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Forum topic by DKV posted 02-13-2015 04:18 AM 764 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3940 posts in 1927 days

02-13-2015 04:18 AM

I want to learn to weld and do mixed wood metal “stuff”. Sheet metal primarily. I am thinking mig. I could also build jigs and machine addons. What do I do?

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9 replies so far

View Grandpa's profile


3256 posts in 2099 days

#1 posted 02-13-2015 04:29 AM

We have Vocational and Technical schools now called Tech centers. They teach trade classes there. Everything from hair dressing to drafting, electronics, machine shop etc and they teach welding. the cost is minimal. The adult classes are at night, usually one evening a week./ If you can locate one of those, you should be able to go there and enroll, take a welding class then know more about what you want and need. You can ask 10 people and get 11 different responses. Go try it and see what you think you want and need. Talk to the instructor.

View runswithscissors's profile


2127 posts in 1448 days

#2 posted 02-13-2015 08:47 AM

I second Grandpa’s advice. Get some training.

I bought a HF 140 amp (220 volt) mig welder about 30 years ago, and use it very often. I make tool stands, rolling bases, various jigs, garden gadgets, whatever. I’d feel lost without it, at times. Before I had the welder, I’d bolt and rivet stuff together, which was always a pain, and sometimes downright impossible. I love being able to do T joints, for example. Try doing one of those with bolts. Or miter joints.

Though my welder is a MIG, I have almost always used flux-core, as it is very convenient. One issue I have had with it is that it blows right through thin stuff. Anything less than 16 gauge is always a challenge. I get the impression that if I went to to true MIG (with a welding gas such as CO2 or argon), I’d find thin stuff easier to weld. I buy the wire in 10 or 11 lb. rolls. Expensive, but one roll lasts me a long time.

I am basically self taught, with some help from books. Like most self taught people, I learned a lot of bad techniques, and sometimes make pretty ugly welds. But sometimes they turn out pretty well. And one advantage of not having instruction, is that sometimes you find you can do stuff that you’re not supposed to be able to do.

My old welder is still working well, but I’m starting to notice squeaks that sound like maybe a bearing acting up (on startup—it goes away after a minute). So I’m eyeing the HF 180 amp welder, which is on sale now. I don’t really need all that power (I rarely even have to use the 140 amps at my disposal), but it has four heat ranges, which should make it easier to match the heat to the job.

One thing I would strongly urge is to get yourself an automatic darkening welding helmet. HF has those too, and they work very well. Otherwise, you can’t see to start your weld, and it can get pretty frustrating.

I’ll leave it to others to deliver all the safety warnings, but there’s one I’d emphasize: don’t wear polyester fleece when welding; the spatter will burn little holes in it. I’ve ruined more than one pullover by forgetting that rule. Leather, cotton, or wool are okay.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View albachippie's profile


757 posts in 2458 days

#3 posted 02-13-2015 08:53 AM

All sound advice I’d say. I have always wanted to try welding. I have newly started a job in a tech college, with a very well equipped engineering facility, so, it’s only a matter of time before the engineering lecturer is going to owe me enough favors to get me started!!

Good luck,


-- Garry fae Bonnie Scotland -

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3587 posts in 1144 days

#4 posted 02-13-2015 01:03 PM

Another option depending on how close and costly training would be for you is to go buy a welder and teach yourself. The speed of learning could be affected, but the money you’d have to spend on a welder would obviously be more. The breadth of online instructional videos is staggering. I was taught as a function of practice and a little work training. Practice, practice, practice is by far and away the most effective way to get good.

View canadianchips's profile


2310 posts in 2420 days

#5 posted 02-13-2015 01:59 PM

Find a tech school and take training.
Heat settings, types of metals, speed, “inclination and angle” will be important.
I have watched a lot of students crank up the heat and lay a fast bead ! (When we put it in the press and do pressure test it breaks every time !)
A mig welder is fantastic If you are working with new metals and in perfect shop conditions.
A stick welder works better when repairing different types of metals, out in the field conditions. (We called them farmer welders) and they worked great !
Oxy-acetylene welding is another option for real light material (auto body people used to use this before MIG and TIG came out.)
The stick technology is going by the wayside. Our first year welding in college in Canada is only using mig.
Canada is also pushing for regulated trade (Which means only journeyman welders can weld) which is a “crock”

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

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Jim Finn

2390 posts in 2345 days

#6 posted 02-13-2015 02:20 PM

I have done a very Little welding as a sheet metal worker. Mig welding is easy to do. Tig is a little harder but it allows you to weld most metals including aluminum.

-- "You may have your PHD but I have my GED and my DD 214"

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6474 posts in 1573 days

#7 posted 02-13-2015 03:17 PM

Mig welding is about the easiest welding to do. Honestly, you could pick it up in a few days and make passable beads. Training is a good idea, however. Most community colleges have programs, as well as standalone welding schools sometimes. I’m far from an expert though, and it’s been about 5 years since I last welded. No room in my small garage for a machine for now.

By comparison, Tig is a lot more fussy. Tig’ing aluminum is an outright nightmare for a novice. I think I got maybe 2 or 3 passable beads and that was it.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View waho6o9's profile


7124 posts in 2000 days

#8 posted 02-13-2015 03:58 PM

Look for a local welder and pay a service call or two and have him or her
be your mentor and you should be able to shorten your learning curve.

I think you would be better off with a TIG, it’s more versatile as mentioned
above and will serve you well.

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4043 posts in 1622 days

#9 posted 02-13-2015 04:02 PM

A class or two would be best, but not required. I learned how to MIG weld by just doing it.. like others have said, it’s a pretty easy process to learn and with a few instructional youtube videos, you can pick it up pretty quickly with practice. But be prepared to make some pretty ugly beads and blow threw some metal at first until you get a feel for the proper speed and heat settings. You can usually pick up a cheap wire feeder on CL for under $100 to practice with.. and with flux-core wire, you won’t need anything else but a good mask and gloves to get started.


PS: TiG is probably the most versatile, but is also fairly pricey and takes quite a while to get the hang of.. Stick is most likely the cheapest and really great for heavy duty outdoor work, but also, at least for me, a nightmare to learn and make good beads with.. it’s like trying to draw with a pencil by holding it by the eraser.

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

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