River Cottage Australia

The Basics of Welding

For someone looking give welding a try, this is one of the oldest, most versatile processes around, and one of the cheapest to start out with as there isn’t a lot of equipment needed.

What is it?
Welding is a process that fuses materials, usually metals or thermoplastics, through melting and sometimes pressure.  When cooled, the joint can be as strong as the base material.

Before the twentieth century, metals were forged together by heating the metal and hammering the two pieces together. There are various methods of welding methods around today, even involving robots, but for our purposes today we are focusing on stick welding, which uses an electrode that has a flux around it.

Just like there are different methods, there are also different energy sources. This is a demonstration of an electric arc: a current is used to strike an arc between the base material and consumable electrode rod, which in this case is steel. It is covered with a flux that protects the weld area from oxidation and contamination by producing carbon dioxide during the weld.

Using a positively or negatively charged current results in different heat concentration. A negatively charged electrode results in a shallower weld to a positively charged one.

Why Learn?
Stick welding can be performed inexpensively, and is well suited to a variety of different jobs. With a moderate amount of training and plenty practice it can be a satisfying skill to have under your belt.

Leather welding gloves
Wire brush (too much rust or paint will mean the weld doesn’t stick)
Welding rods
Positive and negative leads
Practice material for welding onto

1. Use a wire brush to remove any rust or dirt from the area to be welded. A grinder can also be used.
2. Attach negative lead to work piece. Current goes in one end and lights up filament and goes back through the earth and back into the machine
3. Choose the right current setting (DC Pos, DC neg, or AC)
4. Adjust your amperage setting, 5-10 amps at a time until the ideal setting is reached
5. Make sure you’re standing comfortably enough to support and manipulate the electrode, and that your body is positioned so that you have good sighting of the weld puddle.
6. Make sure you can see clearly enough that you’re welding in the joint and keeping the arc on the leading edge of the puddle.
7. The correct arc length varies with each electrode and each application. Generally, arc length should not exceed the diameter of the metal portion (core) of the electrode
8. Stick welding in the flat, horizontal and overhead position uses a “drag” or “backhand” welding technique. Hold the electrode perpendicular to the joint, and then tilt the top in the direction of travel approximately 5 to 15 degrees. For welding vertical up, use a “push” or “forehand” technique and tilt the top of the electrode 0 to 15 degrees away from the direction of travel.
9. Once completed allow to cool before moving object

How to prepare the join:
Prep both materials with the brush.
When you’re doing a join you need to get the electrode on a 45 degree angle so you’re not bias to either bits of metal.
You need to get it right in the middle to create a good strong weld

Good Techniques
First up practice makes perfect, so look at performing some straight runs. This gives you a feel of the electrode and how its burning and getting your arc the right distance away.
It’s a matter of controlling your arm at a steady pace as it melts down to follow the electrode down. You want to hear a sizzle like bacon and eggs frying! If it’s too far away you will end up with bubbles going everywhere; but too close and you will short out and won’t get an arc at all. Do a few practice runs, removing slag each time to see your work.

Overall tips to remember:
1. Welding is a hazardous undertaking and precautions are required to avoid vision damage, inhalation of poisonous fumes, burns, and exposure to intense ultraviolet radiation.
2. Select the right ampage
3. Go slow enough to get a good weld
4. Hold the electrode the right distance away -  too closely to the joint decreases welding voltage, which creates an erratic arc that may extinguish itself or cause the electrode to freeze faster

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Posted by Alexa39Report
Very Interesting, Thanks for sharing!
Posted by Alexa39Report
Thanks for the information!!
Posted by Alexa39Report
Thanks for sharing this!