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Thread: Starting at the ground floor

  1. #1

    Default Starting at the ground floor

    I recently ordered an Everlast PowerArc 140ST because I figured I should start with the basics and not jump full-bore into a top-shelf all-the-bells-and-whistles welder. I was going to sign up for local community college welding classes, but they're all filled up for at least the next 6 months, so I plan to just teach myself through practice, experimentation, the knowledgeable folks here, welding books I've found, and watching Jody at www.weldingtipsandtricks.com

    Eventually, I'd like to learn AC TIG on aluminum, and (among other things) build/repair racing bikes. But for the learning process, a basic stick setup seems like the ticket, especially if basic TIG functionality is available as a bonus. I have a bunch of custom projects around the house that I plan to do with new-found welding skills, including a steel security door, new legs for the custom desk I built for my home office, and of course, a custom welding cart (the de facto first project).

    Thanks in advance to everyone for all the questions I will ask and you will answer. I look forward to learning from you guys!

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Northern Virginia
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    Welcome to the forums, Hawg, and congrats on the new machine! I tried to get into the community college groove too, and found out the classes fill up fast, or the course I wanted wasn't offered at night, or whatever. Maybe you can go "standby" in case somebody drops a course early in the semester?

    Sounds like you've got the welding bug, alright, but that's a good thing. Good luck on the projects, post up some photos and let us know how it goes!
    DaveO
    Oxweld oxy acet gear
    IMIG 200
    PowerTIG 210 EXT... Amazing!

  3. Default

    I tried the night time college classes once and wasn't all that impressed. The professor seemed disinterested and didn't really seem to care all that much in helping us improve our skills. I think it all comes down to the individual instructor, so make sure you go get a feel for what's included in the class before spending your money on it. Spending 1000 bucks on scrap steel might be more worth the while than spending hundreds on a class that doesn't really teach you anything.
    Poewr I-Mig 205P
    Powertig 185

  4. #4

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    Yeah - that's pretty much my plan. I don't think the community college classes will be quite that much, but I would've liked to get formal instruction in MIG and TIG, so I could figure out what I actually wanted to do before plunking down a bunch of money for a machine. But starting with a little one shouldn't set me back TOO much, and the 140 will probably (eventually) end up as a backup/portable welder, or I'll sell it to my brother in law or something.

    My last direct experience with welding first-hand was watching my father stick weld a frame to mount an angle-iron basketball backboard to the garage about 25 years ago. Other than that, it's been reading up on the technology and watching Jody weld online. I'm definitely excited to give it a go. I have a couple buddies in town who are competent welders also, so I expect that there'll be several nights when I invite them over and get some personal instruction over a six-pack of beer!

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by agent4573 View Post
    I tried the night time college classes once and wasn't all that impressed. The professor seemed disinterested and didn't really seem to care all that much in helping us improve our skills. I think it all comes down to the individual instructor, so make sure you go get a feel for what's included in the class before spending your money on it. Spending 1000 bucks on scrap steel might be more worth the while than spending hundreds on a class that doesn't really teach you anything.
    Have to agree with you,,,most of the basic's he can get off of Utube,,,,the rest is seat time ,,, and experimentation on different things,,,metals and thickness etc..learn the limits of his welder by doing...welding is like sex,,,all the books, videos and stories of others are no subsitute for your own experience..
    Some of those lies people tell about me, are true

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Cambridge, ON. CA
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    Well look at that. I have a 140st also. A fine little welder it is and you'll quickly find thing to weld that you shouldn't be welding in the first place. I've been there. In fact, I'm still there. My good neighbours is a welder by trade and gave me some great pointers / instruction. Your friends can be a great resource. They can teach you till they're blue in the face but as the geezer said it's about "seat time." There's no substitute for just doing it.

    And what better way to start off than to join a contest here! I'm sure there's a few projects you'll have lined up for the spring contest. The best part is everybody wins, kinda. Anyways, welcome aboard.
    PowerArc 140ST
    Victor VPT-100FC

  7. #7

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    Most important thing to remember is safety. I saw a video on youtube of a guy welding with two 20lb propane bottles only about 3 feet in the background. Also, saw a couple videos of welding next to a lawn mower (gas).

    Dude(s), what are you guys thinking????

    Also, undestand what issues you have with out gassing when welding various materials, like galvanized or zinc plated steel pieces. Also, wiping down with some solvents (Chlorinated Brake Parts Cleaner) to clean the pieces will generate nasty gasses like fosgene (sp?) that can kill you on the spot. Not to mention the pair of Harley jeans I perforated when playing with the plasma cutter (they do sell fire retardent jeans and pants).

    Always ventilate the work area, use protective clothing from UV and Sparks, and keep 2 fire extiguishers handy. One near the welder, and one near your point of exit from the area, in case things get out of hand.

    Another best kept secret, is that Plasma cutters usually operate at a higher voltage than welders, and can be lethal. I prefer to ground the workpiece directly and always use gloves on both hands. Obviously, insulated shoes, not leather soles, which conduct if damp (feet do sweat).

    Hot metals from welding take a long time to cool down. Usually not lethal, and a lesson that is quickly learned and retained.
    Everlast PowerPro 256 (2013)
    Northern Hybrid 200 & ST80i
    HF 90Amp FluxCore (Don't laugh, it is what got me started)
    Lotos LT5000D Plasma
    HF 4x6 Horizontal Bandsaw
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    Delta 14" Drill Press
    Robland NLX31 Euro Combo WW

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Paulie View Post
    Most important thing to remember is safety. I saw a video on youtube of a guy welding with two 20lb propane bottles only about 3 feet in the background. Also, saw a couple videos of welding next to a lawn mower (gas).
    Let's call it safety OR good common sense.

    I always looks around just to make sure nothing moved since the last job. Never weld rims with tires on them, tire might expand, some rims might even separate. Never cut or weld sealed steels tank or containers.

    If a bike, car, or truck... Where is the fuel tank, lines, etc.? This is just me, if the tank is too close for comfort, I cover it and they must filled it to the top before the bring it. And yes, make sure they filled it to the top. The fumes/vapor will get you. Not the liquid.
    Mike R.
    Email: admineverlast@everlastwelders.com
    www.everlastgenerators.com
    www.everlastwelders.com
    877-755-9353 x203
    M-F 12 - 7PM PST
    FYI: PP50, PP80, IMIG-200, IMIG-250P, 210EXT and 255EXT.

  9. #9

    Default

    A good source for practice, if you have a troublesome neighbor, you could weld his lug nuts on his car. Or, weld his gas grill closed (that is always good for laughs). On a lighter note, if he has a portable sprinkler...

    If you get a plasma cutter in the future, get a pilot arc, so you can give him a sunroof. (you need the pilot arc, to get through the paint. The grinder would make too much noise).
    Everlast PowerPro 256 (2013)
    Northern Hybrid 200 & ST80i
    HF 90Amp FluxCore (Don't laugh, it is what got me started)
    Lotos LT5000D Plasma
    HF 4x6 Horizontal Bandsaw
    Rikon 18" Bandsaw w/VFD
    Delta 14" Drill Press
    Robland NLX31 Euro Combo WW

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    80

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    If you love welding you will love school. After trying to teach myself, watching videos, and doing some small jobs I enrolled....and am still in a welding program. Trust me you will learn more than you want to know. Blueprints, weld symbols, geometric construction, theory, metallurgy, fabrication basics, and of course to weld better than you ever thought you could. After a few months of school you start to learn to weld, but more importantly you understand what bad welds look like and what people did wrong.
    My instructor wrote the book "How to Weld" -Todd Bridigum. He is a AWS certified inspector, teacher, and art major. He has won major welding competitions and awards for his knowledge. Unions and companies also pay him for training. He told us a couple months ago he was teaching some welders from Toro...the lawnmower company. Toro bought a heavy duty line of small tractors and was having problems welding the 1/4 plate. 20 or so guys that had been working for Toro for almost 30 years "thought" since they were old experienced welders they "new it all. He gave them a groove test on 1/4" and told them to weld it any position and settings they wanted. They all failed. People that "think" they know to weld usually can't. Welding is very detailed and extremely hard to master. After 5 months of schooling each one of his students (including myself) passed that test. I still have 4 months left and another full year before I would ever consider myself an ok welder.
    It's one thing to make metal stick together, it's a whole other game trying to destructive test welds, and having them turn out perfect over and over. Most people won't get a welding cert because it cost $800.00 per test through the AWS. If you fail the test you loose your $800 and have to pay another $800 to try the next day. Most "welders" refuse to put there money where their mouth is and test out. Jody from welding tips and tricks has lots of certs and is a top notch welder. He also tries to keep learning and becoming better. I like the fact he uses the Everlast welders and gets great results from them. that;s why I am here...

    Yes you can "learn" to weld in your garage but I promise you will be blown away with how much you learn from a good school.

    After I figure in the cost of using a Dynasty 350, and a bottle of argon each week, plus tons of stainless, and aluminum, electricity, plus all the tooling....it is actually CHEAPER to learn at a college. I'm not hating on people that just "weld" out of their garage....I use to do that. But I now have welds that are so perfect I could have never dreamed I could have welded. Here is some welds I am very proud of and can't believe came from my hands. If you want to be a WELDER....check yourself in. If you want to "weld" teach yourself. Click image for larger version. 

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    Choose your path

  11. #11

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    Works both ways, there are a lot of people that don't get it and give up, and we finish a lot of those guys projects for them. Some of them go to school as learn. Some get a welder for a single project, where the project will cover the welder cost.

    But there are a lot of people that do get it and do very well without school, I have personally met many. From artists to WELDERS. If you want to work in the field, I would highly recommend certs. Some fields/unions also will pay for continuing education each year too.
    Mike R.
    Email: admineverlast@everlastwelders.com
    www.everlastgenerators.com
    www.everlastwelders.com
    877-755-9353 x203
    M-F 12 - 7PM PST
    FYI: PP50, PP80, IMIG-200, IMIG-250P, 210EXT and 255EXT.

  12. #12

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by agent4573 View Post
    I tried the night time college classes once and wasn't all that impressed. The professor seemed disinterested and didn't really seem to care all that much in helping us improve our skills. I think it all comes down to the individual instructor, so make sure you go get a feel for what's included in the class before spending your money on it. Spending 1000 bucks on scrap steel might be more worth the while than spending hundreds on a class that doesn't really teach you anything.
    I agree.... I took a local night welding class for 3 months. The instructor SUCKED and had no teaching skills at all. Any time I asked how my welds looked he just said, "Looks good Bud!"

    The only good that came out of it was I burnt through Way more material than the cost of the class could have bought. All I did was TIG weld Aluminum for 3 months straight
    PowerTig 250EX
    Power I-MIG 200
    Power Plasma 50
    It's what you learn, After you know it all, that counts!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    80

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    By the way in no way am I saying you can't become a good welder from teaching yourself, it's just very hard to get the hours in. Some night classes are probably better than others, and most certificate programs are way better than the night classes. AAS degrees are even more advanced. Don't judge school on it's price though. When I started my school looking I choose a local school called Dunwoody....switched when I found out tuition was just under $10k a year....ouch! The school down the street (literally) was half the price, had better machines, and a better instructor. The teacher being a AWS inspector can preform cert tests, and if you get all your work done he lets you take the tests for FREE. Because of this I have taken my 3G 7018 cert test, and passed along with two others in the class. I'm am trying my hardest to get all my GTAW work done to get to my TIG certs. He only lets you take the test if you get perfect scores on your pre-test. I figure if I get four certs ($3200.00) for free plus a AAS in welding and fabrication I should have no problem finding a good job. And the two year program is still under $10,000.
    I have some buddies that welded suspension parts on their hotrods (four link...airbags....stuff) and at the time I tough the welds looks great. Now I KNOW the welds are too cold and I will never drive in that truck. Welding for 5 hours a day month after month does make you better....Plus I think welding is fun. I'm excited that a welding company for once is offering nice machines with a US warranty that are within a price range I can afford. I honesty believe if the 210ext turns out to be a great machine, lots of people will be looking at that machine instead of the Dynasty. A couple guys in my class are VERY curious to see how it stands.

  14. #14

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    I'd love to go to a good welding school. I'm certain that a good instructor could teach me so much faster than I could learn on my own, and with fewer mistakes (not to mention the material and argon I'd go through in the process - good point!). Having an expert (especially an AWS inspector type) watching over my shoulder would REALLY be helpful! Plus, the metallurgy background is something that I won't really be able to learn in my garage.

    This is a hobby for me, and my time is quite limited for now. Welding stuff like carts, tables, etc isn't life-threatening if a weld fails, but before I'm going to weld anything structural (like your buddy's suspension components), I'll want to be sure I know what I'm doing. I'm not interested in discovering I'm not as good a welder as I thought at 75 mph. Eventually, I'd like to be able to pass various certification tests - just to convince myself I've mastered the ability. I will likely never work in the welding field professionally, so it will probably not make sense to pay for the certifications, but if they come as a part a welding class from a good instructor, it's just gravy.
    Everlast PowerArc 140ST

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Whine Country, California
    Posts
    442

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    If you walk into a typical welding class as a beginner, you will most likely learn everything and them some for what you need to know. As Johnson explained, there is so much more than just welding that you learn about in class.

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnson View Post
    By the way in no way am I saying you can't become a good welder from teaching yourself, it's just very hard to get the hours in. Some night classes are probably better than others, and most certificate programs are way better than the night classes. AAS degrees are even more advanced. Don't judge school on it's price though. When I started my school looking I choose a local school called Dunwoody....switched when I found out tuition was just under $10k a year....ouch! The school down the street (literally) was half the price, had better machines, and a better instructor. The teacher being a AWS inspector can preform cert tests, and if you get all your work done he lets you take the tests for FREE. Because of this I have taken my 3G 7018 cert test, and passed along with two others in the class. I'm am trying my hardest to get all my GTAW work done to get to my TIG certs. He only lets you take the test if you get perfect scores on your pre-test. I figure if I get four certs ($3200.00) for free plus a AAS in welding and fabrication I should have no problem finding a good job. And the two year program is still under $10,000.
    I have some buddies that welded suspension parts on their hotrods (four link...airbags....stuff) and at the time I tough the welds looks great. Now I KNOW the welds are too cold and I will never drive in that truck. Welding for 5 hours a day month after month does make you better....Plus I think welding is fun. I'm excited that a welding company for once is offering nice machines with a US warranty that are within a price range I can afford. I honesty believe if the 210ext turns out to be a great machine, lots of people will be looking at that machine instead of the Dynasty. A couple guys in my class are VERY curious to see how it stands.
    It's cool that you can get your TIG certs in class! My instructor had all the certs at one time in his career, and helped many others get theirs, but he quit allowing guys to take the TIG certs in class due to the lack of experience and higher level of failure for those with limited experience. He was already busy teaching the "A" half of the class to stick and MIG weld, and get their out of position limited certs, while the "B" half of the class (advanced students) learned TIG. He was already running around like chicken with his head cut off, so he would lead us to someone that would help with TIG certs if he felt that a particular student was ready and capable.

    Everyone in class was required to get the 3G 7018 limited cert in order to pass the class, but you were allowed to take MIG and other certs if you finished early (free of charge). I got a 4G cert and a few MIG certs, and there were numerous guys in my class that went even further and decided that they wanted to get unlimited certs. It's really a good opportunity for those that are looking for a job that requires certification, or those who may venture into that part of the trade later on.

    Running beads on fillet blocks, stainless strips, and aluminum strips (TIG) in class is enough practice for the rest who don't want a certification though. In my class, there were a few guys that didn't really know how to weld (they should have started in the beginner's class), yet they turned out to be great weldors with guidance and the instructor keeping a short leash on them. Even the guys like me who were capable before taking the class ended up learning a ton of stuff that we never would have learned otherwise.

    It's a good deal all around.
    Andy
    New Everlast PowerTig 250EX that is begging for me to come up with a few welding projects so it can stretch it's legs. Did someone say aluminum???

    MISC. TOOLS:
    Atlas 618 lathe
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  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by CGCINC View Post
    I agree.... I took a local night welding class for 3 months. The instructor SUCKED and had no teaching skills at all. Any time I asked how my welds looked he just said, "Looks good Bud!"

    The only good that came out of it was I burnt through Way more material than the cost of the class could have bought. All I did was TIG weld Aluminum for 3 months straight
    Only good thing on the classes in the schools. You will normally burn more material than the class cost. Now there are classes in Miami (and other places) that will charge real bucks and teach to you weld under water and you can make a really good pay. I do not like sharks.

    I am not against welding schools by any means (again no two are alike), but I've not sat at a table and just ran a bead in a long time. But, once you get that, then it's off to the real world of welding (pay) and no two jobs are alike. If you go to school, I hope it's to become a welder as a profession or you just need help and have a lot of metal projects. Also, you might not be inside, in AC and welding looking down on nice straight clean pieces.

    Today a couple of stands to show heavy metal art (not ours we have no artistic bones). Tomorrow a ferrari header (yep on Saturday) polished stainless. Yesterday an 16' enclosed landscape trailer with heavy ply-wood panels screwed to the door, tweaked up pretty good, fixed and he will be back to replace the ply-wood with expanded metal another day (his second time here). Two days ago, 33' travel trailer on the side of the road. Crack in the axle brackets on the front axle. We used flux core as the wind was really bad that day.

    So, after school, it is the real deal pay or not.

    So my point is, school is good, but you have to practice and practice and learn way more either road you take.

    We never get to just run a bead on a clean piece of metal. Maybe a class would be more fun . They pay "you" right??
    Mike R.
    Email: admineverlast@everlastwelders.com
    www.everlastgenerators.com
    www.everlastwelders.com
    877-755-9353 x203
    M-F 12 - 7PM PST
    FYI: PP50, PP80, IMIG-200, IMIG-250P, 210EXT and 255EXT.

  17. #17
    Join Date
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    Minneapolis, MN
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    Trust me I just don't go to school I also do welding on the side, fix houses (my 13th), wire old hot rods, build gliders, repair old tube amps....... A few weeks ago I welded up a heat exchanger for a old bi-plane. Also flew out to Boston to help design and weld up a prototype pedicab. I like that people and myself trust my welds, and I have the papers to back myself up. Each job is different, but if you can't weld good clean metal together on a bench, then you might not have good "out of position" welds. Not to mention welding symbols, blueprints, metallurgy and inspection. Welders in my option are well rounded with a good knowledge of all that is related, any process and weldment they can do safely and tidy.. I like work and my schooling....they are both a lot of fun. Higher education isn't for everyone, and just like those guys from Toro.....some people it's JUST a job. I do agree you do have to practice and practice to get good. I would rather move up in aerospace work than stick welding over and over....and some schools get you into that range. I didn't go to school to "get a real job" I did it to learn. I don't need the money, I have my house paid for and my side work keeps me happy. I honestly love welding and want to see how good I can become. If a high paying job is waiting for me....I just might take it You should never do things for money, you will end up unhappy. Most of the jobs I have gotten are from reading blueprints, CAD files, and WPS's, and figuring out the materials needed using layout, design, and geographic construction. CNC operation is also a needed skill nowadays for a competent welder. Not sure if I could have "learned that" from the real world....but then again that's why they hire me I guess.....

  18. #18

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    If you are talking to me. I think you're missing my point. And I have a BSEE, so the higher learning commit, well.

    I have met many people that have never had a welding class, building 75K-500K+ cars and much more. It's not a requirement. Certs are not either. I would look more at a cert than a class. And CGCINC expressed his TIG class, so no too are the same.

    I am glad you liked your class, you voiced that, but it is not for everyone, as I voiced that.

    I'm glad you own your house, I am 4 years away myself? But not everyone needs school, many people here are hobby types, they might consider it.

    We do weld for money, and happy with that fact. And we love to weld as well. Three in my family weld. And with the economy, I can tell you we have done a lot of low cost/free welding to help people out. I sleep very good at night.

    You made my point, I made mine, so let's stay on topic.
    Mike R.
    Email: admineverlast@everlastwelders.com
    www.everlastgenerators.com
    www.everlastwelders.com
    877-755-9353 x203
    M-F 12 - 7PM PST
    FYI: PP50, PP80, IMIG-200, IMIG-250P, 210EXT and 255EXT.

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