Newbie mistakes and lessons learned list

Here's a list of things that have happened to me and things that I learned since I started welding about 4-6 weeks ago.

1) Burnt my arm on a hot piece of metal 2) Burned my fingers on a hot piece of metal 3) Hot slag flew into my hair and burned while welding 4) Hot slag under my knee while kneeling and welding 5) Caught my cotton shirt on fire while using a cut-off wheel on my 4 1/2" grinder 6) Caught my workpiece on fire


1) Learned not to wear shorts while welding (I know this one is kinda obvious but my garage was 90+ degrees that day) 2) Steel that sits out in the sun for a while gets pretty hot 3) The arc of a mig welder is so bright and so white it looks almost grey


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I started a few weeks ago too, but not nearly as "exciting" a start. Got oxyacetylene gear, because it seemed fewer things could go wrong. Mostly we've followed the safety hints from Finch's Welder's Handbook. Excitements:

  1. The day my wife (who goes barefoot everywhere) tried some cutting... We had an urgent discussion.
  2. As a left-hander, I luckily setup and used the angle grinder the way some folks here suggest (sparks up and forward), with proper c. 10 degree angle. But one day I started without safety glasses and thought "Hmmmm. What is wrong with this picture?" Figured it out before tragedy stuck.
  3. Got confused about which end of the welding rod was hot, until I learned about bending a hook in one end. Fortunately, gloves saved the day.
  4. A few seconds of panic from popping and flashback. Immediately got and learned to use tip cleaners.
  5. Lit my work surface on fire because I forgot to put down the firebricks.

Other newbie lessons.

  1. Neutral flame is hard. I can cut and braze, but the proper neutral flame for welds is tough. Am I the only one who has trouble reading an oxy guage for 4psi where that is barely off the bottom peg?

  1. Wind is not your friend. I work in a carport, and have to wait for a quite day for welding. Cutting is ok with a breeze, but welding (using 4 psi) is impossible.

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Harry George

or a trip-signal-wire that's connected to a switch in a flip-up helmet, machine only operates if lid is down... hehehe...

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Thanks for the feedback. I've read several books and followed the pictures, and come to your conclusion --- it's best learned in person. Fortunately my neighbor has been doing mild steel welding for many years. I wanted to get started before bugging him. Guess it is time to go on over there.

I seem to get a good flame but after a minute the oxy drops and I have to crank it up a bit (this is on a single stage regulator, with oxy pressure at 1200 psi).

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Harry George

Sounds like your regulator is creeping. Any single stage regulator will drop the output pressure some as the tank pressure falls, but that should take quite a while when welding. If it is happening over the course of only a few minutes, then you've got a regulator creep problem. If the regulator is new, take it back. If it is old, and a good name brand, have it serviced.


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Gary Coffman

Remote control by at least 200 yards or meters before the machine starts. Auto-shutoff when the machine is approached or high current is detected.


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