feel that books are good for learning the saftey aspects, for getting the theoretical background about working with metals (and welding processes, and welding supplies), and for the generalities of technique. The videos available on Youtube are, in my opinion, the next best thing to standing there and actually working with a teacher or pro welder.

    For the self-guided aspects: First, borrow or obtain your book. Read it - you probably don't need to read the whole thing, but pay particular attention to the sections on the type of welding equipment you choose to use. And definitely read the saftey info - all welding involves dangers, but they're manageable. This is adult stuff, but both men and women can learn the skills and be safe and effective - even a level-headed young person in their late teens can. Get some instruction from an accomplished welder in your neighborhood, if you can.

    On Youtube, search using appropriate terms, such as: acetylene welding. or, arc welding. or, wire-feed welding. Many videos will show up. Go through them to find the ones showing the level and type of technique you're after.

    I have gas welding equipment (also known as oxy-fuel, or oxy-acetylene equipment). You can look up Oxy-fuel welding on Wikipedia for info about it. Why do I like it? It's versatile. You can weld, cut steel, braze, hard solder, heat metals for bending or forming, temper or anneal metals, etc. However, welding steel with this equipment is slower than with arc or wire-feed equipment. And besides patience, the technique with oxy-fuel equipment requires more finesse.

    Personally, I'm planning on getting some instruction with the electric (arc and wire-feed) methods from a couple friends when they can find time. Electric welding allows you to work faster for welding, per se - and whereas oxy-fuel welding is generally considered to be useful for steel up to 1/4-inch thick, electeric welding can be used for much thikcer material, if you need to. But you can't cut steel with electric, you can't braze or solder, you can't heat form.
     
  2. Nov 24, 2011
    Nifty

    Nifty Almost Self-Reliant Administrator

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    Great timing with this post! We have an old ARC welder and another oxy-acetylene setup from my dad sitting in our garage. Both are pretty old big beasts.

    My brother brought his daughter over about a year ago to teach her how to use the oxy-acetylene, but that's the only time it's been used in about 7 years.

    I was in the process of listing both on craigslist when a metal gate my dad built 15 years ago (welded a bunch of scrap together) broke. I was going to revert to my standard toolbelt which = JB Weld. :D

    Then I thought... hmm... I should fire up the ARC welder to see if it works before selling. Problem: I've never done a single weld before and didn't have anybody (immediately) around to teach me (I'm impatient). So, I spent about 30 minutes on Youtube and felt I knew enough to give it a go.

    Well, it wasn't as bad as I expected. The worst part was trying to see where to start the bead without being able to see a bloody thing behind the dark shield. It's a catch 22:

    You can't see anything until you are welding... you can't start welding until you see something. :barnie

    It wasn't a perfect weld... actually pretty messy and I burnt some holes into the metal, but so far it is holding. :D
     
  3. Nov 24, 2011
    Joel_BC

    Joel_BC Super Self-Sufficient

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    It does take practice to make welds that are good in all respects (complete, strong, respectable looking). What you've described is how my welds tended to look for a while. Practice, practice, practice.
     
  4. Nov 24, 2011
    myzanya

    myzanya Power Conserver

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    :sick years ago I took a trades discovery for women class...
    loved it...
    anyways...tip...heat up the metal as well as the rod...so you get a mixed together weld...
    duhh...but took me a day to get this one... :sick :rant
     
  5. Nov 24, 2011
    Wannabefree

    Wannabefree Little Miss Sunshine

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    I actually had a completely different experience in picking up the basics from an old boss on slow days at my job. I would love to learn more. Most of the men in my family are welders by trade, and retired, with equipment, so it shouldn't be too hard. I love this idea! Thanks for posting it! Welding is actually quite fun...or maybe I'm just weird. Okay, both is a distinct possibility too :hu

    ETA: :welcome sorry forgot my manners ;)
     
  6. Nov 30, 2011
    archangel

    archangel Sustainable Newbie

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    OK for an unsolicited chime in?:old

    By far the easiest method I found of welding is MIG (Metal Inert Gas) set up for FCAW (Flux Core Arc Welding). There is no need for a gas bottle as the flux is in the core of the wire. There is no fear of having the wind blowing the protective gas away, or having it leak away because you forgot to turn the valve off last time you welded.

    A few weeks ago the wind was blowing so hard the welds look like a total amateur, with nerve damage, while having an epileptic fit was welding! I kept getting blown against the project table! :lol:

    The resulting FCAW weld is also much harder than the parent metal so a few beads on the snowblower shoe bottoms and they will seem to last forever.:cool:
    I have a Miller SP 170 set up for FCAW.
    My weld hood is an auto darkening type so the lens is clear until it sees a spark of UV from the arc, then it darkens. Just be sure you don't block the UV lights path as the lens will go clear burning your eyes. It also helps to blink as you strike the arc as there is a minute delay from the arc and the darkening. After a while you can start to feel it.

    The wire feeds out at the rate you set to match the power and you just place it back and forth as you move along in a stitching motion like this /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/.
    You know it's just right when is sizzles like bacon without popping or sticking.
    MIG is cleaner than FCAW as it tends to splatter (the gas erupting from the core) and that stuff (like a pimply metal rash) can stick like it was welded if you don't use ample (messy and needs to be cleaned before painting) anti splatter spray or physical shielding of some sort.
    MIG can also be set up for Aluminum but requires dedicated parts to prevent contamination of the Aluminum weld with leftovers from the steel wire as it has a smidgen of lube on it.

    ARC equipment (AKA Buzz box) can be real inexpensive for decent quality equipment. The issue is that it requires you to feed the stick in as it gets shorter. If you are a little slow, it can look great until you chip away the flux (My first time could have been a textbook example of perfect until cleaned). ;)
    It also has limitations on how thin the metal to be welded can be, but it is the heavy duty method used for welding huge things like sky scrapers truck frames and ocean going ships.

    Gas (Oxyacetylene) is also fairly cheap and requires 2 gases that are mixed. it does require more time to preheat and feed the puddle with wire. It can also be more delicate with thinner metals, just use a smaller tip.
    A small Oxyacetylene torch set up can be real handy for cutting and heating metal to me bent or shaped, or even quick starting a BBQ so it has more than welding as a use.

    For those with huge ca$h re$erve$ to $pare, TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) is a great set up as it can adjust for near paper thin metal and can also weld aluminum, Stainless Steel, and even Titanium without much fuss.
    Change the Gas bottle for the sorrect type, select the electrode, choose the appropriate wire to add and back shield if necessary.
    The resulting weld is clean, (near spotless even) and if your skills are just ok, the weld can look beautiful.
    For tight fitting welds on thin metal you might not even need to add metal to the puddle!
     
  7. Nov 30, 2011
    Joel_BC

    Joel_BC Super Self-Sufficient

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    A good addition to the discussion , archangel.

    As I tried to convey, I just like oxy-acetylene for its versatility (all the additional things you can do with the equipment besides the welding).

    This thread will be a good candidate for the Tool Shed forum, once that gets established.
     
  8. Nov 30, 2011
    Denim Deb

    Denim Deb More Precious than Rubies

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    Archangel, first off, :welcome

    Secondly, you lost me.

    I'm wanting to learn how to weld. My hubby knows how, and I keep telling him I want to learn. Maybe what I need to do is just start on my own. 2 years ago, he started working on my horse trailer. (The ramp was coming off.) He decided to do a bunch to it to really make it look nice. I'm still waiting. If I hadn't gotten the 16 ft trailer as a project, I'd have no trailer at all. Once that's done, the 16 ft stock is going to be redone.

    I also have an old boat trailer that I want to repurpose. We have no boat to put on it, but I want to make it into a canoe/kayak carrier. I'm sure I could haul 4 kaynoes on it quite easily. Then, when my friends and I go kaynoeing, we can start doing streams. We'd just have someone pick us up where we'd get out. Right now, we're limited to where we can paddle back to easily. :(
     
  9. Nov 30, 2011
    Team Chaos

    Team Chaos Lovin' The Homestead

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    I have a reeeeallly potentially stupid question, but here goes: I am a woman (that's not my question, peanut gallery :lol:) and a few years back I sought out a welding "teacher" through a trade school... he dismissed me immediately and told me that a woman of child bearing age had no business messing with welding. Uh, what? Is there really a big risk for that demographic? It doesn't sound like it but just to be sure...
     
  10. Nov 30, 2011
    Nifty

    Nifty Almost Self-Reliant Administrator

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    That sounds very weird (and sexist / age discriminating)

    My brother brought over his 15 year old daughter to learn to oxy-acetylene weld... maybe he's just a horrible father?
     

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