Do you find using fire to fuse two pieces of metal together intimidating? If you answered ‘yes’ to that question then you’re not alone. The trade of welding which has its origins with the ancient Greeks can be daunting. Yet like any other skill with a little knowledge and understanding in combination with the right tools, you too can master the basics. At Workman’s Friend we don’t know a lot about welding, but our research for this article has shown us that there are several basic premises you must adhere to. So before you ignite your blow torch and slide your helmet down, read on.
The right protective gear is essential before you weld anything. That includes a fire resistant jacket, welding gloves, safety glasses and most importantly a certified welding helmet. It is important to have an auto darkening helmet that prevents the sparks from the torch from damaging your eyes. Of equal importance is working in a well ventilated area or have a fume extraction system in place. Welding fumes are created when certain metals are heated and can cause several different cancers including lung and larynx. Proper ventilation is critical to ensure you’re breathing fresh air as you work. Additionally, never weld near or against flammable materials, make sure where you are doing your work is open enough to let the sparks fly-literally.
Know your welding processes
The most straight-forward type of welding is called wire welding. Wire which is known as a consumable or type of material being used is fed through a gun. The constant feed of wire limits the amount of times the tradesperson has to stop and start. This is ideal for newer welders trying to create aesthetically-pleasing joints. It’s also faster and more economical for welding thin sheet metal.
A second type of welding is stick or SMAW welding. This kind of consumable is the best choice when you need to make quick repairs. It is often what new welders learn when starting out. Stick welding is easy to set up because all you need is a stick electrode. There is no need for a wire feeder.
Which voltage is right for your project? The choice is fairly straight forward, either 110v or 230v. Both voltages are usually available in homes or garages. The lower voltages are more effective for thinner materials, whereas the higher voltages will allow you to cut through thicker substances. The majority of beginner welders benefit from a machine that offers both voltages so they can become familiar with both strengths.
What usually determines the popularity of any device whether it is a cell phone or car, is how easy it is to use. The same can be said for a welding machine. The more straight-forward the interface the easier it will be to use. It’s recommended that beginner welders look for a machine that allows the user to select their own settings including the thickness and material type to be welded and the type of consumable (wire or electrode). An effective user interface will automatically know what input voltage you’re plugged into and will adjust its setting accordingly. These types of intelligent machines are the equivalent of smart phones in the welding world.
One More Fuse
Despite knowing the four tenets of welding, you may still find this age-old trade rather intimidating. The idea of piecing together two pieces of metal using fire can be a bit overwhelming. The most important thing to remember is to read and ask questions. Before undertaking any project, make sure you understand the manufacturer’s instructions for the equipment you’re about to use. Additionally, carefully follow the safety practices outlined for the type of welding you’re doing. Make sure you are confident with what you’re doing before any sparks fly.
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