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Thread: Learning to weld

  1. #1

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    Learning to weld

    I've always wanted to learn how to weld. I found this course in our area, and have registered to take it with my son. It's a one day (6 hour) course, with the following description:

    "This one day workshop will introduce you to a variety of welding techniques from MIG, TIG, and spot welding to stick welding. The first half will be an overview and demonstration of different ways of welding, what metals to use with which type and what way would benefit each student the best. Then students will have the chance to practice each method and focus on one or two techniques."


    We did a forging class at the same place last summer, and it was a lot of fun. My question is, is it reasonable to expect that I could learn enough about MIG welding in that amount of time (basically a few hours of hands-on work under the supervision of an instructor) in one afternoon to be able to competently execute basic welding techniques, or would I just know enough to be dangerous? I'll do this course regardless, as it'll be a lot of fun to do it with my son, but should I be looking for another course that's longer or could I pick up a decent MIG welder and a bunch of scrap metal and practice enough to get to where I could make reliable (if not decent-looking) welds? I'd love to learn to TIG weld, but I think that MIG is probably the smarter/easier place to start and probably the technique I'd be using more often initially. After the current roadster build, I have a '67 Mustang that I plan to do a restomod on, so I'm mainly looking to be able to replace floorpans and other sheetmetal, modify frame members as required (add subframe connectors, possibly a front clip for a Coyote) that sort of stuff.
    MkIV Roadster build: Coyote, IRS, TKO600. Ordered 10/24/18. Delivered 1/29/19. Build thread here.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Norm B's Avatar
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    You will learn enough to get started. Practicing after will help. Try welding with the metal meeting at various angles and test the strength of your welds. You will be surprised at how a good looking weld will have no strength due to poor penetration. With some practice you should be able to do floor pans etc and be confident in the results. Frame mod stuff I would get a professional to do.

    I have a MIG and stick welder and have been welding when required since I was a teenager. I still take life threatening stuff to a pro to have done. It is like anything else in life, constant practice is required to be good.

    HTH

    Norm

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  4. #3
    Senior Member Gromit's Avatar
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    practice practice practice and more practice

    a few hour intro course is probably not going to have you trained enough to go right to welding thin sheet metal on cars but it should get you to a point where you can practice on scraps and get good enough to

    just my .02
    chris

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  6. #4
    mburger's Avatar
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    You will learn enough to make two pieces of steel stick together but more importantly the time spent with your son is more valuable. I bought a Hobart Handler 140 (as I recall) the one that could weld the thickest steel using 120v. At the time I didn’t want to spend the money putting in 240v. You will want to use shielding gas to keep the slag down as even MIG welding without it can be messy. Get various sizes of scrap metal and practice, practice, practice. With practice you’ll learn where to place clamps as the welding process will want to bend the metal. Start with the settings supplied by the welder manufacturer and practice at that starting point. I personally always had trouble welding thin material but that was because I didn’t practice enough. Anything structural where safety was involved I had a professional do it no matter how pretty I thought my weld bead looked. I sold everything 5 years ago when I relocated to FL but sometimes wish I still had the space and equipment back. Take the course and have fun!
    Mark
    Mk1, Frame #1929 stock 1990 EFI 302, T5, 8.8 axle 3:55, PS, Heidts, heat, fresh air vents, Russ Thompson Turn Signal mod, windshield wings FFR front lower control arms, Speedhut gauges, Alex's glovebox, cup holders. charging ports. 70K on the motor and 7,200k on the car.

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  8. #5

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    Thanks for the input everyone. Mark, I agree - this course is mostly about father/son time doing something that he's interested in but I've also wanted to learn to weld for some time so it's a great opportunity for me to dip my toe in the water. I don't have a 120V 20A outlet readily available in the garage, but I do have a 240V outlet for my air compressor in a closet right next to the garage so I'm thinking of possibly picking up a Hobart Handler 190 and running that off a 25' 8ga extension cord like this one, which would allow it to reach pretty much anywhere in the garage. Does that sound like a reasonable setup?
    MkIV Roadster build: Coyote, IRS, TKO600. Ordered 10/24/18. Delivered 1/29/19. Build thread here.

  9. #6
    Seasoned Citizen NAZ's Avatar
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    I learned to weld when I was 12 but I learned to be a welder after 2-years of welding school and made my living at it for years. Take the class, it's a good introduction but don't expect to learn enough to be a welder. Look for community colleges in your area that have a welding program -- that will be less expensive than going to a welding school.

    Starting with MIG is a great idea. It's much easier to learn and it's the process you'll likely use for repairing sheet metal on your next project. YouTube is full of welding videos that you will find interesting and helpful for a beginner. If you're serious about learning to weld you will save yourself $$ and frustration by buying an industrial welder. Purchasing one of those 120VAC cheapo toy welders is going to limit you and will likely be worthless once you decide to sell it and upgrade. A quality brand name industrial welder (Miller, Lincoln, Hobart) will last a lifetime and you can pass it down to your son. And if welding is not your thing, it will fetch a good portion of the price you paid for it if you decide to sell.

    Welding has two parts to it. The academic part where you learning the technical side of it and the skill side of it where you apply the book learning. It requires good instruction and a great deal of practice to become proficient. And it's a perishable skill so you have to keep using that skill or you'll lose it.

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  11. #7

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    OMG NAZ. That photo is exactly what I'm afraid I'll end up doing. A little bit of knowledge is dangerous...
    MkIV Roadster build: Coyote, IRS, TKO600. Ordered 10/24/18. Delivered 1/29/19. Build thread here.

  12. #8
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    One more thing - how is your eyesight? I have found one of the most challenging aspects of learning to weld is needing good vision. You have to be able to see the weld puddle clearly. I don't know how old you are, but one thing that helped me more than anything was to get one of those magnifying lenses for my welding hood - made a huge difference.

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  14. #9
    Senior Member Gromit's Avatar
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    as others have said, look for a good quality machine. duty cycle is important. nothing worse than welding for a few minutes and have to stop for X4 times that waiting for the welder to cool. I would suggest getting similar gauge scraps to what you plan on doing and weld, weld weld until your beads and penetration are good. also pay attention to clothing. in my welding class I would forget to button the top button on my shirt and I would come home with a sun burned patch on my neck / chest.

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  16. #10

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    I agree with everything said so far. The other part of welding is prepping and fitting the pieces to be joined, which is as important as the actual act of welding. I had to improve those skills as part of my FFR project, since most of my prior experience was sheet metal/auto body welding, rather than what I'd call structural welding.

    As for machines, I had a super-low-end 110v welder for a long time. I made a lot of stuff and saved a lot of money with it, but it was completely inadequate for doing quality structural welding. If you can afford it, I'd proceed directly to something like a Miller 211 (my current mig machine). This is one of the few areas where I urge people to buy a better tool than just what they need to get by. Having enough amps to melt into 3/8" steel and run a spool gun on 1/8" aluminum really opens up a lot of opportunities.

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  18. #11

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    I went the "University of U-Tube" and moderate quality HF MIG welder route. I have a 240V outlet for an electric dryer in the garage, so I made up a 15' long "extension cord" which was enough to get the welder anywhere I needed it. I've just been doing flux core welding, which is more messy but seems to yield welds that are seldom pretty but are strong enough to pass the BFH and "Fat Old Guy jumping on it" tests. It took several months of practice on scrap metal before I got enough confidence to weld something onto the chassis, and I will still leave any safety-critical structural welding to the professionals. But overall, I'm happy to have learned a new skill and it's allowed me to make other mods to the car so it's closer to the vision in my head. (And a cheap angle grinder will clean up the worst of your cosmetic mistakes.)

    BTW: If you want to do a visual check on weld penetration, I found that Naval Jelly is a strong enough acid to etch the ground surface of a section cut so you can see the different grain structures - maybe with a little magnification. It's reassuring to actually see how far your weld is penetrating into the metal being joined.

    Keith

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  20. #12
    Straversi's Avatar
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    I took a 6 hour course and loved it. The school allows me to go back and rent shop time at $10/ hour. I can go practice on scrap out of their waist bins or buy material or bring my own. Access to all of their equipment and help from pro welders when needed is fantastic. That being said, it will be a while before I weld anything that shows. It is an art that requites LOTS of practice. Have fun.
    -Steve
    MK IV #8901 - Complete kit, Coyote, TKO-600, IRS. Ordered 5/23/16, Delivered 7/14/16, First Start 8/13/17, First Go-Kart 10/22/17, Registered and Completed 10/18/18. Build Thread: http://thefactoryfiveforum.com/showt...V-Coyote-Build Graduation Thread: https://thefactoryfiveforum.com/show...-Roadster-8901

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  22. #13
    Member Jetfuel's Avatar
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    Totally agree with everything that has been said about the subject and I will add patience, you can't rush a weld job, also make yourself comfortable and set the pieces in a way that you can work at the right angles and your hands can travel with ease.
    All great weld jobs begin with cleanliness, making sure the parts to be joined are clean is key.
    Now to the part that sometimes is overlooked and it is the safety concerns when welding, don't burn your toes 'cause you were welding in sneakers...don't burn your legs because your jeans caught on fire when the sparks collected in the cuff of your jeans...wear safety glasses with side shields under that self darkening helmet...sparks will find a way to get to you after you hear the pop....be aware of your surroundings and make sure that anything that can go kaboom it's clear of the welding area be it under/over the car or on a working bench...aerosol cans come to mind.
    Don't get shocked, AC is more likely to stop the heart than DC and depending in the conditions harder to let go of the part that got the best of you and if the shock don't get you the fall will
    Try not to breathe the fumes...they are nasty and will mess you up in the long run....

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  24. #14

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    Thanks, everyone! Tons of great advice here. I really appreciate it.
    MkIV Roadster build: Coyote, IRS, TKO600. Ordered 10/24/18. Delivered 1/29/19. Build thread here.

  25. #15
    Mark Eaton's Avatar
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    John, Jump right in! Go to the 6 hour course. Plan on starting with a MIG welder, TIG is way too tricky for amateurs. I started with a cheapy 110V but I agree with Naz and the others, go right to a higher quality Hobart, Miller, Lincoln Brand. Its worth the extra money. Don't do Flux core, it's nasty. Practice a bunch and cut your practice welds with an angle grinder or plasma cutter to see how deep your weld penetration is. when you are good at it you will know and you won't need a pro for the important stuff. I found this guys youtube series helpful. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KrwmK7df-s&t=18s

    Good Luck and have fun!

    mark
    MK4 #9130 , complete kit, arrived 8/10/2017.
    DART SHP 347, EFI, TKO600, IRS
    http://thefactoryfiveforum.com/showt...n-Build-Thread

  26. #16
    Senior Member Gromit's Avatar
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    take the course if they are even half good they will cover the safety items. One that I still remember today is butane lighters in shirt pockets is a big no no, and yes having a clean non flammable work space once you get home is important. in my home garage experience welding of any type was done with a working fire extinguisher and someone else doing the spotting... ie watching for anything catching fire that shouldn't. Still it is very rewarding to be able to put down a good bead know that you got good penetration and see something that did not exist before you welded it together. not to scare you away... was working in my friends home garage. One of us had the cutting torch out. and the sparks where streaming towards the rag bin in the corner... we use the fire extinguisher that day and saved all but a hand full of rags.

    as many have said. have fun enjoy learning a new skill
    Chris

  27. #17

    Steve >> aka: GoDadGo
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    Quote Originally Posted by NAZ View Post
    This is exactly what it looks like (Volcanic Bird Poop) when I attempt to stick weld.

    I'm probably the only guy here who has never been able to weld well so I tack crap in place (Little Lincoln Flux Core Mig) and then bring the item to one of my pals. Man I hate that this is a skill that still eludes me even though I had taken welding classes at our local VO-TECH school many, many moons ago.

    NOTE: If you have a Pacemaker do not attempt to weld and do not get within 40-50 feet of someone who is welding.
    Last edited by GoDadGo; 06-12-2019 at 07:37 AM.

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