5 Simple tips that will save you time, money and give you a more professional appearance in the welding industry.
While I by no means consider myself an “expert” on the subject, I have been a welder since the mid 80s; have worked in both shipyards and in a manufacturing environment and have a formal education in Welding Technology.
Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years that should make your life somewhat easier as both a professional and a home shop welder.
While these tips are aimed mainly at the newly trained or recent graduate, veteran welders not familiar with certain processes (aluminum, carbon arc scarfing / gouging, etc.), may find this information useful also.
- No two machines are alike, ever. They may be the same make and model, but it’s been my experience that they are never dialed in the same and rarely, if ever, run the same. Unless you are using a machine that is brand new, expect it to run either hot or cold. Ask someone who has used it; they will be able to tell you what settings worked best for them.
- When scarfing, (oxyfuel or carbon arc), and it’s a larger piece of material that you are trying to remove, don’t try to burn the entire piece away. If possible, burn only the weld(s) that are holding the piece down or together, this will save on both time and cost of consumables.
- Always weld uphill. Uphill welds are cleaner and generally stronger. Many companies require this style of welding and it’s always a good idea to ask before testing, it lets a prospective employer know that YOU know the difference.
- Aluminum is extremely unforgiving! I cannot stress this fact enough. Low voltage is the way to go here. I used to weld thin gauge, (1/16 – 1/8), and found that a good starting point is about 13 volts / 220 amps. Never slow down or stop during a pass, if you see your work begin to cherry up on you, chances are you’ll be spending some time plugging holes. You may need to back-step your welds.
- Back-stepping is another form of welding that many companies require. Instead of beginning at the bottom and working your way up, you start at the top, drop down 6 – 8 inches then weld up. Your next weld then starts 6 – 8 inches below that weld and you’ll finish your bead by getting an excellent tie-in to your previous run. Again, don’t be afraid to ask if they back-step when testing for employment, it tells them that you know your business!
While welding can be a life-long learning experience, it doesn’t have to be a difficult one. It can be a very satisfying and lucrative career choice and you will learn as time passes what works best for you.