Recently, I had the opportunity to spend almost a whole week MIG welding. Before this, I'd never spent more than an hour or so with a MIG machine, so it was fun to see my progress throughout the week. Previously, the only welding experience I had was through a short intro class at The Crucible in Oakland. It was cool to get "under the hood" for the first time and get an idea of what MIG welding is like. I left with a desire to learn more.
So, here we go - my week of welding in three progress photos.
Day 1: pretty hideous
On the first day I really didn't understand the importance of things that make a good weld: how fast you move the gun, how much stick out to start with and maintain, the cleanliness of the tip, and most critical, the feed and voltage settings on the machine. I was just sort of arbitrarily moving the gun along the joint and wasn't getting good penetrating welds.
That night, I came home and watched the first of Jody's MIG Tips video series from (the fantastic) Welding Tips and Tricks. Going into Day 2, I had some idea of the sort of movement to make with the gun (lowercase cursive e's), how much stick out to have before starting a weld, and what sort of sound to listen for (bacon sizzling!). I still didn't really mess with any of the machine settings, though, so progress was minimal.
Day 3: still hideous but better
By Day 3, I was starting to feel a little more confident, and was getting addicted to making progress. My lowercase cursive e's were getting a little tighter, but I still had a lot of work to do. I think one of my biggest issues in the first few days was speed - I was moving too quickly and wasn't giving the puddle enough time to penetrate the metal. Also notice the little balls of metal around the weld - at this point I wasn't clipping off the end of the wire before each weld, so I was getting some splattering.
Finally, on the last day, I was getting somewhere.
Day 5: a decent looking weld!
I was getting some decent penetration, especially while going slightly downhill on joints like this one, and was starting to understand how to adjust the machine.
Now that I've been bitten by the welding bug, I'm excited to do more of it. It's clear that MIG welding is a useful skill to have and super handy for creating structures quickly. I definitely still have a long way to go and look forward to trying other types of welding in the future.