A beginner’s need to know

As the welding market in the US expands, we see more and more beginner elementary questions.  That’s good for us and the industry in general.  For one it expands the perception of the welding industry in general.  For another, it challenges the old way from a new and fresh look.

One of the biggest questions we typically get, is what process should I start with first?  That’s a difficult question for sure, and I am not all that certain the more I talk with people, that there is any one right answer. I learned the old way. They stuck an oxy acetylene torch in my hand and put ¼” plate steel in front of me and told me to master welding that before anything else.

I was told that if I could weld that, then I could weld anything.  It worked for me and a lot of other for sure (as I had no trouble learning other processes with the skills I gleaned). But I saw some people struggling with the concept of oxyfuel welding (not brazing) but had no issue with stick or MIG welding.

In fact, most of the people in the class never mastered the O/A welding process and just scraped by. But everything clicked with me and I did well. I was one of about 3 or 4 out of a class of about 20 that did, however. I would say, that if possible, although it is an outdated and rarely used welding process, that this is a good method. It develops the basic skills needed to weld any process. However, it isn't always possible or practical to start with O/A welding. Although I am convinced that most people shouldn't try TIG as their first welding experience, MIG or Stick both have equally valid teaching points with qualities that can cross over to other disciplines of welding.

I see that a lot of people begin with MIG, and perhaps it’s a little more difficult to crossover, but do well with the other disciplines. I think that with all the discussions I have had with people, though, that Stick is probably the most versatile teacher of welding technique that is readily accessible to most people.  It’s cheap, convenient and provides an excellent learning experience. The welding speed is not as fast as MIG but not as slow as TIG.  It allows the weldor to see the puddle though, and that helps in both of the other forms of welding.  If you are not sure what form of welding to start with, give us a call.  We’ll be glad to discuss the alternatives with you.