How to Use and Operate a MIG Welder

Update:01 Feb 2021

First thing you need to purchase a MIG welder and the p […]

First thing you need to purchase a MIG welder and the proper gear. My first suggestion is to practice with your new MIG welder on some scraps of metal lying around. While MIG welding is probably one of the easiest types of welding to learn, you still need to practice before you use it on your favorite project. Also, always purchase the right safety gear. A welding helmet should be the first item on your list. I would recommend an auto darkening welding helmet that is battery operated. This will free up an extra hand and just make life easier on you. But get a proper welding helmet! You will need the proper clothing and gloves as well. You basically want to cover up your entire body. MIG welders do throw off sparks and can burn you.

Welding is not an activity to be done in shorts and a pair of flip flops. Next pick a suitable location to begin welding. A large concrete slab like your driveway is a good choice. Remember there is a fire hazard with these welders. They throw of sparks and generate heat. Stay away from paint cans, dry grass, old wood etc.. You can easily burn down the house or garage if you are not careful. You should keep a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher near by at all times.

Now you are ready to start operating your MIG welder. There are basically three things to worry about it. They are tip voltage, feed rate for the wire and how fast you move the tip. How you manipulate these three settings will determine how good your welding is. The voltage is used to control the penetration, feed rate of the wire will adjust the arc length and your movement of the tip controls the transfer of metal to your work area. If you adjust the voltage lower, the weld will sit on top and cranking it up too much will just make a hole. This is why you need to practice and get a feel for it. Now you have to figure a good speed to move the tip. If the welding tip is moving too fast you will hear a series of popping noises and the wire loses the arc. Too slow and the tips will melt and fuse to your work. This can be real hassle. Again, practice is critical. It is really not that hard after a few attempts.

Now that you have the voltage set, the feed rate set and feel comfortable using the MIG welder it is time to weld a little. I would recommend using a zigzag weave pattern instead of just making a straight line. A weave is just a better option. Remember the key here is to keep the tip moving. If you stop or go too slow you can burn a hole right through the metal. Don't worry too much about small holes that are created by the MIG welder. You can fill them in by circling the tip around it a few times to fill it in. Practice definitely will help to get better at it. At first it will seem a little tricky but after a short while you be welding all kinds of stuff.