Mig Welding Tips

A good ground, A short stickout, The right mig welder settings, and a good technique and you are on your way to making better welds. Stick around and sign up for the Mig MythBuster series

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How to Mig Weld
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April 26, 2011...mig welding is probably the easiest way to get started welding

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Mig Welding Tips for Uphill

Mig Wire feed settings Chart

mig welding settings chart

Ok, So what does this chart mean?

Its just one way to get some voltage and wire feed settings if you dont have any idea where to start.

lets take 1/8" carbon steel for example

1/8" inch = .125

one amp per .001" = 125 amps

if you are using .035" wire, the chart uses 1.6 to figure the wire speed for .125 metal.

125 x 1.6 = 200 inches per minute.

that gives you a starting point.

now just adjust voltage to get a good smooth bacon frying sound.

(assuming you are using short circuit mig with 75/25 gas )

Another video below explains how to determine wire speed even if the knob is not labeled.


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Mig Welding Tips that work...setting wire speed inches per minute

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And the Top 3 MIG welding tips are...

#1 MIG welding tip...Get a better Ground clamp.

This is probably one of the most important mig welding tips ever!

Ever heard someone light up with a mig gun and it sounds like a drive-by shooting?

You know what’s wrong? Bad ground!

That’s right a bad ground.

It is such a simple fix but I hear that sound all the time.

People have trashed machines and bought new ones for this reason alone and all the while, all that was wrong was a bad ground. Why? Have you paid close attention to ground clamps recently? They suck! I mean they really suck! It used to be that ground clamps were made from copper. Now they are plated steel with a tiny piece of copper on the jaws.

Guess what? The old ones are better.

You could say that about a lot of things right? But here’s a secret: you can still buy the old ones. It is no secret that copper is the best conductor. That’s why copper ground clamps are better. Especially ones that have a strong ass spring.

Bottom line is...in order to get good starts, you need a really good ground. I have a secret weapon that I use to get a good ground. And it involves copper..

Click on the link below to Check Out a Great Mig Welding Tip...A Better Ground

Mig Welding Tip ...A Better Ground...

#2 Mig welding tip... Watch Your Stickout.

The second most important of Mig welding tips is "stickout" Stickout is misunderstood. What it really means is the distance from the mig welding tip (also called contact tip) to the arc. Not the distance from the nozzle to the arc! Too long a stickout will soften the arc and make the weld pile up. Its a good thing on really thin sheet metal like body panels. But if you want a good crisp arc on thicker metal, keep the stickout less than 1/2 inch.

mig welding tip stickout wrong

tip recessed= too much stickout=gorilla welds

mig welding tip stickout good

Thats better...tip poking out= better penetration and smoother welding

#3 MIG Welding Tip..Learn to weld Uphill.

Another of many important MIG welding tips is to Weld Uphill on anything thicker than 1/4". Just look at the lack of fusion in the photo below. this was a good looking weld and it hardly has any penetration at all.

mig welding lack of fusion

Another example of Welding too cold with Mig Welding

mig welding too cold

#4 Mig Welding Tip...get an Auto darkening Helmet.

I Know there were only supposed 3 Mig welding tips...But this one is probably as important as any...

If you think you can't afford a decent auto darkening helmet, click here Even moving a quarter inch off track when you nod your helmet down can really screw things up with mig welding. Why? Because Your mig welder is a cold hearted Bitch !

She starts laying down metal without concern for your well being or whether or not you are on track. With an Auto Darkening helmet you can stay on track and avoid getting out the grinder.

Because Grinding sucks! Read more mig welding tips and articles

If you dont have an Auto Darkening Helmet because you cant afford one...I am taking that excuse away right now.!

You will not be as good without an auto darkening helmet...I bought one of these myself just to make sure it was OK. Its a whole lot better than OK! I cant tell the difference in this thing and my 300 dollar SpeedGlass.

cheap auto darkening helmet

Have you Seen the ground clamps they are putting on Mig Welders? Dont get me started!

More Mig Welding Tips and Articles up the Wazoo!

More Mig Welding Tips and Articles

The Real Scoop on Wire Feed Welding

Wire Feed welding got a bad rap in the Nuclear construction industry when some hacks welded cold and downhill just to make the weld look pretty. There were failures and MIG welding was practically banned in Nuclear code work. But I am here to tell you that if you crank it up and know some good technique, MIG/ wire feed welding is a good process. The problem is that it is all up to the guy under the welding helmet. He has the choice to run cold and make it pretty or crank it up. You can’t always tell after the weld is done. I had a welding sales rep that put it like this: “At least with a stick rod, if you have it hot enough to keep the rod lit, your pretty much going to penetrate.” But with wire feed welding, there are no such built in limits. There’s only the training and experience of the guy behind the helmet. Honestly, I have run plenty of tests using mig welding and sure enough if you set it wrong you can get lack of fusion. It pretty much boils down to ¼” and over, weld uphill to get better penetration. Here is a photo showing lack of fusion in wire feed welding using 18 volts on a 250 amp machine with 75/25 argon, c02 gas. It barely penetrated! Not Good!!

lack of fusion in mig weld tee joint

Enough on that.

Let’s talk about flux-cored and solid wire differences and 115v wire feed welders.

All wire-feed welders can use flux-cored wires. Whether 115v or big heavier duty units like the Millermatic 250; the flux is inside the wire and creates a shielding gas when the wire is consumed during the welding process. No compressed shielding gas is needed. This wire is deeper penetrating than bare wire with gas shielding (similar to a 6013 Stick electrode) and has considerable spatter and slag on the weld that must be removed. The weld area needs minimal preparation.

Flux-cored wire works well in windy conditions. It is most commonly used for hobbies and farm work. But if you are interested in welding heavy sections of steel with mig outdoors, you should definitely check out Hobart Fabshield 21b.

It runs pretty freaking awesome. It runs almost like a 7018 and with no shielding gas. It passed the bend tests that I ran with no problem and I really liked being able to take the nozzle off and weld. The tests I ran were vertical uphill and overhead. I don’t think downhill would be worth a crap. But like I said, it’s kind of like a 7018 and 7018's don't like going downhill either.

Solid wires require a shielding gas that comes in a cylinder and is either straight CO2 or a mixed gas of 75% Argon and 25% CO2 for mild steel. Its advantages are a clean weld with no slag and minimal spatter and the ability to weld thinner (24-gauge) materials. The weld area needs to be clean. Solid wires are commonly used in light industrial and auto body work and in other applications where thin materials are welded.

mig welds and bend test

Simple to Use

People like the wire feed welder because it's easy to use: Just pull the trigger and you're welding. Some people compare it to using a caulking gun or a hot glue gun. With two-hand control and the ability to maintain the same distance from the work piece with the electrode at all times, most people can produce quality welds with minimal practice.

The guidelines for mig welding are simple and straightforward: Use smaller-diameter wire for thin metals, larger-diameter wire and a more powerful welder for thicker metal. And use the correct wire type for the base metal being welded. That means stainless steel wire for stainless steel, aluminum wire for aluminum, and steel wire for steel.

Shielding gas CO2 is good for penetrating welds on steel, but it may be too hot for thin metal. That's where C25 comes in (75% Argon/25% CO2) for thinner steels. Use only Argon for aluminum. Stainless steel requires a special gas also.

For steel, the most common solid-wire type is AWS classification ER70S-6, and for flux-cored wire, for the hobby welder, it's E71TGS. Solid wires are about half the price of flux-cored wires, and for the serious welder, they can be more economical even when the price of gas is included.

In purchasing the right wire feed/MIG welder for your needs, consider the nature of your welding projects and the size and thicknesses you will be welding. Is your available voltage 115v or 230v? Is your welding area enclosed or exposed to the weather? Answer these questions and you should be able to find the MIG welder that fits your specific needs. One note I will leave you with: I have never met anyone who was sorry after deciding to get a quality wire feed welder.

115 volt wire feed welders

If you are leaning toward a 115v wire feed welder for thin metals like auto body repair, here is a list of models and approximate costs:

• Chicago Electric’s 90 AMP Flux Wire Welder (Harbor Freight, $199)

• Century’s Century 80 GL (Home Depot, $229)

• Lincoln’s Weld-Pak HD (Home Depot, $249)

• Lincoln’s MIG-Pak HD (Home Depot, $299)

• Lincoln’s Weld-Pak 100HD (Home Depot, $339)

• Lincoln’s Pro-Core 100 (Lowe’s, $369)

• Lincoln’s Pro-MIG 140 (Lowe’s $429)

• Hobart’s Handler 125 EZ (Direct/Online, $437)

• Hobart’s Handler 125 (Direct/Online, $444)

• Lincoln’s SP-135T (Distributors, $572)

• Hobart’s Handler 140 (Direct/Online, $599)

• Lincoln’s SP-135 Plus (Distributors, $715)

• Miller’s Millermatic 135 (Distributors, $742)

• Hobart’s Handler 180 (Distributors, $808)

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