Welding for Dummies

Submitted by reb on Thu, 01/12/2017 - 18:55


* This article is NOT professional advice. These are my notes on learning inexpensive welding in my backyard. 

* Similar pages at RoyceBarber.com: Types of Rope and Thread. Build a House. Fabrication of Costume / Furniture. Multipurpose Tools. Sewing. Time Saving & Life Tools. Construction Boards. CNC Machine 101. 3D Pens. 

* Corrections? Send in private messages at the Contact Form. 

* Citing Sources: Notice the tiny superscript [1] numbers in this article. See "Cited Sources" at the end of the article, to find out where I got my information. 


What is Metal Welding?

* Quick Explanation One [1]: Use ignited gas or electricity to melt two work pieces together into one work piece. Similar to two pieces of plastic melting together under a torch. 

* Explanation Two [1]: Welding is a fabrication or sculpting process which joins materials, in our case metal, by causing multiple work pieces to merge into one. This is done by melting the work pieces and adding a filler material to form a pool of molten material that cools to become a strong joint. This is in contrast with soldering and brazing, which involve melting a low-melting-point material between the work pieces to form a bond between them without melting the work pieces. Many different energy sources can be used for welding, including a gas flame, an electric arc, and more. However this article will focus on easy home uses. 

* Each type of welding has pros and cons. MIG is extremely popular in my area of California, and is inexpensive at our Harbor Freight store. The types of welders for home use, are 
Gas (Acetylene, Propane, etc), Arc, Mig, Tig, Flux core. Oxygen/acytlyn is mainly for sheet metal. MIG welding or flux core welding are similar, except with MIG you still need an oxygen tank. With flux core you don't need oxygen, you just plug in to an outlet. 

What Can I Make?

* Anything metal! Shelving, wall hangings, art, sculptures, outdoor BBQ, dining table, office desk, furniture frame, fix broken furniture, hot tub steps, multi tool, sword, car luggage rack, skateboard, etc. Anything you can imagine being made of metal. 

Basics of the Stick Welder

* Anchored to an electrical outlet. 
* Better suited for windy, outdoor conditions. 
* More forgiving when welding on dirty or rusty metal. 
* Works well on thicker materials. Not so much on thin materials. 

Basics of the Flux-Core Welder

* Uses electrical outlet, with no gas.
* Works as well as Stick on dirty or rusty material.
* Out-of-position welding.
* Deep penetration for welding thick sections.
* Increased metal deposition rate.
* More forgiving when welding on dirty or rusty metal.
* Gas is not usually needed, but sometimes used for specific uses.

Basics of the MIG Welder

* Insanely popular. 
* Uses electrical outlet and oxygen tank.
* Easiest process to learn.
* High welding speeds possible.
* Better control on thinner metals.
* Cleaner welds possible with no slag to clean.
* Same equipment can be used for Flux-Cored Welding.
* Slightly sensitive to wind and rain.
* Additional settings to fiddle with.
* Mainly deals with voltage and wire speed.
* Aluminum welding requires a spool gun. 
* Similar to TIG.
* "Ready Welder II" is a Car Battery Powered Portable MIG Welder. 
* MIG lets you push or pull your puddle, due to no slag to run over.

Pros of Tig over Oxygen/Fuel:
-No flux to clean up after.
-Easier to "build up" material i.e. building up a broken off boss on a casting.
-Can do some joints that are not recommended with OxygenFuel i.e. unsealed laps.

Tig is Great for Welding These:
-Clean castings.
-material over .125" thick.
-Build-ups on castings.
-Parts that will trap flux residue or cant be cleaned.
-Castings where access is limited ( ports in heads ).
-Some tubing clusters.

Basics of the TIG Welder

* Uses electrical outlet.
* Provides highest quality, precise pinpoint welds.
* Highly aesthetic weld beads.
* Allows adjustment of heat input while welding by use of a foot control.
* Almost any type of metal can be welded.
* TIG welders may have a lot of knobs to set.
* Similar to MIG.

TIG Cons;
* Tethered to an electrical outlet or generator. 
* Not as consistent penetration as OxygenFuel.
* Not as good as OxygenFuel on oily cruddy metal.
* TIG has pinholes, while OxygenFuel doesn't.
* More affected by wind than OxygenFuel.

Basics of Oxygen Acetylene Welding (What Royce Uses)

Tools You'll Need:
* Buy, rent, lease, or borrow. You need an Acetylene cylinder and an Oxygen cylinder, both filled. Your town must fill Acetylene, or Propane. Each cylinder has a valve and a regulator, with an adjusting screw. A hose with optional quick-connectors, protrudes to your hand torch which has two valves to make adjustments. Your torch has a tip of your choosing. And a welding rod of the same material you're welding. 

Using your tools: 
* Slightly turn on the red line, being the acetylene gas. Ignite gas with a spark tool. Increase acetylene until black smoke clears. Put goggles on, and notice the tiny inner blue cone, and outer fluffy super-light blue cone. Now slightly turn on the green line, being the oxygen, adding more until two cones become one. Too much oxygen would hiss and then shut off. 

Weld a Bead: 
* Direction you hold the torch is important, to heat both surfaces. Distance the tiny sharp cone about 1cm from the metal to heat, and await a shiny white spot to form on the metal. The shiny white spot is melted metal. Put a shiny white spot on both surfaces. Hold your welding rod like a pencil, the rod protruding 4 to 6 inches from your hand, for safety. Now gently touch your welding rod between the shiny white spots, which will spark and create a weld bead. 

Last, Cleanup: 
* Close tank lines and then open the torch. 

Optional Accessories: 
Cylinder sizes. Torch tips. Various welding rods. Welding apron. Caution tape.

Special Procedures
* Some situations require the flame cones to be different amounts. 

Misc Notes
* Welding aluminum with gas requires special goggles. 
* Kinds of gas you can use are Acetylene, Propane, and more. Propane burns much hotter and costs less.

Cautions, Safety, Danger
* Fooling around may destroy you and your friends eyes; or lethally rupture a full oxygen tank of 2200 psi (200 atmospheres or 21 MPa). Chain a cylendar to a handtruck or wall, in case of rupture. Breathing toxic metal fumes may cause coughing or passing out. Using low pressure with no flashback arrestor, can explode a tank. Hair and loose clothes may burn. Leaking tank caps may cause a spark in a room to explode. More than 1/7 the capacity of the cylinder should not be used per hour, or acetone may escape and contaminate the hose or torch. Eye goggles must be certified for your task. Do not weld with the cylinders on their side, or have been placed recently on their side, or your weld may be high in carbon due to acetone. "Creeping" regulators must be repaired immediately. Acetylene is unstable above 15 psi unless suspended in acetone. Acetylne valves are designed to be opened no more than a 1/4 turn, so you have time to disable the gas before the freeze plug at the top of the tank is fire melted. 

Pros of Oxygen/Fuel (such as Acetylene) over Tig:
-Better consistent penetration on sheet.
-Faster on sheet.
-Weld density is higher.
-Ability to work on oiled cruddy metal without porosity problems.
-Ability to work out crud in castings.
-Flatter weld for sheet work.
-No "halo" around the weld if it gets polished and anodized.
-No pinholes...ever.
-Ability to weld, heat, work, all at the same time without changing tools, 
( guys that do aluminum sheet work know what that's like ).
-Not affected by wind.
-I can braze and solder with the same tool on aluminum as well.

Oxygen/Fuel (such as Acetylene) is Great for Welding These:
-Fuel and oil tanks.
-Sheet body work.
-Intake Manifolds (sheet).
-Some tubing clusters ( yes aluminum ).
-Old oil coolers, radiators.
-Cruddy castings.
-Anyplace in the wind!
-Anything anodized after.

Cons of Oxygen Acetylene Welding
* Flux to clean up.
* Harder than TIG to build up material.
* May not be suitable for material over .125" thick. You may use a larger tip for thicker metal, but you'll have less control.
* Flux residue may get trapped in complex parts.

Troubleshoot Your Oxygen Acetylene Weld 
* Spatter: 


How Electricity Is Used in Welding

* Many welders need a good working electrical outlet. Some homes don't have the juice to power a beefy welder, so you get crummy welds and the power goes out. I'll try to explain what goes on in those electrical lines. Don't let PG&E company make you cry! 
* Hz:
* AC vs DC:
* Volts:
* Watts: 
* What a transformer does:

Continue Your Welding Education

* Personally I creatively search youtube for "welding basics" or "welding for dummies" before reading long articles.
* Your local university or adult school will often have welding courses. 
* If your internet is limited, good ol' Internet Searches have lots of plain text.
* Ask local welders what machines they use. Your town likely has an abundance of opinionated welders. Some may give quick lessons for a price.
* Look for "Welding Metal for Dummies" books at a bookstore, Amazon, or a library.
* Search for "welding" at DIY sites, look at Internet Resources below for examples.
* Search Home Depot or Lowes website, or other hardware store websites, for complete welding kits. These give you an idea of what you need.

Related: Soldering for Home Do-It-Yourself

* What is Soldering: Using heat of a soldering gun to liquefy a spool of metal alloy, often to join metal surfaces or wires. Solder is commonly used in electronics, plumbing, and assembly of sheet metal parts. Soldering by hand often creates slight smoke with a smell. 

* Knowing Your Solder: Intended Purpose such as metal pipes, electrical, sheet metal, etc. Lead or Lead-Free. Chemical such as Tin Solder. Pasty Range. Melting Temp or Melting Temp Range. Tensile Strength (such as 550 psi). ASTM number. Weight, Diameter (thickness), Length, and what flux "core" is included.

* Solder on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solder 
* Metal alloys that melt between 180 and 190 °C (360 and 370 °F) are the most commonly used in soldering.
* Tools: Manual soldering (by hand) uses a soldering iron or soldering gun. Either electric or flame torch. Optionally a damp sponge on a stand, and clamps to help hold wires.
* Plumbers often use bars of solder, much thicker than electrical wire. Jewelers often use solder in thin sheets cut into snippets.
* Glass Solder can join glass.
* Lead: Lead solder has a melting point, while lead-free often has a range of varying amounts of melting. Lead-free is slightly more brittle when deformed. 

* Flux: A chemical cleaning and purifying agent, keeping oxides and air from forming on the molten (melted to liquid) metal. Flux absorbs and sometimes dissolves unwanted impurities. Flux allows solder to flow easily on the working piece rather than forming beads as it would otherwise. Alloys of lead and tin were universally used in the past, and are optionally available today; making hand-soldering slightly more convenient. Lead-free is slightly less useful for hand-soldering due to being brittle, but healthier for you. Flux is required for welding. Acid Core Flux is used for metal mending and plumbing, while Rosin Core Flux is used for electronics. 
* Hard-Solder melt at higher temperatures, (a melting point above 450 °C which is 840 °F), and is often copper or zinc or silver. In silver-smithing or jewelry making, hard solder is used, containing a high proportion of the metal being soldered and lead is not used in these alloys. Silver Hard-Solder is also used in manufacturing to join metal parts that cannot be welded. 
* Flux on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flux_(metallurgy) 

Welding Terminology (Quick Index For All Home Welders)

* Flux: 
* Flux Core: 
* Core: 
* Slag: 
* Filler Rod: 
* Stick Out: Too much stickout causes messy spatter.
* Toe Line Fusion: 
* Ark Length: More ark is more heat. 
* Electrode: 
* Polarity: Electrode positive vs electrode negative. Settings for different metals. 
* Amp: The power of your welder. 
* Tensile Strength: Amount your can push or pull before your weld fails or breaks.
* Yield Strength: The point when the metal will deform elastically under stress and return to it's original shape when stress is removed.
* Torch: 

Internet Resources (Simple Articles)

* YouTube Search for "Welding Basics": http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=welding%20basics&sm=12
 * Links at the Open Directory Project: http://www.dmoz.org/Science/Technology/Welding/
* About.Com Search for Welding: http://search.about.com/?q=welding
* Learning the Basics: http://www.millerwelds.com/resources/articles/buying-your-first-welder--a-practical--informative-guide-for-do-it-yourselfers--/

Internet Resources (Advanced Articles)

* Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welding
* Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spot_welding
* Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welding_helmet
* Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_metal_arc_welding
* Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welder_certification
* Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welding_Procedure_Specification
* Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_welding_processes
* Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_welding_codes
* Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welding_defect
* Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welding_power_supply
* Wikipedia Gas Welding: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxy-fuel_welding_and_cutting

Sources Cited

Using sources: Notice the superscript numbers such as [5] throughout this article. See the below list to find out where I got the information. I may use [5] twice, to indicate the same source. The superscript number goes at the end of the information I'm citing.
* Select information was from my own experience, and searching YouTube for homemade videos. 
* Select information was collected from advice I had read in books and online introduction courses. I'll try to keep up on citing those sources. 
[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welding
[2] http://www.millerwelds.com/resources/articles/buying-your-first-welder--a-practical--informative-guide-for-do-it-yourselfers--/
[25] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDU3-y8tFEA


Misc Information to Sort
* None at the moment. ^_^