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How to use an arc welder

What to do before you strike an arcÖ

First rule: be safe. (See arc welder safety). Dress properly for welding by using a good welding helmet to protect your eyes fro UV (ultraviolet) rays and keep sparks and slag from your hair and face. Goggles arenít good enough. Wear clothes that are fire retardant, and that are comfortable.

Donít wear excessively loose clothes. I like a leather apron in this circumstance.

Your welding area is as important. It should be suitably ventilated and dry. You can get some tips on preparing it from our arc welding safety area. Maybe use a welding curtain.

RTFM: Oh, and please: read the manuals and instructions for your welder. Itís basic, but you have to pay attention to the fundamentals.

Okay, nowóletís strike that arc!

Striking an arc is pretty easy. With your helmet up so you can see, put the electrode about ľĒ away from the weld surface. Lower your helmet and jab with the electrode. Look out for the arc, then be ready to pull the electrode away a tiny bit. Move the electrode into the weld; it melts off into the weld pool.

How you lay a beadÖ

A good arc makes hisses. It cracks as the electrode burns. Holding the arc too far away makes more buzzing and spattering. Holding the arc to close makes the rod overheat and sometimes stick to the work. Keep the electrode moving into the weld pool as you move along. Horizontal beads are easy. When you make vertical beads, move from the top down.

For long beads, tack weld every 6" to prevent warping. Tack entire projects together and then finish the weld once itís structurally sound. This keeps shapes from warping. Tack every six inches along all your seams. Metal is too expensive these days to allow it to warp.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. How do you weld a good bead? Same way.

Categorically, you canít learn to weld from this, or from any other website. You learn to weld by practicing. A lot. Get inexpensive metals and weld them. Try to make a beautiful bead. Try to make good welds without burning through the metal.

There are some good welding books and welding instructional DVDís out there available to you as well. Avail yourself of those.

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