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Learning to weld

Simple question ... what is the best way for someone who has never tried welding to learn to weld?

A quick look at learn to weld courses locally suggested they were all coming up as very expensive. Presumably they are all targetted at people who want to learn to do this professionally and want to come out with some qualification. So the choice is £500 for a welding course or a couple of hundred and I get the kit and just "go for it" but what's the best way to start?

I just want to be able to do basic welding so that I can move on from making stuff out of 2x4 timber to using inch square steel tube (it's not that much more expensive, and it ends up lighter and with a smaller frame.

i was taught on the job by a very skilled chap.
arc is the cheapest kit but is not the easiest to learn
gas costs more and o2/acet does have some serious h n s issues, it is moderately easy to learn some welds , others are top level skill set
mig and tig are quite expensive for half decent kit. i am not familiar with either but mig looks fairly easy if you know how to set the controls for the weld .

welding school is a good idea, it will show you the hns issues ( lots ) how not to trash materials ( Embarassed ), teach some basic techniques and give you a good idea of what kit you need for what you have in mind.

considering how much fabricators charge for sticking metal £500 to learn the basic skills and £ a few hundred for kit might be covered in a couple of jobs

nick went for the captain cando route, we had a few interesting exchanges trying to do "welding tuition by text " Laughing
it turned out ok in the end but it was a bit tense here and there .

ps welding section mild steel into accurate frames etc is probably not the time to learn how to stick things together. bench practice with tuition first to learn the basic skills and protocols will save time , money, life n limb and give you a fair chance of being able to make the things you need to make .

just the cut ,clamp, tack stuff is quite challenging with section frames, making good welds needs direct tuition and plenty of practice on bits of "scrap".
Ty Gwyn

Buy a cheap arc welder and have a go,that`s what I did,it takes practice holding the arc rod,starting off I was stuck to the metal more than welding,but you soon get the hang of it,also practice is needed in what heat is needed for different thickness metals,you soon learn to turn it down when you burn through light metal and turn it up when what you`ve welded falls off on thicker metal because of not enough heat penetration,
You can pick up an 180 amp arc for £80 odd quid,and from experience get a helmet that the glass changes when starting to weld,save you getting arc eye which is a bugger.

What thickness steels?
(If not steel that reduces the options)

Then choose the best process for what you want to weld.

Very thin to medium tig

thin to thick Mig

Thick and thicker Arc

Tig, hard to learn, costly to buy, needs different gas for each metal.
Mig easiest to learn, mid range on price, best ones need gas
Arc between Tig & Mig for learning, cheap to buy. One off metals can be done with diff rods.

I concur with the suggestion to get some kit and have a go, just remember that it gets very hot, and doesn't cool down as fast as you might think.

Unless you're going for oxy-aceytlene, I firmly recommend to pay out and get a magic visor, even if it does cost more than the welder itself (actually no, shop around a bit in that case). The fundamental difficulty in any arc based welding is that you can't see what you're doing until you start doing it... Unless you use a magic visor which goes dark by itself.
Ty Gwyn

Magic visor helmet around the £40 mark,can get them a lot dearer.

The sorts of projects I have in mind are just constructing frameworks for things like shelving in my storage areas. Constructing / repairing the big open BBQs we use for the scouts. Supports frameworks for aerials etc.

Nothing major or too drastic with load. These are all (apart from the aerial) jobs that I would currently do with timber.

shelving stuff can often be got off the shelf for less cost than the materials
wood is also rather good .

mending bbqs etc , get a decent hat and a cheapish stick welder, a scrap pile, a few basic banging and scraping tools n some ppe,
u tube n practice

if you go for that route read up on the hns issues, fumes, UV and hot/sharp bits are nasty.

ps having a selection of rod sizes/types will be essential for practice so source those as well as a cheap tranny.

a workmanlike angle grinder can be had for under a ton , pretty vital unless you really like files
boot sale/scrapheap challenge can provide clamps, things to clamp the work to etc etc .

pps pop a pencil in a clothes peg and practice drawing a line made of side ways 8's
88888888888888888888888888888 like that but overlapping and pushing the melt while pulling the rod Wink
Mistress Rose

I would concur about the H&S. Nasty fumes, very hot stuff etc. Also a drawback of acetylene is that it is unstable if hot. Someone managed to set his garage with oxy-acetylene welding equipment in near here once and shut the motorway for 24 hours or more as the fire brigade didn't want anything within about 100 m of the place as a cylinder going bang can be rather nasty. You wouldn't believe where we found artic lorries for the next couple of days.

gas is totally unsuitable unless you have expert tuition and remember it

both o2 and fuel have issues, the equipment has issues and the location has issues.

this is outside and just fuel cans popping

they get a bit frisky from being broken

a quick look at a balloon or drum of fuel o2 mix will give you an idea of what happens if they go pop in bulk

gas is totally unsuitable unless you have expert tuition and remember it

Also because it is a whole lot more expensive, not just to set up, but with ongoing costs as you can only rent the gas bottles.

I played and didn’t die. But neither did it stick together very well.

So yesterday I booked a lesson with the guy who’s done most of the welding on the latest, and next two Fast and Furious films. And Mamma Mia 2 (rather less welding there). Son of a mate, currently in a dream job and owes me for three hotel nights. But yeah. I reckon a couple of hours tuition will save time/fingers/eye sight etc.

And maybe I can make the tractor do 0-30mph in 0.7s.
Mistress Rose

That is why they shut the motorway. If the cylinder had gone off like some of those, it could have taken out a big lorry let alone a car. Rather overkill in the case near here, but better safe than sorry.

As an aside, when we were learning about acetylene at school, our teacher told us that in the past, public halls sometimes had their own generating plants for it to use as lighting and stored it in some sort of container under slight pressure. Being a chemist, he was always aware of how unstable it was. He had to give a talk at a hall lit by acetylene on one occasion, and said he was glad when it was over and he could leave.

if you can get a tractor to do that you will need good welds just to hold the seat in place Laughing
Ty Gwyn

Never heard of acetylene being used as lighting as you describe before,normally it was town gas,my Granny used to have a gas light in the kitchen even thought there was electricity throughout the house,kept it as an emergency.

Acetylene lighting was common in the non gaseous mines ,last used was a private mine in the Neath Valley around 1970,

Also the old motorcycles were acetylene lighted,both of these through the use of carbide and water dripping to give off the gas.

acetylene lamps were common among cavers until decent batteries became available.
as vehicle lamps they were far better than wick or early electric as bulbs dont bounce about and stay working for long

for lighting a building, there are a few issues i would not like to experience.
gas/ limelight and arc have all caused issues in theatres etc but acetylene is bonkers.

the stuff really loves oxygen, it loves it large from 2 directions and it sneaks about like a crawlin kingsnake to consummate it's desires:lol:

oxygen rather likes both directions on offer and unless both are very well chaperoned their explosive affair will rock the world.

ps HP o2 has a few serious issues as well.

pps i am pretty comfortable about 2000psi hydrogen for comparison Laughing

thinking of gas if you do go for shielded arc although the gas is inert it still has a vast amount of potential energy from being under high pressure so cylinder safety is still important.
Mistress Rose

It may not have been very common, but was apparently used in some village halls and similar buildings. He told us about it when we were doing acetylene in chemistry. I knew about the lights for bikes and cars and it was a far more robust system than the electric bulbs of the day.

Limelight was another thing we covered in chemistry at school; mainly used in theatres and the term 'in the limelight' still used of course which comes from that.

Arc lighting was also dangerous. My great uncle died of leukaemia, probably as a result of the mercury arc lighting used in the earlier days of television where he worked on that sort of thing.

Husbands grandparents didn't have electricity in their house until the 1960s, so had gas lighting, as did my grandparents for the first year in their new house in the 1930s until electricity got to their part of London. Husband's grandfather was too tight to have the rather breakable shades on his gas lamps, so every time a moth flew in it had to be chased out before it hit and broke the gas mantle.

Thank goodness for electric light.

Husband's grandfather was too tight to have the rather breakable shades on his gas lamps, so every time a moth flew in it had to be chased out before it hit and broke the gas mantle.

Reminds me of a time we were camping and had a paraffin pressure lamp. Some large insects came and started battering themselves against the light (I think they were beetles rather than moths). We put the light out to stop them, but that led them to the next brightest thing which was the campfire...
Mistress Rose

Amusing in a way, but rather sad for the beetles.
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