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Monday, September 27, 2010

MIG Welding: How Hard Can It Be?

There is a new tool in the shop. A MIG welder. Even though this boat is fiberglass, there are a number of things I can think of where this welder will come in handy (brackets, braces, mounts, etc). In addition to a few projects around the house. I don't know why, but I have always had this notion that welding is a "black magic" sort of skill. Maybe its because I had always heard that it takes a lot of experience to be "really good" at it. But that can be said for just about any skill, right? So, if it just requires some time, how hard can it be?

This unit is a 220V Lincoln Electric 180 HD. New, I got on eBay for a reasonable price. Supposedly it can weld aluminum and stainless with some extra added accessories (a spool gun for one). Research on the internet says that, for welding stainless, TIG welding is preferred if you want the finish welds to look good, otherwise MIG works ok. But I report that having no experience of my own, yet. Depending on how this goes, maybe we will look into TIG welding later.

To help get our feet wet (!figuratively speaking of course!), we are taking an "intro to welding" course at the local community college over the next few weeks. Should be fun. I expect we will have a bunch of "unplanned" metal art coming from our garage over the next few months LOL.

3 comments:

Allan S said...

I am no welder, but I have had training and the best training you can do is the basic course just like your doing, then practice, practice practice on scrap. Then practice some more. I seem to forget how to weld between jobs and have to practice before I commit. Due to the fact I weld so infrequently I lose what lttle skills I have. Nice machine...Allan

Jay Bietz said...

The unit you purchased should work just fine. Your welding class is the best way to get started. A good hood with corrected lenses will help with seeing the "puddle" as you weld. Now days there is a mask that will darken when you start welding - beginners have a hard time with the shaking of the hood then starting to weld w/o moving the position of their stinger in relation to the material. Steady hands help also.

SS will be the trick as it likes to warp when hot as well as leave carbon on the surface near the weld that will rust. I'd discuss with your welding teacher as to SS welding and maybe take your welder with you to class so you learn on your equipment.

Jay

RichC said...

I use a Lincoln TIG machine as a non-welder and it's not much easier without a lot of practice. Getting the numbers, feed and filler correct is easy ... coordinating the hands is the challenge for MIG and even more challenging for TIG (using the torch in one hand, rod in the other and foot or finger to regular the amperage) You class will help you know what to look for and how to correct, but practice will improve the quality of your welds and confidence when it comes to more difficult metals.