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MIG welding VS Fire welding! What do you chose?


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Hey folks,

Once again it is Steven. Hope yall had a wonderful weekend! Today we are going to be discussing MIG welding and the roll the MIG welder plays in the blacksmith shop. I know many smiths who are compleetly apposed to keeping any welder in their shop, I also know many who couldn't live without one. I guess it is mostly prefrence. 10 minutes on learning how to make a wire welder work or 2-3 weeks on perfecting fire welding. :P Me being me (one impatient son of a gun) I like to get things as fast and as easly as humanly possible. Here are some videos on MIG welding, and PLEASE share your opions on electrical welding VS MIG welding.

This video covers MIG welding Basics

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Steven, not a bad basic primer on mig. If nothing else it covers what is in the manual most guys never bother to look at.

 

 

 10 minutes on learning how to make a wire welder work or 2-3 weeks on perfecting fire welding. 

 

 

Sorry I'll go on somewhat of a rant here. Something of a pet peeve of mine. There's a lot more to doing quality mig welds than spending 10 minutes learning to squirt wire at a piece. At the tech school where I help teach, the average student takes about 35-40 hours to learn to do basic mig welds in all positions. This is usually enough to get them a basic job, not really make them true welders. To simply do decent flat welds it often takes almost 15-20 hours of practice with someone to help point out mistakes. I see way too many people who think that just because the metal doesn't fall apart it's "welded", or because they banged on it with a hammer and it stayed together it's a "quality" weld. Not even close. Sort of like how many people think blacksmithing is "easy" and all you have to do is heat up metal and pound on it...

 

Don't get me wrong I'm not ranting at you, just making a general comment on a subject that tends to irritate me.

 

One thing you didn't mention, that I'd strongly suggest, is material prep. While the piece you welded on wasn't bad, you always get better results if you clean and prep your material 1st. A wire wheel usually won't cut it either. You need to sand or grind to shiny steel. Another pet peeve of mine is guys who simply weld over everything and never prep....

 

 

 

As far as electric welding vs forge welding, I'd say it all depends. Given a choice to put something together with welds, I reach for mig before everything else since it's the process I do best. That said I often find tig to be much more useful with forged work. I have more control and can lay down smaller neater welds with less filler allowing them to be "hidden"  or reworked easier when aesthetics is the big concern. If all you want to do is tack two pieces together so you can collar them easier some sort of electric weld makes sense.

 

On the other hand there are just some places where "traditional" forge welding better suits the project at hand. One thing would be the fact a forge weld is usually a full weld, vs surface welds that are usually done by most people with an electric welder. Full penetration welds would require a lot more prep and give you a different look to the piece.

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Oddly enough, I just came in from the shop where I was doing a bit of stick welding to make a project.

 

All types of welding have a place in the blacksmith shop.  The piece I was just working on would have been an absolute bear of a job if I had tried welding in the forge.  Less than an hour with power tools and a welder, though, and it's done and ready to put to work.

 

And, to support DSW's point, I've been trying to learn welding on my own for several months, and I suck at it.  My stuff sticks together, but if I want it to look decent I break out the grinder.  I really need to go to school!!

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If you want some help improving, I'm happy to give you a hand. Start a thread in the welding section and post you a few picts of your welds along with all the information like type of rod and size, machine used polarity and amps, material and thickness etc and I'll try to give you some pointers. I can usually spot some of the obvious errors and get you pointed in the right direction.

 

 

I will admit that there really is no substitution for good hands on training with someone to look over your shoulder and make suggestions and comments. There's only so much that can be conveyed with still picts. Many times when I'm helping students, I'm watching them, not what they are welding. Body position and so an often cause issues and aren't easy to spot unless you are actually watching the person weld.

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Steve: DSW is right on the nose. I spent more time in school learning welding and fabrication than most masters degree holders have. You asked a "mig vs. electric welding" question, brother you have a LONG way to go, mig IS electric welding. Believe it or not I can teach you to forge weld a LOT faster than I can make a competent welder out of you and that's assuming you have the eye hand coordination to be a good electric welder.

 

At least take a college extension welding class, it won't make a professional welder out of you but it should give you the basics. There is NO such thing as a point and shoot welder, don't let anyone tell you differently, not even a college instructor. It may seem like some of old time welders are jumping on you but welding is just too important to get right. You may not think it's important to make good welds on a wall hanging piece of art but believe me, sooner or later a neighbor will want you to weld something up, knowing you have a welder. Something that MUST be properly welded, say a trailer fender bracket or hitch. Now we're talking potential hazard to life and limb for a bad weld.

 

For instance, it doesn't matter how long I went to school, how many welding certifications I held or how many years of experience I have, I can't see well enough since the accident so I don't do any critical welds. Period.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Greetings Steve,

 

I guess I will put my 2c worth in....   My feelings are that there is no magic bullet.  Fire, Mig, Tig Stick, gas , resistance, .   All have a place and are project conditional ..   If your work is traditional fire welding is the only choice.   If you make a living doing metal art work a proficiency with all of the above is needed.  My suggestion is if you want to improve your skills start out on gas welding..  Than move on to stick and Mig.  Spend some time and take some classes .  With time and a small investment of those three you can cover a lot of areas..  Patience and practice

 

Good luck

 

Forge on and make beautiful things     Jim

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I have been welding for over 50 years,,,self taught but with the odd help when needed. Stick,,then later O/A, A little bif of Tig for myself and about 20 years ago added a flux core mig to the shop. I am pretty confident of my welds for wotever is needed.

That all said I do not have the training and back ground to teach anything about welding in text and pics,,,even if I add videos. There is too much of a need for interaction with instructor and student to make this work.

 

I can for sure give some online tips that may help someone with forge welding simple items. And have had positive feed back from doing this.

The welding help needs shop time from an experienced instructor with the correct back ground and abilites to instruct effectively.

Lots of folks on here view how to videos about metal working. i hope they pay close attention to the person posting as well as looking to see wot the video offers them to learn from.

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I am going to do an intermedate mig welding tutorial later. I'll add some of these really good "tips". (if you "catch my drift")

 

Mod note: That will not be posted here.  IFI promotes informed information, not just posting for ones own amusement

 

Sorry to waste your time Lakeside. If welding is a joke to you, you're never going to be someone I'd trust to weld anything for me in ANY capacity.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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I feel that evey shop that's not consciously trying to portray a historical time before "modern" welding methods should include at least one form of modern welding. 

 

However in many cases I feel that stick would be a better choice than mig.  Mig excels for fab work; but for the hobby shop the wide range of rod and ease of switching from one type to another and the ability to do welds on heavy sections really helps in building tooling.  Used Lincoln Tombstones are fairly cheap (I've seen a dozen under US$150 advertised in the last year); they are fairly bullet proof---I'm using one that's probably older than I am and I'm in the latter pat of my 50's...

 

My "training" was in shop class around 1971; I was not good at it at all.  After I bought one decades later a weldor friend of mine went over the basics again and told me I needed to burn my weight in rods to get good.  I bought a used copy of the massive Lincon book on welding and have been having a blast making tooling for my blacksmithing shop and armouring shop---now to find some super missle weld to attach the 9" cast iron balls to shafts....I don't do critical welds either (trailers, trucks, towers, etc...)

 

For stuff I forge I generally forge weld or rivet or collar

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This is my 50th year of forge welding. Raison d'etre. A forge weld is forgeable. The line of contact may not be perfect in the finished piece because of grain growth and slag (dirt) inclusions, but the weld is somewhat homogeneous for the blacksmith's purposes. When considering electric and gas welding, the weld is not always forgeable because of the weld pool freezing and (I think) a dendritic crystalline structure forming. When heating and beating on such a solidified weld, it may results in cracks. The weld area is unlike the parent metal. Forge welds are usually a bit weaker than electric and gas welds in terms of tensile strength and yield. We say what the cowboys say, "I don't care how weak it is as long as it's strong enough!"

 

Another reason I forge weld is to obtain a pleasing line where two pieces meet, as in a branch attached to a stem. This Vee joint has what I term a vanishing point which emulates the organic appearance of a real plant. To obtain this look with a "modern weld" would require beau coups cold work with perhaps needle files. Further, a hinge barrel forge weld has a smoother, neater appearance than arc welding a pipe on the end of a strap.

 

Another point to consider. Sometimes, a forge weld is as fast or faster than an electric or gas weld. This may occur when a "modern welder" needs to think about veeing out the two pieces, aligning, clamping, making multiple passes, cleaning the 'gradoo', sanding, and maybe reheating to give the surface a fire texture.

 

There is a time and place for everything. My MIG, Stick, and Oxy are waiting in the wings.

 

Sayings and Cornpone

"Never talk to a man taking a welding heat."

      Charles "Dick" Dickenson [RIP], farrier instructor

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