Welding 101 for Hobbyists (and Nerds)

Welding 101 for Hobbyists (and Nerds)


I got something fancy for Christmas this year. This is my new TIG welding machine, which
I’ve already christened in the typical Practical Engineering fashion. I’m a welding newbie and currently absorbing
anything I can on the subject, so while I learn, I thought I would take the time to
boil down some of that new knowledge and share it with you. Now, this is welding for the guys and girls
at the front of the class who never set foot in the machine shop You know who I’m talking
about: the marching band members, the geeks, the nerds. We’re not going to obfuscate things with
bumblefudgery and Canadian syllogisms. In other words, if you already nail the keyhole
on your root pass, this video might just be a bit elementary. I’m Grady and this is Practical Engineering. On this episode we’re talking Welding 101
for hobbyists. For our purposes, we’ll define welding as
a way to join metals using fusion. That fusion is what makes welding different
than brazing or soldering. When you’re joining metals, you have two
parts, the base metal, and the sometimes optional filler metal you use to reinforce the joint. With brazing and soldering, the heat is only
enough to melt the filler metal and not the base metal. This is the metal equivalent to how most glues
work. With welding, on the other hand, the base
metals are melted so that fusion can occur. The two metals actually become one. “Set your spirit free, it’s the only way
to be…” Little spice girls reference for you. In general, and compared to other common building
materials, metals have excellent mechanical properties. They are hard, tough, strong, and durable. As someone who, and I hesitate to say it on
a welding video, occasionally works the wood, even I can admit that metals are a superior
material in many regards. So you can see why it would be advantageous
to have a way to connect them together, especially if you can do it in such a way that joint
isn’t the weakest part of your assembly. That’s the goal of welding, and luckily,
this is not something reserved for industrial factories and machine shops. From my own experiences so far, welding is
something you might be able to do yourself as a hobby. And stay tuned till the end for some tips
for getting started. Welding requires two essential ingredients:
heat and protection from the atmosphere. The heat, of course, is necessary to melt
the pieces of metal being welded so that can fuse together. The shielding is necessary because molten
metals easily oxidize and absorb atmospheric contaminants. These impurities will weaken a weld or prevent
good fusion all together, so some kind of shielding is usually required. Now, there are a lot of ways to make heat. That’s actually a fundamental law of the
universe, but it’s also true in the more specific sense here. So, as you can imagine, with only those two
basic requirements, a litany of welding methods have been developed using different permutations
of heat and shielding. Luckily for me as the writer of this video,
only a few of those methods are widely accessible to hobbyists. Today we’ll talk briefly about five. The first is oxy-fuel welding, also known
as gas or torch welding. In this method, the heat comes from the combustion
of a mixture of pure oxygen and some other gas, usually acetylene. This combination creates an extremely hot
flame which can exceed the melting point of most metals. The shielding comes from the flame envelope
and gases generated by the combustion (mainly carbon dioxide). With oxy-fuel welding, you use the torch to
generate a puddle of molten metal. With your other hand you add filler metal
to the weld. It’s a very simple process and one of the
oldest methods of welding. Advantages are that it feels really awesome
to hold an oxy-acetylene torch, it doesn’t require any electricity, and the torch can
also be used for other purposes like cutting, so you can get a lot of uses out of a single
tool. Disadvantages are that you have to have two
high pressure tanks of flammable gases nearby, and the torch is kind of unwieldy which leads
to slower and less-consistent welding. For the next four types of welding, the heat
comes from generating an electrical arc between an electrode and the metal. You’ve got the short I-sound nicknames:
Stick, MIG, and TIG, and I’ll sneak flux-core in next to MIG, since you can usually use
the same machine for both processes. Probably the most common type of welding is
shielded metal arc welding, also known as stick welding. This process uses a power supply to maintain
an arc between the electrode and base metal. In stick welding, the electrode is also the
filler metal, and it’s surrounded by flux which melts during the welding process. When an arc is struck, the heat generated
melts both the base metal and the electrode, causing them to fuse together. The flux coating also disintegrates, generating
both a shielding gas and slag which absorbs impurities and creates a protective covering
over the weld as it cools. Stick welding is so popular because of its
simplicity and versatility. Constant current power supplies are fairly
inexpensive compared to other welding machines, and stick welding can be performed in almost
any environment, including underwater. Disadvantages are that it only works for certain
metals (mostly iron and steel) and that it can be a fairly messy process with lots of
molten spatter and fumes. Next up are the two wire-feed welding methods. Gas Metal Arc Welding, also known as MIG,
and flux core arc welding. Both MIG and flux core welding use a constant
voltage power supply to generate the arc, and a wire feed mechanism for the electrode
which is also filler metal. Just like in stick welding, the arc melts
both the electrode and the base metal, allowing them to fuse together into a weld. For MIG, the shielding comes from an inert
gas (that’s the IG in MIG) that surrounds the arc during the weld. Usually the gas shield is a mixture of argon
and carbon dioxide. As its name implies, flux-core welding uses
a tubular electrode with flux in the center. The flux shields the weld by generating gas
and slag just like with stick welding. You can use both an inert gas and flux-cored
wire, a process known as dual shield welding. Gas Metal Arc and Flux-core arc are two of
the fastest welding methods in terms of deposition rate, since you don’t have to stop to get
a new rod. MIG and flux core welding are also considered
the easiest methods to learn because there are fewer variables to control during the
process. MIG is generally an inside process, since
wind can blow away the shielding gas, but flux-core can be used in most environments
just like stick welding. Finally, we have gas tungsten arc welding
or TIG welding. This process is much like torch welding. In fact the business end of a TIG welder is
also called a torch. When TIG welding, the arc passes between the
electrode and the metal, but unlike in the other processes we’ve discussed, the electrode
doesn’t melt since it’s made of a tungsten alloy. Instead, filler metal is added to the weld
puddle with your other hand. The puddle and arc are shielded from the atmosphere
by the IG in TIG, usually pure argon gas, which is focused around the weld by a ceramic
cup. TIG is the most precise of the techniques
we’ve discussed, because you have much greater control over the length and current of the
arc, the rate at which filler metal is added, and other important variables which can affect
weld quality. That control also makes TIG the most appropriate
method for welding thin materials and non-ferrous metals like aluminum, magnesium, and even
titanium. For the same reason though, it’s probably
the most challenging process to master, and usually the slowest. To get started welding requires some equipment,
most importantly a welding machine or oxy-fuel setup. Many machines on the market today can perform
more than one welding process, so you don’t always have to choose a single one. However, like many hobbies, there is some
rabid brand loyalty when it comes to arc welders, so make sure you choose the right color. You don’t want to come home with a Lincoln
only to find out that your wife only goes for Miller guys. And don’t forget safety. Like any hobby that involves searingly bright
lights, molten metals, and high voltages, welding can be hazardous. Consider the dangers before welcoming one
of these machines into your home, and if you’re budgeting to get started in the hobby, don’t
forget all of the safety gear you’ll need as well. Like I mentioned at the start, I’m new to
welding as well, so I’m far from your best resource on the subject. Luckily for all of us, there are a few people
on YouTube putting out incredible educational content for free, two of whom were kind enough
to share footage with me for use in this video. Jody from Welding Tips and Tricks makes awesome
videos about welding including beautiful arc shots so you can see exactly what’s happening
when he welds. This Old Tony makes extremely well-produced
machine shop videos that are big on fundamentals. Do yourself a favor and go subscribe to both
of these channels. I promise you will not regret it. Huge thanks to both of these guys for letting
me use some of their footage. Finally thanks to the sponsor of this video:
Great Courses Plus. If your new year’s resolutions included
learning a new skill, consider this: at the Great Courses Plus you can get unlimited access
to a massive library of video lectures by award-winning professors from around the world. They don’t have a welding course yet, but
I love this one on Every Day Engineering by Dr. Stephen Ressler which turns a technical
eye to the things we use in our everyday lives. Click on the link in the description or just
type TheGreatCoursesPlus.com/Practical to access high quality courses about science,
math, history, literature, or even how to cook, play chess, or become a photographer. Thank you for watching and let me know what
you think.

100 Comments on "Welding 101 for Hobbyists (and Nerds)"


  1. I am not sure if I am using my cat the right way to weld. Have I got to turn up the voltage or the current more or do I turn them both up? I completely gave up on the gas as I could not get the cat to hold still while I connected it to my supply. Those fittings are nearly impossible to install on a cat.

    Reply

  2. The only time I welded (no idea if I used the verb correctly) was in school for a project. But it was a 2 in 1 sort of machine, because there was only 1 thing to hold, from which the metal string and the heating part was made

    Reply

  3. Those damn bug eyes distracting me, I have to keep rewinding to catch up with what he was talking about. Gonna get some for my monitor.

    Reply

  4. The This Old Tony recommendation is on point. He has some great insights into the why of metalworking.

    Reply

  5. How about a video on explosive metal fusion, if not plasmatic pur fusion welding. The plasmatic pur temp is very high, so make sure your cat's teeth are in good shape.

    Reply

  6. I learned on OFW last year in my high school shop class and so far it's absolutely my favorite process

    Reply

  7. I’m a “nerd”, but my dad is a welder and I’m in robotics club a my high school lol

    Reply

  8. All Canadians make fudge. Honey fudge is delicious. Bumblebees are useless to Canadians.

    Reply

  9. High level hobbyist here…For anyone just getting into welding, the one thing I suggest you get to make learning easier would be a self darkening helmet/mask. Actually being able to see before you strike an arc is a game changer.

    Reply

  10. "two tanks of high pressure flammable gasses"… was this put in to detect engineers and scientists in your comment list? 🙂

    Reply

  11. Hay hay hay I was in marching band far better then most other subjects in school in less you have a bad band director in which case it would be the complete opposite

    Reply

  12. Too hot try turning it down to about 45 to 50 amp. If the metal is gray and cloudy when your TIG welding you're doing it wrong and 90% of that is temperature. Getting the temperature just right will make a better well that won't be so brittle. Also try walking the cup it's a easier way to take weld and it makes beautiful welds

    Reply

  13. Earned my sub. Well done. Lost the thumb detector on a few points. practice practice practice. It is an art to draw a straight line.

    Reply

  14. I remember learning to weld. Was taken in by a trucking company as general cleaning making sure the shop looked good and so the other guys didn't have to worry about clean up and could focus on work. Eventually they took me under their wing doing minor maintence before getting handed 2 sheets of aluminum and being told give it a try. When I asked why not steel I was told steel is easy to mess up and fix. Where aluminum you had to be patient but also quick since it's easier to melt through and mess up and usually couldn't fix as easy. But in the end I owe them for teaching me how to make the wave from pushing the puddle with a mig to a tig welders swirll you'll usually see when you look up tig welding or mig welding. Other wise I'de probably weld with those sloppy seams that would mimic a mountain range

    Reply

  15. Artur Rehi is THE Estonian YouTuber! Please Subscribe and tune into his live stream 100k special! He only needs 233 more! https://www.youtube.com/user/arturrehi

    Reply

  16. As someone with welding experience, I would like to point out that tig is NOT the process an inexperienced hobbyist should use. MIG (with flux core wire, if ventilation is good enough) is the cheapest and easiest to begin with. A flux core wire feed welder can be purchased at harbor freight for around $100, whereas a tig setup will easily cost $1000.

    Reply

  17. MY problem is that in my Jr. High shop, kids were racing each other to see how fast they can drill into a slab of sheet metal getting it caught on the bit and thrown across the shop and at a students arm. Fourteen years ago… The reason I am going to Jr. High is so that I could learn to weld! AND, my school is STUPID and I have to go through 9th grade before I get to High School! So yeah. Thats my problem right now…

    Reply

  18. I have never even picked up a welder before, but am looking to learn/teach myself. This is the perfect video for me. It actually answered some questions I had, AND pointed me in the right direction as to what sort of welder to buy. I had asked some of the fitters/engineers at my work, but they approach it from a point of view that they assume you have some knowledge already. Great vid, thanks

    Reply

  19. Title: Welding
    Thumbnail: Obviously welding
    Me: Hmm, Wedding for Hobbyists? What could this possibly mean?

    Reply

  20. Practical engineering:
    "Welding 101"

    Me,face up the screen,spitting on the display:

    S C H T I K W E L D I N G

    Reply

  21. "occasionally works the wood"
    Uncle Bumblefudge would have something amusing to say about that. 🙂

    Reply

  22. i think you should use a míg machine, if you are a starter, or learn from the basics and use an mma welder.

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  23. I love welding. Steel is so unforgiving, being able to make it do what I want is very satisfying.

    Reply

  24. For GMAW (which you call MIG Metal inert gas)) is actually called MAG (Metal active gas). Since Argon is mixed with Carbon dioxide which helps combustion (higher heat) for more penetration.Carbon dioxide is an active gas. As for GMAW-A which is aluminum you only use pure argon which is an inert gas, so MIG for Metal inert gas. As for argon mixes, the classics are argon-co2 98-2, 95-5 and 75-25 ratios. Hope this is a little trick you can add to your knowledge!

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  25. As a former Marching Band member now engineer, I took great offense to your first 30 seconds.

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  26. I subscribed to you before I saw you are actif under pretty much all tot videos xD

    Damn back in the day you tried to be him pretty hard
    good thing you are doing your own stuff now 😀

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  27. IMO patience and practice for hobbyists is key. Nobody but tradesmen in this business can do this perfect, but even they get scrutinized. Welding isn’t easy or for just anybody. Have fun with it as a hobbyist. Great video.

    Reply

  28. spits yalls never needs nuffin but that flux, if use usin anythin other dan flux yuse working on a construction site, and yous gona need yur licences and 4 grand in equipment. xP

    Reply

  29. I do not weld, I have never welded, I have never thought to weld nor do I think I will ever weld. But I watched this entire video about welding. When the time comes somebody puts a gun to my head and says weld or die. I will be prepared.

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  30. I don't know how you deal with the fumes, but that is also a huge safety issue to take note of. Especially if you are going to be doing it a lot. As a welding apprentice, I found more entertaining than educational, but a very great video!

    Reply

  31. I am basically a wood worker but also admit metal is the better material, structurally speaking, and certainly would make use of it particularly due to its higher strength to volume ratio. I am just intimidated at first by the thought of handling metals. But your video certainly changes this. Welding is now a skill I must have to expand what I can do. Thanks

    Reply

  32. Welding is easy but welding various materials (e.i. Aluminum) and at different angles is hard.

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  33. Call me a wuss, but I hate tig lol. Spent 4 years trying to learn it and only barely passed that part of the classes lol

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  34. I took shop class in wielding in High School, forgot everything i knew now. This video is also a great refresher for me.

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  35. wish I had taken up welding…!…It was my dad who talked me out of all this…There's no doubt it has become a science…and so I really missed out…sorry dad…!…you were wrong…!

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  36. The hardest thing at first, is remaining CALM…..and develop a Slow Steady hand(s)…..watch the molten Puddle, don't get distracted by the Noise and Sparks, etc.

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  37. Why on earth are you welding on top of your tablesaw, nothing like splattering metal all over that cast iron top that is supposed to be level

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  38. cool – also got such a fancy toy but sadly I'm trying to sell it because I'm affraid to even plug it. Got an primitive old alluminium 2 wire electric installation and don't know how to check: if it can handle the welder, if it's grounded, what saftely measures do to prevent it from damaging and whatever bad might happen… Nowhere info can be foud about that.

    Reply

  39. I found a stick welder for $50. had to buy $200 worth of accessories and Its super fun to cause lots of fire and light melting things together. Good clean fun.

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  40. Finally a freaking welding video easy for my dumbass to understand. Thanks for breaking down the differences.

    Reply

  41. 6061.com has a great collection of videos as well. No tutorials like this old Tony has but still amazing shots of tigging

    Reply

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