Learning a new skill needs some patience
From an early age, my dad had me working with machinery of all types. Tools such as band saws, sand-blasters, miter saws, rasps were all normal. With these skills I was able to make things such as a canoe paddle, 2x4 chicken wire enclosure for growing vegetables in Toronto, and custom tableware by glue gunning letters onto ikea bowls and proceeding to sand blast them. Since then I have been interested in all types of fabrication, especially facilitated by the ability to search the internet for any project I'm interested in.
As part of an internship, I had to design a couple parts in CAD which were to be machined out of 1/2" aluminum.
These were to be manually milled, using a hand cranked X and Y, and Z wheels.
I was very fortunate to have a direct connection to the person who would be operating the machine making my parts which was able to talk some sense into some of my design choices. Theres a joke in the manufacturing world that engineers ask the impossible and I was certainly fulfilling this stereotype. 0 degree internal radiuses with a 0.1mm tolerance, really!?
Thanks to YouTube channels such as AvE, This Old Tony, Kevin Caron, and ChuckE2009, I inspired enough confidence to pick up welding myself without first taking a class at a college.
In this writeup, I want to share my most important takeaways from my learning experience of a beginner putting down his first beads, to making a full stainless steel turbocharger exhaust.
Some of the major takeaways
Arc Welding is low voltage, usually DC, and super high amps (10V, 5-200A), making it somewhat safe for humans as far as electrocution goes.
That bright light from the welding torch is like a mini sun. Sun burns, eye damage, and super hot gasses included. You've naturally learned not to look directly at the sun, but it's much less obvious when you can hold it in your hand
What materials you can easily weld together, and which are impossible
Sooo, What is welding?
Coming from an electronics background, I was already very comfortable with soldering circuits, which could easily be mistaken for something very similar to welding.
Soldering != Welding?
Well for one, welding occurs at around 3,000 to 20,000 degrees C, whereas electronics soldering is 300 to 450. If you've touched a soldering iron by accident and thought it was bad, try bringing your hand close to a red hot piece of metal.
With circuit boards, soldering is typically between the gold or lead coated copper pads of the board, and the pins of the parts using a filler metal made of a mix of Tin and Lead with the center of the solder made of flux. For electronics, the strength and temperature of melting is not a problem. I mean, if a circuit reaches temperatures of 300C during normal operation, it's magic smoke is probably going to be let out and will stop working regardless.
With Welding, 2 pieces of metal are joined using a metal of the same composure. For instance, joining 2 mild steel pieces means using filler metal of the
My Everlast PowerTIG 200DV welder purchased at the beginning of the summer of 2018
My first first temporary workstation. A 1/4" thick plate held in a vise
My first workstation. A 1/4" thick plate held in a vise
Striking the first Arc
Something I completely did not expect, was how metal bends and deflects from welding.