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John Weiland wrote:Nice home-brew leveler, Travis!  I sometimes think that welding should be the second most important skill to learn next to growing your own food.  Really envious of those kids that grew up on farms and learned it through osmosis of watching another family member do so many do-it-yourself jobs before trying their own hand.

I'll just mention that I tried to start a thread about online ways to learn welding (or learn more about welding, if you do know the basics). It's here:
https://permies.com/t/48018/Good-Youtubes-learning-metal-fabrication

I could add a lot to that thread, and maybe others here on Permies could too.  But nobody picked-up on the info... at least nobody "liked" my two posts or made any replies.  So I forgot about the idea of adding more.
 
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Joel, I get that a lot as well, but some of it just comes from people not really knowing what else to say or add.

Welding is a good skill and I came about it from a strange direction. It started in school and I was the kid teachers hated because I was a farmer and hated school. Back then farmers were despised, put on a shelf as "never will amount to anything" and forgotten. Still I took extra classes instead of study halls so my Senior year I could take (2) vocational technical classes instead of one. My Junior year I took Diesel Technology as I wanted to be a diesel mechanic, then the second year I took welding and Diesel Technology II. But the thing was, I liked welding so much, instead of doing diesel tech work, I welded equipment during both classes. Then right out of high school I got into the railroad as a welder. I did that for 10 years, then got divorced so I got out of that and into the Merchant Marine as a machinist. I worked on Tugboats primarily, then got sick of always being on call, so went into shipbuilding. I did some pleasure craft first (yachts) then went to building US Navy Destroyers. I worked my way up there, and in six years was known as a good enough welder to build the missile silos which pays the highest rate for welders. Then I retired at age 42, a bit crippled from the work, granted, but still young. Now I work on my farm and cobble together graders like this instead of buying them, so I have no regrets.
 
Joel Bercardin
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I was around welding in my neighborhood as a kid - but since it was stick ("arc") I couldn't really watch it and pick up anything much.  My dad had been raised on a poultry ranch, and my mother was the daughter of parents who'd been raised on cattle ranches.  But my dad didn't like all the "dirty" physical work and went into sales... so he hardly taught me any manual skills.  Sadly, I believe he may have felt some of the stigma you've mentioned, Travis.

Having re-situated myself onto a nine-acre place (part woods, part cleared), I learned water systems, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, concrete and such from common sense - and from neighbors, friends, trial & error, and books.  Later from video too.  I got some torches, hoses, & regulators from an estate sale, and taught myself oxy-fuel welding.  Then got a MIG machine and learned that from vids and more trial & error.  I feel welding is a skill a man should learn.
 
Travis Johnson
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I never thought of learning that way, but I can see why it would work. Ultimately we are all self-taught through practice.

The only reason I rose to prominence as a skilled welder at the shipyard was because I liked my welds to look a certain way. If it did not look that way, then I redid them. On the missile silos where a weld was made of 155 passes and x-rayed, that self-discipline was required. If you messed up on the 24th weld pass, you would just have to cut the other 131 passes out and redo them.

My suggestion to people is to go through their Adult Education Courses at the local high school and technical school. Where I live, one is just starting up, and there has always been a welding class both Spring and Fall.

The stigma of being a farmer was brutal in the late 1980's and 1990's when it was an occupation looked down upon. Then there was a change and it seemed everybody with 2 goats and an apple tree considered themselves a farmer. It was a tough pill to swallow for me who grew up milking cows until midnight, and getting up at 6 AM for school. We were expected to get good grades too. One quarter I let my grades slip and my Grandfather reminded me of the virtue of good grades. I was in the hay mound; one way in and one way out, and he stood in the doorway with the "rod of reckoning", which was an axe handle without an axe head. 3 broken ribs later; I always got good grades. So when you endured that kind of crud, you get kind of jaded against those that had easier paths. Now though I am just glad that farmer stigma is gone, because no matter how big a farm is, they ultimately have to deal with weather, failed  crops, pests, and loss of livestock. No matter how big or small, every size farmer feels the sting of those pills. In that respect we are all one just trying to feed a hungry nation.
 
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I grew up farmgirl and my dad was afraid I might get hurt or something so messing with his woodworking tools, the welder, etc, was offlimits. I went to college and started in mechanical engineering. Before women did this sort of thing (honestly, I might be the only female in a lecture class of 100....). They turned me loose on all sorts of things including metalworking of all times and welding. Found out I had a natural flair for welding (I can weld aluminum) and should have been a machinist. Dad kicked himself for years that he could have had skilled help for at least five years...

I will always have a soft spot for welding, and over the years it's been a massively handy skill to have. I even worked for my late father-in-law one summer on his farm (before my spouse started grad school) and built him a rail system for his Quonset auger. And welded the stray bit on combine or trailer as he needed. It was nice to be wanted. And NOT have to do the dishes, as I had to go to 'work' every day. Hehehe.
 
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Deb Rebel wrote:  I will always have a soft spot for welding, and over the years it's been a massively handy skill to have. .


Deb, thanks for posting this....I was thinking of adding some YouTube videos showing women welders cuz I think this clearly is not just a skill for the guys.  The last 25 years of my living situation has me interfacing more with a sector of the farm community that saw women doing a lot more as welders, mechanics, skid-steer operators, combine/tractor drivers, etc.....much different from the "skill divisions" that I grew up with.

Joel, thanks for starting the thread....just a quick note that a lot of times people aren't accustomed to using the 'like' functions and posting follow-ups until they feel they have something to contribute.  That said, I've wanted to get involved in some light welding and may get my chance in early retirement.  Have so many relatives that do this....one cousin unfortunately wrecked his back rather badly by working for an outfit where he needed weld while arching his back to get to the weld-joints above his head.  A few years doing this and it was too much so he just does it out of his shop for what money he can make.  But I can't recall if he was recommending wire-feed versus stick welding for anything under 1/4" steel ?.... I'm a totally newbie to that world, clearly.  Would prefer to have something that runs on 120V just because of the outlet availability, but will have to research it more as time goes on.
 
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This topic is timely for me.

I am setting up a workshop at my 15-acre homestead and have recently added a used 225A Lincoln stick welding machine to my resources (US$50 at an auction). I set up a nice welding station and equipped it with a few basics (helmet, gloves, clamps, assortment of rods, soapstone marking sticks, etc. Here's the thing. I've never picked up a welding lead in my entire life. Didn't know the first thing about it except for a few casual conversations of those who grew up doing it. I watched a few videos and read a few things. But, that's no preparation for getting started having never struck an arc before ... ever! I was going to wait until one of my experienced friends could come over and give me the Welding-101-in-a-day kind of thing.  I was content to wait until he was available. But, the homestead had other plans for me.

I was mowing this past Saturday and went over a bump and then just kept trucking along on my little ZTR mower. I wear ear protection, so I can't really hear too much. When I made a long pass and came back upon the row I had just mowed, it looked odd. Then I looked down at my mower deck and could see why. The left side of the deck was no longer hanging on the brackets but was on the ground.  I hopped off and could see that the mounting bracket that was attached to the deck was literally torn from the deck. Hmmm, what to do. I had to finish mowing by sunset.  I drove the mower into the shop and tried to call my friend.  I at least had to know which rod to use. No answer.

I sucked it up and got out my brushes to fit my cordless drill and ground off the paint everywhere the weld would be. I donned the helmet and gloves, inserted a rod, flipped the switch on and attempted to strike my first arc, not on a practice piece, but on a repair job. What I didn't know was what setting I should have the welder on in order to match the rod and steel to melt together.  Well, after several attempts to get a bead started, I got it going well enough that I had accumulated enough rod material to the pieces to make a bond. It cooled and held. It is the ugliest piece of welding you'll ever witness. I don't have an angle grinder yet, but that's my next purchase. I also learned I needed to turn up my welder so that it would melt more of the object steel and not just the rod.

I was afraid to start, but I had to in order to finish the mowing job. Now, at least, when I get some hands-on instructions from my friend, I'll be just one step ahead. But, I am pleased I took the dive and fumbled through the task and was able to get my mower back out on the job.  I look forward to getting better and increasing my welding knowledge eventually to the point I can fabricate things.  I have an idea for a crop roller-crimper that I want to build and now I can once I gain some more experience.
 
Deb Rebel
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Travis, I so know that wanting my welds just so. I had a chance at a summer job so the welding instructor taught me how to really weld. Part of the class run, he would set something up for me to weld in a booth and other than handing me the correct rod on the way in, I had to weld it wherever he put it however he chalked it up. He gave me an overhead with flllet already ground and a rod the thickness of my thumb. I started the burn and it was flowing sweet, then a chunk dropped down my neckline and lodged in my slingshot and burned. I gritted everything and finished that last inch because I did NOT want to chip off and restart that SOB. I finished, snapped off and ran for the dunk tank (a 55 gallon barrel cut in half flat and about half full of some sorta murky water) and pulled neckline open and was going gasploursh gasplorsh gasplorsh bailing water down there with the other as I bent over the tank. That got the instructor there as that's not a good sound. He asked if I needed to go to the health center, and I stuck a hand from the top and waggled a finger out through the burn hole... then peered down there and decided nope. He let me in the first aid kit and I bandaided it. A few years ago a piece of clinker surfaced and I dug it out. It rode with me for over 30 years... I'm still glad I didn't have to chip off that piece and try to restart it. The weld looked great... and it passed the sledgehammer of fury stress test. He also arranged for me to take the certification tests and I held and kept current those for many years. My stuff xrayed fine...
 
Deb Rebel
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Dan Grubbs wrote:

I sucked it up and got out my brushes to fit my cordless drill and ground off the paint everywhere the weld would be. I donned the helmet and gloves, inserted a rod, flipped the switch on and attempted to strike my first arc, not on a practice piece, but on a repair job. What I didn't know was what setting I should have the welder on in order to match the rod and steel to melt together.  Well, after several attempts to get a bead started, I got it going well enough that I had accumulated enough rod material to the pieces to make a bond. It cooled and held. It is the ugliest piece of welding you'll ever witness. I don't have an angle grinder yet, but that's my next purchase. I also learned I needed to turn up my welder so that it would melt more of the object steel and not just the rod.



Ah, yes, "gorilla welds" aka ugly as sin but they hold and do the job. Gave birth to a few of those myself.

WARNING to you and others of you doing farm welding. Cats seem to be mesmeried by the arc light and it will blind them. Try to keep them out of there when you're welding. The dogs too.
 
Travis Johnson
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This is how it goes with welding; men brag and the woman make the best welders. Period. Drop the Mic...step off the stage.

I mean it. I have heard it said that their dexterity comes from knitting and sewing, but the best welders I know are women. The instructor at the local vocational center training new people is a woman.

The problem with being a welder, especially as a job, is having nothing at home to work with. My cut off saw is a 5 inch angle grinder and my welder is an AC only Sears buzz box. Honestly that is all that I have. No plasma cutter, no set of cutting torches, no tig torch...it can be frustrating, but such is life. You guys (and Deb) know my motto; use what you got. Stick, tig, wire feed...they all have their place. I can do them all, but I did mostly wire feed because I was a production welder.

You do have to be worried about arc flash though, and burns because they get infected quick. Two years ago I had a slag ball fall into my sleeve and burn my elbow. I let it go too as I get burned all the time welding. Yet 3 trips to the emergency room and it was not getting better. I just found out last week from a program on PBS TV about antibiotics no longer working, that the medicine I got; 2 weeks of Cylindomyicin by IV twice a day was the last stop on the antibiotic train. If I did not work my arm, would have been amputated. Scary stuff. Even then I now have MRSA.

 
Joel Bercardin
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I've got nothing to brag about when I weld.  I just attempt to make strong joints, and I grind-out and re-weld if I fail at it the first try.  I respect you people (male or female) who have gone through a technical course and learned that way, which is the best possible way. 
Travis Johnson wrote:My suggestion to people is to go through their Adult Education Courses at the local high school and technical school. Where I live, one is just starting up, and there has always been a welding class both Spring and Fall.

Yes, I'd no doubt have done something like that.  BUT... the nearest trade school is an hour's drive, each way, from my home and I have had the place and family to look after, and paid work (job, or contract work done from home).  Time has been a problem, and I was not especially interested in earning a welder's ticket but more simply learning to make or repair the things I wanted to.
 
Travis Johnson
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A few pointers:

(1) If you are using a stick, try using 1/8 rod 6011...a nice all around rod that burns through rust and paint better than 7018. If 6011 won't hold the pieces together, 7018 will not either because its technique and not the welding rod. After you get good with 6011...then try 7018. Obviously any weld is better when it is clean and ground, but lets face it, repair welding is not exactly the same as keeping 300 sailors afloat.

(2) When using a wire feeder it is NOT like stick, you do not drag the weld, but push the puddle. Stay at a 15 degree angle and push the weld along. A puddle of steel is like a puddle of water...if there is too much "spatter" then cut back on the wife speed (amps) as it is just like dumping too much water into a bigger bucket of water...splashing happens.

(3) After welding with a wire feeder, look at the nozzle. If wire is sticking out by an inch, cut back on your wire speed. If only a quarter inch is sticking out, turn it up. Perfect "stick out" is about 5/8 to 3/4 of an inch long.

(4) Watch the wire come off the wire feeder closely. It should be coming off in super fast droplets called globular transfer. You my friend are really joining steel together. If it is just a haze and the machine is humming, it is called spray transfer and not welding much at all. Turn up your wire speed, that is penetration, and penetration is amps and what joins steel together.

(5) Remember when stick welding it is called arc welding. If you try and drag your rod on the steel, it will probably stick. NO GOOD. I tap my rod to get it to light, then try to hold a decent arc. Just like a spark plug, there is a distance between electrode (rod) and ground (work piece) to make heat. Constant contact means dead short.

(6) Ever wonder why new rod is so easy to light and then a half burned one is not? It is that blasted slag on the end of it. I take my gloved hand and just break that flux off and it lights like a brand new rod. Don't want to do that? Always keep a block o wood handy. After you are done welding stick the rod into the wood red hot. It will light like a new rod after doing that. No piece of wood to stick into. After welding, flick the rod really hard and the red glowing glob will fly off and be easy to light as well. I had a coworker that did this and the jerk burned me more times...but it does work.

(7) With welding all you have is electricity. never be afraid to fuss with the amperage and voltage to get it just right for you, and what you are doing. Every job, welder and person is different.

( Never weld vertical down; it doesn't hold anything together.

(9) People are challenged by vertical up welding when really it can be the easiest and fastest because it really fills in fast. This is the key...opposite from what you think. If the weld is droppy and lumpy, don't go faster, it will make it worse...go slower...in fact hold each side. When I first started welding...yep I counted. Welding is a dance. Hold the rod to the left for a second, go fast across the middle, then hold the right for a second, then go across the middle but moving up in a z shape ever so slowly. Again, hold the edge, fast across the middle and the weld actually flattens out. Heat is absolutely critical on vertical up welds so it must be right.

(10) A good looking weld is simply mimicking again and again the same hand movements to get the same result. The more consistent you are, the more consistent the weld will be. But this works for bad welds too. If it sucks...stop and do something different, it won't automatically just get better.

(11) Horizontal welds are the hardest to look good. They actually have a tendency to roll. Flat is the easiest...but so is overheat. Yes overhead! It has the exact same settings as flat, and the weld behaves the same, it is just that overhead welding can be uncomfortable. Like flat welding, give the rod or nozzle a little back and forth (not much) and the weld will flatten out nicely.

(12) Wire feed is a little different. You can make some nice swirly marks in a number of ways. Remember when I said do the same thing consistently and you get a consistent bead? Well with a wire feeder you have options. ALWAYS PUSH, but you can do little C-shapes, do small circles, or go back and forth. I like circles the best, BUT after years of doing it my wrists can't take hours of that so I go back and forth.

(13) When all this is mastered, we can talk about Permie Welding 201; welding while looking in a mirror. (everything is backwards).




 
John Weiland
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Travis Johnson wrote:This is how it goes with welding; men brag and the woman make the best welders. Period. Drop the Mic...step off the stage.


Yep, I could certainly imagine that women make the best welders.... but>>

Deb Rebel wrote: ...waggled a finger out through the burn hole... then peered down there and decided nope. He let me in the first aid kit and I bandaided it.


...they could use some work with the tattoo skills!....  

And Deb, Re: "WARNING to you and others of you doing farm welding. Cats seem to be mesmeried by the arc light and it will blind them. Try to keep them out of there when you're welding. The dogs too."

Wow!....I would have been totally clueless about this until I saw all of them start to walk into walls....thanks for that notice!

 
Travis Johnson
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Joel Bercardin wrote:I've got nothing to brag about when I weld.  I just attempt to make strong joints, and I grid-out and re-weld if I fail at it the first try.  I respect you people (me or female) who have gone through a technical course and learned that way, which is the best possible way. 
Travis Johnson wrote:My suggestion to people is to go through their Adult Education Courses at the local high school and technical school. Where I live, one is just starting up, and there has always been a welding class both Spring and Fall.

Yes, I'd no doubt have done something like that.  BUT... the nearest trade school is an hour's drive, each way, from my home and I have had the place and family to look after, and paid work (job, or contract work done from home).  Time has been a problem, and I was not especially interested in earning a welder's ticket but more simply learning to make or repair the things I wanted to.


I was not specifically referencing you, though I am sorry if it appeared so. They say for ever person that posts on a forum, 99 other reads, but do not respond. I know that so often times when I make suggestions, it is not so much to a single person but to Permie People everywhere. Welding classes are everywhere and easy to find, that was what I was saying, not that you specifically should. I am sure your welds are fine.

Me...I know the difference between repair welding where steel is covered in paint, grease and gaps, compared to new fabrication that is new steel, put up by shipfitters, with ideal welding equipment. HUGE difference.
 
Joel Bercardin
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Travis Johnson wrote:I was not specifically referencing you, though I am sorry if it appeared so. They say for ever person that posts on a forum, 99 other reads, but do not respond. I know that so often times when I make suggestions, it is not so much to a single person but to Permie People everywhere. Welding classes are everywhere and easy to find, that was what I was saying, not that you specifically should. I am sure your welds are fine.

I knew you weren't aiming that at me... but in a way, the shoe did fit.  I think tech school is the way to go if a person can.

I've always felt that — in any skill — being taught by an expert is the best way.  If that isn't possible, then you improvise your own tutorials in order to learn.  With welding, the safety stuff is SO important... so I always recommend that people, if possible, be taught at first by a) an expert who is a teacher; b) failing that, be taught by an expert person who is safety-conscious (then proceed to learn more from vids, books, etc).

Just to add to what I said above about how I learned: after I got fairly decent brazing and welding with oxy-fuel, I acquired a MIG welder and an expert friend gave me a half hour of basic instruction.  That was a big help.  From there, I went with instruction and tips from books & videos.

Travis, you're very kind to say my welds are fine.  Sometimes I think they're reasonable... sometimes I re-do them!


BTW, this is a great thread!  Thanks Deb for giving it a boost!
 
Deb Rebel
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Vertical is the one I hated the most. That one gets away SO fast into a slaggy holey mess. I will say though the thicker the material and weld you're doing the easier. And yes, making several passes to fill in that fillet is mind numbing not to mention spending your life chipping slag.

Wire is peasy compared to stick... and as Travis mentioned, feed rate is vital.

Mirror welding wasn't so bad... my one hobby is serious amateur astronomy and I am used to mirror reverse from that.

In college in engineering I took the lab twice. One was the short majors one with small amount of lab and that was where I was taught reality welding vs the simple stuff the engineers usually seen; then took the long lab one and SWITCHED HANDS. I have damage in the right one and have also switched handedness. And I forced myself to weld standing up, not sitting down. Sitting down is a luxury. I am much more comfortable with 'get in there however' because of it. My late father-in-law could lay a beautiful weld, but only flat and only if he sat down and braced his arms. I could walk up and take it from him and switch to another type and lay almost as good of one, but any way I had to tackle whatever it was. That's why my hubby was a gofer that summer (I felt sorry for him) and I was a prized skilled laborer that got to sweat tons off welding angle iron in the Quonset every day.
 
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Hello, I started welding (arc) when I was about 13 (my mum and dad bought me a arc welder for my birthday), no one to teach me just jumped in, a few arc eyes later (I did have a shield, the one that you hold) but sometimes it was a pain (not as much as arc eyes though) and I quite enjoy welding. I admire people who have a go at doing something, afterall that is how we learn. Anyway thanks for your tips, just goes to show you live and learn, no matter how old you are.

Just noticed, these points below are not mine, so I don't take the credit for these wise words.


A few pointers:

(1) If you are using a stick, try using 1/8 rod 6011...a nice all around rod that burns through rust and paint better than 7018. If 6011 won't hold the pieces together, 7018 will not either because its technique and not the welding rod. After you get good with 6011...then try 7018. Obviously any weld is better when it is clean and ground, but lets face it, repair welding is not exactly the same as keeping 300 sailors afloat.

(2) When using a wire feeder it is NOT like stick, you do not drag the weld, but push the puddle. Stay at a 15 degree angle and push the weld along. A puddle of steel is like a puddle of water...if there is too much "spatter" then cut back on the wife speed (amps) as it is just like dumping too much water into a bigger bucket of water...splashing happens.

(3) After welding with a wire feeder, look at the nozzle. If wire is sticking out by an inch, cut back on your wire speed. If only a quarter inch is sticking out, turn it up. Perfect "stick out" is about 5/8 to 3/4 of an inch long.

(4) Watch the wire come off the wire feeder closely. It should be coming off in super fast droplets called globular transfer. You my friend are really joining steel together. If it is just a haze and the machine is humming, it is called spray transfer and not welding much at all. Turn up your wire speed, that is penetration, and penetration is amps and what joins steel together.

(5) Remember when stick welding it is called arc welding. If you try and drag your rod on the steel, it will probably stick. NO GOOD. I tap my rod to get it to light, then try to hold a decent arc. Just like a spark plug, there is a distance between electrode (rod) and ground (work piece) to make heat. Constant contact means dead short.

(6) Ever wonder why new rod is so easy to light and then a half burned one is not? It is that blasted slag on the end of it. I take my gloved hand and just break that flux off and it lights like a brand new rod. Don't want to do that? Always keep a block o wood handy. After you are done welding stick the rod into the wood red hot. It will light like a new rod after doing that. No piece of wood to stick into. After welding, flick the rod really hard and the red glowing glob will fly off and be easy to light as well. I had a coworker that did this and the jerk burned me more times...but it does work.

(7) With welding all you have is electricity. never be afraid to fuss with the amperage and voltage to get it just right for you, and what you are doing. Every job, welder and person is different.

( Never weld vertical down; it doesn't hold anything together.

(9) People are challenged by vertical up welding when really it can be the easiest and fastest because it really fills in fast. This is the key...opposite from what you think. If the weld is droppy and lumpy, don't go faster, it will make it worse...go slower...in fact hold each side. When I first started welding...yep I counted. Welding is a dance. Hold the rod to the left for a second, go fast across the middle, then hold the right for a second, then go across the middle but moving up in a z shape ever so slowly. Again, hold the edge, fast across the middle and the weld actually flattens out. Heat is absolutely critical on vertical up welds so it must be right.

(10) A good looking weld is simply mimicking again and again the same hand movements to get the same result. The more consistent you are, the more consistent the weld will be. But this works for bad welds too. If it sucks...stop and do something different, it won't automatically just get better.

(11) Horizontal welds are the hardest to look good. They actually have a tendency to roll. Flat is the easiest...but so is overheat. Yes overhead! It has the exact same settings as flat, and the weld behaves the same, it is just that overhead welding can be uncomfortable. Like flat welding, give the rod or nozzle a little back and forth (not much) and the weld will flatten out nicely.

(12) Wire feed is a little different. You can make some nice swirly marks in a number of ways. Remember when I said do the same thing consistently and you get a consistent bead? Well with a wire feeder you have options. ALWAYS PUSH, but you can do little C-shapes, do small circles, or go back and forth. I like circles the best, BUT after years of doing it my wrists can't take hours of that so I go back and forth.

(13) When all this is mastered, we can talk about Permie Welding 201; welding while looking in a mirror. (everything is backwards).




 
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Find this post timely for myself.. I am 63 and have been considering taking the time to go to the community college and learning welding.  Something I have been thinking about for quite a while actually.  What got me thinking about it is I would like to do a stainless still and I see the beautiful hand work.  As a teen I asked my neighbor who was a darn good welder to teach me.  He was a good welder but not much of a teacher.  So 40 years later this is still floating around in my head.
 
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I was raised on a post-depression wheat farm in Northern Idaho.  My Great, great grandfather came west on a covered wagon and homesteaded in 1875.  I was born in 1941, grew up poor, except we didn't know it.  If it needed to be done, we had to learn to do it.  No $$ to do anything else, + 25 miles from the  closest person with the necessary skills.  No local traveling handy-man available.  As a consequence, I learned skills that would allow me to earn a living for my family as well as become a missionary to Haiti later in life, after the kids were gone.

As with many of You, I too left the farm, not so much because of the stigma, but because in the late 50s one could not earn a living for a family on a 1/2 section in Northern Idaho.  Besides my dad was trying to earn his living off the land; not enough for 2 families.
I attended the University of Idaho, earning a degree as an Architect, only to find that that profession was a great way to starve slowly.  So I got a job in industry using skills I learned on the farm.

My great sadness is today, I can't get young people's attention to pass my skills along.  The system tells everyone that if You don't go to college and become an indentured servant, because of the debt, You are a failure.  Now, it seems, society looks down on, not only farmers, but everyone who earns a living by their hands.  I urge everyone who will listen, that we are entering a serious climatic period where, without the basic skills I learned on the farm, you will not survive.

There are those scientists, again who are like salmon swimming upstream, who say, we, the earth, is not getting hotter, but we are entering a mini-ice age.  By 2020 the population will be dropping like flies because of starvation and the cold.  Those of us who have the basic skills will survive, because we have the knowledge. We don't have much time.
 
pollinator
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Joel Bercardin wrote:I'll just mention that I tried to start a thread about online ways to learn welding (or learn more about welding, if you do know the basics). It's here:
https://permies.com/t/48018/Good-Youtubes-learning-metal-fabrication

I could add a lot to that thread, and maybe others here on Permies could too.  But nobody picked-up on the info... at least nobody "liked" my two posts or made any replies.  So I forgot about the idea of adding more.


I took a look at that other thread of yours. Congratulations, it has 4,029 views. No comments to date, but it did not go unnoticed.
 
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Great thread.

It is also worthwhile mentioning that for stick (arc) welding at least, some of the older units (if mildly well cared for) will last longer far longer than the newer units.

Years ago I lived opposite a bloke who earned a living as a sculptor - he was quite well known, although I had no idea who he was and just enjoyed the use of his workshop and the occasional talk fest. He had a beast of an old stick welder which he reckons was from the 50's and he told me about the older welders being of remarkably good quality.

I run a beast of an old stick welder which looks like it was locally made in the 70's. It's heavy and it runs perfectly on the off grid solar power system too. The interesting thing about that is that at start up the unit draws quite a bit of electricity, but once the arc is underway, they're quite economical on electricity.

Mind you, I'm considering getting a MIG welder as well. 

And yes, I'd put in a vote for women being better welders than men too. I'd put it down to care and attention to detail. My welds can be a bit agricultural, but they do the job.

Cheers

Chris

 
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I have an interesting problem with welding, any advice would be welcome.

I'm small female, lots of health/strength issues, and I was taught at one point to weld, the problem was the weight of the metals. I dream big dreams, and kept thinking "if I made that a bit bigger..." and hurting myself trying to deal with metal that was too heavy for me. Even a good long joint of pipe that needs to be "moved just a few inches" damaged me. Any guesses what I can do to be able to weld? At this point I pay for my welding, but it has to be taken someplace to do it, which is usually hard too, and cash is short. In the past I have bartered for my welding, I just moved and have no one to barter with yet, don't even have a house built yet. I would LOVE to be able to do my own, without putting my shoulder out of commission for months just "moving it an inch or three."

Anyone else dealt with this and have advice?
 
Deb Rebel
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Block and tackle, winch, comealong straps, levers carefully placed. Getting a few strong others to show up and pay them to shove things around then pause while you weld--that can often be reasonable. They aren't skilled labor, they are muscle. Have everything set up as much as possible before they show.

I am stronger than my wrists and ankles will stand, so I have learned to use mechanical advantage whenever I need it. Set up a tripod, hang the winch on it, and maneuver it that way. A belay rope or two to swing a short bit if needed.  Nudge or drag with the pickup, tractor bucket, what have you.

One tractor my father had, no way was I getting those lugs off, I had 7' of really thickwall pipe a long length of thick rod had been stuffed in. This went over the lugnut wrench handle, and the then (115-120lbs) skinny me hanging off the end to get enough to break that lug loose...

Think of how to safely multiply your mass and strength to get it done. I don't do the 'shove the thousand pound cabinet two inches' as that's how that one issue in my knee is still there thirty odd years later if I don't watch it. Resort to mechanical enhancement. For pulling calves in early high school (we had charolais and crossed to angus/buffalo) I had a four pulley setup I could attach to the pickup frame in front, then use that to amplify my pulling strength to get the calf out. It took awhile to string that into place (sort it all out) but was the only way to do it. I needed that much multiplier (give me a break, 5'1, and 105# then, I needed the help!)... and I could pick up and walk off with 120#. So. I'm sure there's a way to get it done without destroying yourself.
 
Joel Bercardin
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Here's something I have to ask you expert welders about...  I mostly weld mild steel.  Sometimes I have a cast-iron item that would work well if I could weld it, but I know that using traditional methods this is quite tricky to do.  (Not that it's not worth somehow learning to do it trad style.)

Okay.  Well, a couple years ago I came across some online info (promo, I guess) about a product called Castaloy.  So I poked around and found a video about using the product and went to the company's website.  They used to have more elaborate introductory info, but here's their current page: https://www.castaloy.com/product/castaloy-rod/

Have you used this sort of thing?  Do you know anybody who has?
 
Travis Johnson
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I never have used it, but if you have to weld cast iron now and then, you can honestly just use 6011 welding rod. In fact I welded cast iron today with it. (6011 stick rod 1/8 inch)

The real trick to cast iron is not really the rod that is used (we are arc welding, which is really just a big spark plug that creates an electrical gap that is so hot it can melt steel. The rod is just a filler. Yes 6011 is putting mild steel in the weld, but it also is melting base metal so its flowing cast iron in as well. I would not cast iron weld a 1940 Allis Chalmers head back together, but some stove parts here and there...go for it. As I said, there is a trick, and it is to both pre-heat, and post heat the steel.

I have a junk AC only 1980 Craftsman Buzzbox welder so ANYONE can do this. I also use a crappy ole propane tank for soldering copper pipe...again nothing fancy. I heat the steel up I want to weld first, weld it, grind it, then heat it up with the torch when I am done. Then let it cool a bit...not getting it cold...just less intense then it was. Then heat it up with my torch again...but not as hot, doing that 3 or four times so the cast iron is cooled down slowly. Immersing the cast iron in sand will do the same thing.

I did this today on the mitten rail brackets on a stove I am rebuilding. It had two broken brackets and about 2 hours worth of cutting, welding, grinding and drilling created 2 new ones that are indistinguishable from the 2 good ones. If when you weld, you do have pits or holes, use a little bondo or liquid steel to fill them in. In mild steel you can go back and fill them holes in then grind it flush, with cast iron though, limit the welding to the least possible.

Again...my method is not going to let you pass a cast iron weld x-rayed test I know, but it will get you buy. Pre-heat-weld-post heat: that is the trick to welding cast, and yes with 6011 welding rod if that is what you have.
 
pollinator
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It wasn't that long ago that a guy named Travis Johnson said on this forum that he didn't feel he had much to offer Permies.  

I'm a welder by trade, but not by any level of skill as compared to Travis.  Like his first welding job, I just started as a welder on the railway.  I primarily weld an extremely high impact piece of cast manganese/steel allow called a frog.  It eventually does not appreciate the high impact.  It mushrooms over the edges, cracks, or breaks out.  The job is basically like dentistry.  We carve out a defect with large hand held grinders, and then rebuild the piece back up with very slow  beads of weld to something just over the profile of the original shape, and then we grind the thing to a reasonable facsimile of the original contours. Then the trains hit it, a bit, and then we grind a bit more to make sure it's right. It ain't glamorous.  It's quite toxic (but we have good respirators). But it's actually quite rewarding, and not nearly as boring as it might seem to some. 

Unlike carbon steel welding, where preheat to a high temperature, and post heat to an even higher temperature is super important, the key to manganese alloy welding is to keep the heat below 500F, which means waiting at least until the temperature drops below 375F between welds.  We use a lazer heat gun to measure the temperature often.  We generally use a wire feeder that is putting out flux core manganese steel.  We also have rods on the truck for various other tasks, as well as carbon steel wire feed.  I was recently schooled in various types of welding (and acetylene and propane torch cutting, and air arc carving instead of grinding) in February March this year.  It was an extremely intensive and incredibly difficult course (i had never welded a bead of weld in my life and was the least experienced not only in welding but in most things metal shop oriented).  The course was somewhat railway specific and the credentials are not transferable... but most of the skills are!  I learned a heap of stuff, but some of it has already lost in the transit since I have not used it.  At any rate, I look forward to learning more from everyone in this thread and forum, as I believe that welding has some merit for society, and I hope to be able to do some more styles in the future.

Oh yeah, and by the way, the most helpful person in my class was a woman welder, who was really talented and didn't have an ego about it.  I learned more from her than from my instructor. 

Thanks for starting the thread, Joel.
 
Deb Rebel
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One more that floated up: don't weld galvanized. GRIND ALL THAT OFF near your weld zone first. Zinc gives you fume fever and this is no fun at all. I'd take three days of bonebreaking FLU over that. (I've had it twice, twice too many.

When in doubt, ventilate. The fellow that taught my welding labs had a huge hood that would just about suck your fillings out, and he would lay out so much rod. He'd do the demo and when he ran through that rod, he quit. Whether or not he was done with the demo. He'd done industrial line and ate too many fumes and had his lungs trashed. That was all he could handle in a class period and he didn't violate it. We had a company in town that took Caterpillar heavy machinery wheels and would lay new material on them and remachine them. They paid people about 5x the minimum wage to sit there, leaned over as the thing rotated and laid the bead, and chip slag. A few were desperate enough to go work there. As good as it paid, I wanted my lungs.  (it would have cost maybe $20 to put a breathing mask on the end of a feeder hose and use a small fan to push clean air to the person's face from 10' away.... and another $10 for a box fan to push ventilation across the work area.)

The differences in the older and newer welder boxes is often what's called the 'duty cycle'. For a given ten minutes the amount of time it's supposed to be ON and pushing current, it has a percentage rating. A 10% duty cycle means you get one minute before it gets hot and it needs nine to cool. Not kidding. Some of the old stuff is 50% or higher duty cycle, so it keeps chugging. A lot of the inexpensive new boxes, whether wire or stick, are very low duty cycle.

I have an old yellow/green standing box Lincolnarc from probably the late 50's to early 60's that had been the University's and they got rid of it and I bought it at auction. It runs like 50% duty cycle but. It likes to creep down. The lock on it doesn't like to stay locked and it will slowly creep down until you can't hold a bead no matter what. Other than making sure you used a bit of grunt on setting the lock, it's a great machine and still going. It plugs in on 220 so I see that on my utility bill. Plug in, choose AC or DC, set and lock, and burn.
 
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there are many many dangers in welding, some of the fumes will kill you quick, others not so fast, you will blow yourself up if you have acetelyne pressure over 15psi. acetylene tanks are filled with aspestos. There is lots of very bad and even dangerous how to stuff on the interweb. If you want to be off to a good start in welding take the time to take a class at your local votech, night school, summer school, weling institute sponsored events. even places like the big fly ins in wisconsin, florida and other places have free hands on welding instructions taught by qualified instructors sponsored by both miller and lincoln. I was lucky and when I was 12 my grandfather enrolled me in welding and metal fab at the high school summer program. I went back more summers it was so much fun. today i have every kind of welding machine there is just about and a collection of at least 40 torches.
welding is rewarding skill to learn but be safe. i had a very good friend killed by breathing disorder from using plasma cutter it only took a week for him to die
 
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The best advice I can give after decades of welding and some college level training is to watch the puddle of molten metal. When it cools it will be the weld. If it strays uniform, ties the pieces together, and has know gaps or slag pockets you will have a good weld.
 
Joel Bercardin
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The trained & very-experienced welders here may know this "secret".  But I was pleased to learn it, and thought I’d post and link this video.  Topic is how to use ordinary MIG equipment, without a spool gun, to weld aluminum.  There are a few aspects & tricks to this.  Besides the choice of the shielding gas, there's the composition of the aluminum wire and the choice of the tip (orifice size).  The guy explains why.

He’s conscientious on safety and offers good prep advice too, but you can fast-forward through that if you know it.  Here's the vid:

 
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