Welding Tips

 

Tip #1 – Always start with clean materials. Nothing ruins a weld faster than having dirty or contaminated materials to work with. Make it a point to always clean the workpiece you’ll be welding, and make sure the metal is very clean and free of anything that could contaminate the weld. Examples of contaminates include old paint, and rust and corrosion, oil, grease, or just plain dirt. Get it off, and get yourself a better weld.

Tip #2 – Use the best possible Mig welding wire you can afford. This will always pay off in better Mig welds, so use the best possible wire you can get your hands on. Sure you can save some money buy purchasing inferior wire – and there’s certainly plenty of rubbish out there on the market – but you won’t be saving anything in the long run, you’ll just end up with poor welds that will have to be redone later.

With Mig wire, always look for wire with a good copper coating, and it should have accurate dimensions and not go over size at any point along its length.

Tip #3 – When you can, always use an auto-darkening welding helmet. Sure you’ll pay a little more, but the time (and grinding) you’ll save as you work will more than pay for it in the long run. With an auto-darkening helmet, you eliminate the lag time from when you start your weld, to when a standard helmet is flipped down into place. That split-second can cause you to lose track of your welding path, and cause a lot of extra work later as you have to grind and redo you work.

Besides, the price of auto-darkening helmets have come down in recent years to the point where there’s really no excuse not to have one, especially if you intend to be a serious welder.

Tip #4 – Always use an Earth clamp. Because the welding process is basically nothing more than a high-voltage electrical circuit, any break in that circuit can lead to Mig welding problems. A good clamp with a strong spring only costs $20 or so, and is well worth the money. One way to eliminate those breaks in the circuit is by using a good Earth clamp, and preparing the metal underneath by sanding off any paint or corrosion ahead of time.

Remember that one of the biggest Mig welding issues that causes people problems is a bad ground. So always make sure that your clamp has a good clean ground surface to clamp onto or you’re in for trouble before you even get started.

Tip #5 – Use a good Mig welding tip. Just like you need good Mig wire to consistently produce good welds, you also need good quality contact tips. With many of the inexpensive contact tips on the market today, the inner surface of the tunnel that the wire has to feed through is uneven or rough. This can lead to unstable or fickle welding arcs, erratic wire feeding, and other welding problems.

Tip #6 – Use the proper shielding gas when Mig welding. While you can use straight CO2 when Mig welding, you’re better off with a 75% argon and 25% CO2 mixture, which is pretty much standard in the welding industry.

Tip #7 – Have your Mig welder set to the proper polarity. You need to remember that polarity matters when Mig welding, depending on the type of welding wire you’re using. If you’re using bar wire, then you’ll need reverse polarity electrode positive to get a good weld. If you’re using flux core welding wire, you’ll need to reverse the polarity.

Since Mig welding machine don’t’ have a switch to change polarity, you’ll have to do this manually, but it’s well worth the few minutes it takes to swap out the leads.

Tip #8 – Use a good anti-spatter compound. If you’ve done any welding with flux core wire, you know that welding spatter is just part of the process. But you can reduce the spatter, and produce cleaner welds, by using a good anti-spatter compound such as LPS aerosol 02116. Another advantage to the LPS compound is the fact that it’s water-based and non-toxic, so it won’t do any extra damage to your health like some of the cheaper compounds.

 

Stick Welding Tips

 

Tip #1 – Be sure you know your arc length. This is important when stick welding. One way to measure this is to use your electrode’s thickness as a guide, and make sure the distance from the metal you’re welding matches this measurement. So if you’re using an electrode that’s 1/4 inch thick, your arc length should be 1/4 inch as well.

 

 

Aluminum Welding Tips

 

Tip #1 – Decide on a Tig or Mig welder. Welding aluminum with a Tig welder is easier, but Tig equipment is also a lot more expensive than Mig. If you work for a large, well-equipped shop, you might have the choice between the two. If you’re by yourself, and money is tight, you might not have a choice but to weld aluminum with Mig equipment. Just know from the start that you’ll have a tougher time of it.

Tip #2 – Pre-heating your workpiece is very important. One of the problems with aluminum is that it has a bad habit of distorting if you apply your heat too quickly. So before you start you weld, always pre-heat the metal slightly. This allows the metal to ease in a bit before you apply the extreme heat of welding, and should keep any distortion of the metal to a minimum.

Tip #3 – Keep your weld moving at all times. The problem with aluminum is that it’s a metal with a low melting point, so the last thing you want to do is linger in one spot and burn through your workpiece. So keep your torch moving until you’ve reached the end of your weld.

 

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