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Welding Basics 101

Updated on February 2, 2014

So You Want To Get Into Welding?

Welding is a fantastic hobby for those of use that like to build stuff at home or in our shop, and it's an even better career choice in my opinion. There is no shortage of jobs in the different welding disciplines around the world, and the pay is usually very good, especially the more specialized it is.

In this article, or 'lens' as it's called here on Squidoo, I will give you an overview of welding and hopefully give you a good Birdseye view so you can get dirty building cool stuff in your garage, or start a new career.

After you finish this article you should look into getting the right welding tools and then start on your first project even if you haven't take a class (get a few books and/or videos).

oxy acetylene welding
oxy acetylene welding

Oxy Acetylene Welding:

If a lump of calcium carbide is dropped into water, bubbles of gas will rise. If this gas is ignited with a match, it will burn. The gas is a settling and when mixed with oxygen and in the proper proportion, it produces the intensely hot blue oxy-acetylene flame used in welding.

The equipment needed for oxy acetylene welding consists of a cylinder of oxygen, an oxygen regulator, a cylinder of acetylene, an acetylene regulator, lengths of oxygen and acetylene hose, and a welding torch. Mounted on a hand truck, such an outfit is readily portable and can be taken to the work no matter where it may be located. For large scale welding operations, the equipment is much more elaborate. Oxygen and acetylene may be piped through the shop from a central point.

In all welding, suitable clothing must be worn to protect the welder. Oxy-Acetylene goggles must be worn with lenses of special color optical glass which protects the eyes from the bright flame and the intense glare of the molten metal. The welding torch mixes the oxygen and acetylene together in correct proportions. Separate valves regulate the volume of oxygen and acetylene. In lighting the torch, the acetylene valve is first opened slightly and a friction lighter, which strikes a spark is used. The oxygen valve is then opened and the mixture of oxygen and acetylene adjusted.

Because the temperature of the flame can be varied to suit the type of work, the oxy acetylene welding process is a very valuable one. The pieces of metal to be welded together must be prepared properly so that they are free of any foreign matter. They are held in position with due allowance for shrinkage. When they flame is passed over the edges, the metal is quickly heated to a plastic stage. The welding operator uses a welding rod of metal similar to that being welded. They metal from the rod is melted into the joint, thus fusing the metal into one solid piece. The easiest welding position is where the work can be laid out flat. However, when overhead or vertical welds are made, the temperature of the metal must be controlled very carefully or if it is too high, the weld may sag or drop out.

The first-class welding operator must be able to weld in any position. They must be able to weld all materials. Many various metals can be welded, and welding is not only a trade in itself but a part of nearly all occupations in which metal is used including sheet metal work, boiler making, and steam fitting.

The welder often uses oxy acetylene flame for cutting iron and steel, employing a cutting torch. This is similar to the regular torch but it has an extra valve operated by the thumb or finger, which controls the stream of pure oxygen. The metal is bought at a red heat at the point where the cut is to start. The cutting oxygen valve is then opened. The stream of pure oxygen combined chemically with the hot metal and burns it away along whatever pattern the torch follows. This process may be used to cut very thick metal. It may also be used to cut metal underwater.

Oxy Acetylene Guides:

Torch Cutting (Oxy-Acetylene) (DVD)
Torch Cutting (Oxy-Acetylene) (DVD)

This is the best instructional dvd or using an acetylene torch. You should have this in your library. You'll love it.

 
Oxy-Acetylene Welding DVD
Oxy-Acetylene Welding DVD

The is the best instructional dvd on oxy acetylene welding (different than the torch cutting one above even though it sounds similar).

 

Oxy Acetylene Video:

This is Steve Bliele giving an excellent demonstrating of how to light an acetylene torch. He is the author of some of the DVD's recommended below. And he is an awesome guy :-)

arc welding
arc welding

Electric Resistance Welding and Arc Welding

Spot welding is one example of the type of electric welding known as resistance welding. One of its important uses is that of joining sheet metal together. The spot welder is a machine with two copper electrodes. The sheet metal to be welded is placed between the points of the electrodes and the current is turned on. The resistance of the sheet metal to the electric current, which passes between the electrodes causes it to heat quickly to the fusion point and pressure on the electrodes squeezes the metal together. Other types of resistance welding are similar in nature.

In arc welding, the material to be welded is grounded to the generator either directly or through a metal table on which the work is placed. The electric current is transmitted to the rod holder through a heavy cable. Touching the rod to the work completes the circuit and causes a spark or arc. The intense heat of the arc melts both the metal and the welding rod, causing them to fuse together. In shielded arc welding, the welding rod is coated with a special substance, which forms a gas. The gas shields the molten metal from the oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere, thus preventing impurities from forming. A weld of high quality is a result. When it is unnecessary to add metal to the joint, only the metal being welded is melted and a carbon rod or electrode which does not melt is used.

The mask, worn by electric welding operators, protects the face as well as the eyes. The electric arc gives off ultraviolet rays so there must be no bare skin exposed and clothing must be worn, which will protect the operator from burns. Proper ventilation is proper for all indoor welding.

Arc Welding Guides:

Wall Mountain Arc Welding 1 DVD
Wall Mountain Arc Welding 1 DVD

A very good DVD on Arc Welding. It's used in thousands of institutions and training programs.

 
Arc Welding I and II
Arc Welding I and II

Get Arc Welding 1 and 2. It's the perfect combination and they are really cheap for what you get.

 

Arc Welding Video Demonstration:

This is another excellent sneak peak at Steve Bliele except now he is explaining Arc Welding and how to get a good bead. Get his guides you'll really enjoy them for years to come.

gmaw mig welding
gmaw mig welding

MIG Welding:

Invented and further refined in the 1950's and 1960's, MIG welding is the easiest welding procedure because it does not require a lot of skill and you use only one hand. Conversely, you will use two hands arc welding and oxy acetylene welding. The reason you use two hands is because one hand holds the gun and the other hand holds either the chipping hammer or rod.

MIG welding is a form of wife feed welding where the wire is automatically being fed by the machine into your gun, and it is 'consumed' as you weld your metal together. In addition, MIG welding is cleaner welding process because a shielding gas is used to keep impurities from entering the arc whcih can cause contamination of the weld and creates spatter.

An alternative to MIG welding is Flux Core arc welding. This is basically MIG welding without the shielding gas. As a result it's a handier welding process because you can weld just about anywhere, but the weld is messier and requires clean up because there is no shielding gas which makes it a smoother process.

Most MIG welding machines are sold as wire feed welding machines that are 'MIG' ready. So in other words you'll buy the machine and be able to weld right away but if you don't have the gas you will be flux core are welding.

MIG welding is the most popular form of welding because it is cleaner, easier, and you can weld many types of metals. You'll find the MIG welding machine in homes, farms, and auto body shops.

Mig Welding Guides:

MIG Welding Made Easy (Covell DVDs)
MIG Welding Made Easy (Covell DVDs)

One of the best mig welding dvd guides you can buy, and the instructor is a metalworking legend.

 
GMAW & Flux Core & Oxy-Acetylene & Torch Cutting (4 DVD Welding Set!)
GMAW & Flux Core & Oxy-Acetylene & Torch Cutting (4 DVD Welding Set!)

This is the best value in terms of getting welding advice on dvd...you get 4 different welding dvd's and the instructor is very good, and his dvd's are used in over four thousands government and private institutions for training. Get it!

 

MIG Welding Video With Ron Covell:

Ron Covell is a living legend in the metalworking arena, and this video is a good example of what you can except to learn from him.

tig welding chopper frame
tig welding chopper frame

Tig Welding:

Another popular form of welding is TIG welding (Tungsten Inert Gas), which is an advanced form of welding. It's considered the 'next step' up in welding from arc or MIG welding.

TIG welding requires two hands, and will also require you to practice. It's not easy. It requires to hands because one hand holds the gun, the other hand holds the non-consumable rod.

So why would you ever want to TIG weld since it is hard and requires two hands when you can MIG weld and make good welds and use just one hand...and it's easy! Good question. The answer is that TIG welding, when done properly produces beautiful welds and you can weld thinner gauge metals better (some disagree). So when you want a more aesthetic look or you want to weld aluminum consider TIG (but like I said, many MIG welders say that you can weld just well as TIG using a MIG welder).

Image is of Ron Covell TIG welding a chopper frame.

Tig Welding Guides:

TIG Welding Basics (DVD)
TIG Welding Basics (DVD)

The is the most popular dvd on tig welding on the market, and Ron Covell, the instructor and publisher, is an exceptional teacher.

 
TIG Welding Set: TIG Welding Basics & Advanced TIG Welding (2 DVD set)
TIG Welding Set: TIG Welding Basics & Advanced TIG Welding (2 DVD set)

Get both Tig Welding Basics and Advanced Tig Welding because you'll rapidly improve simply by watching and implementing.

 
Advanced TIG Welding (DVD)
Advanced TIG Welding (DVD)

If you are pretty good at TIG then you should get this advanced course.

 

Tig Welding Video Tips:

Here once again is Ron Covell providing tips on Tig welding from his DVD Tig Welding Basics. Get it for sure if this is what you want to learn TIG.

ship yard welding
ship yard welding

Production Welding and Job Welding

In production work, the welding operator may only work on one kind of material held in a form and with just kind of welding equipment. The operator may become highly proficient in specialized work and still not qualify as a skilled welder in other types of work.

Job welding calls for a greater variety of skills. One time, the welder may use the oxy acetylene flame. Another time, the electric arc. One job may be welding cast iron, and the next mild steel, and still different kind of steel or alloy. The job welder must therefore understand how to work with many materials in order to adjust his equipment correctly and select the right welding rod for each one.

If you plan to be a welder, to be successful, you must have good eyesight, fine muscular coordination because much of the work is strenuous, you should be strong. In addition, a good knowledge of welding principles is necessary along with practical blueprint reading and some mathematics. Electrical physics and some chemistry will be helpful. Many schools offer elementary shop courses in welding both during the day and at night. There are many private welding schools. If you decide to attend one of them, investigate thoroughly and select a good one. ShipyardImage Source.

underwater welder
underwater welder

Welding Offers Many Job Opportunities:

Many machine parts which used to be one piece are now welded from steel plates. This process provides greater strength with less weight and at lower cost. In the automotive industry, welding is employed in many ways. It is made possible strong, steel automobile bodies as well as the coaches and engine cabs of streamlines trains, lightweight and attractive in appearance. The stout, tubular framework of airplanes are welded, as are countless other parts from fuel tanks to landing gears. Such welding is carefully inspected, and if you choose welding as your life work, it will be well worth your while to work hard to qualify yourself as an inspector.

There are many welding jobs in shipyards. Large sections can be welded together in shops then hauled and hoisted and welded into completion. Because no rivet holds are necessary, welding is stronger than riveting. Weight which can be saved by using lighter plates and eliminating rivets increases the ship’s carrying capacity. Members are welded in constructed large buildings, skyscrapers, bridges, and other engineering projects in place of riveting them. If you like outdoor work, this offers an interesting job in the welding field, as do other types of job welding. Pipeline welding should also interest you. Welding crews travel, welding lengths of pipes together. This work too is carefully inspected, and you will have to pass special welding tests before you can do pipeline welding or weld any other high-pressure equipment such as steam pipes or boilers.

New applications of welding are continually being employed in many industries, and as a result, the welding field will probably continue to grow. For the welding operator that develops real skill, there are good opportunities.

Recommended Guides:

Artisan Welding Projects: 25 Decorative Projects for Hobby Welders
Artisan Welding Projects: 25 Decorative Projects for Hobby Welders

The top selling book on welding decorative projects (and useful ones).

 
How To Weld (Motorbooks Workshop)
How To Weld (Motorbooks Workshop)

The top book on learning how to weld.

 
Creating Welded Sculpture (Dover Art Instruction)
Creating Welded Sculpture (Dover Art Instruction)

A slightly more advanced book on welding art and highly recommended.

 

Do You Want To Weld As a Hobby or a Career?

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      Logosweld 2 years ago

      Thank you ever so for your article post. Really Cool.