The best welders are armed with extensive training and technical know-how, top-grade equipment, and a whole lot of practice. On top of that, a few tips and tricks also prove to be helpful for both beginners and seasoned welders in producing secure and high-quality results.
Take good care of your equipment: A good welder is only as good as his welding equipment, so keep your tools in tip-top shape and check before using them to avoid hassle and unfortunate accidents. Do a run-through of the wire-feed system, earth clamps, gas holes, contact tip seating, and the welding tip to make sure they are all working fine. It is also essential to be armed with quality tools, such as an auto-darkening helmet that allows better visibility of the wire, a big extension cord, and a good copper ground clamp.
Keep the aluminum weld site dry and clean: Avoid failed welds by thoroughly cleaning the aluminum weld site. Remember that aluminum oxides melt at 3,700°F, while the base metal melts at 1,200°F, and any oxides or oils can stop inflow to the filler metal. Therefore, cleaning out the oxides and oils is extremely important before eliminating the oxidized contamination.
Hydrogen is the worst. Clean it up! Hydrogen is the number one enemy in welding as it causes cracking within hours or days when used with high-residual stress and crack-sensitive steel, such as high-strength steel, thick metal sections, and restrained parts. Avoiding hydrogen is a challenge for welders since this impurity is everywhere, so cleaning the metal is necessary to remove oil, rust, paint, and any moisture.
Watch out for porosity: Porosity, or tiny bubbles on a weld, can lead to weak and poor-quality welds. It can be visible on the surface as pores, wormholes, crater pipes, cavities, or unseen deep down a weld. One tip to keep porosity out is to molten the puddle longer so gases can boil out of the weld before freezing.
The "handiest" tip: use both hands to weld. One hand should be on the crook of the gun neck while the other is on the trigger. Using both hands when welding is vital in producing precisely controlled results right from the get-go. Make sure to have good support for your hands and arms before moving the torch. You can utilize wood or metal blocks nearby to position yourself better as you work.
Stall to spread the heat on your weld. Thin panels or stainless steel are at risk of bending and buckling due to heat distortion. To counter this, one important tip is to stall welding by working on different areas around the site. Stalling welds can disperse the thermal effect and lessen the chances of distortion.
These are only a few tips and tricks welders can keep in mind for their next project, but nothing beats practice in becoming a master of the craft. No high-end tool and equipment could top execution and training to improve skills and experience. Therefore, the last and most important tip: practice, practice, practice.