First, practice handling the gun without actually welding. Rest its barrel in one hand, and support that hand on the table. The other hand operates the gun’s trigger. Stand in a comfortable position and move the gun steadily over the work surface. Adjust your posture and gun movement so that they feel natural.
Attach the work lead to the workpiece, and hold the gun so the wire meets the weld surface at about a 30-degree angle. Touch the wire very lightly to the surface, squeeze the trigger, and gently pull the gun toward you to make your first test weld. The wire should melt off into the weld puddle at an even rate and make a steady crackling noise as you go. Adjust the welder settings if needed.
- Prepare the Metal
- Mark a line with a carbide scribe or woodworker’s awl, and cut with a metal-cutting chop saw or a hacksaw. For a strong weld, clean the metal with a degreaser.
- Prepare the Metal (Cont.)
- Next, grind or file a slight bevel along the edges you’re welding. This ensures the weld penetrates as deeply as possible and countersinks it so you can grind it flush. Don’t overdo it or you’ll burn through the metal when you weld.
- Position the Pieces
- When building a project like our C table, you’ll need to form exact 90-degree angles. Clamp the mitered surfaces together, leaving enough room to put down a tack weld. The pieces should lie flat and fit neatly without a metal burr interfering.
- Check the assembly’s position with a square. Use a carpenter’s aluminum triangle square on the inside of the joint, or a steel carpenter’s square on the outside.
- Tack Weld
- Tack the pieces together at a couple of places along each joint. Check again for square corners; if anything shifts and puts the assembly out of square, grind away the tack weld, reposition the parts, and try again.
- Finish Weld
- After you’ve tacked everything into place, lay down your final weld beads. As enjoyable as it is to create nice, smooth welds, resist the temptation to overdo it. The more metal you deposit, the more you’ll need to grind off.
- Post-Weld Cleanup
- Chip off the slag with a welding hammer, and then use a 36-grit grinding wheel to knock the beads down to the surrounding metal. To ensure a flat, flush surface, move the grinder along the weld, not across it. Remove any marks with a 60-grit zirconia flap disc.
- Final Tip
- Prime and paint the steel, buff some clear wax over it, or spray on a coating of clear acrylic. But do it sooner rather than later. You don’t want a layer of rust to form.