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In order to become a great welder, you don’t need a college degree. What you do need, however, is experience, knowledge, and passion for the industry. This industry offers immense growth and opportunity if you’re willing to put in the effort. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for even incredibly experienced welders to make simple mistakes.
You shouldn’t feel about it, but you should be mindful of these common welding mishaps. To help you work at a consistently high-quality level, we’ll thoroughly break down some of the most helpful tips to sharpen your welding skills.
There are multiple methods of welding commonly used, such as MIG, TIG, and stick welding. Each one of these welding methods has its benefits, but your ability to enjoy those benefits depends on what you’re going for. If you’re welding to create something attractive like a sculpture, TIG welding is the way to go. This is because TIG welding is popular for its ability to shape beautiful, clean welds. Plus, TIG welding is compatible with a wider variety of metals than most welding methods.
MIG welding’s efficient and easy-to-learn nature makes it a commonly chosen method if you're welding in the automotive industry. On the other hand, if you’re working on aircraft, then the precision and strength of plasma arc welding is frequently preferred. As you can see, there are many methods to suit many purposes.
If you find yourself not getting the high-quality results you want, take a minute to examine the welding method you’re using and consider whether it’s the right choice for the project(s) you’re working on. Some methods will call for slightly different safety protocols, so be sure to research the right handling procedures when switching between each option. Furthermore, there is one more factor to consider when choosing a welding method—the machine you’re using to carry it out.
Like certain welding methods are compatible with certain jobs, not all welding machines are compatible with all methods. Thankfully, you can find machines that can be successfully used for welding in multiple ways. For instance, at Welding For Less, we have multi-process welding machines, some of which can handle three different types of welding.
A simple mistake that can cause immense damage to the weld is forgetting to clean the base metal beforehand. The metal you’re welding can have a variety of contaminants covering its surface. Some common contaminants include paint, grease, rust, and oil.
Not removing these materials from the metal’s surface beforehand will make welding it more difficult. Plus, the final result isn’t going to be very clean or nice to look at. If you notice that the welds you’re producing don’t look as attractive as they should be, think about whether or not you’re properly cleaning the base metal before each job.
There are different ways to go about cleaning base metals, such as wire brushes. A good wire brush is always a popular choice for cleaning the surface of base metals. Obtain multiple brushes because one won’t be good enough for all your metals. A steel brush previously used for cleaning aluminum should not be the same brush you use for another task. That being said, those wire brushes are super nifty for cleaning out those hard-to-reach areas of the base metal.
Angle grinders can also be effective at cleaning base metals with the right attachment. On its own, the angle grinder should be great for smoothing out any cuts, scrapes, and rough edges in the metal. Furthermore, if you outfit the angle grinder with a flap disk, you can decimate unwanted surface materials.
Angle grinders, as well as sandpaper, are common means of cleaning base metals, but you should use the right amount of care with either method. Recklessly using either cleaning method can cause surface damage to the metal.
Don’t buy your welding cables with the mindset of finding the cheapest ones on the market. There are several reasons not to do that, one of which is how detrimental that wire size is to other steps of the process.
For example, if you’re using a wire that isn’t large enough to handle the amp levels you need for the task at hand, it’s going to slice the lifespan of that wire down exponentially. You should also be mindful of matching up the size of your welding cables to the size of your contact tip and drive rolls. In doing so, you can ensure your welding process is as efficient as it should be.
If you notice your welding cables wearing down at an excessive rate or hindering the speed of your process, then analyze the size of your wires to determine whether they’re truly the right fit. This might sound like common sense to some, but in reality, it’s not rare for welders to mismatch wire sizes. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t something you should be intensely focused on avoiding.
Even those with a very basic knowledge of welding should know about grounding. That being said, just like the aforementioned wire size slip-ups, improper grounding isn’t uncommon—it is avoidable, though. Always be precise with how you set up your grounding clamp and ensure tht it’s in a sturdy, suitable spot in your work area.
When welders are remiss or negligent with their ground clamp, the inferior results are very apparent. This is because low-quality grounding arrangements will lead to a spotty performance by the welding machine. If you ever notice that your welding machine doesn’t work at a consistent power level, make sure your grounding is stable and secure.
These helpful tips to sharpen your welding skills will help you avoid making some very common mistakes. Remember—just because a mistake is common doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work towards preventing it or improving your procedures to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
By making an effort to prevent these issues from happening, whether it’s an inconsistent welding machine or a mismatched wire size, you can more easily impress your clients or boss with the quality of your work. Suffice it to say, impressing anyone you’re working on a task for is an incredibly gratifying moment.