- 26 Aug 2020
- Reaction score
- Pacific Region
HI...some very good advice there...Did a limited amount of stick years ago. I was welding a boat trailer one day when a big lump of spatter landed on the tongue of my trainer (I know! I was young and foolish), leading to my first and only breakdancing performance…
+1 for the MIG welding Forum. Great resource. I see they're still partnered with/sponsored by Weldequip, who gave a good service when I bought stuff from them.
A recurring theme when I was searching for advice on buying a MIG was to make sure it had a decent wire feed, otherwise I might struggle as a novice, and to make sure it had a standard Euro torch, as spares and consumables are cheap and readily available. The thing I’d add is if possible try and get something that doesn’t have a fixed earth lead. It’s a pain in the a***, and you might find you’re moving the welder around with annoying frequency on bigger jobs, and a real problem if you need to weld anything such as brackets at or above head height!
I’m no expert, but did do a fair amount of welding after buying the MIG, and found the following useful:
- Auto-darkening helmet. You can also get magnifying lenses, which is great if your eyes no longer work like they used to.
- MIG gauntlet for non-torch hand, and a thinner TIG glove for your torch hand will give a better feel for controlling the torch.
- Using Tip Dip, and keeping the shroud nice and clean.
- Flap discs (essential).
- If fabricating from scratch, a second grinder is useful. Continuously switching between cutting discs and flap discs gets annoying, quite quickly.
- If you’re in a small workshop, you might want to consider a couple of welding blankets. My workshop is tight on space, with stuff stored under the benches and in racking, and generally cluttered. If a bit a of spatter finds its way into a place you can’t see, you don’t want your workshop catching fire half an hour after you’ve finished and gone indoors for a brew!
Circumspect of Chinese gear I nevertheless grabbed an 'electronic' helmet recently at Bunnings ...$49.00...interestingly the boiler maker who recently did some work for me had the same type of helmet...look a bit like a speedster helmet.
One thing...may sound pretentious I suppose...good welding shouldn't need grinding. When it is done you no longer really know the penetration which has been achieved and thus the strength. Having said that (you'd know it) , using the grinding tools before welding is a key to success in what one produces....not just 'preparation' but 'correct' preparation for the weld.
I noted with the boilermaker aforementioned, that occasionally he made almost imperceptible adjustments to his MIG (current not speed) during his various welds on same situation ..."just a tad, so fine'...that so-expert feeling he had developed over decades for having the flow "just so" with same sound of the arc all along. None of the welds needed prettying-up. "Funny" how fascinating it is to listen to that consistent sound and see the results of expert welding...admire the skill.
On the other hand I watched with some 'dismay' a 'past- retirement' professional aluminium welder, who makes boat and jet-ski trailers, grind-away copious welding material. Maybe the trailers hold together, maybe not. I wouldn't buy one having watched the operation. I always look for a very neat and consistent weld with correct penetration...nothing needing to be hidden.
I think I'd need a metre of practice to achieve it these days!