MIG welding for beginners may seem a little intimidating, initially, but with a little practice and some experience under your belt, once you feel more comfortable using your welding machine and the process itself, you’ll find that it’s actually a very simple process. MIG welding is considered the easiest welding process out there, which is what makes it such a great choice for beginners. If you’re new to welding, this is the process to learn. Most beginners mistakenly start off trying their hand with TIG, which is a huge mistake since it’s one of the hardest processes to learn.
Key Takeaway: If you’re interested in learning how to weld, whether you want to make a career out of it or for DIY jobs around the home, MIG welding is the process to learn. Unlike TIG or stick, MIG is very beginner-friendly. With the right tools, you can easily get the hang of MIG welding techniques in a matter of days.
A Simple Process
Stick and TIG welding is so difficult because it can take several days for the beginner to just learn how to strike an arc using a stick welder. With TIG, this welding process is only used for certain types of applications and requires advanced skills.
But with the right welding machine, all you have to do is pull the trigger on a MIG welder, such as the MIG/Flux Core Welder by Miller Electric. The wire will feed out and you can start welding. You don’t have to deal with foot pedals to adjust the amperage or mess with a stubborn welding rod. MIG welding is very straightforward and because of this, it can be a very motivating, simple technique that beginners can easily learn.
Simple Steps for Your First MIG Weld
Your first step is to pick the right type of MIG welder for the job. You can click here to view our welding machine buyer’s guide where you’ll find the five leading models on the market.
A common mistake beginners make often is purchasing a welding machine that’s overkill for MIG welds. The average welder won’t need a machine that can handle one-inch thick welds. Additionally, if you did run into this issue and you had to weld a thicker piece of metal you could just bevel thicker pieces and weld multiple passes. Realistically speaking, most beginners will only need a welding machine that has a one hundred and forty to one hundred and eighty-five amperage power. These machines can help you learn how to weld thin metal at a quarter of an inch thick up to half an inch thick. Which means a welding machine with this type of power should be versatile enough for someone of your skill level and needs.
Make sure the model you choose can be hooked up to a gas tank. If you purchase a model without this option then you will only be able to use flux core wire, which means you’ll be kicking yourself later on if you’re not able to hook up a gas cylinder. Without a gas cylinder, you won’t be able to keep your welds free of slag or other contaminants.
Whatever you do, don’t just look for the cheapest model you can find. Many of the lower priced models are cheap for a reason. We recommend going with a well-known brand. Even though these welding machines often come with a steep price tag, in the long run, it’s totally worth it.
Safety and Weld Equipment
When you have the right safety gear, learning how to weld can be much more enjoyable. If you want to avoid getting arc burn, then there are a few essential pieces of safety gear you need to pick up prior to your first lesson. The welding machine’s ultra-violet rays can be very harmful to any exposed skin, which is why the arms must be covered at all times.
Proper safety gear includes:
- Leather boots
- Welding gloves
- Welding helmet
- Cotton clothes
- Welding curtain
- Welding jacket or sleeves
How to Tune a MIG Welder
Learning how to weld, especially MIG welding, is a very simple process, just as long as the welding machine is correctly tuned. Before you start welding, the first thing you need to do is tune your machine. The welding machine features a setting to feed the wire out at a determined rate. If the wire is fed too fast then it won’t melt at a steady rate. To avoid this, turn down the wire speed. Your welding machine will come with a chart that clearly shows the exact settings the voltage and wire speed should be set to.
How to Angle Your Gun
When you MIG weld, you’ll use shielding gas in order to protect the weld puddle from the atmosphere, otherwise the welds you make will turn out weak. So, when you’re welding, you will need to maintain a fifteen-degree travel angle. This is done to get good gas coverage and so you can easily see the weld puddle. If the gun is angled too much then the gas will not be able to protect the weld. This can result in porosity.
If you don’t have a gas tank, the other option is to use flux core wire. Instead of using gas to protect the molten puddle, the flux core wire is filled with flux, which performs the same task the gas does. In windy conditions, this process is a much better option than using gas. It should also be used when you’re dealing with dirty metals. With this process, MIG welding is much simpler. However, gas allows you to easily see the entire weld puddle with no issues.
Pulling the Trigger
Once your welding machine is tuned up and ready to go and you have properly angled the gun, then you’re ready to get started. Once you pull the trigger on the welding gun the wire will begin feeding out and an arc will start. Gas will also begin flowing out of the nozzle. Pace yourself during this time, going slow in order to ensure you get a nice hot weld. You don’t want to go too slow otherwise you can end up burning right through the metal. Depending on the thickness of the material you’re welding, you can travel one inch every ten seconds.
Most instructors will encourage you to begin welding on thinner pieces of steel because it can help you see how the heat affects the material. You won’t be able to see this with thicker pieces of metal.
Weld Bead Size
As you’re welding, pay careful attention to the weld bead size. You can determine if you’re moving the weld bead too fast or slow based on the size of the weld bead. If your welds look snake- like or too thin this means you’re welding too quickly and essentially rushing the weld. This will prevent you from getting decent weld penetration.
And that’s it. Now that you know the basics of MIG welding for beginners, you can get started experimenting with different weld thicknesses and techniques. Remember, always wear your safety gear, pace yourself, don’t rush the weld, and pay close attention to the weld bead size. With a little practice, you’ll be able to MIG weld confidently for a variety of applications.