Hey guys, I get a lot of questions from people who are new to welding, and frankly a lot of people seem confused about what they’re getting into. That’s not an attack or anything, I know it can all be really overwhelming and it’s a lot to get your head around, so today I’m gonna talk about all the basic things you might not know before you get into welding, which you definitely should.
First off, I want to be super clear: welding is a fucking dangerous thing to do, even if you’re just dabbling in it as a hobby. It’s a huge fire risk for a start. Then you have to realize how incredibly bright the torch is. It can actually blind you, and that’s not an exaggeration at all. So you have to be prepared to be super cautious and buy the right safety equipment like really good gloves, a fireproof work shirt and a real helmet, no matter how casually you’re welding. I’ve seen too many things go wrong to even think about being lighter on the safety front. Seriously. You should be honest about what you’re working with, because it’s not something you want to treat lightly. You have to do it somewhere you have lots of ventilation, and you have to make sure all your gear is certified to safety standards. Remember that you might think you need a cool helmet, but code should always come before coolness, or you’re risking blindness.
You also have to know what you’re talking about with the different kinds of welding there are, because a lot of people don’t and they end up buying the wrong gear and suffering the consequences. There’s basically three different kinds you should know about.
The easiest and the cheapest kind of welding is wire welding, where you’re working off a spool and you have basically a constant stream of metal to work with. It’s good for newbies because it doesn’t leave lots of joints and it works really well for thin metal. You can get two kinds of wire, either what’s called MIG wire, which you have to use with a gas tank and indoors, or flux-core wire, which you can use without gas, and which works outdoors.
The middle kind of welding is stick welding, which is probably the most popular thing people do, because it’s really forgiving and it’s just convenient for short little things and patch-ups. It’s not very strong, though, so that’s a downside and it definitely doesn’t look as clean as using a wire.
The hardest type of welding is TIG, which is the cleanest as a finished piece. It’s what they use for cars and machinery where you have to get things to look seamless. I would say that TIG is definitely a lot to get used to, and it takes a lot of finesse, but I can personally say I taught myself, so it’s doable to get it right.
Once you know what kind of welding you’re going to start out with, you have to figure out which kind of torch you want to buy, since there’s an option for different voltages. Basically, it’s between standard household electricity and industrial power. Most people are gonna stick to household, but if you want to get serious, you have to stop pussyfooting around and get and industrial hookup. It’s gonna cost you, though, probably about a grand in my experience. But worth it if you work with a lot of big tools.
Welding torches aren’t a plug and play tool. You’re gonna have to do some research and read the manual when you get it so you can get a sense of what kinds of settings you need to deal with different materials. That’s for the metals you’re working on, and for the consumables (which is the metal you’re melting down and using as a kind of glue).
Same thing goes for figuring out what your torch will actually do. Not all torches can handle all materials, so you have to figure out what you want to weld and then go from there when you buy your setup.
Basically, what I’m saying is that welding isn’t as much of a crude, rugged process as it looks like from the outside. It’s technical, and it needs finesse, and it’s super dangerous to get wrong. So, do a lot of reading, watch a lot of tutorials, and don’t fuck around when it comes to safety. Let me know if you have any more specific questions I can answer.