I learned with books and practice. I wouldn't call myself a
journeyman welder, but I get sound welds with good appearance. I
know they're sound from having to "unweld" a few misplaced joints
with a grinder. Unwelding is a lot slower than welding!
It's really a matter of practice.
However, I expect it took me a good deal longer to gain proficiency
than it might have if I'd had some good instruction and coaching.
If you can't make it to a class, then I'd have to go with "Modern
Just a suggestion, though... It's worth going to school. Just in the
purely financial sense, it was way cheaper for me because I used up far
more material than I paid for the class. Lets hear it for community
Try 7014 in the horizontal position, 3/32" rod, set to 90A DC+. It's really
easy rod, just strike an arc and let the rod burn, no need to manipulate it
at all. That's why they call it "farmer's rod". It does spatter a bit so if
you don't like dingleberries take a small chisel and a hammer and nip them
Once you get good at 7014 move up to 7018. Much better stuff. You have to
fuss around keeping the rods dry and warm, but the welds look great and
are really strong and you can weld tool steels without the welds cracking
from hydrogen embrittlement because the rods are low hydrogen.
I still think you'll learn more in an hour watching a welder than you
will in a month of working out of a book. It's also very beneficial to
have an experienced welder watching you -- he can say "lift up your hand
a little - your angle's too steep" which you'd never know because you're
watching the puddle.
This is the inevitable "me too" post. I've been doing a couple of weeks of
welding here and there throughout my apprenticeship. I cannot imagine trying
to learn to weld without a capable welder near by. Frequently the problem is
as simple, as Grant said, as an angle or some other issue that is virtually
impossible to diagnose without a lot of experience.
While MIG welding is a start, you basically need a pulse and a functional
hand to make a nice MIG weld, in my experience. Arc welding in any position
other than 1F takes a fair amount of practice and at least some instruction
(although I guess if you have a _lot_ of patience....)
Or spray the area around the weld area with Pam cooking spray.
Or get fancy and buy a case of anti-spatter spray off ebay.
Liberals - Cosmopolitan critics, men who are the friends
of every country save their own. Benjamin Disraeli
Welding is like riding a bicycle or driving a car. You have to do it, not
read about it.
With that said, I would recommend "Modern Welding" if you want to learn
theory, and "The Complete Book of Home Welding" if you want a description of
how it is done. The latter is out of print so you want to check with nearby
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