The Welding Arc and the Puddle – What You're Looking For

First let's get the rod going:

1) Start on the grounded piece of material by firming tapping & dragging the rod slightly, lifting it up a bit off the metal to keep it from sticking. (I do not give exact distances & angles because it's a JUDGMENT based on you, & the conditions of the job).

2) This is when you need the machine settings on the upper end of the suggested range so that you can RUN beads & not worry about rods sticking.

3) Get CLOSE enough to really see the puddle. After a second or 2, you will see what the puddle looks like. (The shape depends on the speed that you're going & how much you're wasting side to side).

4) Here's where the statement "what you see is what you get" comes in. If what you see is a skinny oval, the bead will be skinny & oval.

5) What you want is at least a puddle wider than the rod you're using & a steady pace so that the bead is somewhat uniform.

6) Do not WORRY about beauty now, just get the feeling of "feeding" the rod as it gets shorter & going at a slow steady rate. (if you're TOO slow the puddle will get real wide, & real skinny if you're too fast).

7) Right now you're welding on a flat surface so everything is a little simpler than other positions.

OKAY, now a quick simple lesson in arc "dynamics".

1) The arc itself has a pressure (like voltage or electromotive "force"), and THAT'S WHY you need to angle the rod in various ways to direct the molten metal & to help keep the "slag" out of the puddle.

2) When you weld in vertical positions or overhead, you aim the rod arc in an upward direction to help preheat the weld & direct the puddle AND to help overcome gravity that can cause the puddle to drip out.

3) So when you're welding in an overhead position you have the rod nearly vertical to help the puddle stay in place.

3) Again, in a horizontal position you also need to direct the rod (and the arc) forward for the same reasons.

4) Back to the FLAT position, you do not want to direct the rod more towards one piece of material than the other, so you have it at right angles to the pieces, but also tilted to direct the puddle & the slag.

More tips about the puddle and the "bead":

* Note that the slag can start coming into the puddle area if you're going too slow. This can produce welds that are porous, that will not look good, nor are they going to be as strong.

* You need to get used to how it SOUNDS when you've made a good weld. Some guys say it's like bacon frying. You're listening for a steady crackling noise, but NOT sounding like it's boiling.

* Get CLOSE to the puddle to really see it's shape & clarity. Maneuver your body & your head to best see what's going on.

* Just try to work on steadiness & the feeling of "feeding" the rod, etc.

* Any good good LOOKING welds come with practice. Also, the weld may very well do it's job even if it looks poorly. As long as you have good penetration, it will be strong.

* You need to go slow enough for the molten puddle to join with both pieces of metal.

* Also, if you're purposely welding a wide bead, be sure to hesitate slowly at each side of the weave to ensure good penetration.

I know this sounds like a lot to remember all at once. Just think about all the things you were told to worry about when you were first learning to DRIVE. There is not that much to think about while welding! Also, try to get with someone that welds & watch them. SEEING what's going on can really help you learn faster.