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Old 21-08-2012, 19:55   #1
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Learning to Weld

So reading all the posts on the costs of fabricating stainless or aluminum pulpits, biminis, etc, it occurs to me that welding might be a good skill to learn.

OK welders, talk to me. How hard is it to do a passable job? Not beautiful, but functional. I'd be happy with a chevy quality job because I'll be sailing a chevy quality boat.
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Old 21-08-2012, 20:02   #2
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Re: Learning to Weld

Learning to weld is not that hard. Learning to weld well is hard.

The equipment can be expensive and it's not just the welding equipment. The rest of the fabrication equipment needs to be considered as well. Pipe benders, cutters etc.

If you do for self not so bad - if you plan to do for others, especially for compensation, you probably want to be pretty good at it.

I certified in my 20's but haven't welded in over 20 years.
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Old 21-08-2012, 20:09   #3
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Welding is easy. Make sure you have penetration or it will not hold, a welder is defined on how well he fixes his mistakes,,not how pretty of a bead he can make
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Old 21-08-2012, 20:25   #4
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Re: Learning to Weld

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Welding is easy. Make sure you have penetration or it will not hold, a welder is defined on how well he fixes his mistakes,,not how pretty of a bead he can make
no I think not in 32 years welding in the petro chemical and nuclear world I know good welder make few mistakes our job and your safety depend on it
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Old 21-08-2012, 21:38   #5
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Re: Learning to Weld

There are welders in the nuclear field and then there are welders in the community. You have to be really good to weld in some areas, to make radar arches maybe a little less so. I just spend 3 hours tig welding a Aluminum sheet to a quarter inch plate. I got about three tack welds done. (couldn't get the whole setup hot enough) So don't ask me right now- I think welding is hard.
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Old 21-08-2012, 22:18   #6
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Re: Learning to Weld

Aluminum is hard for a newbie because you need more specialized welding gear and the stuff can be a pain thanks to the fact that it doesn't really glow red before the backside drops out of whatever it is you are welding and also the oxide layer on top (which normally protects the aluminum from further corrosion) melts at over three times the temperature that metal itself does. Stainless steel on the other hand is arguably easier to weld then plain old carbon steel and only requires what passes for basic handyman equipment these days.

So my advice if you are starting out, some stainless steel projects would be feasible but you may want to practice and read up a bit before tackling Aluminum.
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Old 21-08-2012, 22:21   #7
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Re: Learning to Weld

Sounds like you need a decent spool gun,,Your Tig is too Pencil exact to be doing big stuff,,,does nice finish work though..

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Originally Posted by s/v Beth View Post
There are welders in the nuclear field and then there are welders in the community. You have to be really good to weld in some areas, to make radar arches maybe a little less so. I just spend 3 hours tig welding a Aluminum sheet to a quarter inch plate. I got about three tack welds done. (couldn't get the whole setup hot enough) So don't ask me right now- I think welding is hard.
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Old 21-08-2012, 22:23   #8
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Re: Learning to Weld

Proper preparation, and the right Rod/Wire Heat Gas Combo and its all in the wrist. Just Sayin!!

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Originally Posted by Reefmagnet View Post
Aluminum is hard for a newbie because you need more specialized welding gear and the stuff can be a pain thanks to the fact that it doesn't really glow red before the backside drops out of whatever it is you are welding and also the oxide layer on top (which normally protects the aluminum from further corrosion) melts at over three times the temperature that metal itself does. Stainless steel on the other hand is arguably easier to weld then plain old carbon steel and only requires what passes for basic handyman equipment these days.

So my advice if you are starting out, some stainless steel projects would be feasible but you may want to practice and read up a bit before tackling Aluminum.
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Old 22-08-2012, 00:57   #9
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Re: Learning to Weld

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Originally Posted by s/v Beth View Post
There are welders in the nuclear field and then there are welders in the community. You have to be really good to weld in some areas, to make radar arches maybe a little less so. I just spend 3 hours tig welding a Aluminum sheet to a quarter inch plate. I got about three tack welds done. (couldn't get the whole setup hot enough) So don't ask me right now- I think welding is hard.
It is likely you do not have a large enough machine You can preheat with a torch , might help
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Old 22-08-2012, 00:59   #10
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Re: Learning to Weld

I suggest that you shell out a few dollars for a short welding course on the metals that you want to work with. Welding is not that hard, but welding neatly needs some skills that are better learnt from an expert.
Regards,
Richard.
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Old 22-08-2012, 03:07   #11
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Re: Learning to Weld

done a bit of welding over the years, never did any stainless steel til about 18 months ago, bought a $150 stick welder and some 316 rods and been having great fun ever since, just finished my self steering windvane unit, as well as quite a few other odd jobs. Doing it for someone else for pay is a different story though, think you need a mig/tig setup and some real polish in your finishing work, plenty of work out there though.
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Old 22-08-2012, 03:10   #12
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Re: Learning to Weld

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Originally Posted by boden36 View Post
I suggest that you shell out a few dollars for a short welding course on the metals that you want to work with. Welding is not that hard, but welding neatly needs some skills that are better learnt from an expert.
Regards,
Richard.
I've been welding for 40 years, and the above is good advise!
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Old 22-08-2012, 04:18   #13
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Re: Learning to Weld

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Aluminum is hard for a newbie because you need more specialized welding gear and the stuff can be a pain thanks to the fact that it doesn't really glow red before the backside drops out of whatever it is you are welding and also the oxide layer on top (which normally protects the aluminum from further corrosion) melts at over three times the temperature that metal itself does. Stainless steel on the other hand is arguably easier to weld then plain old carbon steel and only requires what passes for basic handyman equipment these days.

So my advice if you are starting out, some stainless steel projects would be feasible but you may want to practice and read up a bit before tackling Aluminum.
100% agree.

Stainless really is the easiest metal to weld nicely, because it runs and self-levels like paint. Especially with TIG, but even stickwelding.

With stainless, if the bead looks good (smooth, little or no undercut at the edges, right amount of buildup) the only thing which could be wrong is that the adjacent regions may rot out under corrosive conditions.

To avoid this, the only way (for an amateur workshop) is to scrupulously clean the weld zone immediately before running the weld, (particularly if any oils have been in contact) and ensure all parent metals and filler rods are certified low-carbon, with an L suffix. (eg 316L)

When starting out stick welding, there's a 'cheat' which helps you get off on the right foot. Experiment with the angle of the rod until you find one where instead of having to also move your hand in the direction of the joint, you can just move it closer to the joint (the rod being consumed at the correct rate to provide the 'feed' along the joint)

This is much easier to coordinate when you're learning, because the first thing to learn is to keep a constant arc length (distance from tip of electrode to root of joint) and it's much easier to do this by a one-dimensional move than in two simultaneously.

Later, when arc length becomes second nature (gauged mainly by maintaining just the right "eggs frying" sound) you can adjust to a more optimised rod angle, so the weld profile is a nicer shape and you have the right degree of penetration (and not too much undercut).
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Old 22-08-2012, 04:42   #14
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Re: Learning to Weld

Hmmm ... just re-read the OP.

You'd be struggling to do even Chevvy class welds on material as thin as the usual bimini and even bow/sternrail tubing, with a stick welder. It's also quite a lot trickier welding around cylindrical things than rectangular ones, especially when they meet another piece at an angle.

TIG helps on both counts, but shelling out $$$ for TIG plant (not least the inert gas) would make no sense until and unless you get some training and an objective assessment of your aptitude.

Rip, sh*t & bust guys tend to do well MIG welding alu (you have to move REALLY fast and confidently, and have good spacial perception and memory to be able stay middled over the joint - which is crucial - remembering it will have corners and bends - when you can't see properly through the blue haze)

Whereas a careful, thoughtful, methodical person with good fine motor control for slow movements, TIGing SS should be relatively quick to learn.
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Old 22-08-2012, 05:38   #15
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Re: Learning to Weld

I have been stick and mig welding for over 30 years and always looked at tig welders but had no reason to own one. Now after seeing what the tig people charge for work on yachts I bought a nice tig welder and a tube bender for 1inch tube. I did play with the welder and a friend gave me some pointers which helped me to get some half decent welds done. But I think to do welds that look real tidy you need to do a lot of welding. That is what I'm doing now. I got lots of offcuts and a big bottle of gas and get some serious hrs tig welding done. I think that is the only way to get it to look good.
Looking at the savings it is well worth doing.

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