Welding Tips - Beyond the Basics

There are so many different kinds of welders, metals, and techniques around that it can be hard to know whether you have your settings adjusted properly and your technique is correct. It may seem that there are a thousand things that can go wrong when you start a welding project.

That's why we've searched for excellent tips, video tutorials, and guides online that will help you effectively weld with the equipment you purchase through Baker's Gas and Welding (click here to shop by category now). These advanced welding tips may help you out of jam or improve your techniques enough to get a pay raise at work.

Two Ways to MIG Weld Uphill

Thick structural metal requires uphill welding. There are two ways to weld uphill. The "V" movement and triangle movement for welding uphill are both popular ways to create a strong weld with solid penetration. In a test conducted by Welding Tips and Tricks, the triangle method created a small crown on the weld joint that had to be ground down but still created as strong a weld as the V-method. The triangle technique traces the front and back of the puddle, while the V technique only traces the front of the puddle.
Learn more about this MIG welding tip.

Stick Welding

Stick welding can often be done by moving the electrode flat across the joint, but a cursive e works well too. Welding Tips and Tricks writes, "A 7018 also works fine with just a smooth drag, but for me, some slight motion like small cursive e's hides my shakiness. The cursive e welding technique has always worked for me for MIG welding in most situations. I use it all the time." Most welders are familiar with the cursive "e" movement primarily for MIG welding, but if a slight motion helps you remain steady, the only downside will be a slight decrease in your speed.
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Stick Weld Hot Without Sticking

Stick weld at a high enough amperage so that the electrode won't stick and there's plenty of heat. For example, a 7018 stick electrode will work well at 105-120 amps. While stick welding, keep a file handy to clean the slag off the electrode tip. This will give better restarts. A file is also helpful to have around for cleaning slag off the metal.
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Vertical Stick Welding

When stick welding vertically, you don't want the weld puddle to get too large or for the weld to bunch up. Stay at the front of the puddle and hold the corners for at least a full second in order to get proper penetration into the weld joint. Don't stop in the center, as pausing on the edges will provide enough material in the weld puddle.
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Stick Welding with a Weave

A weave isn't always allowed on a welding test, but if it's permitted, a weave is a very simple way to lay a weld. Weaves are less likely to trap slag and make it easy to lay several passes on top of each other for thick joints. Weaves have a hotter puddle and form less crown.

Stringers look good, but you have to manage your gaps. When welding stringers you need to leave room for a last pass. A weave you can just move side to side, but with a stringer, you need to plan your next weld and make sure you leave yourself enough room to work with the electrode and to get sufficient penetration.
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Tacking for TIG Welding

If you want to make a quick and effective tack with a TIG torch, increase if not double the amperage. A quick blast will be all it takes to make an effective tack on a weld joint. A short blast from a TIG torch should create a weld puddle that's about the size of a quarter, which will be sufficient for a solid tack.

Proper Grounding for Welding

When you're MIG welding it's especially important to have a solid ground while welding, and if you're welding something round, it can be especially hard to get your clamps around the metal for a secure ground. One solution is to use braided copper wire that you can wrap around the metal, twist together, and then attach to your grounding clamps. This larger amount of copper will provide plenty of contact points along the metal and can be used any time you're welding, not just for round objects.
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TIG Welding Aluminum and Magnesium

The TIG technique for these two kinds of metals will be quite similar, as the torch will be moved straight along the joint for both of them, only pausing when the filler metal rod is dipped in. With magnesium the arc will be shorter and the rod can be stuck right into the weld pool near the electrode. When welding aluminum, there should be a little more distance between the filler rod and the electrode so that they don't stick together. The tungsten and aluminum filler rod will be attracted to one another and could stick if you aren't careful about your distances.
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MIG Welding Aluminum

When working with a MIG welder on aluminum, weld with a 10-15 degree push angle to your torch. That means your torch is tilted slightly toward you and you're welding away from yourself. This technique cleans the material with the shielding gas and prevents black burns along the metal.

In addition, keep the tip of the torch about 3/4 of an inch from the work surface or there may be burn back. A straight weld or short stitch technique is better since the metal is quite thin. A weave technique would get the metal too hot.  
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Overhead TIG Welding

A great way to maintain control while TIG welding, especially in an overhead position, is to add a ceramic cup to the edge of the torch. This allows you to wiggle the torch side to side with very minimal extra movement as you either push or pull the weld puddle. This method makes TIG welding very easy to control, but the cup will leave a scratch on the metal as you move it along, which makes it unsuitable for welding stainless steel that cannot have any imperfections on it.
Learn more about this TIG welding tip.

MIG Welding Technique

In order to create a solid, even weld, make a series of cursive e's as you weld. On a lap joint watch the side of the metal and let the weld puddle barely touch it. Don't add too much extra metal into the weld sides as you push the weld along. Make sure you loop the same distance each time so that your weld is even. In order to increase your weld speed, you can avoid overlapping your torch movements. Instead, touch the torch into the puddle. Just pause at the edge of it and then move the torch forward.
Learn more about this MIG welding tip.

Additional Resources:

Written Exclusively for Baker's Gas and Welding by Ed Cyzewski

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Welding Tips - Beyond the Basics

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