10 Tips to Sharpen Your Welding Skill
Welding is a trade that requires a lot of patience and regular practice to perfect. Also, you need to understand how to do things correctly to ensure you always get the best results. Here are few handy tips to help you sharpen your welding skills to become the master welder you have always wanted.
1. Do Thorough Research
To become a skillful welder, you need to understand the trade well and everything it entails. Hence, it is vital to do adequate research on different trade subjects, such as the welding processes.
Understanding the different welding processes such as MIG, TIG, and Stick welding allows a welder to know when to use either. Hence, you have to do adequate research on these processes. While learning about all the techniques is a great idea, you can still research and master the ones you intend to use.
It is also a great idea to research other welding-related issues such as the correct voltages to use, gas shielding, and safe welding practices. Additionally, an understanding of how to choose the best welding gear can be beneficial.
2. Determine your Welding Conditions
It is vital to determine and understand your welding conditions if you want to perfect your skills and improve the outcomes. For example, welding indoors differs significantly from doing it outdoors where you are at the mercy of the elements.
Indoor welding conditions are more conducive as you do not have to worry about issues like the wind blowing off your flame or shielding gas as you would when welding outdoors.
Once you determine your typical welding conditions, you can quickly determine the most appropriate equipment and consumables to use for good results. For example, for windy outdoor conditions, a flux core wire is more suitable as you will not need a shielding gas.
3. Make Sure Everything is Clean
No matter how good you are at welding, a simple thing like a dirty metal or filler material can ruin the quality of the weld you get. These welding materials have various contaminants on the surface, from dirt and dust to grease, oil, or even rust.
If you weld without first removing these typical contaminants, chances are they end up on the weld pool and create an unsightly looking weld. Also, they can cause excessive spattering and even make the metal harder to weld.
Before you start welding, it is crucial to clean the materials thoroughly using a wire brush, sandpaper, or even grinder if you are welding steel.
4. Rules on Angle, Direction, Speed
Although almost anyone can weld, to produce a good weld, there are simple rules on the angle, direction, and speed that you need to understand.
One of the first rules you need to keep in mind is about the working angle. When doing wire welding, you should always keep the gun at a 10 to 15-degree angle, and for stick welding, a 20 to 30-degree angle is more appropriate.
For speed, you should make sure the ridge is 3/8 of an inch behind the electrode. If the speed is too low, you get a wide, convex bead, and if it is too high, you end up with a shallower weld with a narrow, highly crowned bead.
5. MIG Gas Selection
MIG welding is one of the most common welding processes, and it is the kind that every welder can be sure of using at some point. One of the most important things you need to understand when MIG welding is your gas selection.
Although 100% carbon dioxide is the most preferred option since it is more affordable and delivers deeper weld penetration, there are still many other options.
If you do not want the excessive spatter that comes with pure carbon dioxide, 75% argon and 25% carbon dioxide are good combinations. However, if you are welding aluminum, 100% argon is a fantastic option.
6. Choose the Correct Electrode
As obvious as it might seem, some welders still overlook the need to choose an electrode that matches the job at hand. It is vital to ensure that the electrode you choose is ideal for the parent metal, joint design, and welding position.
Some electrodes are only meant for DC welding, while others are not for multi-pass welding. Therefore, if you intend to use such electrodes, it is vital to make sure they suit the welding you want to do.
Also, the electrode's size matters a lot. A small diameter one provides soft arcs and works well for thinner material as they provide a thinner penetration that ensures they will not burn through the metal.
7. Welding Out of Position
Your welding position has a massive effect on the weld quality you get, and so you should keep it in mind as you try to perfect your skills. For most welders, welding from a flat or horizontal position is always more comfortable and safer. Also, this position is easier to master, and it keeps the puddle in the joint.
However, you will not always be able to weld from the horizontal position as the structure or material might not accommodate this. Hence, you will be forced to weld out of position in many instances, but you can still do an excellent job if you use a good process and parameters.
When welding from an overhead position, keeping the puddle narrow and moving quickly is recommended as this ensures it does not drip.
8. Welding Aluminum
Welding aluminum can be tricky even for the most experienced welder. However, if you know what to do and how to do it, you can still produce some excellent aluminum welds.
When welding aluminum, the TIG welding process seems to work better than most others. Also, it is essential to make sure if you have to cut the aluminum, you do it as close to welding time as possible so that it does not oxidize. Moreover, always clean the metal thoroughly with a high-quality solvent before welding.
Other things you can do to make welding aluminum easier and to ensure you get good welds include using 100% argon gas for shielding and using an aluminum filler wire that is 3/16 or 1/6-inch in diameter.
9. Strive for Hydrogen-free Welds
Different things can ruin your welds, but hydrogen is perhaps the worst one. Therefore, you should always strive to make 100% hydrogen-free welds.
What makes hydrogen such a big problem is that it can cause cracking on your weld many hours or even days later. Also, hydrogen contributes to delayed weld, which is another issue that dramatically affects the quality of your welds.
Therefore, when welding, you have to clean your metal thoroughly since hydrogen is all around in water, dirt, rust, and even the metal's paint.
10. Keep Practicing
The last tip to keep in mind is that you have to practice as much as possible to perfect your welding skills. Even if you go to the best welding school, you can only master the trade if you practice as much as possible.
Welding as much as possible using different techniques and always trying to improve on your weak areas and the welds you make is the surest way to sharpen your skills.
Welding can be intimidating as it often looks like a complex trade for beginner welders. However, anyone can sharpen their skills and become a master welder with enough practice and following good welding habits. Keeping the tips above in mind and implementing them is a perfect place to start your journey to becoming a good welder.