What are the common welding mistakes many beginners make? Getting an answer to this question is vitally important. Avoiding beginner welding mistakes will help you learn your hobby or trade faster. However, avoiding common welding mistakes can save you time, money, and even your life.
Common welding mistakes can range from forgetting to put on your welding helmet to choosing the wrong electrodes or amperage. Sometimes, beginners in welding get so eager to start welding that they don’t prepare the base material properly — a huge mistake.
While it’s always a good idea to learn from your own mistakes, it’s even better to learn from common mistakes other welders make. After reading this article, you will be better positioned to avoid making basic “schoolboy errors” when beginning your welding hobby.
The Dangers of Common Welding Mistakes
Welding is a dangerous hobby or profession. Therefore, making mistakes in welding can have severe consequences. Think what you are dealing with — temperatures over 6,500°F, electrical current up to 600 amps, flammable gasses, toxic fumes, and other risks. Then there is the risk of poor-quality welds in critical applications that fail.
For example, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported on a tragic welding accident at the Port of Beirut. A stray spark led to a devastating explosion killing 218 persons, injuring over 7,000, and causing up to $4.6 billion in damages.
Of course, that is a rare event. However, it illustrates what happens when even experienced welders make common mistakes. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine reports that welding errors cause hundreds of thousands of injuries annually. These range from flash burns to ocular damage and contusions.
So, now we have your full attention, let’s examine what every beginner welder should know about avoiding the most common welding mistakes.
Common Welding Mistakes
Poor material preparation is typically the most common mistake beginner welders make. However, many beginners also underestimate the importance of preparing their workstations to have all welding equipment to hand. Additionally, it can be easy to make the blunder of starting the arc without wearing a welding helmet.
How to Avoid Making Welding Mistakes
Preparation is the best way to avoid making mistakes when welding. This helps prevent the common welding mistake of starting the weld without having everything in place first. Additionally, pausing and double-checking safety gear and welder settings will help avoid serious blunders.
The Eleven Most Common Mistakes of Welders
Although welding mistakes can happen, it doesn’t mean they must happen. The fewer mistakes you make in welding, the better welder you will become. You will be able to create beautiful, high-quality welds in no time. Additionally, your reputation as an expert welder will be on show for everyone to see.
Here are the top eleven mistakes you must avoid when welding.
Mistake #1 — Not preparing the base material properly
Most beginner welders make the no. 1 mistake of skimping on preparing the base metal. The piece of metal for welding must be clean and free of rust. If the base metal contains rust, it must be cleaned before welding. Welding over rust is possible, but it’s never recommended.
You will also need to grind, file, or sand down the base metal’s rough spots and sharp edges.
Typically, there isn’t much preparation required to weld cold-rolled steel. But it’s a different story with aluminum. It’s crucial to prepare the surface to remove the aluminum oxide layer. You must also remove any remaining contaminants or cleaning oils.
Mistake #2 — Ignoring or forgetting safety essentials
Severe injuries and avoidable accidents occur when welders underestimate the importance of safety. Many dangers are associated with welding, including welding arc flashes, sparks, gases, heat, noise, and dangerous UV radiation. To protect yourself and others, it’s wise to wear safety equipment such as earplugs, eye goggles, and protective clothing.
Also, don’t forget about always wearing clear safety glasses while in the welding workshop. These protect your eyes from sparks or flying metal shards when grinding work-pieces. Finally, don’t forget to have heatproof gloves and steel-toe boots.
Mistake #3 — Not using the correct welding process
A lack of welding experience causes many beginners to make the mistake of not choosing the proper welding procedure. For example, just because you know how to weld steel doesn’t mean you can weld aluminum without knowing the correct process method. This is the same for welding most types of metals. Here are a few questions to help avoid this mistake:
· What metal are you trying to join?
· Are the metal pieces similar or dissimilar?
· How thick are the metal pieces?
· Do I have the right electrodes or MIG wire for the process?
Mistake #4 — Not preparing equipment before welding
One common gaffe of beginner welders is not having all welding tools and equipment to hand. Therefore, before welding, try to work through the entire welding process in your mind and plan ahead. Check that C-clamps, safety equipment, wire brushes, an angle grinder, a slag hammer, and work pieces are all within arm’s reach.
Additionally, starting welding in an unorganized or dirty workspace is a big mistake. So, remove any tools you won’t use from the welding table and ensure no flammable liquids or material is nearby.
Mistake #5 — Purchasing cheap filler metals
Due to the initial upfront costs, welder startups and students often miscalculate the benefits of buying high-quality consumables. The seeming cost savings tempt some into buying cheaper fillers. However, doing so can often result in poor welding quality, excessive spatter, weld bead defects, and broken equipment.
Remember that buying cheap equipment or fillers never pays off in the long run.
Mistake #6 — Using the wrong welding electrode or wire
A classic beginner welding mistake is using the wrong electrode and wire size. Electrodes come in a variety of sizes and styles. Although there are some universal consumables, you must choose the right one for the job. Choosing the right electrode involves considering the type of weld material, thickness, and application.
Mistake #7 — Setting the incorrect voltage or wire feed speed
Many novice welders make the common mistake of not selecting the correct voltage or wire feed speed. Setting the voltage too high can cause burn-through and issues with the contact tip. You’ll also find that the arc becomes erratic and can start sounding like a machine gun.
What can happen if you don’t choose the appropriate wire feed rate? A large weld puddle will form if the wire speed is too fast. But slower speeds result in bad penetration and an inferior, weak weld.
To avoid these issues, always follow the recommendations of the equipment manufacturer. Set the voltage and wire speed according to the type and thickness of the work piece and the materials you are welding.
Mistake #8 — Improper shielding gas mixtures
To avoid defects when MIG or TIG welding, it’s vital to use the right type of shielding gas and ensure the proper mix. For example, pure carbon dioxide gas is ideal for welding carbon steel; however, it causes a lot of spatter. Additionally, you’ll need the right gas mixes for welding aluminum and stainless steel.
Another mistake to avoid when welding with shielding gas is ensuring adequate gas flow. Too slow, and you won’t protect the molten weld pool from contaminates. Too fast, and you risk causing puddle turbulence and increasing your costs.
Mistake #9 — Not having sufficient practice
Don’t make a mistake many welder novices make — they don’t practice enough. Welding is an art form, and there are no shortcuts to becoming a proficient welder. So, don’t just leave welding until you have an important task. Instead, get as much practice as possible by constantly having projects on the go.
There are many ways to practice welding. For example, you can fix things around the house, work on a car, or build something out of scrap metal.
Mistake #10 — Failing to maintain welding equipment
To keep welding costs down, it’s crucial to keep welding equipment well-maintained. Welding machines are expensive and require maintenance to ensure optimal performance. Basic maintenance includes tightening weld terminals, cleaning parts, and replacing cracked wires and hoses.
One of the most forgotten welding items to maintain is the welding gun. Therefore, regularly check the feeder connection, keep it clean, and ensure the MIG gun liner is always clear of debris. Also, replace contacts regularly.
Mistake #11 — Giving up too early after making welding mistakes
Don’t make the mistake of giving up welding after a few mistakes. Welding is a skill that requires patience, attention to detail, and practice. The good news is that you can avoid future errors through practice. After all, practice makes perfect, and the same goes for welding.
If you are a beginner, you need to work on your skills. If you are working on a project, try to find someone else to help you. When you start practicing, you will notice that you will make mistakes. Don’t worry about making mistakes; focus on learning from them.
What Should a Beginner Welder Know
It’s good for beginner welders to know that welding is a hands-on skill requiring training and practice. And it’s common to make mistakes when starting a welding hobby. It’s also crucial to realize the importance of safety, buying good-quality equipment, and following guidelines on using the right consumables, voltage, and welding processes.
How to Avoid the Most Common Welding Mistakes — What Are the Solutions?
This article has examined the most common eleven welding mistakes beginners usually make. However, you don’t have to make them. Here is a quick guide with top welding tips and the best solutions to avoid the chances of mistakes happening when welding:
· Not preparing metal surfaces: Take your time to clean all contaminants — rust, paint, oils — from the base materials thoroughly.
· Welding safety mistakes: Always wear the appropriate safety gear and use proper welding practices in the workshop.
· Using the wrong welding process: Find out what welding method is suitable for different types of metals and weld joints.
· Mistakes with welding equipment: Keep your workspace clean and organized and have all equipment to hand before starting the arc.
· Not having the correct electrode or stick: Refer to the manufacturer’s guide on what electrodes, wires, or rods are suitable for each project.
· Mistakes with wire speed: Practice on scrap metal to get the right wire feed speed and voltage. Adjust your welding equipment as necessary.
· Using cheap consumables: Buying low-quality, imported fillers is a false economy. Instead, always buy the best you can afford.
· Getting shielding gas mixtures wrong: Refer to welding manuals on the best shielding gas mixtures for the type of weld you plan.
· Not practicing welding or giving up too early: Welding is a skill that takes time to learn. Yes, you will make mistakes — every professional welder has done so. But don’t give up.
· Forgetting the importance of maintenance: Maintaining welding equipment in good order will mean fewer repairs and using fewer consumables.
Beginner Welding Mistakes — In Conclusion
To enjoy your new welding career or metalworking hobby, you want to avoid making common welding mistakes. The two most crucial things to increase your chance of success as a beginner are the importance of safety and base material preparation. If you keep these things in mind, you will quickly gain the experience you need to become a superstar in the welding industry.