5 Tips For Beginner Welders: What I Wish I Had Known
5 Tips For Beginner Welders: What I Wish I Had Known
As I was sitting with my welding helmet up after finishing my shift, I began to think of what tips and tricks I wish I knew before beginning this career. As a welder, one of the fastest ways to learn is hands-on experience. After some time spent as a welder, I have been able to compile a list of tips I wish I knew before starting.
Tip #1: Learn from a welding mentor.
Tip #2: Always wear protective equipment.
Tip #3: Take proper care of your tools.
Tip #4: Find the perfect welding speed.
Tip #5: Position your body correctly.
Now that you have a brief idea of the top tips to be aware of before starting your welding career, let me walk you through each one. I always wondered these myself when starting off my welding career. Not only will I talk in-depth about each of these tips, but I will also provide suggestions regarding how to put them into action.
Tip #1: Learn From A Welding Mentor
A welding mentor is an excellent resource for enhancing your skills as a beginner welder. This mentor could be a friend in the industry or an acquaintance. Anyone with ample experience in welding would be a great choice to help you begin your career. Keep in mind there are different types of welding, therefore your mentor should be specialized in the same type you are interested in. For example, learning to arc weld using an electrode. In case you aren't aware, there are three popular welding methods: Arc, MIG/GMAW and TIG.
There are benefits to each welding method. For example, TIG welding is the most popular choice when welding brass, copper, chromoly, titanium and magnesium. On the other hand, if you are welding aluminum, the best option is MIG or TIG. These nuances and details are learned with time and most importantly, with a welding mentor. You will be able to advance much quicker with a mentor than you could on your own.
Tip #2: Always Wear Protective Equipment
Welding can be a dangerous job if precautions are not taken. It is vital that you protect your eyes. It can be dangerous to even look at the welding arc for a split second without a helmet and protection. In fact, even an observer needs protective equipment. This means if you are observing someone welding, you need to protect yourself as well. A welding helmet is a staple in this industry. It is wise to invest in a good-quality helmet that will last for many years to come. Not only will you be protected from sparks, but your eyes will be spared from harmful ultraviolet infrared rays. A great option for beginners is the auto-darkening helmet. This type of helmet has an adjustable feature for shade.
However, welding helmets aren't the only type of protection you need. Due to the destructive nature of the UV rays, all skin in close proximity to the welding arc will burn. This means your arms and neck need to be covered. This is essential, especially if you have sensitive skin that burns easily. You need clothing that is strong enough to withstand sparks. Heavy cotton and long-sleeve clothing are needed. Alternatively, you can wear flame-resistant clothing for extra protection. You can even purchase a welding jacket.
Tip #3: Take Proper Care Of Your Tools
One of the most important, if not the most important part of welding is your tools. With the right tools, the job is effective. This means you have to store filler rods in a specific environment. TIG welding needs a pure and clean rod to produce a strong weld. This means they have to be stored right. The best way to store filler rods is in capped PVC pipes. If you are storing different types of filler rods, colored caps can be used to differentiate which rod is in which pipe. Make sure to store in a humidity-controlled environment.
Tip #4: Find The Perfect Welding Speed
The speed at which a welding torch moves on the work-piece is referred to as the "travel speed." Travel speed is an important factor in the welding process and will determine the outcome. The unit of measurement for travel speed is millimeters per minute. The travel speed will help determine the level of heat input, along with the amperage and voltage. If the travel speed is too fast or too slow, there will be problems.
For example, welding too fast will create a thin bead. It can undercut the metal and lead to a concave shape. It can also lead to an inconsistent bead. The puddle will try to keep up with the weld when the travel speed is too fast. Welding too slow will cause too much material in the puddle. This will create a convex-shaped weld bead. It will also not have proper penetration and is likely to weaken the weld. As you can see, an improper travel speed will have an effect either way. The best choice is to find the right travel speed. Learning how to identify the right travel speed will help you immensely.
Tip #5: Position Your Body Correctly
Welding can be quite physically demanding. This means you need to position your body correctly. As a welder, you don't want to spend a long time in one position. It is wise to apply ergonomics. The discomfort reported from welders is a good reason to find solutions to this problem. You'll want to be in a comfortable position when working with a torch. You need a stable position so you can focus on the work in front of you. You can use tables to help you in this process. Make sure to keep your body relaxed. Tensing up will cause muscle strain and lead to aches and pains after only a few hours.
Important Things To Keep In Mind When Welding
As a complete rookie, you may need to learn the fundamentals of welding before anything else. If you have no knowledge of welding, it is fairly simple to learn. Welding is when two pieces of metal are heated. Once they reach their melting point, the molten liquids combine. Once the metals solidify, they will become one.
Another source of metal is used in this process. It is known as filler. Filler is used with the two primary base metals. The purpose of filler is to add mass. There are quite a few options when using fillers such as filler rods and electrodes. It may be difficult at first, but a correct weld will be flawless with no imperfections. There will not be signs of pinholes. The outer edges will be tied well to the base metals. A complete fuse of metals that penetrate to the bottom is a good weld.
The saying "practice makes perfect" rings true for welding. Start off slow as a beginner. The best way to start is by laying beads on a single piece of steel. Focus your energy on the "pool." The pool is a molten metal pool located at the base of the arc. Ensure your pool is somewhat round.
The backbone of welding is the pool. The welder has to form and maintain the pool. For example, if a bead is on top of a base metal and not a part of it, one of two things is wrong. First, you may be welding too fast. Secondly, the current might be too low. On the other hand, if the bead is oblong, either you are welding too slow or the voltage is simply too high.
Make sure to relax your hand. To be more specific, relax your wrist. Not only will this make the process easier, but you will also have more control over the weld pool.
One of the most tricky skills as a beginner is striking the arc. The best option for beginners is to strike the arc at the welding bead starting point. Never strike outside of the welding joint or on a piece of scrap metal.
Ensure to always keep your weld joint clean. Things such as rust, oil and grease can contaminate the weld.
Make sure to have basic metallurgic knowledge. You should always know the base metal, along with the electrode. All of this is done to fully understand the final bead and how it should be.
The current is directly influenced by the type of metal and type of electrode. Make sure you review your notes about this and practice on scrap metal. You can easily practice with different settings on scrap and not have to worry about making a mistake.
Always remove the slag from the welder. This is one of the biggest mistakes beginners make. Not removing the slag from the welder can cause issues such as a brittle weld. Furthermore, if the weld is covered in slag, judging the consistency of a welding bead will be quite difficult. Therefore the best thing you can do is consistently remove slag from the welder in the right way.
As mentioned above, a welding mentor will help you leaps and bounds to improve and reach the next level.