How to Weld

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Learning how to weld can be an invaluable tool in completing special projects around the house. It can save you time and money by not having to schedule and pay a professional. However, welding is an intricate process. Something that takes a long time to master. So before you jump in, here are a few tips to help you learn to weld metal.

  • Prepare your metal. Be sure to check for oxidation or rust or any other substance which is on the surface of the metal. Note, when first learning, you should always do so on steel. When learning to stick weld, a piece 3/16 of inch to 1/4 of an inch is ideal. If you are beginning to learn oxy-acetylene welding, then you should practice on steel that is clean and about 1/8 of an inch thick. While there are other welding processes, these are the first two you will learn.

  • Purchase or borrow the proper safety gear. Welding is dangerous. A welder must protect himself by wearing the proper gear. Jeans, steel toe boots, safety goggles or glasses and a welding hood with #10 or better lens. If you are performing gas welding, a #5 glass shield is acceptable.

  • Check your equipment. Make sure the main apparatus is set correctly. Depending on how thick the metal is, you'll need to make adjustments accordingly.

  • Understand the factors. When welding, know what will make the difference between a good weld and a bad one. Speed, the angle of your torch, the settings on the welder and the position or angle of your metal are all things that will affect each weld.

  • Notice the puddles. Be sure that they are on both sides of the metal. While this may seem like a no-brainer, it is always better to make sure that you've welded both sides, than remove the support and realize you haven't!

  • Listen intently. The noise that your apparatus makes is a great way to gauge how the weld is going. As the flame touches the puddle, it should almost sound like bacon frying in the pan.

Tips & Warnings

  • Buddy up. Welding takes a while to master. Find someone who is well established, to be at your side while you perform your first welds.
  • Practice on scrap first. Find some loose pieces to practice on until you feel comfortable going onto the bigger, more complicated projects.
  • Read each instruction manual that comes with your equipment. Welding can be very dangerous. You must understand your tools before you use them.
  • Don't look directly at the arc of the flame. It is so intense, it can harm your eyes even through the shield.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy. Better to be safe then sorry.
  • Do not wear loose or frayed clothing. It is a fire hazard.

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