So, you’ve decided to start MIG welding? Congratulations! This is a career field that has been active for decades. It’s quick, strong, versatile, and easy for most people to learn. Because it’s an excellent process, there’s a myriad of beginners determined to learn. If you’re getting into MIG welding, having some guidelines is critical. Otherwise, you might pick up poor habits that will be difficult to cut off down the road. Also, welding is a time-consuming process. If you fail to get on the right path at the start, you may waste your time in addition to your resources. This guide offers tried and tested tips to kickstart your MIG welding career. Let’s dig in!
1. First: Pick the Ideal Welder
Most beginners make the mistake of going overboard on their welder’s power. If you have a small backyard, it doesn’t make sense to have a machine that produces a 1-inch thick steel plate. This is overboard for a home hobbyist or DIYer. Most beginners have a poor understanding what MIG Welding is all about and end up picking the wrong welder. Avoid a complex welder and instead, choose a 140 amp or 185 amp MIG welder.
2. Choose a Welding Method
There are different welding methods and disciplines. Typically, one welding process doesn’t work for every conceivable application. First, consider the factors of the project before you start welding. For instance, the most common type of welding in the US is electric arc welding. This method uses a welding wire to melt the base metals that need to be fused. If you’re unsure what discipline to start with, take a class at your local technical school.
3. Safety Equipment
Learning how to weld is more fun when you know you’re safe. Most beginners complain of getting arc burns. This is because they fail to follow the appropriate safety guidelines. The rays that MIG welders produce are harmful if exposed to the skin. Consider getting a welding helmet, leather boots, welding gloves, heat-resistant clothing, and cotton clothing to stay safe. You can also get a welding curtain if you’re welding from home and have kids.
4. Welding Wire
As a beginner, you want to have a good supply of welding accessories. One essential item you need to have is a welding wire. Start by using a thin welding wire or thin sheet metal for excellent results. Over time, you can increase the welding wire’s diameter as the thickness of the metal expands. Consider having a minimum of two different wire diameters always available. If you’re unsure which welding wire diameter is ideal, the welder will dictate what it takes.
5. A Two-Handed Grip is Always Ideal
With some guidance and practice, the machine setup and material preparation are something you can handle yourself. But now, let’s do some welding. Obviously, during welding, one hand needs to control the gun. Sometimes, it’s impossible to use the off-hand, depending on how you’ve laid out your work. However, if it’s possible, try and use both hands for more precise welding.
6. Keep Optimal Distance
Maintain an ideal distance between the gun and what you’re working on. Professional welders recommend a 3/8-inch distance between the gun and the base metal. Also, you need to ensure the wire isn’t over-extended. This is referred to as stick out. Maintaining the right stick out ensures the metal is getting the heat needed for a good weld. Additionally, ensure the gun doesn’t drift too away from the base metal.
7. MIG Welder Tuning
Learning how to weld steel is an easy process. For the best results, you need to get your welder tuned correctly. Before you can begin laying your first MIG weld, tune your welder. Here’s why. When you fail to tune your welder, you’ll end up with unsatisfactory work. Every MIG welder comes with a setting to feed wire out at a set rate. Avoid feeding too fast because the wire won’t melt away at a steady rate.
8. Have the Correct Work Angle
A correct gun angle is essential for creating a good weld. When you’re welding using a rod, pull the rod away from the weld puddle as the head is being laid down. This also applies to MIG welding. During MIG welding, consider using the push method to create your weld. Always ensure you hold your gun at a 15-degree angle. This ensures you’re getting good gas coverage.
Mastering the art of MIG welding doesn’t have to be a challenging task. As a beginner, learn from your mistakes. When you avoid all the frustration of making mistakes on your own, you’ll enjoy the process of MIG welding. At the start, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. You also want to avoid learning many things all at once. Start slowly. Over time, try and handle more advanced and complex projects. Good luck!