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Thread: The Fabrication/Welding Thread

  1. #1
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    Default The Fabrication/Welding Thread

    From what I've seen on this forum there are a lot of people making comments like "gosh, I wish I could weld like that" or "how did you come up with that gorgeous design?". Well this is the exact thread to ask those questions. Need help setting up your welder? Not sure which tungsten to use on your TIG? Can't come up with a way to get those coilovers from an E36 fit on your Kia? (I'm into neither car so that probably isn't possible but you get the idea.)

    To be clear, THIS IS NOT A "LOOK AT WHAT I MADE" THREAD. Only post pictures if 1) requested, 2) you want to show people what you're up against, 3) welds that don't look as pretty as you'd like and you seek advice or 4) you used someone's advice and want to thank them by showing the improvement. No judging! We all start somewhere.

    This is just an idea that came to me the other day. We'll see if it takes off. I know there are some magnificent fabricators on here so hopefully they stop by this thread often (hoowhybrow, Heist, cubbychowder...you guys)

    So I'll start... I have been trying to get into TIG welding. Right now I can only lay a bead on a flat of aluminum (barely). If I want to weld mild steel exhaust piping with an inverter TIG, what size/type tungsten should I be using? What is a good starting setup on my machine (Everlast 250EX)?


    Welding tips found in this thread

    TIG
    - Machine must be set to AC for aluminum and DC for steel
    - Aluminum should be welded with a positive electrode (hooked up to the + plug on your welder)
    - Steel can be welded with a positive or negative electrode. A positive electrode (DCEP) will result in higher penetration. A negative electrode (DCEN) will result in a cooler puddle which is more suited for thin metals to avoid blowing through.
    - Don't weld with your piece flat on the table; the table will become a massive heatsink
    - Red tungsten (2% thoriated) can be used for all metals: aluminum, stainless, and mild steel, brass
    (I personally prefer 1.5% or 2% Lanthanated but I am by no means an expert)
    - 1/16" Tungsten for steel and 3/32" Tungsten for aluminum
    - Metal must be thoroughly clean and uncontaminated
    - Learn to weld on mild steel. Then upgrade to stainless. Then aluminum; it is the most difficult.
    - Know your material and how it holds/disperses heat.
    - Tungsten should be ground to a sharp point using an uncontaminated grinder.
    - Point the tungsten upward so the grain from grinding it will be going lengthwise on the electrode.
    - For joining aluminum (or other metals), keep the tungsten very close, and wash to the two together (very light side to side movement). If they do not bond immediately, STOP. Let it cool and try again.
    - (aluminum) A shiny bead means a good weld. Cracks on the backside of the weld are no good.
    - (stainless) A shiny and colorful weld means the heat and speed are correct. If the weld is dark and matte then it was either too hot or too slow or had poor gas coverage (try a few seconds of post-flow and the largest cup you have). Also consider purchasing a gas lens.
    - 85 amps is a good general starting point for aluminum regardless of thickness (within reason)
    - Learn to use the pedal before the button control. This will help you understand the concept behind what you're doing.
    - Keep the tungsten as close to the metal as you can
    - TIG is all about angles and keeping the arc tight
    - Try using a smaller filler rod (.035, .045 and 1/16 should cover most anything exhaust related)
    - You want a slight convex shape to your weld especially on tubing.
    - Welding without filler rod is called "fusing" and acceptable for non-load bearing joints (ie. some exhaust tubing)

    MIG
    - Perfect starter welding system
    - Less expensive alternative...good ones can be found at Harbor Freight
    - A gas MIG welder is preferred
    - Don't skimp on safely! Get a good helmet (same for TIG welding)
    - Practice
    - Clean the surface thoroughly
    - There are some online references for amps, wire speed, and other variables Recommended wire settings, Heat settings, Bead illustrations
    - Weld in a pattern that resembles a string of cursive lowercase l's Read more on this here
    - If the backside of the piece looks like it was welded too, then you have good penetration

    This post will be continually updated as more information is posted
    Last edited by M.Doban; 03-10-2016 at 04:05 PM.

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    Default

    Great idea for a thread. I've always wanted to learn to weld, but I wouldn't know where to start (and I don't have the space right now). For a starter, what would be the best type of welder/accessories needed to get started doing basic welding tasks and something to build off of. By basic welding tasks I mean things like exhaust, tool carts, etc.
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    Welding without gas is a butt. Get a gas welder. It's worth the extra money. For welding little things a 110v will do just fine. But personally, I always leave room to grow, so I would get a 220v. As for makes, I gave been using the same Hobart for like seven years with no issues and I love it. Good luck!

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    Micah, red tungsten (2% thoriated) will be best.

    Honestly, you can use red for almost anything. I tig weld all day every day and I never use any other tungsten's. You can weld stainless, aluminum, mild steel, brass, pretty much anything you can think of with the same red tungsten. Just make it really sharp and keep it clean.

    It's all about consistency.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SheaMoose View Post
    Micah, red tungsten (2% thoriated) will be best.

    Honestly, you can use red for almost anything. I tig weld all day every day and I never use any other tungsten's. You can weld stainless, aluminum, mild steel, brass, pretty much anything you can think of with the same red tungsten. Just make it really sharp and keep it clean.

    It's all about consistency.
    Perfect! Thank you! Any thickness recommendations/tips?

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    Quote Originally Posted by fifty3bags View Post
    Great idea for a thread. I've always wanted to learn to weld, but I wouldn't know where to start (and I don't have the space right now). For a starter, what would be the best type of welder/accessories needed to get started doing basic welding tasks and something to build off of. By basic welding tasks I mean things like exhaust, tool carts, etc.
    You would want a MIG (metal inert gas) for that type of stuff. They're the simplest to use and setup, and they're much cheaper than a TIG (tungsten inert gas).


    If you're really just looking for the cheapest way to stick things together, harbor freight is the place to look. You can pick up a 110v MIG welder for like $150, some flux core wire, some gloves and a helmet and get started right away. This setup welds about as good as the price is expensive, but it's a good cheap way to start and see if you really want to learn.

    The next step up (new still) is a cheap 110v Miller/Lincoln/Hobart for about $800-$1000 and a tank of gas (small rental tanks are available for about $50). I have a Millermatic 140 MIG that I have used for tons of things from thin bodywork to 1/4" metal and it always works great. The duty cycle isn't very high and it's only 110v so you can't weld thick stuff for very long, but for the home hobbyist it's a great setup. All the popular welder brands will have something close to the Millermatic, they're all very similar so it's really just brand preference.

    You can get used welders for very cheap as well. Craigslist is great to find deals, although it can be intimidating if you don't know exactly what you're looking for.


    As for accessories, all you really need is a good helmet (don't skimp out, a good helmet is 100% worth the extra cost) and some welding gloves. You don't really need the gloves, but your body will thank you in the long run if you use them. You can get by without hammers and pics and brushes.

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    ^^ Okay wow that was a much better reply than mine. Byron's exactly right.

    Also, if you're going to be welding for an extended period of time, cover all your exposed skin! Welding burn hurts like crazy and is much more harsh on your skin than normal sun burn.

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    Thanks for the shout out man, means a lot. I am also slowly learning TIG welding, and have messed around with it a little bit on mild steel and aluminum. What do you guys think of the purple E3 tungsten? That's all I have used so far with my Eastwood TIG200 and it seems to be working pretty good, but I have no prior experience with different machines and tungstens. I also don't have the best tungsten grinding method at the moment either, how do you guys go about getting a nice pointy tungsten? I've been using my bench grinder, but I know cross contaminating different metals can fuck stuff up.

    For MIG welding, I would personally recommend skipping flux core welding all together and jumping straight into gas shielded welding. I found my Lincoln 180HD on craigslist brand new for $400, spent about another $200 on a 141 cu.ft. bottle and gas and was essentially ready to go. Spend a few hours on YouTube watching videos on tips/tricks/techniques and you will have a way better understanding of how it all works and what to expect.

    At the end of the day, the only way to get good at welding is to just do it. You're gonna suck at first. You're gonna post pictures of your first projects and apologize for the crappy welds, it all comes in time. Make sure the metal is clean, make sure your settings are correct, wear all the gear and don't worry about looking like the cool guy welding with no mask or sleeves on. Don't weld galvanized steel without wearing a respirator and don't use brake cleaner to clean metal before welding. Angle/die grinders will become your best friend.

    Just go out and build shit
    Last edited by CubbyChowder; 02-22-2014 at 01:27 PM.

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    Well said. Have you read about the guy that sprayed some sort of cleaning solvent onto the metal to wipe it down but didn't wipe it all off? Apparently when the welder heated the solvent up and he inhaled it, it burned most of his lungs out and he's pretty messed up. It was all over the web a couple months ago.

    So be careful! Always weld in a ventilated area!

    Cubby, as stated, I'm no expert in TIG, but I've been using the side of the bench grinder as it almost never touches metal. Particularly the inner facing side of the wheel. That's all the advice I have though and I'd love to hear the proper (and still easy) way to do it.

    edit: using the side of the wheel is the wrong way to go about this


    edit: It was brake cleaner. Don't use brake cleaner. Here's the article. http://www.brewracingframes.com/id75.htm
    Last edited by M.Doban; 03-04-2014 at 01:35 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by M.Doban View Post
    Well said. Have you read about the guy that sprayed some sort of cleaning solvent onto the metal to wipe it down but didn't wipe it all off? Apparently when the welder heated the solvent up and he inhaled it, it burned most of his lungs out and he's pretty messed up. It was all over the web a couple months ago.

    So be careful! Always weld in a ventilated area!

    Cubby, as stated, I'm no expert in TIG, but I've been using the side of the bench grinder as it almost never touches metal. Particularly the inner facing side of the wheel. That's all the advice I have though and I'd love to hear the proper (and still easy) way to do it.



    edit: It was brake cleaner. Don't use brake cleaner. Here's the article. http://www.brewracingframes.com/id75.htm
    I did read some sort of article related to brake cleaner and welding recently, and I'm really glad I did because just a few days prior I was using brake cleaner to clean the metal before I was welding it. Apparently not all brake cleaners have the deadly affect anymore, but I don't know enough about it to feel safe ever using it again on projects to be welded. I'll stick to acetone, paint thinner or degreaser.

    That's a good idea to use the side of the wheel, I'll do that next time. Haven't TIG'd in a while, I really want to try stainless.

  11. #11
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    I need to get my welder up and running. Got it from my buddy it is a Lincon weld-pak 100 had a pinched line which I have just havent replaced.

    Home depot carries a mig coversion kit for it for $110.

    Where do you guys buy/rent and fill bottles?

  12. #12
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    There's a small welding supplies shop local to me. They sell wire and pretty much everything else including filling tanks. Maybe try Google searching for shops near you. I suspect you'd get better results from a phone book though as most of these guys are old school.

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    So I tried the red tungsten like SheaMoose suggested and it worked perfectly on the mild steel! Thanks, man!

    However, I'm still having a lot of trouble actually tacking two pieces of aluminum together. They both just burn away from each other. What are some recommended settings (amps, balance, frequency, arc force) for say, 1/16" aluminum?

    Another issue I have is this: if I try using thicker aluminum and turn the amps up to compensate, the tungsten melts up into the cap pretty quickly... like in 2 seconds. About 1/8" tungsten. Help.
    Last edited by M.Doban; 02-23-2014 at 05:44 PM.

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  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by M.Doban View Post
    So I tried the red tungsten like SheaMoose suggested and it worked perfectly on the mild steel! Thanks, man!

    However, I'm still having a lot of trouble actually tacking two pieces of aluminum together. They both just burn away from each other. What are some recommended settings (amps, balance, frequency, arc force) for say, 1/16" aluminum?

    Another issue I have is this: if I try using thicker aluminum and turn the amps up to compensate, the tungsten melts up into the cap pretty quickly... like in 2 seconds. About 1/8" tungsten. Help.

    I have not been able to show case my work on the forums yet seeing how I just joined here maybe 2 weeks ago, but i do weld every day seeing how I'm a welder and fabricator for a company that uses jet turbine engine as generators, so my knowledge is coming from my personally experiences only, I too still have much to learn.

    With that said when it comes to tacking two pieces of Aluminum together keep the tungsten very close, and wash to the two together (very light side to side movement) it will either quickly bond or it wont, if it doesn't melt into each other right away let off the pedal (or finger button if that's your set up) let it cool and try again. It takes practice to get consistent at it.

    The biggest thing with welding is knowing your material. In you case with aluminum especially when its thin you need to realize it will heat up rapidly, so as you are welding adjust to that, start moving and dabbing quicker as you move along, if you stay the same speed all the way through the weld it will get to hot and that is just as bad as being to cold.
    Another cool side to aluminum is the material will let you know if you ran a good bead or not, if it is not shiny (almost resembling polished aluminum) then something went wrong, heat could be off, tungsten could have been contaminated, gas coverage could have been to little or to much, you could have not added enough filler ( with aluminum that is easy to tell flip over the piece you welded and see if it has small cracks on the back)

    As far as your tungsten melting away I have no clue what that could be besides a lack of gas, if your gas flow is off (to little) your tungsten's tip should melt away as soon as the arc bounces from the work piece to the tungsten. Also are you using Argon as the shielding gas?

    I hope some of this helped and if anyone has questions specifically about something feel free to PM me.
    PS. Great idea for a thread.

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    As far as settings, for thinner aluminum a decent start point would maybe be around 85amp, its all depends on the set up and what your welding, if its a butt joint, a t-joint a lap joint or pipe, and it depends on the person welding its self, I personally run my machines colder then most because I prefer moving slower, but as far as upping the amps for thicker aluminum I wouldn't worry to much about it unless its like 1/16 to 1/4 jump, I tend to keep the amps the same for 1/16 to 1/8th and what not an compensate with how I weld it, I.E waiting longer to start once the arc as started or moving faster or slower, feathering the pedal.
    Their are a lot of variables that you as a welder will want to play with and find what you like.

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    Wow. Thank you so much. That was all exactly what I needed to hear. I did not know that changing the amperage was not really needed (must be the MIG welder in me) or that the type of joint made a difference. Thank you again. I'm going to go give all your advice a try! Also thank you for permitting us to PM you with questions. This has been so helpful.
    Last edited by M.Doban; 02-23-2014 at 05:43 PM.

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    Love this thread concept. Anyone that's getting into tig here is some basic tips:

    -LEARN THE PEDAL. Seriously do not even play with the button until you fully understand the pedal.
    -Start will steel, 2% thoriated(red stuff is seriously all you need... it's radioactive, so wear a mask when grinding it) (small tungsten 1/16" I think?) , grind it to a sharp point that can draw blood if you poke your skin, small filler rod, and learn the puddle with the small stuff. Keep the tungsten as close to the metal as you can.

    Tig is all about angles and keeping the arc tight. When in doubt turn the amps up.... unless it's aluminum. Master steel and stainless will be easy after that. Aluminum is the most difficult.

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    Should be getting a welder here soon, have not done any since high school, ill be a bit rusty, but it will be fun to do again. More pics should be on these pages!

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    I know just enough to be dangerous. Good thread though. If you add some of the common information for welding to the first post, I'll sticky this thread.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheNeek View Post
    I know just enough to be dangerous. Good thread though. If you add some of the common information for welding to the first post, I'll sticky this thread.
    That would be wonderful. Done.

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    Quote Originally Posted by M.Doban View Post
    That would be wonderful. Done.
    keep that first post updated

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    cool idea for a thread buddy

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    oh hey what do you think of my exhaust weld? it was my first time. i know it sucks balls but what did i do wrong? also, there's 2 beads cuz there were 2 different spaces i had to weld

    1655972_10201346133922391_1768910490_n by nfglaudemans, on Flickr

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick475 View Post
    oh hey what do you think of my exhaust weld? it was my first time. i know it sucks balls but what did i do wrong? also, there's 2 beads cuz there were 2 different spaces i had to weld

    1655972_10201346133922391_1768910490_n by nfglaudemans, on Flickr
    Prep work is key! On those chunks that you where welding you can see the heavy amounts of rust and grime. any type of foreign matter are going to cause splattering and a loss of a good arc. Just grind it down to clean metal before you weld and ill guarantee that those welds will look a lot cleaner!
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    Check the side of the machine to see what your settings need to be for the thickness of the metal you are using. On the pic about, looks like you are going to fast or your speed it to high. You want to move your weld from side to side and watch the melting puddle. Like a half moon. )/)/)/)/)/)/)/)/)/)/)/)/) Like that, kinda. Are you welding with Flux? No gas? If you are, get some gas... Makes a world of difference!

    Here's what I mean... This is also a bad cleaning job, but you get the idea.
    Last edited by CBURKE; 02-24-2014 at 03:47 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick475 View Post
    oh hey what do you think of my exhaust weld? it was my first time. i know it sucks balls but what did i do wrong? also, there's 2 beads cuz there were 2 different spaces i had to weld

    1655972_10201346133922391_1768910490_n by nfglaudemans, on Flickr
    are you using a gas mig or flux core?

    if its flux, don't even bother, convert to welding mix and save yourself the trouble.

    if its gas. slow down, steady deliberate movements are key, like the others said good prep work is a must. slow your wire speed down a little bit. and keep practicing, you'll get it.

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