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Contributed Article

Talk of the Town:
Tips for the First-Time Welder

This interesting discussion is from the Tool Talk Discussion Forum. Remember that safety is your first priority - make sure you know what you are doing before attempting a potentially dangerous activity!

The discussion started out with the following post:

" Just inherited a Lincon arc welder. Bringing it home tommorow. Have never tried to weld before. Any tips for a first-timer? Will buy a hood, and new rods on the way home. "

What followed are some interesting replies:

" Assuming it's a A.C buzz box your limited to a few rods. I'd start with all 1/8-diam. 6011-75-120 amps, rough bead good on rusty or dirty metal,good fo vert. down,flat,v-up use a slight whip motion [back and forth] motion to flatten bead.

6013 or 7014 - 90 to150 amps Both are similar for flat welding,vert-down with practice.Easy straight drag motion.Steel has to be clean,have to stay ahead of slag to avoid wormholes in bead, produces nice bead low splatter.

7018-[AC version only !!!!] 90-140 amps Nice bead Flat,v-up,overhead.Very strong and ductile weld the best of the bunch.Tends to be hard to restart the rod but this is normal.Drag this rod with slight weave to wash bead up against the weld joint. Uphill will come much later.

Keep all rods dry warm place, this should get you started. "

" Check your local school system for an Adult Education welding course. Wonderful resource, usually very inexpensive, good way to pick up on the basics. I'd never welded before either, took a course one night a week for 6 weeks, got the basics of gas welding, arc welding and MIG welding. Deal of a lifetime for me, at about $25 for the course. "

" I might add that the one thing that improved my welding the most was one of the auto-darkening helmets. They are fairly high-dollar but worth it in my opinion, as you never have a blind moment such as when pulling the hood down. You line the stinger up with the work, strike an arc and weld without even blinking your eyes. The lens darkens when the arc is struck, but before the arc light reaches your eyes! "

" I too have never welded w/ a stick, but I do have a Lincoln SP170 MIG welder. It's great for the smaller jobs, but have been thinking about getting a stick welder too. Are these Lincoln AC-225 (225A@20%duty cycle) "Buzz boxes" any good? I saw 1 at Home Depot for $209.00 What do you guys think, should I get this one or hold out for something else. I need to repair 3pt stuff that has 3/8" - 1/2" thickness.... "

" Enroll in a welding class at your local technical college. It doesn't cost much and you get a lot of hands on training. "

" The most important thing is to take the time to clean your materials before you start to weld. "

" Here's a tip for you. Always think safety first. There will come a time when you've got a small weld to do, perhaps when you are in a hurry, and you'll grab your equipment to get the job done quickly. NEVER weld without gloves on!! It's surprising how easily we forget what not to touch once we've welded. You cannot explain to anyone how hot that metal becomes... it takes a "first hand" experience! (Also, a welding cap is a necessity. Those of us who are follicly challenged do not like to sport burn marks on our dome) "

" (Also, a welding cap is a necessity. Those of us who are follicly challenged do not like to sport burn marks on our dome) . This also applies to those who are not follicly-challenged, unless they like the smell of burning hair! "

" Do yourself a favor and buy the companion tool for the welder...an angle grinder. Cleans up the metal prior to welding and cleans up the mess after.(I'm fairly new at it, too) Have Fun !!!! "

" Think about an autodarkening helmet. Greatest thing since sliced bread! "

" Get ear plugs so sparks won't go in your ears and you won't go deaf from that %$#!% 4 1/2 inch grinder you're going to buy. Use 1/8" 6011 rod to start. Its messy but easiest to start an arc and penetrates well. With it you can weld vertical from top down with practice. Next get 7014 the beginners perfect weld rod. For flat welds it sure looks good. 7018 rod needs DC and that cracker box don't do that. "

This information was gathered at the Tool Talk Discussion Board.

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