Sure welding deals with massive amounts of electricity, molten metals and bright as sun arc lighting conditions. It can be dangerous if not handled with the care and respect that it deserves and requires. Just because it can have dangerous outcomes does not mean one should avoid participation of welding. Like many things in life, just a little advanced knowledge and preparation will provide the beginning welder with all the safety and confidence required for a successful weld.
The following list of beginners welder tips should provide those interested in taking up the practice of using an arc welder with more than enough knowledge to start. Of course, understanding this list is but a cursory glance at the many and varied aspects of welding is important. One should always consider there is more to know and take the time to learn advanced techniques and proper welding supplies as soon as is feasible.
Beginning Welder Techniques
- Direct Current Welding: For easier starts, fewer arc outages, less spatter leading to better looking welds, less sticking, much easier vertical and overhead welds, and the ability to reverse polarities for deeper penetration of welds, DC welding is a great start for the beginner.
- Alternate Current Welding: Though generally speaking DC welding is better for the beginner, one of the chief advantages of AC welding is that one can provide solid welds on magnetized materials. Since the polarities of the AC system are alternating, arc blow is prevented and magnetized materials can be easily joined.
- Welder Amperage: How much arc welding power is the beginner likely to need? Since most applications require 200 amps or less, one can easily get by with a 225 or 300 amp machine. Much more than that may be wasted on the novice welder.
- Know the Duty Cycle: It is imperative that the beginner understand the concept of the duty cycle. Essentially this rating indicates how long one can weld during a ten minute cycle. If a welder creates 200 amps, then it can weld continuously at a full 200 amps for two minutes if the rating is 20%. The machine will then need to cool for the remaining eight minutes of the cycle.
- Rod Types: There are a number of different types of rods to use in various situations. Understanding, for example, the difference between a 6010 (for deep penetration) and a 6013 (for less penetration) can help the beginning welder succeed with a variety of general work on steel.
- Surface Conditions: Although stick welding tends to be more forgiving of surfaces with rust, dirt or grime, or greasy conditions, taking a few moments to clean and prepare the welding surface will serve the beginner well.
- Current Settings: Take the time to understand the amperage, or current, the machine should be set at based upon the diameter of the stick being used, the thickness of the material being welded and whether or not the surface is flat or overhead.
- Length of Arc: Generally speaking, the length of the arc should not be in excess of the diameter of the electrode in use. The distance the electrode is held away from the weld will also affect the amount of voltage in use, whether or not excessive splatter comes into play, and will prevent (or increase likeliness of) the rod freezing to the metal.
- Angle of Travel: An easy to maintain angle of travel for the novice welder is achieved using the backhand technique. Starting with the electrode perpendicular to the material, lean the tip in the direction the weld is to move and hold at an angle of five to fifteen degrees for the optimal bead structure.
- Manipulation: This is where time and practice comes in. The beginner should observe as many other skilled welders as possible. Note how they are manipulating the electrode in order to work their beads, create proper overlap, and produce solid, strong welds that effectively join the materials.
- Speed of Travel: The width, depth of penetration, and favorable contours are all a factor of ones speed of moving the electrode across the material. Another note for the beginner is that increased speeds will produce less penetration. Where this is desirable on thinner materials increased speed is acceptable.