Knowing Your Metals, What Are You Welding With?

Mystery metal? Save yourself time and frustration by knowing your metals

Finding out that the metal you just tried to weld with your new Everlast TIG welder has gobbed up and either didn’t wet in or just fell through while you were trying to weld it is always disconcerting. What you thought was one alloy and finding out it was another or even a whole different type of metal altogether is not a completely rare occurrence if you are the kind of guy that likes to save and recycle drops and other bits and pieces of metal wherever you can find it. Especially common when you are new or relatively inexperienced and trying to use there scraps of metal for practice or for reinforcement, or just a simple table top project, you will often try to figure out what you did wrong technique-wise first before someone points out that it wasn’t you, but the metal you were trying to weld. It’s an easy enough mistake for people to make, especially while welding aluminum. Aluminum can be confused with stainless or magnesium, and unless it is printed on the particular piece of scrap you are using, it may be a form of unweldable aluminum. The same can be said for Stainless, as it can be confused with aluminum, as some alloys are not magnetic, or only slightly so. Cast iron and cast steel also fall into this category. It does take a little experience and knowledge to be able to identify mystery scraps of metal at times. Assuming that you don’t have this experience, there are different grind tests and methods that you can use to help narrow down the possibilities. Thanks to a modern wonder called the internet, any beginner welder can quickly become an amateur metallurgist. Ultimately the best way to tell, is to make your best guess using grind tests, and other property tests and use a “safe” rod to join the metal together. For stainless, it may be 309L or for aluminum it may be 4043. However, these may not be the best rod for the metal, only ones that will get the job done, if the classification is completely unknown. However, If you don’t have a clue what type of metal it is, then it is best option is to leave it alone, and not to use it for anything but practice and go and buy.

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