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GETTING STARTED As with any other skill, arc welding takes time to learn and master. Basic fundamentals must be learned and practiced repeatedly in order for one to become proficient at arc welding. It is necessary to understand the basic components of the arc welding process, however, for a person to really learn the trade it is necessary to have vast amounts of experimentation and experience. Industry is always searching for certified weldors. The agricultural science laboratory is a great place to learn the skills necessary to be American Welding Society (AWS) certified after graduation. Patience and determination are key character traits to keep in mind while learning the skill of arc welding. PREPARING METAL FOR WELDING In order to increase the efficiency of the welding process, it is necessary to prepare the metal beforehand. Stronger, cleaner, and more attractive welds will result if proper preparations are made. Another reason for preparing metal is that fewer electrodes will be needed, saving both time and money. If welding unprepared metal, more heat will be needed to perform the welds, therefore amperage should be increased an additional 20 amperes. There are several methods of preparing metal. Using a steel brush, filing, scraping, and grinding are all proven techniques. Using a grinder is the quickest method for preparing metal for welding. Weld surfaces should be ground to ensure that all metal burrs and rough spots are removed. This is especially needed for sheets of metal less than 1/4 inch thick. Metal that is more than 1/4 inch thick should be beveled* at a 30-degree angle. To bevel means to incline or slant an edge. The two pieces of prepared metal placed with the beveled edges together to form a 60degree angle.

* Underlined words are defined in the Glossary of Terms. -1-

Metal sheets that are 1/ 4 to 1/ 2 inch thick should be spaced 1/ 32 to 1/ 16 inches apart before welding. This spacing will provide for maximum heat penetration during the welding process and ensure quality welds. Heat penetration is the depth at which the base metal is sufficiently heated and melted in order for fusion to occur. DETERMINING CORRECT AMPERAGE SETTING Ensuring that the welder is set to the correct amperage is critical to the overall success of any welding operation. Amperage setting is crucial to forming strong beads, allowing for proper penetration and producing minimum spatter. Most welding suppliers provide charts and information that show the proper amperage settings according to electrode size and thickness of metal. These charts are available at many welding supply stores. Amperage setting is determined by the following factors: Metal Thickness Size and Type of Electrode Speed of Travel Position of Weld

Several scenarios can occur when the amperage is improperly set. Amperage too High the bead will be flat with increased porosity, excessive spatter will occur and the electrode will burn too hot. Amperage too Low striking an arc will become very difficult, as well as maintaining correct arc length. The metal will pile up, forming a high narrow bead. Proper penetration will not occur. Correct Amperage weld ripple will be uniform and the weld deposit will be equal to the depth of penetration.


The following chart is an example of one that might be found in a welding supply store. It suggests the amperage setting according to electrode size and metal thickness. AMPERAGE 65 80100 80120 115130 130150 140150 160175 175200 ELECTRODE SIZE

1 3

/32 3 /32 1 /8 5 /32 5 /32 5 /32 5 /32 5 /32

/16 /32 1 /8 3 /16 1 /4 5 /16 3 /8 1 /2

USING CORRECT WELDING POSITION A key component in developing proficiency in welding is finding a welding position that is comfortable and will allow for less fatigue. There are several different types of welding positions that work for different people. Welding can be done with one hand or two, and an individual can weld either standing up or sitting down. An example of one type of welding position is the following: To start welding, hold the electrode holder in the right hand and use the left hand as a support for the right hand. Strike the arc and weld from left to right. (Left handed weldors should do the opposite.) Tilt the electrode toward the direction of travel, always keeping it at a 15-degree angle. After striking the arc, maintain a correct arc length throughout the entire process. -3-

STRIKING THE ARC To begin the welding process, it is necessary to learn the skills involved in striking or starting an arc. An arc is formed when the electrode is brought into contact with the base metal and then withdrawn slightly, thus opening the circuit. The result of this action is that electric current jumps the gap and makes an arc that produces enough heat to melt the base metal and the electrode. Striking an arc is a challenge for most introductory weldors; it takes time and practice to become adept at the procedure. The following is an explanation of two methods of striking an arc commonly used in the field today. The tapping method of striking an arc: Set the amperage correctly prior to beginning welding. Hold the electrode directly over the desired starting point. Bring the electrode straight down and tap the metal. After the arc is established, hold the electrode about 1/ 8 inch above the bottom of the crater. Tilt the electrode towards the direction of travel.

The scratching method of striking an arc: Set the amperage correctly. Bring the electrode down diagonally across the work as if striking a match. After the arc is established, hold the electrode about 1/8 inch from the metal. Tilt the electrode towards the direction of travel. Arc length is an important factor to consider in producing quality welds. The arc length, or distance between the electrode and molten metal, should be equal to the diameter of the bare end of the welding rod or electrode. It is necessary to maintain a correct arc length throughout the entire welding process to produce high-quality welds. Excessive spattering and porosity will be eliminated if a proper arc length is maintained. The correct arc length may also be determined by sound. If the arc is too long, a blowing sound will be produced. If the arc length and amperage are correct, the arc produces a continuous crackling or frying sound. When the arc length is too short a popping sound will be the result.


Most beginning weldors will experience difficulties caused by electrodes sticking to the work. If this happens, release the electrode from the electrode holder by squeezing the lever. Turn the welder off and while wearing welding gloves, grab the electrode with a free hand and bend it back-andforth. This back and forth action should break the electrode free. After breaking the electrode free, check to see if the flux on the end of the electrode has been removed. If the end is free of flux, discard the electrode and begin with a new one. Electrodes that have lost their flux on the end are very difficult to strike, especially for a beginning weldor. CAUSES OF DIFFICULTIES IN STRIKING AN ARC There are many obstacles that most beginning weldors will face as they learn the techniques and methods involved in the welding process. Striking an arc is the first major skill that any weldor must develop. Some of the causes for increased difficulty that an introductory weldor might encounter in striking an arc are: The flux coating may be absent from the end of the electrode. Discard electrodes in which the flux is removed and begin with a new one. A fast scratching technique is also recommended to help alleviate this problem.

The work may be improperly grounded. Arcing may occur where the ground clamp is attached to the metal. The metal should be clean where the ground clamp is attached. Check the ground clamp and reapply the clamp to the metal, ensuring that proper contact is made. In some instances, it may be necessary to make a tack weld in order to get a good ground. -5-

The electrode may not be making proper contact with the electrode holder. Look for a weak spring or foreign materials. Be certain that the electrode holder is not clamped on the flux coating. The bare end of the electrode should be held in the electrode holder. The electrode and amperage setting may not be correctly matched in relation to the metal or job to be done. Check the metal thickness, electrode being used, speed of travel, and position of weld. Consult a chart that gives correct amperage settings for different situations and make the proper adjustments. The connections between the cables and welder terminals may be loose. Loose or dirty connections will reduce the electrical efficiency of the welder. Check and tighten any loose connections. Clean any dirty connections prior to resuming welding.

RUNNING A BEAD After learning to strike an arc, the next step for any weldor is to learn how to run a bead. This is another process that will take time and practice to master. Beginning weldors should first learn how to run a bead in the flat position. The following steps will guide a beginning weldor through the process. Adjust the amperage according to electrode size and type and the thickness of the metal. Consult an amperage chart for correct specifications. The second step is to hold a long arc until the base metal begins to melt, and continue to watch the puddle instead of watching the arc. It is suggested that you hold the arc for a count of three seconds to allow the base metal to melt before actually running the bead. This practice is known as preheating. After the metal begins melting, the electrode should be maneuvered to the proper arc length and tilted correctly toward the line of the weld. The correct arc length should be maintained throughout the process. Maintaining a good puddle is one of the most important steps in making a good weld. The puddle should be about 1.5 times as wide as the width of the electrode. The weld puddle is the area that is being heated and melted to a hot liquid state during welding. -6-

To maintain a good puddle, the speed of travel must be adjusted to permit a desired bead height. Welding heavy plate requires a slower speed than welding thin metal. You must learn to adjust your travel speeds for different types and sizes of metal. Sometimes the arc will have to be broken while running a bead. This can happen when the weldor finishes one electrode and must start another. The bead should not be restarted in the same place (the crater of the interrupted bead). The bead should be started on the metal behind the crater. By doing this, the weld will pass through the crater toward the bead and then over the same path in the line of the weld. This process is known as tying in or tying the beads together. To fill a crater, push the end of the electrode down into the crater and pull it away quickly to break the arc.

ELECTRODE MOVEMENTS FOR RUNNING A BEAD The main movements that a weldor must perform and master in order to become skilled at the craft are feeding the electrode to maintain the proper arc length and moving the electrode along the weld line. Downward motion is necessary to compensate for the area of the electrode that is being consumed. The electrode movement is also vital to the quality and strength of the weld. Several types of electrode movements are utilized and the exact type that is used is the weldors personal choice. Electrode movement is very important because it controls the penetration, porosity, width, and buildup of the bead that is produced. The following are some common movements or weaves that are used today. The drawings are self-explanatory.


USING BEADS AND WEAVES IN PADDING Practice is the key to becoming a polished weldor. It is necessary to work repeatedly at running a straight bead on a flat metal plate. This is used to practice and gain experience, and is often referred to as running stringer beads. This type of bead is most beneficial to students who are working on maintaining arc length, practicing weave patterns, and achieving proper electrode angle. There are many different ways to practice running beads. The following is one set of directions for running stringer beads. Begin the stringer bead at the upper left corner of the plate and move from left to right keeping the bead flush with the top edge of the plate. Be sure the bead runs in a straight line flush with the top of the plate and fill the crater at the end. Chip and wire brush the bead until it is completely clean before running another bead along its side. Place the second bead so that it will fuse with 20% (1/5) of the first bead.

Repeat each step until the entire surface of the plate is completely covered with deposited metal. It is important to realize that there are many possible weld positions. The flat, horizontal, vertical, and overhead positions are just a few. The American Welding Society (AWS) has come up with a set of codes to identify different welding positions. In order to become a (AWS) certified entry-level weldor, the weldor must be able to perform welds in many different positions. The following is a good practice method to become more skilled at welding in a variety of different positions. Without changing the position of the practice plate, begin at the lower left hand corner and run the bead away from the body. Cover the entire plate and brush it clean for the next layer. Deposit a third layer without moving the plate, moving the arc from right to left. Cover the entire plate and brush it clean for the next layer. Add the fourth layer with the steel plate in the initial position. Clean the plate so that all the beads may be examined.

Numerous practice exercises exist and it is the weldors personal choice as to which one he/she uses to learn the craft. Keep in mind that patience and determination are very important character traits to possess when learning the arc welding process.


One learning tool that is available for purchase from the Instructional Materials Service (IMS) is a videocassette # 9779 Stick Metal Arc Welding I. This video is an excellent learning tool for introductory weldors and explains the basic processes and skills involved in arc welding. For arc welding activities related to your SAEP, refer to IMS #RB-221, Activities for Agricultural Science 221. After completing an activity, be sure to record the entry in the journal page of your Internet record book, and click on 221-H for the Course and Unit of Instruction.


Acknowledgements Jared Doughty, Graduate Technician, Department of Agricultural Education, Texas A&M University, revised and organized this topic. Kirk Edney, Curriculum Specialist, Instructional Materials Service, Texas A&M University, reviewed this topic. Vickie Marriott, Office Software Associate, Instructional Materials Service, Texas A&M University, prepared the layout and design for this topic. Christine Stetter, Artist, Instructional Materials Service, Texas A&M University, prepared the illustrations for this topic. REFERENCES Alexander, R., E. Bohnart and R. Witcraft. Welding, The Fundamentals of Welding, Cutting, Brazing, Soldering, and Surfacing of Metals. John Deere Publishing, 2000. Jefferson, T. B. and Gorham Woods. Metals and How to Weld Them. 2nd ed. Cleveland, OH: The James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation, 1990. Jeffus, Larry. Welding: Principles and Applications. 4th ed. Delmar, 1999. Morford, V. J, T. Hoerner and W. Anderson. Metals and Welding. Hobar Publications, 1988. New Lessons in Arc Welding. 2nd ed. The Lincoln Electric Company, 1976. Sosnin, H. A. Arc Welding Instructions for the Beginner. 6th ed. Cleveland, OH: The James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation, 1970. Sosnin. H. A. Arc Welding Instructions for the Beginner Teachers Manual. Cleveland, OH: The James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation, 1964. Welding Made Easy. [On-line]. Available: tips.asp [2002, June] GLOSSARY OF TERMS Bevel To incline or slant an edge. Heat penetration The depth at which the base metal is sufficiently heated and melted in order for fusion to occur. Porosity Permeable to liquids. Preheating Holding the arc for a count of three seconds allowing base metal to melt before running a bead. Spatter Fragments of metal that are thrown onto the metal surrounding the actual weld area. Stringer bead A type of flat bead that is used as a practice technique for introductory weldors. Weld puddle Area that is being heated and melted to a hot liquid state during welding process. - 10 -

SELECTED STUDENT ACTIVITIES SHORT ANSWER/LISTING: Answer the following questions or statements in the space provided or on additional paper. 1. List three reasons for preparing metal prior to beginning a welding job. ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ 2. Explain in detail the two effects that can occur if amperage is improperly set. ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ 3. List the types of sounds for an arc length that is too long, too short, and one that is correct. ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ 4. List three causes for increased difficulty in striking an arc for beginning weldors. ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ 5. List five types of electrode movements for laying a bead. ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________

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ADVANCED ACTIVITIES 1. Research the American Welding Society (AWS) for information concerning the certified weldor program. Find out the expectations and requirements for becoming an AWS certified weldor. Present your findings to the class. Search for innovative ways to instruct other beginning weldors in arc welding. Present a demonstration to the class and test the ease of use for others. Discover ways to implement your instructions into the agricultural science laboratory. Construct a display of welding rods used at proper and improper amperage settings on the same piece of metal. Present this display to the class along with an explanation for each completed weld.



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