Author Topic: Welding  (Read 4931 times)

jaye_p

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Welding
« on: November 09, 2015, 12:29:51 PM »
I want to make a really cool soapbox cart for my son, and recently read the "Unlock your inner Mr. T" post.  I am intrigued, but nervous.  My question is, is it as easy to learn how to weld (without taking a class or having someone instruct you) as MMM makes it sound?  He has tons of engineering and construction experience, whereas my diy experience is limited to cooking, canning, sewing, knitting, and minor car repair (brakes, etc.).

FWIW, here is something similar to what I'd like to build:

http://ratrodbikes.com/forum/index.php?threads/the-death-proof-outlaw-soapbox-derby-racer.4688/

argonaut_astronaut

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Re: Welding
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2015, 12:42:35 PM »
Wire feed MIG welding is the simplest, and most of the issues newbies see is with bad prep work. Starting with two pieces of clean/rust free steel of the same thickness clamped down well in a wind free environment is as straight forward as it sounds.

Stick welding a painted sign to a rusty drill pipe fence post in 30 mph winds off of a pair of car batteries is do-able, but far less pretty.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Welding
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2015, 12:57:29 PM »
I only stick weld, but the MIG I see others do looks much easier, better for thin metal as well.  +1 for surface prep.  Get yourself a cheap angle grinder to clean everything up before attempting to weld.  Also, focus on getting a good fit, but some welds actually work better with a very small (but even) gap between pieces.   Don't start on the soapbox, but rather on similar scrap.  Then post pictures on one of the welding forums and let them tell you what you are doing wrong, but don't beat yourself up too hard, there are a lot of professionals out there that spent years getting it perfect.  Your sewing and knitting dexterity will serve you well.   

lthenderson

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Re: Welding
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2015, 04:11:55 PM »
I'm self taught for both MIG and stick. Personally I think stick is a lot easier just because you only have one setting to adjust, power. With MIG, you have many more settings to adjust and they can be finicky. Stick welding is better suited for thicker metals and MIG for thin metals. I think both are well within grasp of anyone who is willing to watch some videos online about welding and wants to give it a shot. There are lots of good videos out there for adjusting all the various controls on a MIG to get good results so don't let the number of settings scare you. Once you dial it in, you will only regularly adjust a couple of them.

Spork

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Re: Welding
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2015, 07:21:23 PM »

I've only barely done any welding (as I've yet to actually buy a welder).  But I did find that my local Jr college had a "Welding for Farm and Ranch" class.  It was relatively inexpensive and gave a broad (but not deep) training in stick, MiG, TiG, cutting with a torch, cutting with a plasma cutter, etc.  It was also just a lot of fun.  You might check and see if anything similar is around you.

Tom Bri

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Re: Welding
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2015, 07:30:14 PM »
Welding is fun and really not that hard, once you get past the whole 'OMG sparks flying everywhere' stage. Like the guy said, practice a bunch on scrap metal. Weld some pieces and then bang on them hard with a hammer to see if the weld breaks. If it doesn't, you are moving in the right direction.

MoonShadow

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Re: Welding
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2015, 07:36:48 PM »
I occasionally weld for work.  Teaching yourself, with help from books and/or youtube, is completely doable.

kendallf

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Re: Welding
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2015, 07:41:22 PM »
I second the suggestion to find a local junior college class; it's fun!  I learned stick, MIG and TIG at our local junior college.  Having somebody to help you with machine settings and troubleshooting your first (inevitable) bad welds is much less frustrating than going it alone.   You're using somebody else's gas and metal and often you'll have stuff like a power shear to cut practice pieces.  It's hard to cut or find enough scrap on your own easily.

This also helped me figure out what I wanted and needed in a welder, and I bought a couple of used machines for myself.  Now I have an enormous Miller water cooled TIG, a MIG, and a Henrob gas torch.  Being able to weld stuff is like a super power.   :-)

Gone Fishing

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Re: Welding
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2015, 09:37:50 AM »
I watched a few Youtube videos last night on the Harbor Freight 90 amp flux core welder that can be had for a $100 or maybe even less with the right combinations of sales and coupons.  Most reviews were pretty good, but it is very basic and, as such, is scoffed at by the pros.   The included helmet and slag removal tool appeared to be junk and would likely need to be upgraded, but it did include a picture reference guide on the appearance various welds and how to correct any issues that would be very helpful for a first time welder.  For a $100 it would appear plenty satisfactory for a one off project and light home use thereafter. 

And yes, as Kendallf mentioned, welding is a super power.  There is nothing like watching steel  turned into a molten puddle almost instantly.  Say goodbye to trying to drill holes and bolt steel together, just stick a little (or a lot) of bead on there and you have the best connection possible.  Don't like it?  Cut it apart with an angle grinder and do it again.  All that is lost is a few cents worth of wire or rod.     

Fishindude

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Re: Welding
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2015, 10:08:35 AM »
It can be self taught via books, internet research and good old fashioned trial and error welding.
Plan on wasting some material and doing a lot of grinding / rework at the onset.

bzzzt

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Re: Welding
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2015, 05:33:39 PM »
Here's something I haven't seen mentioned yet, but make sure you have a safe place to weld. You don't want to burn the garage down trying to weld in a cramped space with flammable materials. If I weld in my garage, I make sure to clear the area, sweep (especially under shelves/benches where leaves/dust/etc. accumulates), and then do a 1hr fire watch. I prefer to have someone else there watching if I'm doing a tedious project (car exhaust, frame/roll cage work, etc), so that I don't miss something lighting up.

If you're going to weld outside with a MIG, know that you need to have a wind shielded area to do it in so it isn't blowing your shielding gas away leaving a porous weld (weak and ugly). For as cheap as classes are at community colleges, I'd definitely get in one to learn the basics/safety. Sometimes, they have supply houses that sponsor the college and will give you a deal on safety/packages.

If you go with a flux core wire feed (aka MIG w/o gas), plan on having a chipping hammer/wire brush at the minimum to clean slag. If you plan on doing a lot, a cheap 4.5" angle grinder with a wire wheel, grinding wheels, and cut off wheels will speed up most projects. Clean material and tight fit ups make for better welds. After a while, you get tired of throwing sparks and will probably end up with a sawzall/bandsaw to make a lot of cuts in project stock.

Background: took 18 months of community college night school to learn to weld then became an electrician. Trained for 3G/4G SMAW (stick "nuke" cert) but never took the test. Rarely weld at work, but am complemented when I do have to weld. Own a MIG for race car/general automotive repair.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2015, 05:39:58 PM by bzzzt »

Reddleman

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Re: Welding
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2015, 06:05:05 PM »
I took a community college course as well.  At least I started one, until I found out that the equipment was not maintained and most of my time was spent standing around.  So I left the class after about 3 weeks.

That said, it is not really that difficult.  The only thing that is crucial is to take the safety guidelines seriously.  Not only do you not want to burn down the garage, but also there are serious health risks here.  Welding helmet settings and eye protection are no joke!  You can permanently injury your (or someone else's) eyes with welding flash!  Hot metal, flying debris, and fumes are also part of the process at times.

All of these can be managed pretty easily, you just have to be sure that you have taken the proper precautions and you're fine.  The actual welding itself is mostly trial and error, with help form youtube and online forums, you can handle it.  The racer is a great beginning project- well within the abilities of someone with little experience but lots of time to practice.

Spork

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Re: Welding
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2015, 06:45:26 PM »
That said, it is not really that difficult.  The only thing that is crucial is to take the safety guidelines seriously.  Not only do you not want to burn down the garage, but also there are serious health risks here.  Welding helmet settings and eye protection are no joke!  You can permanently injury your (or someone else's) eyes with welding flash!  Hot metal, flying debris, and fumes are also part of the process at times.

yeah, while on that topic.  Eyes are easy.  Everyone knows that.... but the radiation/sunburn is something like 10x (?I forget the number) that of the sun.  You need to wear long sleeves, a hat, long pants as well.  I've seen guys that just close their eyes and turn their head... and they looked like a lobster.

Kroaler

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Re: Welding
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2015, 06:21:12 AM »
Just a side note.  Basically anyone can Mig weld if someone sets up the machine and preps the site.    However machine setup is very easy, there are online charts for wire speed and voltage VS whats being welded.     Follow that chart instead of guesstimating and you will have much much much better results. 

Arktinkerer

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Re: Welding
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2015, 07:55:45 AM »
Just a slightly different opinion--

I found I enjoy, and usually do a better job, with a gas welding setup.  Not only that, it is much more versatile--I can cut, silver solder, braze, weld, and heat-treat metal with the same setup.  Also can be used to heat bolts or other rusted metal components to red hot to facilitate removal.  Maybe my background of years of soldering electronics made dealing with this type of welding easier.

I have since gotten wire and stick welders and they do have their place.  But I can do a very clean weld with gas that requires no cleanup after welding.  I'm no where near that good with wire and stick welders.  I'm not sure its possible to do really clean welds unless you go to gas/wire or TIG but maybe a pro could.



Thegoblinchief

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Re: Welding
« Reply #15 on: November 11, 2015, 01:55:14 PM »
In addition to community college, you can often get very cheap training and access to welders via a local makerspace if one exists in your area.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Welding
« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2015, 08:53:23 AM »

yeah, while on that topic.  Eyes are easy.  Everyone knows that.... but the radiation/sunburn is something like 10x (?I forget the number) that of the sun.  You need to wear long sleeves, a hat, long pants as well.  I've seen guys that just close their eyes and turn their head... and they looked like a lobster.

So true.  I learned the hard way on that one. 99% of my welding is small repairs that are probably less than an inch or two of bead, so I never had any trouble. Then one day I spent around 2 hours building up a worn out plowshare wearing shorts.  The "sun" burn was actually a little less painful than a true sun burn, but it also seemed deeper into the skin.  Took quite a bit longer to heal than a sunburn, but if I recall correctly it never peeled like a real sunburn either. Cover up.   

Gone Fishing

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Re: Welding
« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2015, 07:11:14 PM »
What Jamie Hyneman has to say about welding:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EA1jeViV4l8