MIG WELDING


mig welding bead welding technique

My mig welding technique

 

“MIG Welding Techniques”

In this article I’m going to go over:

  • MIG welding techniques
  • MIG welder fine tuning
  • Weld speed and hand position
  • MIG weld bead spacing
  • Types of joints, how to weld them, and much more…

When I first started learning how to weld I had no idea where to go to get information for the proper techniques of how to make a nice looking and strong MIG-weld bead.

ie: MIG-welding like stack-of-dimes or like a TIG-weld, etc.

I’ve learned a lot from my many years in the off-road fabrication industry. In this article I’m going to try and save you time by sharing my experiences in welding and fabrication and hopefully I can educate you with my many tips and techniques to steer you in the right direction to having that “Perfect MIG Bead.’‘

There are definitely many different techniques to get that “stack-of-dimes” or “Mig like Tig” look but before we get started we have a couple things we should go over;

Welder Tuning

First, you’re going to have to adjust the settings on your welder. I would use the Chart on the inside of the door as a good starting point. On some welders you will be able to use these settings while others may require further tuning. In the two pictures below I’ve used the stock Miller settings. Once you have the welder set for the material you are welding here are some of the tricks to start getting the “stack of dimes”:

  • Start by dropping your wire speed.
  • If that doesn’t help, drop the settings down to the next lowest setting on the panel.
  • If still nothing, you’ll have to continue fine tuning by dropping your wire speed.  Then your volt settings.  Repeat that process until you have a nice consistent sharp “Frying Bacon” sound along with a nice rounded bead stack.


One technique I use that works great is:

  • Drag the welder close to the area you’re welding – enough so that you can reach over and touch the adjustment knobs while welding.
  • Get the welder’s settings close to your liking.
  • Then, while welding on a piece of scrap, slowly turn the wire speed knob up or down until you get your sharp “Frying Bacon” sound along with a nice looking bead.

 

I mentioned that I was using the stock Miller 250 settings, which work well in certain applications but may need to be adjusted depending on the part you’re welding. In the picture below I was using the stock Miller settings for 3/16″ to show you what it looks like when you try to weld a corner joint. I’ve tried to make the weld look as decent as possible but ended up using the stock Miller setting for 16 gauge.

 

In my experience, each welder has different settings to get that “Sweet Spot”.  For example, I use a Miller 210 all the time and have the settings memorized but at my friend’s shop I use completely different settings on his identical welder.  I’m not quite sure why the settings can vary so much but if you use the techniques I’ve explained above you should be able to tune any welder to get the best welds possible.

 

If you change to a different wire size you will have to change the settings to get back to your desired “Sweet Spot”.

 

 

 


Weld Penetration

 

One way to inspect the penetration of your weld, without an X-ray or cross-section, is by the way the bead looks.

  •  If the weld is very tall, rough, or choppy, then the penetration may be insufficient. This is referred to as being TOO COLD!!
  • If the weld is close to flat or slightly rounded, this is an indication that you’re getting the penetration you want.  I’ve shown an example of a 3/16″ T- joint & lap joint in the pictures above.
  • You don’t want the weld to be “Under Cut” which means below flat or cutting out the material.


Another way to insure that you have good penetration is:

  • A large chamfer on the material.
  • An equal reveal on the material.
  • A higher setting on the welder — especially for thicker material.
  • A slower place — allowing more heat and more weld material to the joint — and a bigger “C”or “e” formation.

 

 

The Welding Technique

Tip: When I weld, I usually don’t pulse, stitch, or push the weld.


  • I don’t stitch weld because you usually don’t get the penetration you want — unless I’m using a thinner material and wire such as sheet metal welding.
  • I don’t push from right to left because it’s harder to get penetration.  For that reason the weld is being pushed away from the molten puddle unlike the pulling technique where your wire is pushing back into the molten puddle.  Also, the weld is a lot harder to control to make the weld look appealing.

 

The main welding technique I use is fairly different from other techniques like “C” or “e”.  Even though I do use the “E” in some situations  The technique I use is a back and forth motion all the while pulling left to right — if your left-handed, the opposite applies — with the nozzle of the gun at a 45 degree angle.  I aim the wire in the center of the joint where the two metals meet.

If there is a thicker piece of metal on one side, I will use an “e” formation.  I will push the weld in an “e” formation towards the thicker piece.  If there is a gap or divot that needs to be filled, I will slow down and do the “e” formation to completely fill the gap or divot.



Tip: I prefer to use a smaller gun than the one supplied for more control and the ability to weld in tight areas.

Hand Speed and Hand Position

 

Let’s start with the Hand position:

 

  • Hold the trigger part of the gun in your right hand with the ability to rotate your wrist – like the throttle on a motorcycle handle.
  • You will want to rest the bend of the gun in between your pointer finger and the thumb with the top of your hand resting on the table.
  • Your left hand is going to be the point for the gun to pivot on and to stabilize the nozzle.
  • Your right hand is going to be the part that twists to achieve the back-and-forth motion that creates your weld beads.
  • Also, you’re going to want to relax your arms and hands so you can slide your left hand across the table to follow the weld down the joint.


Hand Speed

When I was first starting out I would weld like I was in a hurry. Don’t rush!.. Take your time.  You need to relax your grip — the gun isn’t going anywhere.

  1. When you start the weld, relax!! Do a nice little loop to close off the end of the material.
  2. Start by pulling to the right about a 1/8″ to 1/4″ or less in a semi-fast motion.
  3. Push the puddle back over what weld I’ve just laid down at a slower speed and watch the bead form a nice round puddle.
  4. When I push back, I watch the spacing of the bead in front and try to match the stopping point of the puddle that I did from the previous puddle.  That’s how I know how far I need to push back the puddle.


mig welding bead spacing my welding technique

mig weld bead spacing

MIG Weld Bead Spacing

When you space your weld beads you will want to have them equally spaced and close enough so as not to get a “Scalloped” formation.  If you’re getting a “Scalloped” formation it’s probably because you’re going too fast and you’re not pushing left far enough to cover the weld that you just made.  Also, you may be pulling away from bead — to the right — too far.

this is a mig weld good welding technique

mig weld bead spacing overlay diagram

Make Sure You Can See!

When I first started, I also had a problem seeing the weld.  Now I’m not sure if it was a mental thing of not getting my face close enough to the weld or if the lens on my hood wasn’t clean.  It could have been a combination of both but, eventually, I was able to see and have figured out what can help you to improve your visibility which, in turn, will improve your welds, dramatically.

Tip: Make sure your clear lenses are as clean as possible.  Remember, you get one shot at your weld.

  • The first thing you want to do is make sure that the shade of your hood is set up for you.
  • I use a shade 11-1/2 or 12 on my auto darkening hood.  If you are just starting out, I would try a shade 9 or 10.  Then increase to a darker shade when you get all the techniques down pat and you’re comfortable.
  • Another very important step in your visibility is cleaning the lenses on your hood.   Sometimes the lens may not look very dirty but you would be surprised how hard it is to see if you have a dirty hood lens compared to a new one.
  • What I use and have found to work better than anything else I’ve used to clean the lens (WD-40, wet rag, soap and water etc) is a plastic Polish.  It’s called NOVUS POLISH #2 Fine Scratch Polish, which restores the lens close to the original finish giving you that new lens visibility.
    • I would apply this every 10-20 welds depending on how much you weld.
    • Lastly, make sure you’re getting close enough to the weld.  When I weld I’ll put my face between 5”-12” away from the weld — 5” being the closest and 12” being the farthest – and, no, I don’t wear glasses.
    • Now, you’re probably thinking, “Man I’m going to have major back and neck problems after welding being so bent over.”  Well, one thing that you can do is raise your table or raise the part so you don’t have to bend down so far.  This will eliminate chiropractor bills.

MIG Nozzle and Anti Splatter

It’s very important to keep the nozzle of your gun clean while your MIG welding. If you don’t sometimes the splatter buildup in the nozzle will break off and get stuck in your weld. Also, when I weld I use the nozzle as a guide by dragging it in between the two pieces of steel, and if the nozzle has buildup it will fuse to the material and stop the gun in its tracks.

So, to prevent this from happening I use an Anti Spatter spray and small pliers to break out the spatter slag from the nozzle. I try to clean the nozzle every other weld to prevent these events from happening.

Material Preparation

When you’re prepping your material before you weld, there are a few things you want to take into consideration.  The better you prep your joint, and clean any unnecessary contaminates — paint, mill scale, rust, frame wax, powder coat etc. — the better the weld will turn out.

It’s important to remove contaminates so you don’t get “Weld Porosity” while welding — “Moon Craters”.  In turn this creates stress risers and a place to crack or separate.


Porosity — “Gas entrapped in solidifying metal forms spherical pores in the weld, known as Porosity or “Moon Craters. Porosity in the weld and heat affected zone may lead to “Cracking.”

Here are the leading reasons for porosity.

  • Improperly controlled welding process.
  • Contamination on the base metal such as oil or paint.
  • Insufficient shielding gas flow.
  • Welding in windy conditions.

Joint Fitment

The Fitment is also very important. Without the right reveal on the joint or chamfer, you could be compromising the strength of the part by not getting an adequate amount of weld penetration through the joint leaving the welds not as consistent.  It is crucial to take your time to make the fitment as consistent as possible.

  • After all contaminates are ground off or removed with a wire wheel, grinder etc., wipe the parts clean with Acetone. Now you can set up your weld joints — some differently than others depending on the thickness of material or type of joint.
  • For a corner joint — let’s say 1/8” plate” – you’re going to want the thickness of the material evenly spaced on both sides throughout the joint.  Sometimes I’ll even sneak in a 1/32″ or so gap in between the joint to make sure I get a good penetration all the way through the joint and a better looking weld.


1/8 corner joint
  •  For a T-joint fillet weld– say on 1/4″ or 3/8″ plate — I’ll grind a nice chamfer on the side I’m welding.  While that’s not a 100% necessary for every joint, you’re going to have to be the judge as to what the part is for and how much penetration is needed. Here’s an example of a good way to fill this type of gap.


Types of joints

Corner Joint

 

The corner joint can be one of the easiest or hardest joint to weld for a couple different reasons.

  1.  If you’re welding 3/16″ and up it get easier the thicker you get.
  2. It helps in knowing when to pull back.
  3. It gives you a joint to fill with weld unlike a t joint.
  4. If its 1/8″ or less corner joint it’s extremely hard to weld.

 Heres an example on how to weld a Corner joint:

  1. When you’re welding 3/16″ and thicker plates together it’s easy to fill because of the larger joint area and depth and will allow you to move much slower while welding.
  2. It helps in knowing when to pull back because when you weld a corner joint you use the push pull technique (above) and while you push the weld to the left to create the rounded bead you break the top edges of the joint and that’s your indicator that you need to pull back to the right.    ”So, fill up the joint until the weld breaks the edges and pull back then repeat.”
  3. It gives you that big v joint to fill up which gives you a guide on how much weld to lay down until you need to move.
  4. A 1/8″ corner joint is an extremely hard joint to weld because of the lack of joint to fill and therefore the welding speed is dramatically increased.



 

 

 

 

 

Fillet or Lap Joint

 

Butt Joint and Slot Weld

 

 

Tee Joint

 

Circular Fillet and Corner Welds


 

How to fill a gap


I’m still working on adding new content every week, so check back periodically for more welding tips & techniques… oh, and leave a comment if you have any questions or would like me to add anything related to Mig-Welding, I’ll be happy to put it to the article.

Thanks for visiting my site,

Flynn

 

 

37 Responses to MIG WELDING

  1. Pingback: My Mig Welding Technique | Car Alley

  2. Jeff Kuchel says:

    Flynn, thank you for the tips on mig welding. You are a very talented welder and someday I hope to weld as good as you do. I weld with a Lincoln 216 mig and it does not have the digital numbers instead it has uses the letters. What do you think of this welder?

  3. Flynn says:

    Thanks! Jeff, well i think that is an awesome welder ive seen some of the best welds come out of that kind of Lincoln, im working on a general settings chart, general because the same welder welds different due to the condition and the voltage going to the welder fluctuates depending on the location. But i have access to a lincoln 215 so ill get a good settings list and post it up with some pictures. If you want you can post some pictures of your welds and i can try give you some pointers.
    thanks for the comment,
    Flynn

  4. bought me a hobart handler 140 (because i only have 110v in my garage) and a ar/c02 bottle. i’m going to practice using your techniques and tips and then build myself a bumper! thanks flynn!

    • Flynn says:

      Hows it going Mike,

      The hobart welders are good welders they seem to weld simular to the millers, so good choice. let me know how its going and ill be more than happy to help guide you in the right direction.

      Good luck,
      Flynn

  5. curtis says:

    Flynn,
    This has been one of the most informative reads on mig welding I have read. I have been following some of the welding forms to get tips on my mig welding and that is how I came across your site. I have a older Airco Dipstick 160 I have been welding with it for years but never really cared about the appearance of the weld untile the project that I am working on now.(66′convertible mustang) new body parts, suppension, sub frame connectors, ect. Have you ever used this welder or can you give any advice on the settings. I am welding 1/4″, 3/16″, 12ga, 16ga. .035 wire. My welds look fair and have decent penetration but it all comes from trial and erra. Thanks in advance for any advice. Again really informative website.

    Curtis.

    • Flynn says:

      Hey Curtis,
      Thank you i appreciate the complement. I have never welded with an Airco but have herd that they were very good welders at the time. I would say since i have never welded with an Airco, to try and get your settings diled in first. Drag the welder close to you and adjust knobs while welding on some scrap.

      Then i would mark the settings down for each different material thickness, when you do that you will already be ahead of the game. Besides tuning just practice as much at you can so you can get that muscle memory and consistency dialed in. I saw that you signed up on my email list the first email ill send out, ill put some more mig welding tips that i think you might like.
      Thanks for the comment Curtis,
      Flynn

  6. curtis says:

    Flynn,

    You are reading my mide. This is exactly what I did. I have it pretty dialed in now and welding good. I had a friend that is a profesional come over last Friday night to take a look and give me some advice. He did give some good input and liked what he saw as far as what I am welding. He showed me the technique that I think you are referring to above. In order to get that row of dimes. This is how I understand it. Start the weld and pull it forward a half inch, move back up into the weld and created the puddel, move forward a half inch and repeat. Is this the same idea that you are describing. My friend also liked to push the weld not pull.

    Thanks.

    • Flynn says:

      Hey Curtis,
      you got it but the one of the things that i dident go into to much detail is the pull back distance ( its hard to explain how to weld in writhing haha). It all depends on what setting your welding on and the type of joint. On 1/8″ corner joint i will pull back around a 1/2″ but on a low heat setting on a 3/16 T-Joint i will pullback around 1/8 to 3/16″ and a high heat setting 3/16 T-Joint i will pull back 1/4 to 1/2″ hotter being 1/2″.

      I think you should try to watch the bead spacing while welding that is how i judge on how far to pull back. If you want ill sigh you up for my E-mail list and im going to send out a video of me welding and another important technique i didn’t cover in the article .

      Good luck and i hope this helped a little bit,
      Flynn

  7. larry says:

    Flynn I would like to thank you for some of the best hands on instruction for welding techniques I have ever seen. Your down to earth way of putting things so that they can be understood by beginners and more experienced builders alike is greatly appreciated. I am always looking for tips and tricks and always willing to learn something. Thankyou

    • Flynn says:

      Thank you Larry,

      I still have quite a bit more information on mig welding that im trying to post up as soon as i have time to wright it and im also working on videos to better explain some of the techniques above.

      Thanks again,
      Flynn

  8. Dennis B says:

    Great website!!!!
    I have a miller 185 that I am trying dial in and would like to be put on your e-mail list.
    Thank you very much for all the great info.

    • Flynn says:

      whats up Dennis,

      Ive used a miller 185 many times and I can post the settings and some pictures for you in the Forum on monday if you would like. Also you have to remember that the settings that i give you work on our welder and at our facility, so they might not work the same at your location, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to try.

      I just signed you up. There should be a video sent out to all the E-mail subscribers tomorrow if everything works out.

      thanks for the comment Dennis,
      Flynn

      • Dennis B says:

        Thanks for signing me up and great videos! I have been using the settings that are written on the inside cover on my mm185. Don’t know if thats the best or not. I do have a question about mig on steel though. If I am welding two pieces together and am not happy with the results, can I grind it back out and reweld without making the steel weaker or am I going to make it prone to failure [HAZ]? also if I am welding a 1/8in to 1/4in , can I use setting 4 and 4 on the 185 or do I have to step it up? The problem I am having is I’m not sure that I am getting it hot enough because the weld doesn’t lay flat. I am using the push with circles method. I can see a puddle, but the weld still looks like it sits to high. Maybe I should try pull and zig zag instead.Thanks again for all the great info you provide.

        • Flynn says:

          Hey Dennis, no problem im still slowly working on more videos. ya thats fine to use the settings on the inside of the hood but it tend to use a setting lower and slow my welding pace down so i can get that nice finished product.

          If your worried about not getting enough penetration then i would (eg: fillet weld) throw a nice big chamfer on the material almost as thick as the material it self or weld both sides of the joint. Also If you do that your welds should lay down a little flatter. Or you could just turn up the heat if your not sure, better to be safe than sorry until you get a little more comfortable with the welding style.

          My personal opinion unless its a high stress / load area and or 4130 i wouldn’t stress on grinding and re welding a joint i have done it many times with out any problems. If it is a high stress / load part then i would grind it out pre heat it to almost red hot with a torch( as big of an area as possible) then post heat it, then place it in some sand (something to keep the part from cooling rapidly) to allow for slow cooling, and to help spread out the HAZ so its not concentrated right next to the weld joint. Or take it to a heat treater. If you dont mind me asking what was the joint on? so i can get a better picture.

          Welding 1/8 to 1/4 i would weld it on 5 and 5 and focus more of the weld puddle on the 1/4″ material.

          If your weld isn’t laying flat enough then throw a nice chamfer the material or turn it up a notch to 5/5, or try turning up the wire speed. Now your settings might not match mine exactly, so your welder might weld colder. Also remember that with the lower setting your going to have to compensate with a much lower hand speed. If you could post some of your welds on the forum i would have no problem giving you some more pointers.

          Thanks again Dennis,
          Flynn

  9. Jeff Kuchel says:

    Flynn, can u sign me up for your e-mail information. I would like to watch you if possibly mig weld stacking some dimes. I am building a 1933 Ford street rod and would like to use this way to weld parts on the chassis. Like I have said before you are a very talented welder. I was wondering if you ever got some settings for my 216 Lincoln mig welder. Thank you for a great site to help use who like to weld.

    • Flynn says:

      Hey Jeff,

      Im still working on those settings for you. You have a 216 and the welder i had access to was a 215 so im sure the settings aren’t the same. We are currently in the process of buying a 216 so as soon as we get it ill post up the settings no problem.

      I just signed you up, and im sending out a video tomorrow if every thing works out. then i think the next one i send out will be an under the hood view of the mig weldin technique.

      Sorry about the settings ill try and get them posted soon,

      Flynn

  10. Hollywood says:

    Love the site and Great tips Flynn. Im self taught and still learning after about 8years of using my welders. When i first started there wasn’t much online that was helpful and no one local wanted to take the time to help me out. A few friends guided me in the right direction but they all lived far away so i had to just take the little I learned from then and i was on my own. I have since taught a few of my friends the basics and most of them didn’t realize how much practice its takes and skill you have to learn.
    When you are welding on other peoples rigs their lives and their families lives along with others are in your hands. Thats what people need to realize. So unless your are really confident in your work then its better to take the time and practice, practice, practice until your ready to work on others peoples rigs. I’ve seen shotty basic roll cages collapse after one roll up in the canyons only going like 15mph.
    Patience and Engineering is the key to good fabrication

    Thanks Flynn
    Charles

  11. ewalker3577 says:

    Great info man! I thought I was a good welder but after seeing your stuff, I’m gonna rethink everything I do. I’m glad I found this site and can’t wait for more content!

    • Flynn says:

      Hey no problem Ernie, im here to share my info and help as much as i can. Im sure you are an excellent welder Erine why dint you post some of your welds and share with everyone what techniques you use to weld, the more help i can get and the more info on welding the better.

      Thanks for stopping by and signing up for my e-mail list man,
      Flynn

  12. Gympietech says:

    G’day Flynn,
    Great information here. I have welded up lots of items, strong, but not particularly neat! I appreciate the time you have taken to create this resource and will be coming back often to see where you go with it. I have a BOC 250 running off our 240volts, so it will weld thick or thin, pretty soon I am going to have to learn to weld car body panels, or pay someone else (Nope!!). Thanks for the great presentation.
    Trevor

    • Flynn says:

      Hey no problem Trevor, thats why im here. Shoot over to the forum if you have any questions and i would be more than happy to go into greater detail on any subject you have questions on.
      Cheers,
      Flynn

  13. Sivik0007 says:

    I came to your page following a link. Someone else had posted that your welds looked like a row of Tac welds immitating Tig…. I found your page inspiring to create a penetrating, good looking weld…. Good tips too on the clean shade lens too, Ive just been replacing.. I will try a plastic polish soon. Did you say that you also spray WD40 on a rag, then clean with soap, then clean with water?

  14. ben says:

    H I have a few questions. You mentioned the C technique being one that u use a lot. I also like this technique a lot, but my problem is would always get under cut on the top of the plate on t joints. so i no longer use that technique. have you ever had a problem with that?

    also you said for 3/16 you use the setting for 1/6 on the miller chart. don’t you have a problem with 17v and 150 wire speed being to cold and not penetrating into that thicker metal?

    great looking btw and thanks for the info

    • Flynn says:

      How it going Ben, im not quite sure why you would be getting undercut part, maybe that your welding a little hot.
      as far as getting 100% penetration with that setting you are going to have to go nice and slow (around 51sec for a 6″ T-joint) and your also gonna want to throw a nice big chamfer on the part before its welded and you should achieve 100% penetration.

  15. ken says:

    Hey Flynn,
    Thank you for all the great info. I’m a newbie at mig. I bought a great Lincoln 216 the other day and I’m getting the nack. Question : I want to do a lot of steel tubular welding and was wondering if I made a mistake and should have went with the tig method? I have experience stick welding so I’m an ok welder. Will the mig do the job? Thanks in advance for your help!
    regards,
    Ken

    • Flynn says:

      Hey Ken, nice choice on the welder.
      I usually weld all tubing with a mig welder and I think the only reason that you would want to tig weld the tube is if it was exrermly thin walled (or of cores if it calls for Tig).
      Besides that just make sure there’s a nice big chamfer on the joint to allow 100% penetration. Otherwise Mig weld away. And if you need any help shoot over to the forum and we can hopefully guid you in the right direction. It’s also cool to check out other people’s projects so feel free to show them off.
      Thanks for the comment Ken,
      Flynn

  16. Hey Flynn,

    Thanks for putting so much effort into this post. For anyone new to mig welding this is a comprehensive page. The pictures are also very helpful. It is always better to see and read what your learning.

    That is a very helpful tip for cleaning the lens of your welding helmet. I’ll have to try that stuff. God Bless.

  17. JesseR92 says:

    I have recently started out welding as part of my job chainlink fencing,your guide has been very helpful for me to better the quality of my welds,thanks.

  18. Gordon says:

    NEVER use brake cleaner for preping to weld! Read this: http://www.brewracingframes.com/id75.htm

  19. Gordon says:

    Cool, hope that didtn’t sound too cross, just wanted people to know.
    Also like to thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge with us. I greatly admire your work.

  20. Jesse says:

    Awesome advice thanks! and thanks to the brew dudes advice on brake cleaner and argon!

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