Welding has become an important skill for many DIYers. Although welding sounds intimidating at first, you can become good at it with a little bit of practice and proper technique. Here are a few proper welding torch techniques to get you started.
Cleaning the Piece
Before you even start welding, you need to make sure the metal is free of dust, rust, and paint. These contaminates can enter the weld and make it weak. They can also make it difficult to push the metal wire and create a smooth weld. You can clean the surface with a wire brush but if that doesn’t get the job done, use a sander or angle grinder.
Adjusting Line Pressure
You’ll need to adjust the line pressure before igniting the torch. Line pressure is adjusted via a wing nut on the regulators for the oxygen and acetylene tanks. Tighten the valves on the torch handle before opening the tank valves. You want the pressure on each valve to read around 5 psi. Once both lines are the same, you can ignite the torch and begin welding.
Melting the Work
The basic idea behind torch welding is to combine the metal rod with the material you are working with. If you create a strong mixture between the metals, then you will have a good bond. Start by melting the material until you have a small puddle of molten metal. Then place the end of the rod on the puddle and allow it to melt into the material.
Welding torches are small enough to be held with one hand, but you will have better control if you use two hands, especially if you are using the metal insert gas (MIG) technique. One hand is used to operate the torch while the other can control the angle and help create a smooth weld on the surface.
The angle of the welding tip will be determined by the type of the object and location of the weld. For flat surfaces, you should hold the torch 20 degrees from the surface. For corners, it is bet to use a 45-degree angle, which will ensure a strong bond.
Push and Pull
The direction you weld largely depends on whatever is comfortable for you. For proper technique, it's recommended that you push the torch away from your body versus pulling it towards you. The push technique offers better coverage on the material and will result in a smoother, steadier bead. That being said, you should become proficient in both methods as pushing will not always be an option.
Welding an aesthetically pleasing bead is all about pace. If you go too slow then you might burn the work piece or break off the metal wire. Too fast of a pace can result in a thin bead that isn’t strong. Finding the right pace takes a little bit of practice, but will result in the strongest bead possible.
Find a Comfortable Position
Being a good welder is all about finding a comfortable welding position. Welding is a slow process that takes a little bit of time and should never be rushed. If possible, find a surface to rest your elbows while you weld. This will keep your hands and body steady throughout the entire weld.
Safety is a top priority when welding. Always wear proper welding equipment including dark goggles, pants, long sleeves, and closed-toed shoes. It’s also a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher on hand just in case an accident happens.
Every welder is different and you will need to experiment with your equipment to nail down the best settings. Welding is not a difficult skill to learn, but it does take a lot of practice. Before welding an important piece, it's always a good idea to practice on a few test pieces. Remember to try different angles to get your pace down before moving onto bigger projects.