MIG Welding Tips and Tricks from the Pros

Whether you are a professional welder or a hobbyist, you must study up and stay safe. In this article, you will discover helpful tips and advice. Ways to highlight on how welding can be more than just a job to keep you grounded.

Staying Safe While Welding with MIG Welding Tips

Safety and protection are of the upmost priority. To prevent electrocution, you will need to ground the work to a reliable source. Inspect your receptacle circuit, on a regular basis, to ensure the stability of the grounding conductor. A receptacle circuit tester can be purchased online or at any hardware store.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Dress appropriately, while using the MIG welder by having the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This includes the following:

  • Helmet – Protecting the eyes and the face from radiation, flying debris or particles, sparks, intense heat.
  • Respirators – Protecting the lungs against the fumes and oxides.
  • Gloves – Protecting your hands from heat, shock, burns, and fires.
  • Heat Resistant Clothing and Aprons – Protecting any exposed skin from burns, heat, and fires.
  • Ear Muffs / Plugs – Protecting your ears from the noise.
  • Boots – Protecting your feet from heat, shock, burns, and fires.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Safeguard your area by clearing out any water. Do not weld in inclement weather. Be sure that you have a well-ventilated area. Do not breathe in the gas fumes and use your common sense.

Focus in on your work and eliminate any surrounding distractions. Only work on a project when you are a 100% sure that you know what to do. Constantly remain dry and grounded, along with complete certainty that the connections are tight.

Use plenty of caution when welding with containers. Have exact knowledge of the contents inside. Items could be flammable, toxic, or explosive. Even when working on motorcycles, cars, or anything that may have a gas tank; try to remove the tank prior to welding. All it takes is a spark to set yourself up for immediate danger.

Educate Yourself

Read through any and all manuals, scour the internet, and watch as many videos that you can. Protect yourself by taking full advantage of the many classes that are readily available. If you have an open schedule, and welding has always been of some interest, there are sessions that you can attend in person. If you are limited on time, or want to freshen up your skills, online courses are always available.

Since there are different types of welding, be sure to research the specific area that you are interested in. As you know, TIG and MIG welding are different forms, which means that there are distinct techniques that you should acquire to stay safe while welding.  Knowing the difference, and applying the knowledge for such, will go a long way in keeping you out of harm’s way.

If you are planning on welding with a MIG for a while; purchasing one, versus renting, will save you money and time. Compare the different models and read through reputable online forums. Stay afloat of the pricing, as many online stores offer specials periodically throughout the year.

Practice Makes Perfect

Even if you have a lot of core knowledge on an upcoming project, you will still want to practice on similar materials until you work on your masterpiece. Become familiar with which materials that you will be working on. Aluminum, low carbon steel, and stainless adapt a great deal with MIG welding. Not all elements work best with MIG.

Consider how deep the penetration needs to be, the characteristics of the material, and the control of the mechanical properties of the weld. For example, when MIG welding with aluminum, it is a non-ferrous metal. Meaning that its main component is nonmagnetic and of flexible metal. In turn, this implies that, when preparing to use a MIG welder on aluminum, it is necessary to use a 100% argon shielding gas.

Try either the forehand or backhand technique, when using a MIG weld. The forehand, or push, style allows for the rod itself to precede the torch when used on thinner materials. Whereas backhand, or pull, welding generates less puddle and works best on thicker components.

Another approach is to utilize skip welding. This type of skill allows for a pattern of infrequent welds. Upon completion, you would then retrace the initial welding line. This will be beneficial in reducing the distortion of the metal.

No matter which method you decide upon, keep your hands relaxed and exercise your form as many times as possible to work out any kinks, prior to tackling your project. Attempting to take short cuts, or not practicing at all, will cause you to lose time and money in the grand scheme.

Cleanliness is Next to Steadiness

One of the best ways to create a strong weld is by taking care of your MIG welder. This will save you money, and time, as proper maintenance does not require a large amount of effort. With regular care, and attention, your MIG will be able to live up to its effectiveness and durability.

Your MIG welder will not get very far if it is dirty, contains rust, or has any other contaminants on it. Gunk that collects on the MIG weld can get trapped and cause a massive hindrance. Before working on any project, make certain that there are no impurities or toxins that can get onto the MIG weld when working with it.

A common mishap is that the tip, or the gun nozzle, becomes clogged. Try to back up, just a bit, with the machine when working on a project. Sometimes, welders accidentally get the MIG welder too deep into the penetration. This can lead to molten welding droplets sticking and / or hardening causing blockages and obstructions. Use an anti-spatter spray, nozzle drip or gel to clean and maintain the tip on the gun.

The MIG gun liner needs to be clear of any build-up, as it can make a tremendous difference in the effectiveness of the welding caliber. Try using an air compressor to expel any dirt or dust particles that may have collected along the liner. If that does not fully clear the liner, you may need to use a pad or swab, with a non-residue cleaner, to wipe the blockage away. Try to do this on a weekly basis, to maintain a precise and durable weld. For a piece of mind, have a back-up liner handy when attempting to finish your project.

All Wired Up

Welding on solid-steel typically requires an ER70S-6, which is the most commonly used MIG wiring. Dissected as an electrode rod with a tinsel toughness of 70,000 psi as a solid electrode with a chemical composition of 6. This specific type works well on carbon steel projects.

When using a 220-volt machine, a typical wire diameter of 0.035 is a great fit. If you are starting out in the welding field, or looking to get into it as a hobbyist, a 0.023 works great with a smaller scale MIG.

Determine where you will be accessing the correct amp fuse. Certify that your wiring can handle the current, from which the MIG weld will be producing. Stay safe by double checking every avenue; from the front of the MIG machine all the way to around to the power source.

Smooth Operator

The most common MIG setting is the direct current electrode positive (DCEP), which allows for the positive terminal to be connected to your ground. This will allow for a more stable, and smoother, weld especially with steel. Prior to starting your project, you will need to have the machine in the correct setting to meet your expectations.

The MIG welding machine can produce a lower voltage, by utilizing a short circuit transfer. This is when the wire touches the metal, causing the alloy to become hot enough to merge into the joint. When this happens, a puddle forms from the taction. To know if the short circuit is set, listen for a sound similar to that of cold-water droplets touching a hot frying pan.

Calculate the wire that you will need, to prevent stick-out. Some manuals, and online sources, may suggest a longer electrical stick-out measuring from the crown to the foot of the hardened electrode wire. For a thin gauge, try applying the forehand technique with no more than a stick-out of ¾-inches. If needing to fill in larger gaps, measure out about ½-inch of stick-out.

Shielding gas is important, as it can prevent excessive spatter, reduces porocity, and protects the welding area. If you are welding for fun, a shielding gas of 75/25 (75% Argon / 25% Carbon Dioxide) will be plenty. On your regulator, unless otherwise specified, a basic flow rate should be between 10 to 20 cubic feet per hour (CFH).

Compelled to Weld

Safeguard your welding area, and yourself. Frequently read and research to further educate yourself. Practice, practice, practice as much as possible. Remember, when the helmet is on, shut the rest of the world out.

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