View Full Version : Welding Help please

05-26-2008, 04:38 PM
I have been buying tube steel, cutting it into small pieces and putting it back together to practice before I embark on the real thing...

Some of my welds are pretty good...pretty and deep.

SOME Are LOUSY... bad prep or it wasn't tight.

HOWEVER...my MAIN problem has been welding shadows.

Welding Shadows???

Yup, line up on my joint, start the spark, lay down a nice bead, stop and find I laid a very nice weld bead off to one side of the joint. I was welding the lines shadow...or it was the difference between eyes,,,but it is nice and straight, smooth, deep, and the edge of the bead is right where the weld joint is supposed to be...


Oh yes... some things that have helped clean up the REST of my welds...

Push, don't pull...Side to side is ok...
Get GOOD gloves and get up close and personal with the joint
Put a new tip in the welder, they're cheap...
Clean the joint, clean the joint, clean the joint....
Good grounds on BOTH sides of the weld (see above)...
Clean your face shield...

Play with your settings... I was burning though a LOT, so I backed the current off and slowed down...much better

And lastly... a metal chop saw is CHEAP compared to the time you will spend cleaning up cuts. a 14" with a blade was $50 at lowes... And a Hand grinder... again clean up the joints, they need to be TIGHT and CLEAN BEFORE you start...

05-26-2008, 04:47 PM
It sounds like you can't see what is going on. You don't say what you are welding with, but if flux core or stick a fan to blow away the smoke helps. Also many find a strong light aimed at the weld helps. I find that sometimes strong light coming in from behind my helmet blinds me outside, so I try to weld in the shade. Some people get cheater (magnifying) lenses for their helmets. A white line along, or at the edge of the joint helps. Some use wax soapstone. I like those metallic silver Sharpies.

05-26-2008, 04:49 PM
A bright light on the weld is on my shopping list... a small fan couldn't hurt

05-26-2008, 06:59 PM
A bright light on the weld is on my shopping list... a small fan couldn't hurt

Yes fan will help -- I open garage door to make sure it has place to go. it took me a while to get used to not looking at the weld all the time and to look where i was going. I mostly have promblem with seeing my stoping point. Maybe your shade is too dark for your eyes -- you might look into getting something in the protective range but a lighter shade. The auto shade helmets let you adjust as well.

Good luck

05-26-2008, 08:39 PM
what shade # are you using?

05-26-2008, 09:24 PM
I have a variable lens...9-14. I am somewhere around a 10 according the the dial.

My bright light actually trips my visor... don't know why...it is a really bright fluorescent..maybe it sees the flicker..

Next... still playing with the four settings I have to choose from...

Low Low is nice that it doesn't burn through...ie, doesn't penetrate.
Low High is what I am trying now...good penetration and not TOO much burn through so long as I don't hesitate.
High Low to much spatter and burn through
High High WOW...burn through almost instantly

Enclosed are some pictures of some welds I think are marginally acceptable...

I have been grinding and cutting apart my welds to see how they look, and they are getting better.

Back when I was taking class it was easy as we didn't worry about burning through 1/8" or 1/4" stock. (that was also 35 years ago)

Let me know what you think...

05-27-2008, 12:20 AM
Looks like it is too cold, and speed is not consistent. got some pics before grinding?

Doc Hollywood
05-27-2008, 12:43 AM
It does look like your welds are too cold. I would keep the heat up and slow down your wire speed. You should hear the sound of sizzling bacon and it should be constant. On the thinner stuff you should probably do a pull technique and keep the gun at nearly 75 to 90 degrees to the weld puddle.

05-27-2008, 01:54 AM
It also looks like a couple of spots that didn't take the weld. Try cleaning the area to be welded first. Make sure all the surfaces to be welded are clean and shiny. Use sandpaper, steel wool, or a wire brush, and wipe all dust off with a clean rag.

Doc Hollywood
05-27-2008, 08:33 AM
I dunno,.. maybe my eyes are shot from too much arch flash,.. but what is it you guys are seeing that determines a "cold" joint?

Papa, I see fissure lines from the actual weld. When ground down there should be no fissures. Incomplete fusion of the metals is usually caused by not enough heat or too much speed or both. Sometimes from improper cleaning of the base metals prior to welding.

You are right in that welding coupons are a great way to start. Cutting them and bending them to destroy them is a way of understanding the welding process.

05-27-2008, 10:00 AM
Judging by the photos, it appears that the coating is still on the tubes, and wasn't removed prior to welding. My understanding from the welding Guru's in the forum is that the metal should be clean and shiny to get good contact and penetration. I'm pretty sure Papa was one of those Guru's as well as Brad.

05-27-2008, 10:17 AM
Unfortunately my flux wire welder is one of those with a fixed wire speed.

I think the wire speed is too fast because if I go at a rate that I think gives me good penatration, the wire bores through.

I have 2 setting switches, High/low range and High/low power.

I think the wire speed is constant..I may time it and see on H/H vs l/l how much wire feeds in 10 seconds.

Depending on that I MAY try to put a dimmer switch on the wire feed motor and see if it has any effect.

05-27-2008, 11:19 AM
It does look like your welds are too cold. I would keep the heat up and slow down your wire speed. You should hear the sound of sizzling bacon and it should be constant. On the thinner stuff you should probably do a pull technique and keep the gun at nearly 75 to 90 degrees to the weld puddle.

I would agree with Doc -- pull would probably work better -- if your not doing it already. Make sure you get tip close - no more then a cm or 1/4 to 3/8 of an in away. How does a weld like that hold -- weld to pieces and put one in the vice and start whackin it with a hammer. That will test you penetration and you might see that you are just having a fill issue-too much jitter in you hand. Hope that makes sense.

And don't loose any sleep over it -- I have seen much worse weld then that and the guys have been riding for years -- is it just luck???


05-27-2008, 11:32 AM
The wire speed does vary

Slowest is about 7" in 4 seconds
Fastest is about 12" in 4 seconds

All horribly scientifically timed...

OK, if I turn up the heat (power) how do I keep from burning through?

This is .030 flux core wire....

One post somewhere said to start the wire BEFORE striking so that you are MOVING when you strike (same idea as spray painting) rather than Strike and then move...

My tip distance has been larger than "recomended"

I will do some more practice runs and take pictures BEFORE I grind...

I will also do some side by side bead runs at different power settings...

05-27-2008, 11:41 AM
Are you using a extension cord? What is the distance from the tip to the work? Dirty metal may need more amps then your welder has, even "new" metal has mill scale that can get in the way. I like to use a needle scaler, and a wire wheel brush on a hand grinder to clean metal.

05-27-2008, 11:45 AM
Nope no extension cord...I am plugged directly into a 30A circuit.

I am using .030 wire...

I am using my grinder to give me a clean edge, not a very wide groove, but it is clean...

05-27-2008, 12:27 PM
Is the wire feeding at a even speed? or is it eratic?

05-27-2008, 01:15 PM
First...Thanks to all the people who have chipped in with help. It really is appreciated. As I go to buy yet another piece of tubing to cut up, I will also get some flat stock and something to weld ON rather than in my vise...


The wire seems to feed evenly...I checked the spool tension and it is just tight enough to keep it from unrolling by its self.

I made several bead passes on each setting and tried to listen at the same time.

Low/low no penetration, everything sat "on top"
Low/hi some penetration, still high though
Hi /low better penatration
hi/hi best, but still not great...but burn through

then I tried something different, I slowed WAY down...
Went with the L/H combination and went as slow as I could without burn through (still had a spot or so) but burn through tells me I am getting penetration...

I also held the tip MUCH closer, couldn't see the joint, but stayed on track (sort of)

Ran out of pieces..I had been concentrating on the 45's and but joints and my chop saw will only cut so small...

This trip I will go with flat stock (Cheaper too..)

Can I use a "guide bar" to hold the tip against so that I "track" to the right place? My best weld yet I was guiding with my other hand...even with my good gloves it got a bit warm...

Oh yes... when I am getting what I consider a "good" weld, there is lots of smoke from INSIDE the pipe...bad welds..nothing...again penetration...

off to work and other things that get in the way of fun until later...

05-27-2008, 01:18 PM
Can you see the puddle? If you can't you need to find out why and correct it.

When I first started with my wire welder, I worried about how fast the wire was spooling out etc. etc. In fact I was mostly welding in the dark, because I could not see the puddle. Once you begin to see the puddle and see where the steel is melting and where it is not, it all becomes much easier. Then, you begin to worry about the right things, such as if the sides are melting the way you want them too, and whether the metal is getting too hot and about to burn through. It takes some time (and lots of practice) before you can see these things - at least it did with me.

05-27-2008, 01:39 PM
Its good to use your other hand to guide you, get very comfy when you weld, make sure you can make the pass without you arm or hand jerking, make nice smooth moves. I used up alot of wire learning how to mig, lots of practice, but make sure you are practicing the right thing.

Doc Hollywood
05-27-2008, 01:42 PM
Since you don't have a lot of settings you could try using a smaller diameter wire .023 and you could also try varying the distance the tip is from the metal. That would be fine tuning it a little. It sound like you are getting closer to the right feel. I am still working on my welds too I just picked up some tubing and plate and will hopefully have some pics in a few weeks after I finish with my own design. Going to look at a bike at Walmart and I also have an old 10 speed in my storage. I don't want to cut up my GT Timberline if I can help it.

05-30-2008, 03:57 PM
Just when I thought I was getting better...

Welded a few pieces together and then beat them appart to see what failed... the welds held... getting 100% penatration, could see melt on the backside...looked good...wanted to repeat what I had been doing for practice....

Everything changed !!

What was working fine now burns through and leaves BIG holes...

Almost like the metal was thin or melted easier... these were BIG holes...

Time for a break.....

Doc Hollywood
05-30-2008, 04:51 PM
how long were you practicing before you got the good welds?

It could be that you were beginning to maximize the duty cycle and the power levels were decreasing and so you got some good welds. then when you tried to start again you were at full duty and you were burning thru. I hope that makes sense.

05-30-2008, 07:46 PM
Makes sense..but the "duty cycle" light wasn't on...

Oh well...tomorrow is another day....

I may look at a small 30-80A stick welder...120/240v

or I may just stick it out and keep going....

Question...I need to get another roll of wire...

I see both Copperclad like

and steel wire like


I can get both in 2-4 lb spools....

Does it make any difference ?

05-30-2008, 08:27 PM
Wow. That's a great price from Lowes. Too bad it's .035. I find .030 much easier to work with.

05-31-2008, 12:50 AM
When I got my wire feed welder I found the usual thick welding gloves didn't give me enough feel for the trigger so I bought some thinner IIRC goat skin gloves that I love but I tend to use my left hand to help guide the stinger (usually touching both the work piece and the stinger body) and it gets fairly close to the arc sometimes- the thin gloves weren't enough so I've started wearing the thin glove on my right hand and one of them thick buggers on my left and I think it works very well.

Granted this is just a small tip but every little bit/ tip helps, I think, and being comfortable while you run a bead is very important.

I know people that have welders that don't have infinitely adjustable speed and it makes me glad I bought one that did...even if I never get any further than 1/2 a number away from the 2 setting- it seems like VERY small adjustments make fairly large differences.

also I think 100% penetration is not entirely necessary for what we mostly do here- it would be with extremely thin tubing/ light weight obsessions like CroMo tubing but then so would heat treatment at that point- we usually use much thicker stuff with a fairly large margin of safety so don't get too crazy about 100% unless it's a particularly critical joint, and even then it would probably be better to just add some more reinforcement anyways.

05-31-2008, 09:35 AM
Any difference with the copper covered stuff and the nr-211 I have been using ?

Someone wrote that the .035 gives a bit more heat than the .030...

That might work as that will move me between the current settings... my low/low is too low, and the Low/High is just a touch hot with an occasional burn through...

06-22-2008, 03:14 PM
I've been using .035 for a long time now. That being said, I only use .035 in flux core with no gas. I prefer .030 for gas, and I use paste flux on the back of the weld, and make sure that I do the prep right. For prep I start with a wire wheel to knock the loose scale off, then I graduate to a coarse brillo pad claner wheel, then I cut my gooves on thick metal, and follow it with a hand sand. After that I clean it with TSP,put a little flux paste on the back side, jig it, and weld. Prep is 75% of the work, welding is the easy part. I suggest getting some sheet, and cutting some strips and practice laying beads before you start joining metal, you will learn a lot about your welder this way, and its a lot cheaper then buying tubing.

06-23-2008, 07:43 AM
I am currently using a big 10# roll of 0.035 Lincoln Innershield (flux core) on my 120v Hobart 140 wire feeder for one reason only - its about half the price of the 0.030 wire. You can get a 10# roll of it there for about $30, vs about $60 for 0.030 elsewhere.

I agree that the 0.030 has a greater current density, so theoretically you get more penetration with it. On the other hand, when welding 16ga tubing, penetration is the least of my worries. I can also get a full-pen single pass weld on 1/8" steel with the 0.035, so it pretty well covers what I do.

By the way, the tiniest 1/16" stick rod is 0.0625", so 0.035 is still pretty small for what we do.

06-23-2008, 08:36 PM
I have the shadow issue myself. I'd try spot lighting it. Use a small halogen work light pointed at the junction. That helps a bit.

I have heard that masonite can be used to make a "guide" for plasma cutting, it should work the same way with welding. You could mask off everything but the edges you need to weld with it.

Odd Man Out
06-27-2008, 09:25 PM
Your original Q was about not seeing the weld line clearly. I have just started to learn to TIG weld where the electrode needs to be 1/8 inch or closer to the work. The first day my "work" looked like ... I was asked by my welding instructor if I wore reading glasses which I do. He told me to go to welding supply store a buy some "cheaters". What a freaking difference they made. I am doing 1000% better with them. They are rectangular pieces of glass that come in various diopeters (I think I slaughtered the spelling on that) that slide in your welding mask and work just like reading glasses. For close up work they are da bomb. Hope this helps.

Richie Rich
06-27-2008, 10:15 PM
.....go to welding supply store a buy some "cheaters"....They are rectangular pieces of glass....that slide in your welding mask and work just like reading glasses.

Great tip for us 'Olde Tymers' who are nearly blind in one eye and can't see out of the other...!

Thanks, OMO....

06-28-2008, 11:07 PM
Thanks for the "cheaters" tip.
I was having trouble seeing with my bifocals..., stopped, went to the computer and got my reading glasses made just for the computer and WOW ! what a difference it made. Will try the cheaters!

06-28-2008, 11:15 PM
Well I will have to look into that myself I have a hard time seeing through my tiny bifocals, for reading they work great.

I have a magnifying glass on a stand with a light I use for electronics.

But I have not done any electronics since I quit hacking cable boxes and satellite receivers.

Thought about using my magnifyer for welding but it would just get in my way.

Thanks for the tip.


06-28-2008, 11:28 PM
... For close up work they are da bomb...

I totally agree. I couldn't figure out why I was having such trouble seeing the puddle. The slide in lens was the hot ticket. Now I see EVERYTHING !!