Tips for Learning and Improving Welding Skills

    Producing consistent quality welds requires the use of professional grade tools and equipment. Proper fitting (gloves, safety glasses, welding shield), and necessary protective clothing, are also mandatory to insure the safe and quality performance of welders. Quality welding relies on concentration, performing consistent repetitive procedures and techniques, which can be dramatically impaired when a welder is uncomfortable regarding equipment and clothing, or the working conditions surrounding them. However, many employers overlook the necessity of quality tools, equipment, and working conditions, as a way of reducing cost and increasing their profit margins.

    The following recommendations will assist your learning, and help you perfect the necessary skills needed to succeed as a professional certified welder.

Basic Welding Machine Setting

    Amperes, voltage, and polarity settings are usually determined by electrode type and size. The electrode manufacturer, or the welding procedure, will provide you a recommended current range, depending on the type and thickness of  material, etc. The current setting may be adjusted by the welder as needed. I recommend using as much current as you can handle. This will allow easier arc starting, and help with preventing potential defects in the completed weld. Generally, a less experienced welder should choose a lower current setting, as the higher the current, the faster things are happening, and a higher setting could become overwhelming for the less experienced welder.

Joint Preparation

    Despite welder skill level, or the type of weld, joint preparation can be your best friend or become your worst. Always follow the procedure recommendations, including proper bevel angles, size of the bevel land, and correct gap size, making sure that they remain consistent in the entire joint. A properly prepared joint reduces the welder’s need to continuously adjust their technique to compensate for a poor fit, and will result in consistent higher quality and better looking welds.

Speed of Travel

    Consistent, and uniform speed of travel produces consistent and uniform welds. Traveling too slow can overheat the weld area, causing excess spatter, undercut, and possible burn through. Traveling too fast can cause incomplete penetration, cold lap, and lack of fusion, due to insufficient heat input. However, as a welder gains experience, the welder can use speed of travel to their advantage. Slowing down when a gap is too tight, increases heat input to the weld area, assuring proper penetration, and fusion, thus increasing speed of travel, when a gap is too wide lowers the heat input. This scenario demonstrates why a properly prepared joint is so important, especially for the less experienced welder.

Arc Length and Angle of Electrode

    Arc length, and the angle of the electrode, is equally important in producing quality welds. Excessive arc length can produce excessive weld spatter and arc blow, while insufficient arc length can cause the electrode to sputter or stick. As with the speed of travel, arc length can be used by the experienced welder to control the heat input in the weld area. A shorter arc length will reduce heat input, and a longer arc length will raise the heat input in the weld area. The angle of the electrode has similar effects on the weld area. Too much angle will increase heat input within the weld area that may cause spatter and arc blow. Too little angle lowers the heat input, and can cause the electrode to sputter or stick. Again, the experienced welder can use the angle of the electrode to their advantage, to some extent.

    In concluding this article, keep in mind that all the above is happening in real time, and at the speed of light, so be patient, as the only way to master the techniques are practice, practice, practice, and more practice. I wish you good luck, and don’t give up, you “can” do this with practice!

Written by Brian Chalmers