Welding Questions:
For YOU as a beginning welder

Welding Questions "101"

These are questions likely to be asked by a beginning welder. I will not get too technical, yet I will cover what I feel that you need, & what you want to know. I will be adding more from time to time. "Contact me" via the blue button on the left to ask questions that I haven't covered.

Latest Questions:

Can the fumes from welding hurt me?
* Fumes from any type of welding can be harmful, depending on the type, the amount, & the length of time.
* Galvanized metals can really be hard on you.
* Use the helmet as much as possible to help shield you.
* If it gets bad enough, I sometimes hold my breath, especiallly for galvanized items.
* Use a fan to help ventilate.
* If you're going to do extensive welding, as in a business, invest in some type of exhaust system. (Buy a high flow fan from Costco & install it at a gable or window).
* Smoking can add to the damages to your lungs, etc.

Any reviews for your "The Arc and Beyond" ebook?
* Not everyone writes reviews.
* Here's a real short one, after he downloaded the complete ebook:
"YAY! Got it, it's awesome! Thanks so much for your help Jess! :) Have a great week and see you around! Jason"

Does an arc welder have to warm up?
* Not really, but after it's ran for awhile you may need to re-adjust the settings. But most of the reason for that is because the metals you're welding have "warmed up" & may not need as high a setting as at first. Plus, your rod will be hotter & should start easier.

Can you close your eyes while welding?
* That's an interesting question:
* Sometimes you may have to tack weld where you cannot see.
* I've watched the guys on "Trucks" on TV tack like that sometimes.
* Many times though, you may not get a good tack that way.
* Yes, I've done it that way myself (either closed eyes or can't see what I'm tacking).
* Some experience with how it FEELS while welding, helps you to get a usable tack.
* I don't recommend it on a regular basis, but sometimes you have no choice.

Why does the welding rod stick to the metal sometimes?
* You may have the amperage a bit too low.
* You may have let the rod get too close to the parent metal (arc length too short).
* It's as simple as "if the 2 metals (the rod & the workpiece) are in contact & it's hot enough to have molten metal between them, they WILL STICK!

How long do I have to wait to use something I just welded?
* You don't really have to wait at all, except for it to get cool enough to handle.
* Many times, waiting a few seconds will allow the slag to be removed easier.
* Also, you may simply not want the workpiece hot for the next steps you take.


Why can't I see the puddle?! (I get lots of people asking this).
* First check & clean the helmet lenses.
* Get as close as possible, reposition yourself or the work-piece.
* Check for "fingernailing", where the rod coating is extending beyond the metal end of the rod. Break it off & try again. If it continues, get another rod. (don't store your rod outside unless you have a warm, dry place for it).
* Slag in the way? Try to slope the job a bit, angle the arc more, or turn the AMPS up.
* Maybe you're using the wrong rod? Check it. I welded for the first time earlier last year with 6013 & I'll never use it again. I had LOTS of troubles. I changed to 6011 & no further problems.

How to read gauges on a cutting torch?
* FIRST: You shouldn't look directly at either the O2 or the "gas" gauges because a faulty one could blow out at your face.
* You want to see 40 PSI on the O2 delivered pressure with the high pressure lever pressed, for best cutting results.
* A full O2 tank should be 2000 PSI. (so 1/2 full is about 1000 PSI).
* The "gas" delivered pressure should be about 10-12 PSI, for best heating properties.
* The "gas" high pressure gauge is at 200 PSI when full.

Can women learn welding?
* Watch these 2 videos via YouTube: (1st is about women discussing welding jobs) (The second video shows a young lady instructing a guy how to wire-feed weld):

Video 1: WELDING WOMEN video

Video 2: Lady instructs guy in wire-feed welding, video

After welding, metal won't stay together, why?
* The rod: same material that you're welding? Is it dry & not flaking off?
* Welder setting: Hot enough amperage?
* Material that you're welding: Compatible with the rod you're using? (steel on steel?).
* Your methods: Welding speed OK? Steady & staying in one place long enough for good adhesion? Welding too close?

Do you weld left to right? (arc welding)
* I PERSONALLY weld right to left because I'm left handed.
* A right-hander normally welds left to right.
* If you're right-handed, you need to have the rod angled down to the right so that you can see the puddle (& have better puddle control).

My arc welder will turn on but it won't weld. Why?
* My first thought would be connections. There must be a complete electrical path for the "current" to flow completely from one terminal of your welder, to the other.
* Paint, or corrosion can keep an arc from starting.
* I would then try a quick touch of the rod (or wire), directly to the ground connector to see if there is a spark. (if not, then there is likely an INTERNAL problem with your welder).
* If you're "electrically inclined", then open it up & look for blackened wiring, broken wires or connections, or even a mechanical breakage of some sort.

More Welding Questions :
* Do arc welding electrodes cause problems if they are damp?
1) They certainly do. If they're wet enough, you may not be able to use them at all.
2) Dampness can cause the coating to fall off in chunks or unevenly & cause "finger-nailing", where part of the coating sticks out beyond the rod end, during welding.
3) Missing chunks of coating will make the rod stick a lot, plus your results may not be satisfactory.
4) Keep your rods in the house if possible or in a heated storage outside.
5) You can also get away with keeping your rods in a SEALED container to keep out moisture.

* I have a hard time cutting 1/2 metal with a torch. Why?
1) Going either too fast or too slow will cause problems in various thicknesses of metals.
2) Practice cutting thinner stuff first. Watch the sparks coming out the bottom.
3) Once you have the metal hot enough, start moving the torch, & pay attention to how the sparks are coming out. If they are straight down you need to speed up so that they are actually angled slightly ahead of the torch.
4) If they are angling backwards, you're too fast. Practice on different thicknesses & you'll see that you must use different speeds.
5) Also, make sure that you have 40 PSI on the Oxygen with the cutting valve depressed. Plus set the "gas" to 10-12 PSI.
6) Plus look at your tip orifices to ensure all the holes are open.
7) And make sure that the ends of the blue flames are very close to or touching the metal.
8) Watch this "Cutting Torch" video by clicking on the link below:

Notice these things:
1) He eventually puts on gloves.
2) He makes a good straight & clear cut.
3) Note the slight angle of the cutting tip & the sparks angling ahead of perpendicular.
4) But PLEASE put on goggles!


More October & November Welding Questions:
* What salary can I expect to make as a welder-diver?
1) If you're military it directly depends on your RANK. Your RANK will be going up as you would progress to a qualified welder/diver. I'm not sure what the various military rates are now.
2) Civilian welder/divers' salary/wages depend on your qualifications, where you are located, & demand levels in the area, etc.
3) Beginners may start as low as $20,000 a year then go up to $100,000 + for the experts, in good areas.
4) The high paying opportunities out there are WORTH it for many people to "go for it!".

* Why do you use a striker for a torch instead of flame?
1) Convenience and safety.
2) A striker is nearly an instantaneous & handy source to "light your fires".
3) But an open flame could be a problem if it touches the wrong places.

* Will a cutting torch hurt your eyes if you look at it?
1) Eventually.
2) It will quickly fatigue your eyes, & cause potential damage after prolonged exposure.
3) But things don't happen as quickly to your eyes as it does from the brightness & UV rays from an arc.
4) If you're holding something for someone while they cut it, not much will happen. PROLONGED exposure WILL!

* Arc welder is on but won't strike an arc. Help?
1) Pretty much most likely CONNECTIONS somewhere:
* There must be a complete circuit. All the way from one connection on the welder, through the cables/"stinger"/ground, the metal, & back to the welder.
2) Paint, dirt, & rust are common problems with connections.
3) Also if there is a GAP between the 2 metals you're welding, it won't work unless it can jump the gap.
4) It's best to start the rod on the side where the ground is securely placed.

Welding Questions Added:

* Can I hold an arc rod while welding, to steady it?
1) Many professional welders, including myself, hold the rod to help make a precision bead.
2) If you're working with damp gloves you'll likely feel tingling due to your body becoming part of the electrical path.
3) I'd pass on holding the rod if there are wet enough conditions to feel shocks!
4) The other times to stop holding the rod are when it gets too short or too hot.

* Can you stick weld in wet areas?
1) As with the above welding question, if conditions can get TOO wet for safety, then take steps to make improvements: Cover the area with a tarp, put on DRY gloves, use HEAVY rubber welding gloves, etc.
2) There are times when we would weld outside on the log haul in the rain, basically out of necessity. But we might spend an hour or two fixing up a shelter before doing any welding.

* When using a cutting torch, do you bring the torch toward you or away from you?
1) Sometimes you might need to do either due to conditions you're working in. Normally you would be cutting cross-ways or at least somewhat toward yourself.
2) I'm left-handed so I cut from left to right. But I usually don't direct the torch & the sparks directly at myself. That can tend to get your clothes on fire.
3) Cutting away from yourself is more difficult because you can't see as well, as to what's going on.

* Why don't some welders use safety equipment?
2) Most of the answers aren't good ones: Lazy, show-offs, don't HAVE the right equipment, in a hurry, & sometimes they might even FORGET to use some items.
3) Beginners might not be aware of some of the dangers.
4) The experienced will know what they can get away with, or don't care anymore.
5) Some people can find a dangerous way to do about anything!

I'd like to think that MY READERS work as safely as they know how!


* How about some tips on arc welding inside corners?
1) If the pieces are 1/8th inch or smaller, I would just butt them together & run a good 1/8" bead, or smaller.
2) For bigger than 1/8", I would bevel one inside edge & then fill it with a bead (or beads), to equal the diameter of the metal.
3) If you CAN get to the outside corner & WANT it welded, I'd go ahead and run a bead there too.
4) If you DON'T want the outside corner welded due to looks or whatever, make sure the inside welding is sufficient!

* Can you get sunburned while welding?
1) YES, & faster than you might think.
2) I wore short gloves once & got my wrists burned.
3) ANY uncovered skin that's near enough to the direct welding rays will be susceptible.
4) Helpers that are holding things in place for you should be covered too, when exposed more than a few seconds.

* How long do you need to keep a fire watch after welding or cutting?
1) A lot depends on the surroundings & conditions:
* At our sawmill, my helper went to "relieve" himself after we just finished welding.
* A few minutes later, I was running water on a fire that started on the floor below!
* Luckily, I got it out before things got out of hand! (and before the helper returned).
2) I usually "look & smell" things in the area, between each rod that I run.
3) Just STAY in the area for awhile & finish removing slag, grinding, etc.
3) By THAT time, you can probably leave, after making one last circle around the area.

* How Can I make money at welding?
1) About charging the customer:
* Charge by an estimate for the whole project: be fair but MAKE a profit!
* Charge by the hour: ASK around your area what they charge per hour, then go below that amount.
* Charge by the number of rods used, PLUS a minimum charge.
2) Advertise:
* Newspaper.
* Create a website for yourself. (See "How I did this site" via the "Navbar" at left)(upper part of page).
* Craigslist: under "services": Anyone that emails you is ALREADY wanting a job done!
* Buy a stick-on magnetic sign to advertise your services: Keep it SHORT: What you provide & how to contact you.
3) BE fair / Be honest / Delight them by going the extra mile!
4) Take at least one quarter of a welding class for direct supervision. (Unless you're already a decent welder).
5) Got a good idea? Make a quick $25 by entering my "Idea of The Month" contest: See the "Navbar" at left (upper part of page).

* Can I lay my acetylene tank down flat to transport?
If you have no choice due to how you must transport it: set it upright at least an hour before using it, to allow the liquid & gas to re-settle!

* How come my arc welds won't "take"?
1) Because of YOU:
* Pay attention to the puddle, hesitate slightly at each metal edge, don't use 6013, practice more, turn up the machine.
2) Because of the equipment:
* The rod is damp or deteriorated.
* The machine is set too low, or you're going too fast.
* The metal has too much corrosion.
3) CHECK: YOU, The Machine, the Rod, & the Material itself.

An IMPORTANT welding question:

* What are some skills to learn in arc welding?
1) Simple math: used in measurements, cutting, etc.
2) Attention to DETAILS: Reading drawings, making sure ALL your welds are complete, taking the right equipment & materials to the job, etc.
3) Mechanical: Grinding, drilling, cutting various ways, & welding in all positions.
4) People Skills: Being able to communicate & please your boss or customer.
5) Physical strength: ABLE to do all the really HARD work.
6) Troubleshooting problems: Troubleshoot your welding, the equipment, the materials, weld breaks, strengthening, beautifying, etc.

Previous Welding Questions:

Arc Welding Questions: (Stick Welder)

1) My first welding question is: How do I set my welder?
Once you have the ground cable securely connected to the work- piece, the power on, & you're ready to strike an arc:
* As an example, let's say you are welding for the FIRST time. Use 1/8" 6011, because it's fairly easy to "run" & it will also likely be the most common rod you'll use.
* I would set your welder at 110 AMPS to start with. Use material that's thicker than 1/8" so that it won't burn all the way through. If you can strike the arc OK & keep it going, just keep doing that for a few beads.
* Then, depending on how that went, I would fine tune the setting. If it looks & sounds like you're boiling the metal away, then turn it down about 10 AMPS at a time. Keep it where you can start & run beads easily. Then practice more.
* Exactly where you set your welder, even for the same rod, will differ a bit from job to job. When you start the first bead, things are cold, & after you're welding for awhile you may need to drop the setting some.
Cold steel, the angle you're holding the rod, & how much arc gap you're keeping will affect your AMP setting. Don't expect precise settings!

2) How do I know if I'm running beads at the right speed?
* During the welding, be looking at the weld puddle closely. If the ripples you see are pointed versus oval, you're going too fast. If the puddle is quite large compared to the rod diameter, you're going too slow.
* After the weld, look closely at the bead & you'll see if the ripples are pointed or too large. You need rounded/oval ripples but not a huge bead size.

3) Here's a good welding question: What am I looking for through the helmet?
* You need to wait momentarily when you start a weld, to allow the puddle to form. The puddle is molten metal that should be roundish & clear.
* If you see slag coming into it, it can look pretty mixed up. Angle the arc more toward the slag to help keep it away. You may also be going too slow.
* You're also looking at bead width of maybe a couple times the diameter of the rod. Oh yes, you need to SEE where you're going so you are welding the pieces together & not running somewhere else!
* Once you have welded several beads, you can concentrate more on running them nicer & straighter. At first get the puddle going bright & clear & not too wide, THEN work on the finer points.

4) A welding question about electrodes: What rod should I use?
* Number-wise, it should be equal to or harder than what you're welding on. If it's a harder steel, than use 7018, stainless, or hard-surfacing rod.
* Diameter-wise, it depends on the thickness of the material being welded. If it's 1/8" thick, don't use bigger than 1/8" rod. I've welded really thin stuff with 1/16" rod, before I had the wire-feed.
* Type-wise, you can use a variety of rod types on more than one type of metal. But aluminum doesn't take well to stainless. Use common sense, & at least ask you rod dealer, when unsure.

5) Should I get an AC or a DC welder?
* If you can afford to, get the DC welder. It's easier to learn to weld, & you can do more things with it. Try getting a used one. Otherwise you need to just "tough it out" with the AC type.
* If you're looking into a used DC type, at least have the owner demonstrate that it works.

6) I can't even see a puddle, how come?
* First check & clean the helmet lenses.
* Get as close as reasonably possible.
* Check for "finger-nailing", where the rod coating is extending beyond the metal end of the rod. Break it off & try again. If it continues, get another rod. (don't store your rod outside unless you have a warm, dry place for it).
* Slag in the way? Try to slope the job a bit, angle the arc more, or turn the AMPS up.
* Maybe you're using the wrong rod? Check it. I welded for the first time earlier this year with 6013 & I'll never use it again. I had LOTS of troubles. I changed to 6011 & had no further problems.

7) Please answer this welding question: My tack welds don't hold very well, why not?
* First don't use 6013, because that was MY first clue that something was wrong.
* Generally, it's either because you aren't running the weld long enough or you're not sweeping across enough to catch both pieces.
* Having too low of an AMP setting, can be a problem too.

Flux Cored Welding Questions:

1) Why is the wire pushing against the metal?
* Turn the heat up or the wire speed down, or both.
* Adjust the length of how much the wire is sticking out beyond the gun's tip by ever so slightly advancing or backing off. I use slightly more than an inch "stick-out."

2) My wire is feeding intermittently. What can cause that?
* Plugging at the gun nozzle, wrong tip size, tension too low on the feed clamping mechanism, or wire guide tube is kinked.

3) My welding question is: Why can't I keep the weld going?
* If you started out "stick" welding, you've been used to manually feeding the rod inward as it is consumed. When it's been awhile since I've "fed" wire, I need to REMEMBER to let the welder do the feeding, & not get closer & closer to the puddle.
* I start out with the heat higher than it needs be, to just get USED to the feel again. Then I PRACTICE before doing a job. Then I make settings at where I recall from previous jobs.

Cutting Torch Welding Questions:

1) This isn't actually a WELDING question, but why can't I get a clean cut? It's hard to get the pieces apart.
* You may be too close to the work. Just let the tips of the blue flames touch the metal.
* You could be going too slow which lets the metal re-join & not clear out.
* If you're too fast, the flame moves backwards & doesn't cut straight down, & therefore it's not clearing a slot as it goes along.
* You're at a good speed when the sparks are either going heavily straight down or slightly ahead of the flame.
* Make sure the tip orifices are clear, that you have 40 PSI oxygen pressure, & 12 PSI "gas" pressure.

2) How do I start the flame?
1) Turn on the "gas" tank valve about 1/2 turn (believe me that's plenty)(set the gas at 10-12 PSI, working pressure).
2) Open the O2 (oxygen) tank valve nearly full open.(set the O2 pressure to about 40 PSI, via the twist knob at the O2 gauges).
3) With your striker (lighter) in one hand, crack open the acetylene valve on the cutting torch handle & light it. (red hose)
4) Open the acetylene more till the flame separates from the tip, then back it off till it "re-attaches".
5) Now open the O2 valve on the torch handle till the blue flames are short & bright. (green hose)
6) Then push on the high pressure (the long valve, "cutting O2") valve on the handle & re-adjust the O2 valve on the handle till the blue flames are clear & bright.
7) You're there!

To shut off: gas off / oxygen off / blow out with cutting valve / then both tanks off.

Email me via the "contact me" button at left and ask me stuff! I'll add the most common welding questions to these pages.

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