Would you like to learn how to weld metals or would you simply like to get some great welding tips and tricks? If so, this guide is perfect for you.
Welding has become ubiquitous in our everyday lives. From the nano-scale to the macro scale, from deep within the earth or the sea’s deepest reaches to space, you will find the art of welding has an essential role.
How to weld metals? Well, in order to weld you need to perform the following welding steps:
- Dry practice handling: practice gun handling without actually welding.
- Preparation: Prepare, cut the metals you need to weld.
- Positions all the pieces together.
- Tack welding
- Start and finish welding
- . After welding: Cleanup the slag
In this article I will explain the different welding processes you need to know and In-depth view about the welding joints and welding positions.
Before you begin to weld, you should explore which methods would suit your purpose best. You should also ensure that you embrace the safety protocols of each welding style.
If you would like to learn the basics of the welding process and the various welding methods, and how they work, please read on to find out.
Table of Contents
What Are the Main Kinds of Welding?
The four most commonly used welding techniques are MIG, TIG, FCAW, and SMAW, and we will discuss each process and their advantages.
By understanding each kind of welding process, you will be better informed about which procedure suits your needs best.
Shielded Metal Arc Welding (Stick Welding)
Shielded metal arc welding or SMAW is also known as flux shielded welding but most often called by the informal name of stick welding.
This welding method has been around since the 1800s and played a large part in Britain’s WW2 efforts.
Until the arrival of the continuous electric arc welding, the Naval ships were built by a time-consuming rivet system.
Stick welding is the least expensive form of welding, and it’s versatility and ease of operation make it the world’s most popular welding process.
Stick welding is ubiquitous in the maintenance and repair industry and used extensively in heavy steel construction and industrial-scale fabrication.
Although iron and steels are primarily the material most often used in stick welding, it may also be used with aluminum, nickel, and copper alloys.
How Does Stick Welding work?
An electric current from a welding power supply creates an arc of electrical current between the electrode and the metals to be welded.
This process is called striking an arc and may be tricky for beginners. The tip of the electrode begins to melt forms a bead combined with the molten base metal.
The welders move the arc back and forth in either a zig-zag or figure of eight motion, chipping and brushing off the slag between each completed side to side weld.
The metal and the electrode melts and produces a molten metal pool called a ‘weld pool’ that then cools and forms a joint.
The electrode is covered in covering that releases vapors as it melts to form a gas shield and produces slag to shield the weld from external contamination.
Stick welding machines provide a constant current or CC using DC direct current or AC alternating current.
The electrical circuit’s power to create the weld is measured in amperes, and the thicker the metal, the higher the amperes will be needed.
What is a Stick Electrode?
The welding electrode is a metal wire coated in a specialized coating or ‘flux’ and may be bare, thinly coated, or heavily coated (shielded arc).
The specially formulated coatings provide a shield during welding that prevents sulfur, oxides, or other impurities from entering the weld.
Shielded electrodes also produce slag due to the mineral coating, which provides added protection to the weld. It cools more slowly than the base electrode and draws out impurities towards the surface.
What Are the benefits of Stick welding?
✔️Stick welding is comparatively less expensive than other forms of welding.
✔️You do not need a shielding gas because the electrode provides the shield during the welding process.
✔️ Stick welding can be performed in flat, horizontal, vertical, or overhead positions.
✔️ Welders may perform stick welding outdoors or in tight spaces
✔️ Stick welding may be performed on iron, steel as well as copper alloys, and aluminum
What are the Disadvantages of Stick Welding?
❌ Can be tricky to establish arc and not stick in the weld
❌ May cause splatter
❌ Slow relative speed and cleanups.
Gas metal arc welding (MIG Welding)
Gas metal arc welding is commonly referred to as metal inert gas welding or MIG welding. MIG welding arose in the 1940s for working on aluminum and other non-ferrous metals.
It was then adapted for steels because it was a faster process than other welding processes.
The MIG welding process involves creating an electrical arc between the consumable wire electrode and the welding metal.
The heat causes the metals to melt and form a joint. The weld is kept clear from contaminants by an inert shielding gas (often Argon) fed through the welding gun.
How Does MIG Welding Work?
The MIG welding process is relatively straightforward because much of the process is automated.
MIG welding does not require the welder to maintain a constant arc length and feed filler metal simultaneously, which takes practice and co-ordination.
The MIG welder wields the gun into proper position along the area being welded and clean the guns gas nozzle periodically and clean splatter build-up.
MIG welders need to know how to adjust the welder settings so that the voltage, wire feed rate, and gas flow are suited to the welded materials and the wire size.
The nozzle of the welding gun contains the electrode wire, and when it touches the metal base, an arc is formed.
The electrode is consumable and feeds continuously down the gun nozzle along with the shielding gas that protects the weld.
Advantages of MIG Welding
✔️ Great for beginner welders
✔️ MIG can create continuous welds with ease
✔️ Relatively inexpensive to set up
✔️ Faster welding process
✔️ The shield gas is in the welding torch.
Disadvantages of MIG Welding
❌ The complex machinery often means that things can go wrong.
❌ This style of welding may leave deposits that can rust.
Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (TIG Welding)
Gas tungsten arc welding is often referred to as TIG welding (tungsten inert gas), uses a tungsten electrode to form a weld.
The weld is protected from environmental contaminants by an inert shielding gas (usually Argon.)
This welding process arose in the 1940s as a solution to typically poor welds in metals such as aluminum and magnesium.
A high-frequency generator provides an electric spark to strike the welding arc.
The spark conducts the welding current through the shielding gas and initiates an arc between the electrode and the base metal (about 1.5–3 mm (0.06–0.12 in) apart.
Once the arc is struck, the welder moves the torch in a circular motion and creates a weld pool.
While keeping the electrode and workpiece a sufficient distance apart, the welder moves the torch back and tilts it 10-15 degrees off vertical. Filler metal is added to the front end of the weld pool manually.
These actions all take place within the protective gas shield to keep the weld clear of contaminants.
TIG Welding Advantages
✔️High precision process
✔️Strong welds that are tidy and can be displayed
✔️Can be used on a variety of metals, including copper alloys, aluminum, and magnesium
✔️Relatively low setup costs.
TIG Welding Disadvantages
❌ The two-handed weld and one-foot amperage operation is challenging to master
❌ Slower process than MIG welding.
Flux Cored Arc Welding (FCAW)
Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW or FCA) was first developed in the 1950s to overcome many of the issues involving stick electrodes in the SMAW or stick welding process.
The FCAW is a method using a continuous feed tubular electrode that contains flux in an automated or semi-automated process.
Welders may use external shielding gas in the FCAW process, but often welders rely on the flux to shield external contaminants.
The FCAW process also creates a protective slag combined with the shielding gas to prevent oxygen or nitrogen from spoiling the weld.
The FCAW welding method is a highly portable and comparatively fast procedure, and so its commonly used in the construction fields.
How Does FCAW Welding Work?
FCAW welding has two main types that either utilizes an external source of shielding gas or rely on the flux within the electrode itself.
The core of the consumable tubular electrode contains various ingredients that create a shielding gas when subjected to high temperatures.
This FCAW method is particularly popular because it is portable, can be used outdoors, and delivers excellent penetration into the base metal.
However, the FCAW process may produce excessive smoke and requires proper electrode handling to prevent porosity.
The FCAW method that uses an external shielding gas is known as ‘’ dual shield’’ welding and was created specifically for welding structural sheets.
The shielding gas used in FCAW welding is typically straight carbon dioxide or argon and carbon dioxide blends, such as the 75% argon and 25% carbon dioxide blend.
This method of FCAW lends itself to welding thicker and irregularly placed metals and has a slag that is easy to remove.
This process has fewer defects than the flux shield method and creates better welds but may not be used in windy conditions.
Advantages of FCAW Welding
✔️ Flux core welding without external shielding gas is portable and versatile
✔️ Welders may use FCAW outdoors
✔️ Relatively easy to master FCAW operation.
Disadvantages of FCAW Welding
❌ FCAW welding may be prone to mechanical wire feed issues
❌ Generates more smoke than other welding methods
❌ A more costly filler material
❌ A potential for porosity, if not handled correctly.
Aluminum Welding Techniques – How To Weld Aluminum?
Aluminum is a commonly used metal in fabrication, this is because it is non-corrosive, lightweight, and is an aesthetically appealing metal to work with in welding.
It requires a different welding approach than other metal due to it being a highly sensitive and soft material to work with.
It also has an aluminum oxide layer that burns at a significantly higher temperature (3700 degrees Fahrenheit) than the melting point of the aluminum itself (1200 degrees Fahrenheit), causing welders to run the risk of a burn through.
Welders will also find that aluminum is much more susceptible to impurities, so what technique you use will be important.
There are several types of welding techniques that can be used when working with aluminum:
- Metal inert gas (MIG), also known as gas metal arc welding (GMAW) or Wire feed welding
- Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG), also known as gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW)
- Stick welding, also known as Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW)
The thickness of your working piece will help assist in making the right choice of equipment to use.
If your working piece of metal is under 1/8 of an inch, TIG welding would be the ideal choice for such a thin metal, whereas MIG welding is much more ideal for working on anything thicker than 1/8 inch.
Stick welding on the other hand can be used on both thin and thick metals.
As with welding any material, you will want to remove any contaminates by cleaning your work area, your working metal, and making sure your equipment is properly set up as not to introduce contaminates during the actual weld.
For MIG welding, you will find that the use of pure argon as a gas shield is ideal for cleaning and protecting the aluminum from contaminates.
The use of 4043 aluminum is the most preferred filler wire to use, however it can be more difficult to feed than the 5356-aluminum filler wire.
Related reading: MIG Welding Aluminum For Beginners
For TIG welding, you will want a gas shield composed of pure argon.
In this process, the filler rod is not fed through the torch so welders are required to dip the filler rod into the weld pool and stop to replace any worn or used consumables as they go.
This technique will give you the best visual appearance if done by a skilled welder. It is recommended to use an alternating current, which helps assist in protecting the weld from contaminates.
With stick welding, the metal should be cleaned prior to adding a flux coating.
When setting the current and polarity settings you should look to the manufacturers’ guide for the type of electrode being used.
Stainless Steel Welding Techniques – How To Weld Stainless Steel?
Welding stainless steel can be difficult for welders with a lack of experience as it is less forgiving in regards to aesthetic appeal.
The reason for this is that stainless steel is more likely to show scratches and blemishes on the finished product. It is also more likely to warp from the heat generated during the welding process.
How to weld stainless steel? For stainless steel, Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding is considered to be the better choice for jobs less concerned with appearance and is viewed as the ideal welding process for stainless steel maintenance and repair.
However, if you are looking for an aesthetically pleasing weld, Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding will produce the best results.
Which technique you use will depend on whether or not the finish is required to be aesthetically pleasing or if efficiency and expediency are prioritized, as well as a welder’s knowledge and skill of the two processes.
If expediency is of priority then MIG welding would be the way to go, as this can be the more cost-effective approach for employers.
With TIG welding, welders are better able to control the weld by adjusting the electrical current with a remote switch.
They are also responsible for the insertion of the filler rod with one hand while guiding the torch along the joint with the other.
This is why it produces better-looking welds. MIG welding in comparison will feed the filler wire through the torch and into the joint through its combined use as an electrode, requiring that welders move at a faster speed.
Whether you use TIG or MIG welding, it is recommended to use a brass or copper clamp to aid in the prevention of the working metal becoming warped.
These clamps will act as a heat sink and help welders avoid burn throughs as they weld.
Welders should also use separate tools from those used on other metals.
If any carbon steel happens to be introduced to the workpiece or welding area, it can become embedded into the weld and provide a vehicle for rust to take hold of the finished product.
To avoid any scratches and unwanted blemishes, make sure your work area is clean of any contaminants before using whichever welding technique will work best for the job.
You will also want to make sure that you are using the proper gas shield.
Depending on several factors (thickness, welding position, job specifications, and more), welders may use a 100% carbon dioxide gas shield or a 75% argon and 25% carbon dioxide mix.
Cast Iron Welding Techniques – How To Weld Cast Iron?
For cast iron welding, heat control will be the most important factor in obtaining a quality weld.
This is because cast iron being more likely to crack and stress either from excessive heat or rapid cooling.
How to weld cast iron? When welding cast iron, you will want to start by preheating the metal to a minimum of 250 degrees Fahrenheit. By doing so, you limit the amount of stress placed on the working metal when the heat is applied during welding.
Some of the most common welding methods used for cast iron are:
- Oxyacetylene welding
If you decide to utilize stick welding, there are three different filler types that can be used during this technique.
One of the more popular choices for welding cast iron is the use of Nickel alloy electrodes as it creates a stronger weld and has a lower thermal expansion so that stress and cracking are less likely to occur.
However, depending on the job at hand a cast iron covered electrode or copper alloy electrode can also be used as ideal fillers for cast iron welding.
I have recently written an article in which I describe “How To Weld Cast Iron” in more detail, follow the link to read this article.
Oxyacetylene welding, also known as gas welding, can also be used for cast iron welding.
Unlike stick welding which utilizes an arc produced by an electrical current to generate heat, oxy acetylene welding uses a torch to obtain the required amount of heat needed to reach the melting point of various metals.
When using this welding process, be sure to set the correct ratio of oxygen and acetylene prior to ignition, as this will change the temperature of the flame.
If using oxy acetylene welding, be sure to check your equipment for any wear and tear or improper connections.
When turning on the gases always remember to open the gas cylinders gradually, as doing otherwise can lead to an accident or potentially damage equipment.
You will then want to adjust the regulator to the working pressure needed so as to release any air within the hose. As for the filler, cast iron or zinc electrodes are typically used and should be dipped into the weld pool rather than directly into the flame.
Brass Welding Techniques – How To Weld Brass?
How to weld brass? There are several welding techniques that are ideal for brass welding, they include metal inert gas (MIG) welding, tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding, and oxy-acetylene welding.
The first step in choosing the best welding technique to use is by finding out how much zinc makes up the brass.
The more zinc within the metal the greater the metal’s ductility, strength, and hardness. This can range anywhere from 20 to 45 percent of the brass.
By knowing this, you can better avoid overheating and causing porous or cracked welds.
A quality weld is more than capable of being achieved through MIG welding. In order to do so, you will want to select the correct filler wire so as not to discolor the weld.
There is no way to precisely match the color, though the use of CuAI8 is typically the ideal candidate.
It is also important to keep in mind that you will also want to keep the welding current low as the zinc within the metal can become volatile and ruin a weld.
Prior to welding, always check your equipment for wear and tear and that all gas lines are properly fastened. This will be an important factor in a welder’s safety against inhaling zinc oxide.
With an inadequate gas shield, as you weld, the zinc will begin to vaporize and create harmful fumes.
If upon inspection there are any concerns regarding the gas lines, remove, discard, and replace them. For your gas shield, you will want a mixture of 75 percent argon to 25 percent carbon dioxide, or pure argon depending on the desired results.
To further prevent zinc oxide from being produced, it is recommended to use the stitch welding technique.
With tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding, you may find that the zinc inside the brass will boil and jump to the electrode. Although this process poses many challenges, welding brass can still be achieved.
In order to get a quality weld, it is recommended that an AC power inverter be used. You will want to set it with 30-second pulses per second. Due to brass’s high conductivity, it is recommended to use as little heat as needed to effectively create a weld pool.
To avoid porosity at the end of a weld, be sure to allow the metal to cool off under your gas shield as exposure to the atmosphere can ruin the quality of the weld.
If you have the skills and expertise for oxyacetylene, this would be the ideal process to use. Using an oxyacetylene welding flux, mix it with water and paint the area to be welded.
It is recommended to use a strong oxidizing flame by lowering the acetylene flow.
Plastic Welding Techniques – How To Weld Plastic?
How to weld plastic? Plastic welding is relatively new to the field, though it is gaining in popularity as we continue to utilize it in our everyday lives. Despite its newness, there is a slough of welding techniques that can be utilized when working with plastics.
Keep in mind that which method you choose will depend on your knowledge and expertise in each technique.
No matter what technique you use, you will always want to clean the plastic of any possible contaminates.
This can be done by using a mild detergent or dish soap as long as you fully wash it off, or it can be done by sanding the work area.
You will also want to determine what filler to use. You can easily find this out by searching the plastic for a PP (polypropylene) or a PVC (polyvinyl chloride).
If one cannot be located, try using a welding rod testing kit to match up the type of plastic it is.
One option would be to use high-frequency welding. This is done by placing the plastics together with an adequate amount of pressure.
You can do this by using c-clamps or by applying tack welds along the workpiece. Once in place, you can begin using a high-frequency ultrasonic wave to weld them together without damaging the material.
You will want to set your welding gun to just below the plastics melting point in order to avoid burning the material.
If you witness any discoloration you will want to pick up the speed of your weld and after cooling sand the plastic smooth.
Here is a look at some other methods used for plastic welding:
- Laser welding has the welder place the pieces close together so that they can run a laser beam between the two plastic so as to melt them together.
- Friction welding is an extremely fast method of welding and takes mere seconds to accomplish. It utilizes friction by keeping the two pieces in constant motion while a lateral force dispenses the material.
- Hot-gas welding is a bit closer to welding metal, it uses a heat gun and filler rod that are directly applied to the area needing to be joined.
- Solvent welding is another process that can be used. With this technique, dichloromethane or tetrahydrofuran are used to soften the pieces of plastic so that when it evaporates a weld is formed.
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What Are the Different Welding Joints?
According to the American Welding Society, there are five main types of welding joints: the butt, corner, lap, edge, and tee.
The tee joint joins two metal parts that intersect at a 90° angle, with one edge lying at the other’s center.
The joint makes the shape of a T and is welded on both sides of the metal.
They are considered another type of fillet weld and can join a pipe or tube to a base plate.
The Butt Joint
Butt welds are welds where two pieces of metal are joined along the same plane.
Generally, these kinds of welds are used on thinner sheet metals where the weld can be made in a single pass.
The square butt joint is a joint between two pieces of metal that are flat and parallel.
This joint is typically used in pipes, valves, flanges, and other equipment. It is the most straightforward and most commonly found weld and is more affordable than the other joint types.
The Lap Joint
The lap joint typically joins two pieces of metal with differing thicknesses together. It is also considered a fillet type, and the weld can be made on both sides or one side only.
The lap joint forms when two pieces of metal overlap one another and joined.
The Edge Joint
Generally, edge joints are used for metal parts that have flanged edges and are placed adjacent to each other. The edge joint welds the same edge of two different metal parts.
This joint is not particularly strong because it does not achieve full penetration, so it is typically used to join sheet metal or low stress/pressure applications.
The welder has an option to use a filler to reinforce the joint.
The most popular joint in the sheet metal industry, the corner joint forms when two metal parts are joined together at the center of a right angle.
The corner joint forms the shape of the letter L.These style of joint is often used in box construction, box frames, or similar applications.
Related reading: 5 Types of Welding Joints and Their Use
What Are the Types of Welding Positions?
If you plan to start welding, you should first make yourself comfortable with the various welding positions.
The various positions ensure that is welding can be performed on metal structures as they are found. The four basic welding positions are:
I have recently written an article in which I describe Welding Positions in more detail, follow the link to read this article.
Welding Equipment and Common Terms
Welding machines convert 120-140 volt AC electricity to the voltage required for the welding process. It usually has a powerful transformer, a voltage regulator, and an amperage selector.
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A ground clamp is a lead that grounds or completes the electrical circuit and refers to the clamp that attaches to the metal workpiece and allows the electricity to pass through the metal.
The welding regulator brings down your shielding gas pressure to a steady stream to suit your welding application.
The regulator will often have two dials, one for your tank pressure and the other to display the flow rate to the welding gun. The flow rate is typically altered by turning the dial.
Welding consumables include electrodes (stick welding) and solid wire (MIG welding.) They are either consumed from the welding gun or consumed separately, in the form of a welding rod.
Related reading: Different Types of Welding Rods and Their Uses
Stinger or Rod Holder
A stinger is found at the end of a lead and holds the electrode in place during welding.
The welding torch is often referred to as the ‘gun’ due to the trigger control in the welding procedure.
The gun serves several functions, including striking and maintaining the electrical arc, forming and shaping the weld, and providing a gas shield in specific applications.
Amperage or Amps
Amps describe the amount of power in the electrical current that flows into the electrode.
Related reading: How Many Amps Do I Really Need for a MIG Welder?
Reverse polarity and DC configuration
A reverse polarity allows welders versatility in overhead welding procedures on alloys that are not suited to AC voltages.
Welding makes use of an electrical arc to generate the heat necessary to perform a weld. A power supply creates an arc of electricity between the electrode and the base metal.
Typically the process makes use of either direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC).
Your welder provides the power supply, and one lead leads to the ‘ground’ and attaches to your welding material, and the other attaches to the gun.
Melting of The metal.
Arcs create intense heat, and the more amperage the power supply passes, the higher the temperature will rise.
The temperature of an average of 11,000℉ begins to melt the base metals while the welder creates a weld pool by using circular motions.
The two pieces being joined must have a similar melting point for the join to be properly effected.
The fillers in the welding process are the metal added in making a weld between two metal parts.
There are many different kinds of fillers in the form of rods or wires, and generally, they need to be similar in composition to the metal being welded.
Arc welding requires a shield to prevent nitrogen, oxygen, or other impurities from contaminating the weld.
Welding shields take the form of inert gasses, and they are mostly inert gas and do not react to other substances or have highly flammable qualities.
The gasses most commonly used in welding are:
- Helium is relatively expensive and used with non-ferrous metals
- Argon reduces splatter and is commonly used with titanium, aluminum, and magnesium
- Carbon dioxide is used for thicker metals and the least expensive of the gasses
- Blended shielding gas, often a 75% Argon and 25% carbon dioxide.
Welding Safety: Welding Tips
The most important aspect of welding is protecting yourself from potential hazards and injuries. These hazards include:
- Arc eye is the damage sustained in the cornea of a welder’s eyes due to the ultraviolet light from the welding torch.
- Burns, through flame or UV damage
- Respiratory ailments may occur from the chemicals and fumes released in the welding process.
- Electric shock.
To avoid any of the above dangers, welders should ensure that they have the proper proactive gear.
To prevent burns from fire or heat or exposure to UV damage, you should always ensure that you are clothed in protective clothing.
There is lightweight welding attire that is still fireproof and will afford you the proper protection while welding. Clothing includes appropriate gloves, trousers, footwear, and jackets.
I would definitely recommend the QeeLink Leather welding Jacket. This is our best overall.
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Specially designed welding glasses protect the eyes from UV and infrared light and have side shields to prevent light from entering the sides of a welder’s vision.
They typically have very dark filters and are designed for specific welding types that have their unique requirements.
Helmets for welding offer full face protection and filter out potential UV and infrared damage.
The helmet is traditionally extremely dark and can not be used comfortably in natural light.
There are advances in helmet technology that allow the helmet to darken in the presence of bright light but clear to enable the wearer to see clearly when not actively welding.
The vapors and chemicals released in the welding process can cause long-lasting damage to a welder and even result in fatality.
Welding respirators range from lighter, disposable options up to heavy-duty air-fed respirators, depending on the type of welding performed.
I personally use the NASUM M101 Face Cover. This is a great, very comfortable, and affordable welding respirator.
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Welding Tips: Always know which safety requirements you need to take for each and every welding step.
If you are interested in more Personal Protective Equipment for Welders – PPE | List, and Requirements then just follow the link to read more about it.
The art of welding is quite a vast field of study, and even one full-length book can not do the subject justice. How to weld? How to learn welding?
What are the welding tips? Well, I hope you have a clearer understanding of the various tools and methods to study further in this fascinating subject.
Once you have mastered the basic welding techniques, you will find the process of welding infinitely useful, and some say addictive.
It is always suggested that you take a short welding course before you begin to weld, to avoid mistakes or possible damage to your equipment.
It always helps to get expert guidance to get you started on your welding adventure.