The world of welding can seem out of reach for newcomers. But thanks to Marc Rose, welding instructor at Linn Benton Community College, we’re covering some of the basics to bring welding to your ranch, farm, or workshop.
Always Start with Safety
There are six rules to follow when it comes to welding.
Read the instruction manual. You’ll find it packed with safety information and manufacturer’s recommendations.
Cover up completely. Any exposed skin could be damaged by the effects of ultraviolet and infrared rays. Additionally, it’s important to button up every pocket to ensure sparks do not smolder and catch fire.
Wear protective gear. Never wear shorts or short-sleeve shirts when welding. Be sure you always wear safety gear, including a helmet, gloves, and fire-resistant clothing such as denim pants and shirts made from tight-woven materials.
Choose the right boots. High-top leather shoes or boots are best. Never wear tennis shoes that can melt to your foot and cause permanent damage.
Breath safely. The fumes and smoke given off while welding can be hazardous. Use an exhaust hood to remove fumes or a respirator when welding in an enclosed space.
Cover your eyes. The flash that occurs when welding can cause short- and long-term vision pain and complications. Wearing a welding helmet fitted with the proper filter shade for your type of welding should protect your face and eyes. Under the helmet, be sure to wear safety glasses (including side shields and ear protection).
What do You Want to Weld (or Cut)?
Some people like to create and others need to repair. While there are quite a few processes that can be used to join materials together, you really need to know what you plan to join together. Are you repairing a fence panel, crafting something for the barn, creating some yard art, or do-it-yourself project? Most manufacturers will clearly spell out what their machines are best suited to do. For example, TIG or GTAW can weld aluminum, but you might be better off using a spool consumable for GMAW. Depending on what you plan to do will determine the level of skill and equipment you’ll need. To start, you’ll want to find something that can weld various thicknesses and types of metal.
Types of Welding
Review our article Understanding the Types of Welding where we cover everything, including SMAW, GMAW, FCAW, GTAW, as well as gas or oxy-acetylene welding and cutting. You’ll find information about each type of welding and how to pinpoint the right option for you.
There is a wide range of voltage options out there. They start with 110v and go all the way up to 460v with single and three-phase power. These options make it easy to match with your home, farm, or ranch applications. You can even use a generator to run most welders in the field.
Generally, the lower voltages are less expensive and great for thinner materials. The higher voltage machines take care of thicker metals. You might do best to find a dual voltage machine that can evolve with your skills and needs, or start with the basics and choose a 110v. As Marc often explains to his students, it’s easy to overdo it and buy the biggest and best equipment right off the bat. But when starting out, it’s best to evaluate your needs and find the right fit.
Keep it Simple
Look for machines with an interface that is easy to understand. Some appliances do most of the work for you, allowing you to select the thickness of the material, and type of consumable you’re using.
As for consumables (wire, electrode, or filler), ensure it matches your process and what you plan to weld. In the article Understanding the Types of Welding, you’ll find a handful of helpful tips.
Coastal Knows Welding
Your Northwest owned and operated Coastal has everything you need to get started, including Forney® oxy-acetylene torch kits, as well as auto-darkening welding helmets for a large viewing area and optical clarity. You’ll find machines too, from Lincoln Electric, Hobart, and more. Stop by and ask where to find the welding gear and fire-resistant clothing at your nearby store.