Welding is an incredible pastime, but unfortunately, it can also be an intimidating one for newbies, which makes sense. After all, welding unleashes an incredible amount of power, with the heat and light of a welding flame able to top that of the surface of the sun.
It is possible to learn welding at home through videos and online tutorials, with plenty of practice. However, it is important to note that welding requires practice and precision, and it is recommended to take classes at a technical trade school or from a friend who is experienced in welding.
If you have a safe space, you can also consider practicing on your own with the necessary equipment. The Crucible offers beginning and advanced classes in several types of welding, including MIG welding, ARC welding, and TIG welding.
What is Welding?
Welding is a fabrication process that involves melting the base metal of two or more parts and joining them together using heat, pressure, or both.
It is commonly used to join metals, but can also be used on other materials such as plastics and wood. There are several types of welding, including MIG, stick, and TIG welding.
Of these, MIG welding is considered the easiest to learn and control, making it a popular choice for beginners.
Stick welding is the cheapest and most versatile option, while TIG welding produces high-quality, precision welds.
What Does a Welder do?
A welder is responsible for cutting and joining metals to create a strong infrastructure. They read blueprints, determine appropriate welding equipment and set up components for welding, align and clamp pieces, and operate welding equipment.
Additionally, they may plan layouts and measurements, test welded surfaces, and perform complex mechanical installations. A talented and hardworking welder should have in-depth knowledge of welding machinery and electrical equipment, as well as a steady hand and outstanding attention to detail.
Is MIG Welding Difficult to Learn?
MIG welding is considered the best type of welding for beginners, as it is relatively easy to learn compared to other types of welding. However, like any skill, it takes practice to master. With the right guidance and practice, anyone can learn to MIG weld, and it can be done through a friend, online tutorials, or at a technical trade school.
If you are interested in taking classes, The Crucible in Oakland offers beginner and advanced classes in MIG welding, as well as other types of welding.
These classes cover the fundamentals of MIG welding, including metallurgy, preparation, joints, technique, and safety, as well as plasma torch cutting.
Is 30 Too Late to Learn Welding?
It’s never too late to learn welding, as there is no age limit to becoming a welder. However, to learn to weld, you may need a high school diploma or equivalent at minimum, but most attend technical school or community college programs to learn their trade.
You should be 18 years of age or older to take a welding course, which is designed for people who have little experience with welding and want to learn more. While it is possible to learn welding at home through online tutorials and practice, it is recommended to take classes at a technical trade school or from an experienced friend.
What Type of Welding is Best for Beginners?
MIG welding is considered the best type of welding for beginners. MIG welders are designed with a wire welding electrode on a spool that is fed at a controlled rate, making it easier to learn and control.
MIG welding allows beginners to preset controls for shielding gas use and wire speed while also providing a clear view of the weld. It is versatile, producing strong welds on various metal thicknesses, and can be learned and practiced on one’s own time.
Stick welding and TIG welding is other common welding types, with TIG welding being more difficult to learn but producing high-quality, precision welds.
How Much Does it Cost to Start Welding?
On average a mid-level setup can cost anywhere from $2000 to $2500. However, a quality welding machine can be purchased for $200 to $400. A stick or shielded metal arc welder is the cheapest and most versatile option, only requiring the purchase of welding rods.
MIG welding is the most popular process and is deemed the easiest to learn, but can be twice as expensive as a stick welder. Beginners are advised to start with MIG welding and work their way up.
TIG welding is the most expensive and technically difficult to learn. Setting aside about $200 for basic accessories is also recommended.
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Pick the Right Type of Welding
Did you ever play an instrument when you were very young? If so, chances are you started off with a recorder or some similarly inexpensive and easy-to-use instrument.
Most children don’t start off playing the violin like Paganini, and similarly, most new welders don’t begin their careers with the craft by taking up the hardest forms.
For most people, that is stick welding or TIG welding. There are many reasons why this is harder and more expensive, from the proximity to the intricacy.
What’s important for our purposes, however, is the fact that you need to make sure that you start your welding career with a technique that is easier to manage. After all, part of the reason we start children off in recorders in music is that they’re pretty easy.
The last thing you want for someone new to practice is for them to get frustrated and quit. (You probably don’t want to spend a fortune on something you aren’t sure they’ll like or stick with, either.)
The same principles hold true here, which is why instead of stick or TIG welding you will instead want to look to no-gas or MIG welding. Both of these are far easier than the other types and can be great for beginners in their own way. For example, MIG welding is much easier and more accessible for newcomers than TIG welding, while no-gas welding allows you to eschew gas ratios and all the other intricacies and expenses and just get right down to the welding itself.
Related reading: What’s the Difference Between TIG and MIG Welding?
Learn the Fundamentals
You don’t start off your musical career by playing Beethoven and the Beatles. Instead, you start with tiny scales, exercises, and very simple songs, all designed to help teach you the fundamentals of music.
The same holds true for welding. You won’t want to start off welding complex joints or massive projects, and chances are you won’t be able to do so anyway. Instead, you want to start off with simple projects that reinforce the basics of welding and let you build up your skills.
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This also means learning techniques such as how to weld a pool of metal. There is a lot more to this than simply heating metal into a puddle. For example, you need to learn how to shape it, cut into metal, and then let everything cool. You also need to make sure that you are doing this in such a way as to make sure that the metal does not become porous.
Different welding techniques require different approaches, and also necessitate different mixtures of metals. Some make use of more filler than others, though many welds make use of a combination of at least two different kinds of metals, a primary and filler metal.
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This is the third thing on our list, but only because it is so basic. In terms of importance, nothing is greater – you need to make sure you protect yourself at all times. Given how much heat and light you are unleashing with the flash of your welding arc, you don’t want to play around with that, and certainly don’t want to take chances or expose yourself to it.
That’s why it is so important to wear protective gear.
For starters, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t have any exposed skin. Your arms and legs should be completely covered with multiple layers of loose, but not baggy, clothing. The topmost layer of this clothing should also be fire retardant. You’ll also want to make sure that you have a good pair of insulating gloves – leather, thick rubber, or both.
Just as important as all of this a welding helmet. Not only is this important for blocking flying sparks from singing your face, helmets are essential for protecting your eyes from the bright flashes that are part of welding.
As extremely important as proper welding gear and a welding helmet is, however, it is just as important to protect yourself in terms of remaining vigilant while welding. You cannot let your guard down for a second. Stay focused on your work, and make sure to check your welding equipment beforehand. If you detect any imperfections (cracks, scratches, pinches, punctures, and so on) swap out the damaged equipment for a replacement immediately.
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Practice Proper Fundamental Techniques
Welding is a two-handed process. Make sure you have two hands on the welder at all times, especially when you are just starting out. You also want to make sure that you are the proper distance from the metal you are welding.
You should be at least 1” from the item you are welding, though ideally you should be about 1/2” to 3/4″. You also want to make sure that you are holding your welding torch at a proper angle, ideally at least 15 degrees.
Find a Mentor
Nobody is born a master at any craft – even a child prodigy like Mozart. Haydn mentored Mozart, and you too need a teacher.
You can either do this in person or with welding tutorials on YouTube. Either way, you want to make sure you find a mentor who is using similar tools to the one you are using – that is, MIG or no-gas welders. It won’t do you any good to have someone teaching you on the piano while you learn the recorder, and it likewise won’t help if you’re learning how to use a MIG welder but you’re watching a video on TIG welding.
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Work to Minimize Interference
One of the most frustrating aspects of welding for newcomers is how a tiny bit of interference can wreck their whole project. You don’t want to work that long for that hard only to see your metal become weak and porous, or see the thing you are trying to weld become splattered with ugly spots.
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One of the best ways you can guard against all of that (and the frustration which can ensue) is by minimizing interference.
For that reason, if you are a beginner, chances are you’ll want to do your first welding indoors in a climate-controlled room. While people do weld outside, this is often for more complicated jobs. You’re just starting out, and don’t have the technique and quite possibly the tools to deal with the porosity and other problems caused by interference.
In addition, you’ll want to make sure that you clean the metal before welding it, as failing to do so can lead to dirt and debris getting into the weld, which once again can cause porosity and other problems.
Finally, you want to try and do whatever is possible to reduce excess slag and splatter. This means making sure that you are using high-quality products which are in good condition and following splatter-reducing techniques.
Scrap Metal Is Your Friend
One of the biggest complaints newcomers to the world of welding have is that it can all be too expensive – which is true. If you don’t mitigate factors, expenses can start to add up pretty quickly. That’s why you want to make sure you do whatever possible to bring these costs down, and one of the best ways you can do so is by reusing scrap metal.
“But wait!” you cry, “Didn’t you say high-quality materials are important?” Yes, but for beginner purposes especially, scrap metal should do the trick. Obviously, if you are planning on welding fine cutlery or high-strength beams you’ll want something a bit better and nicer, but for Welding 101, scrap metal should often do just fine.
Just make sure that you clean the metals beforehand and that they are not porous and you should be good to go.
Welding is a wonderful hobby and job, albeit one that can be a bit hard for newcomers to get into, which is why these tips are so important. By following them, you can gain easy access to the incredible world of welding.
WELDING: THE BEST WAY TO LEARN! >> Check out the video below: