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Do-It-Yourself Projects
Welding Practice
By Mike Bumbeck/autoMedia.com
Printable version
Degree of DifficultyDifficult
Difficult
Estimated Time240 minutes
240 minutes
Clean Cut Practice
Making things out of steel requires having a way to cut and shape the material. Practicing with scrap steel is a good start. A few swipes with a cordless sawzall can produce practice bits to weld back together. Cleaning and preparing the steel is important. Use a wire wheel or wire brush to clean up the surfaces to be welded. The surface must be free of all oil, old paint, and so on. Bare and shiny metal is ideal. The steel must also be steel. A magnet is a good and quick material test.
 
In Flux
The low initial price of the flux-core wire-feed welder won out over the more expensive MIG setup in this case. For welding broken steel back together at minimum cost the flux-core is up to the job. For cleaner welds on thinner material such as auto body panels the MIG welder can be a better choice. Some wire-feed welders can run both flux-core or MIG with the addition of a gas setup. Welding aluminum or other materials is another story and beyond the scope of flux-core welders.
Step 1 - Set up the welder unplugged and power off. Keep tension on the wire end while putting the spool into the machine. Letting it go will result in rapid unspooling and a tangled mess of wire. Don't ask how we found this out. After the wire is threaded follow instructions for getting the wire out to the torch.
Set Up the Welder Unplugged and Power Off
Step 2 - Measure the thickness of the steel. Consult the chart that came with the welder for which voltage and wire speed is recommended for which thickness of steel. In this case the steel was 16-gauge, which called for minimum voltage and wire speed of 1. Too much voltage and wire speed and the weld will burn through. Too little and the weld will just sit on top of the material.
Measure the Thickness of the Steel
Step 3 - Practice! Ground on material? Check. Gloves on? Check. Mask down? Check. Hold the tip of the torch a few millimeters away from the surface at a 15° or so angle and pull the trigger. The trick is to strike the arc and then keep the torch above the surface until the wire melts into a puddle. Try making one puddle at a time. Next try a longer weld by joining the puddles
Practice; Try Making One Puddle at a Time
Step 4 - Here are a few practice runs. A little slag is normal with flux-core wire feed welding. Use the combo wire brush hammer to clean up the weld. Keep practicing until you can reproduce the same weld more than once. The weld should be raised above the surface yet fuse through the material without burning through it. The steel will be very hot. Gloves!
Keep Practicing Until You Can Reproduce the Same Weld More than Once
Step 5 - Fix something. This broken steel bracket is a perfect example of what flux-core wire feed welders are made for. Start with a tack weld to hold the two broken parts together. Finish it up and test your work by attempting to bend the piece. A good weld will give and bend. A bad one will snap at the weld.
Fix Something
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