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Can I Teach Myself To Weld?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by h0twired, Apr 6, 2010.

  1. h0twired
    Joined: Aug 28, 2006
    Posts: 133

    from Winnipeg

    Here is the story. Point form so that I don't lose anyone's attention.

    - My Dad bought a 36 Ford 5W back in 1973 for $60
    - Coupe sat in Grandpa's wood shop for 20+ years high and dry
    - Dad and I brought the coupe home in 1995 (when I was 16) to start working on it
    - Both of us took a welding class and my dad got pretty good
    - Dad got sick (needed new heart valves from a prior condition at birth) and ended up stopping work on the car (got the chassis rolling)
    - Dad passed away at the age of 50 during his 4th heart surgery as an adult.
    - Now the car is mine.

    Unfortunately I moved away and started my own family and just recently returned (with wife and 5 month old son) to my hometown and the car sitting in my mom's garage.

    - I have a mountain of parts and tools including a 220V Lincoln MIG welder.
    - I have a large garage.
    - I have a vast interest in all aspects of the rodding scene.
    - I am willing to practice technique for years before actually putting a spark on any of the Henry steel now in my possession.
    - I am willing to listen to others and get help when I am in over my head.

    So my question. Given that I haven't welded in 10+ years and when I did it was running beads on 1/2" plate and welding the odd joints, butt welds and corners...

    Is it reasonable to think that I can learn to weld on my own?

    Does anyone recommend any resources to get a refresher and to give me somethings that I should start practicing?

    Thanks fellow HAMBers.
  2. go down to the local high school and see if they offer community courses
    We have one here in my smallish town 3-4 times a year. $50 for a six week course one night a week for three hours a night, you can practice all you like and ask questions when you need to. I was in the same boat, only it had been about 20 years :)
  3. VonWegener
    Joined: Nov 19, 2009
    Posts: 784


    Welding is 5 minutes of understanding how it works in theory and after that practice, practice, practice. The most common mistake is holding the mig gun too close to the bead. The biggest problem is oxydation of the wire and therefore sticking in the sheath.
    Give the old Lincoln a tuneup, get a new liner and a spool of wire and go to town. You will learn through experience.
    Good Luck!
  4. Yes you can, I did.
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  5. bcowanwheels
    Joined: Feb 22, 2010
    Posts: 318


    all GOOD welders are taught. then theres the rest
  6. Get a shitload of scrap metal as close to the gauge you plan on welding the most, then burn a few rolls of wire & keep adjusting the machine til your welds start looking better. Once you think they look good....burn a few more rolls. Look into a refresher course at a community college. Good luck.
  7. ArtGeco
    Joined: Apr 6, 2005
    Posts: 760

    from Miami

    What about the first good welder?
  8. Da Tinman
    Joined: Dec 29, 2005
    Posts: 4,226

    Da Tinman

    Bullpucky Dude, never had a lesson ever.

    Former employer handed me the mig gun and told me not to set myself on fire.

    I promptly set myself on fire.

    Lesson #1 no mig welding in frayed cutoff shorts.

    welding is 90% technique, to get technique, practice, practice, practice.
  9. fab32
    Joined: May 14, 2002
    Posts: 13,987

    Member Emeritus

    I taught myself gas welding, just bought a torch set and leased a set of taks and had at it after reading a couple of how to manuals. Then moved on to stick and became quite good after a few pointers form experienced men. When I started making race car components for Howe Racing I just went down and bought a wire welder and started making parts. you can do it yourself but if I had to do it again a course from a local college would be a must.
    Now, in your case you have already had exposure to the craft from when you and your dad worked together. I'm of the opnion that welding is much like riding a bike, once you become proficient leaving tjhe craft doesn't mean you forget. Get the welder out and do some practicing. I'm sure it will come back to you in short oerder.

  10. lets see some pic's of the project. taking some classes will be a huge plus. post some pic's of the welder also as someone here may have some tips on its operation that will help you. is the welder set up for "flux core" or "solid core"? flux/no gas, solid/needs gas.
  11. tinmann
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 1,589


    I'll just throw this out there.......

    I teach high school metal shop. I won't even go into the lessons related safety as it pertains to oxy and acet. I spend a great deal of my time instructing and demonstrating gas welding. By comparison to Mig welding, gas welding slows everything down to a snail's pace. Kids can see metal coming up to temperature. They see the glow before the plate becomes molten. They really get a grasp of how critical torch tip angle, travel speed and distance of the inner cone of a neutral flame to the plate all works. Getting the rthymn of filler rod, etc. After they become decent with gas in an edge, butt, lap, outside fillet, inside fillet, I show them brazing. After all that I introduce Mig. By this time they know what I mean when watching them Mig weld and they hear me comment on angle, distance speed.

    One opinion....... start with gas..... it'll make you a better Mig weldor.
  12. Drive Em
    Joined: Aug 25, 2006
    Posts: 1,748

    Drive Em

    Yes, I taught myself to MIG, TIG, arc and gas weld.
  13. Joe King
    Joined: Oct 8, 2004
    Posts: 993

    Joe King

    no way, no way in hell you will ever be good at it. haha ha ha just kiddin.

    I don't see why not. You took a class years ago so I'm sure with some work you can pick it up. Maybe check out got some great info.
  14. Ian Berky
    Joined: Nov 28, 2007
    Posts: 3,643

    Ian Berky

    You can teach yourself to do anything IMO!!!
  15. BISHOP
    Joined: Jul 16, 2006
    Posts: 2,572


    I did too, I'm still not that great at gas welding. If I had to do it all over again, I would have taken some classes.

    I say this because, when you teach yourself, you are learning from someone who don't know what they are doing.
    But, I think I remember things better teaching myself.
  16. vtwinpartss
    Joined: Nov 18, 2008
    Posts: 335

    from NOR CAL

    Class will never hurt.

    Do we get to see photos of the project??
  17. daddylama
    Joined: Feb 20, 2002
    Posts: 930


    holy shit, did you have the same employer i did???

    same thing... he handed me a mig gun, said to not catch myself on fire.

    i promptly set myself on fire.

    i was wearing frayed full jeans, though. still have a scar on my leg from that.

    got that job on the 2nd day of welding class. kept it for 5 or 6 years, got numerous certifications (gmaw- la city structural and tubular... tig- military spec and aerospace), became shop foreman. i hired plenty of guys that had no welding experience, many of them became pretty good with practice.

    in short-

    1. hell yes you can teach yourself to weld.

    2. it may be easier if ya have some guidance from a GOOD/PROFESSIONAL welder.

    3. the internet is your friend, but take advice with a grain of salt. a lot of people who fancy themselves a great welder are just proficient at sticking metal together.

    4. here, dont catch yourself on fire.
  18. Deuce Daddy Don
    Joined: Apr 27, 2008
    Posts: 4,924

    Deuce Daddy Don

    Tinman has it!!!-------If I hadn't had a patient instructor in 1951 in USN, I would not have had a lifetime of welding & teaching others, to look back on!------Don
  19. I'm with the "Yes you can" crowd, as has been stated with enough self determination you can do most anything. I taught myself to play Harmonica by reading two books on it and trying, not the best but getting better all the time.
    Having said that lessons can never hurt and even if you get yourself pretty proficient at welding being shown some tips by a pro will ALWAYS teach you some tricks and techniques you never knew.

  20. rustyhood
    Joined: Dec 2, 2009
    Posts: 719


    Sorry about you losing your dad, most cities have a joint vocational school. Enroll for another welding course. When you get the chance, explain to the instructor what you are wanting to do. Most will go an extra mile teaching you some nice techniques on all aspects of welding. Good luck and post some pics of your progress. Dan
  21. Doug B
    Joined: Feb 2, 2008
    Posts: 478

    Doug B

    I am also with the 'self taught' crowd, but with a qualifier.When I wanted to learn to mig weld,I asked a couple of welders I know a few simple questions...."why hold the gun that way...why that wire speed for that steel....? "etc. I got some real good basics to start with and had at it. Weld some scrap together,and then try to break it apart,or cut it open and see how the weld penetrated. I would also go back and ask those guys how I did and get more advice from them. So I guess I was taught,but not in a formal setting. It's probably how all of us learned stuff about cars.
    Good luck, and post up a pic of the car,if you get a minute.
  22. carcrazyjohn
    Joined: Apr 16, 2008
    Posts: 4,844

    from trevose pa

    Im self taught .Penetration and Running good beads is the key ,You dont want unpenetrated beads or to much penetrated beads.It will come back to you .Just make sure when wiring for the mig you use lower than 10 wire ,For voltage drop issues .And around a 60 amp will due ,I used either 8 or 6 wire I cant remember which.
  23. HeatherMarie
    Joined: Mar 25, 2010
    Posts: 26

    from USA

    My boyfriend self taught himself to weld growing up on farm and when something broke he had to learn to fix it: not many other options.

    That said in college for a engineering degree he could out weld most of the welding major guys.

    I've learned to weld, its not that hard. If you can eat with a fork and knife you can learn to weld. Try to find somebody to watch or worst case, just get a bunch of scrap steel and start trying to weld.

    PM me your address and I'll send you a old vocational school welding textbook to get you started.

  24. Leevon
    Joined: Oct 5, 2009
    Posts: 401

    from Nixa, MO

    I'm learning right now and I'm like you because I want to be very good at it before I start on my cars. With the internet there is no shortage of info though. I bought a couple of DVD's (this one is good: and just keep reading and reading on the web forums such as My wife thought I was a huge dork watching welds on the computer through somebody else's hood, makes no sense to her! But I treated it like I was studying for a test, asking myself questions and finding the answer. I feel like I have a grasp of the fundamentals of GMAW and my welds are starting to come out very nice. It seems like if you have a good welder, practice great metal prep and understand how to manipulate the puddle the rest is just doing. Not so scary at all once you get started, and my Hobart 187 seems to be very forgiving. Add good wire and the C25 or Stargon gas mix to your welder and you should be in business. I practiced turning up/down the wire feed and heat settings and it didn't take long at all to get a feel for the proper sound, travel, size, etc. I'm working mainly on penetration because it's really easy to make a pretty weld without any real strength. Honestly after all the preparation it wasn't nearly as difficult as I though it would be :rolleyes: The only lesson I had to learn the hard way is that arc flash will give you a nasty and embarassing sunburn just above your gloves and below your short sleeves. :eek:

    Heck my neighbor came over last week to have me fix his kid's trampoline frame and I think he was blown away after I removed the galvanizing, prepped the joints, broke out the angle finder, clamps and magnets and made it look like new. I think he was expecting some chicken poop stick welds like his Grandad used to do on the farm :)
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2010
  25. dsr_54
    Joined: Nov 24, 2008
    Posts: 278


    I say go for it. Just sitting down running beads gets boring. If it does try to make things for around your shop that you can use. I went to school for welding..... Well my teacher was a great welder not so much of a good teacher..... So I'm almost self taught. When I bought my Tig I had to learn to run it. I bought a Covell video, learn more from him in one video than a year of welding classes..... Then just sat down and started running beads......
  26. harrington
    Joined: Jul 22, 2009
    Posts: 421

    from Indiana

    I agree!
  27. RodStRace
    Joined: Dec 7, 2007
    Posts: 2,268


    As said, between the net and videos, you can get a lot of info at home. You can also check into classes, but doing is the best.

    Weld up a cart for the welder. Weld up a bench for welding. Weld up a rack for the car parts. Weld up fixtures for holding the car parts. If you look around the shop, you will see lots of opportunities for practice welding that will make your project easier when you get to that stage.
  28. BangShiftChad
    Joined: Oct 2, 2009
    Posts: 71


    I welded my first thing when I was 5 years old, using a stick welder my Grandpa had. He taught me how to weld, and I took a class in highschool and college just for credit. I tested out of each of those classes the first week and became the teachers aid. Trust me, it's all about getting the technique down in your head and than making your body do it. You'll be fine.

    I agree that you should find some projects to build in your garage that can be useful and fun to build. This way you get practice while learning, or relearning in your case.

    Here are some things I would recommend, as well as a link to MetalShapers.
    Welding Table - I can give you some really good tips on things to incorporate into your welding table that will make life greatness for you too.
    Here is the metal shapers link to all their tips, tricks, projects, and tools to build.
  29. koolkemp
    Joined: May 7, 2004
    Posts: 6,007


    You sure can, I bought my first Mig 20 plus yrs ago and practice practice practice! I thought I was pretty good till I upgraded to my Lincoln after a few years, this machine really made a difference in my skills, so much more adjustability. I had nobody to teach me or even get tips from , so I have alays gone out of my way to try and help others when I get the chance.
  30. RustDust 29
    Joined: Sep 4, 2008
    Posts: 43

    RustDust 29

    As said in previous post, there is alot of good info on the computer to get your basic info from. Its all about proper penetration and settings. It will give you the basic techniques of what you should do, but its actual gun time that will teach you the most. Practice is everything, and a decent auto darkening helmet will be a big plus for you too.

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