Joining together metals, occasionally thermoplastics, using both heat and pressure, or either individually, to fuse pieces together using a filler material is essential in many aspects of construction and manufacture. The filler material is usually similar in composition to the pieces being joined. This is welding and it is a skill that requires training, patience and a commitment to safety procedures. Anyone will be able to weld but the results will obviously vary between those skilled at the process and those new to it, or just not too skilled with their hands.
There are a number of tools required in order to master the technique and when it comes to safety, start at the top; the best welding helmet will protect your head. When it comes to protection, you need suitable clothing, gloves and footwear even before you think about tools. Safety remains a top priority even with those who have been welders for many years. It is impossible to cut corners and be confident that nothing will go wrong.
Patience is essential. You will get better with practice but in the early stages, you should not try anything too complicated. But first things first. You need fire resistant clothing and gloves as well as safety glasses to go with your welding helmet, which should be a good fit but offering sufficient ventilation as well.
When it comes to safety, a safe location is also important, somewhere with plenty of space and where there is no chance of sparks hitting flammable material of any kind. There are times when the location is less than ideal. It seems amazing that welders regular work under water but as a beginner, that is not something that you will ever encounter. However, you may need to weld outside in windy conditions and the wind will certainly affect your performance if you are not careful. You must always have a clear view of the exact spot where you are welding so you may need to have your head to one side when the wind is blowing smoke and sparks in a particular direction.
Quality welding is only possible if you have the right tools and equipment. It goes without saying that you must have the pieces to be welded firmly in the correct position. Depending upon the job, that requires good clamps. You may require several to be certain that nothing will move while you are welding. Likewise, magnets help to keep everything firmly in place.
A good wire brush is important. You must ensure that everything is as clean as possible before you start any welding job. It is not just for appearance; your chances of getting a good weld increase with clean surfaces. When you work with any metal, you may well need something that can easily mark the metal as a guide. Soapstone can do that job because it is resistant to heat and the marks you make will be there throughout the job.
Relatively inexperienced welders will find that spools of wire that are released in a constant feed by a gun make creating a good weld that much easier, especially when you are looking to weld thin sheets of metal. However, beginners are most likely to begin with stick welding which is not really suitable for sheet welding. Stick welding is largely for quick repair jobs and can be used on metal that is rusty or dirty in general. More advanced welding where appearance is essential, perhaps on a car, is really for another day.
You need to understand voltage before you can become comfortable with welding. Lower voltage, 110v, is generally sufficient for thin materials but 220v is likely to be required for thicker work. The welder settings are not straightforward unless you are using a machine that recognises the input voltage and adjusts itself accordingly.
Welding has an important role in life. As a keen DIY man, it can help you to repair some everyday household items rather than having to buy new. In the industrial environment, welding is the process whereby fabrication departments can produce a whole range of important things to use within the business or sell to the consumer. Basic principles are important even for experienced welders and a good welding helmet, fire resistant clothing and suitable footwear must be worn every time. The tools and equipment that welders need should be in your possession at the outset. It’s just a matter of patience after that.
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