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Old 04-03-08, 10:57 AM   #1
veganboyjosh
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learning to weld--diy or take a class?

so, i've been interested in altbikes for as long as i can remember.

i've never learned how to weld.

of course, being around and on alt-bikes has filled my head with lots of ideas for designs, and projects i'd love to try out. some i know will probably not work, but in building them, i may come up with something good.

i want to learn to weld. the options for taking a class around me are not that great.

i've checked out some books, and read what i can on the net, etc.

can/should i just get a mig welder, and figure it out? i know from reading about the dangers of electrocution, and fumes...i'd be super careful, since i'd be figuring it out on my own...

i've got access to tons of scrap metal bike parts, and old **** bikes to cut up and build with.

what do you think? what advice do any of you who can weld have for me? things you learned the hard way that you'd do differently?

thanks.

josh.
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Old 04-03-08, 11:17 AM   #2
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Yeah Im trying to learn to weld

I posted in the Framebuilders section about it.

Ive been trying to weld old bike parts together too.
The metal has to be clean..no paint, rust or oil.
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Old 04-03-08, 12:25 PM   #3
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I basically learned on my own. My old man showed me the basics of arc welding, stick, clamp, ground, on/off, power-knob-thingy. I can actually weld pretty well right now, some friends are amazed that I can now weld thinner bike tubing with a 220v welder that excells on 1/4" plate steel. If I had the time/money/ambition, I would go take a class at the local community college.
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Old 04-03-08, 07:01 PM   #4
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Our city has adult education classes that include welding. This is once or twice a week for a few weeks, and intended for people like yourself that are dabblers. The junior college/votech classes are going to be set up more for people that want to make a living at it.

I don't weld. But I work at a company that employs welders, used to work at a different company that did, and know a couple of people at church that either are or have been welders. So ask around and don't be surprised if you don't find some people that can supervise you for a bit. I'll bet half the farmers in the country can weld, for that matter.
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Old 04-03-08, 09:43 PM   #5
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Some years ago a friend lent me his oxy-acetylene outfit and showed me some basics of running a bead. He said the rest is up to you. Practice until you can make it do what you want.

About ten years ago I bought a little 115 volt stick welder. It can do a lot, but it is very limited. After a few years I bought a 220 volt stick welder on eBay.

The experience with the gas outfit helped to learn to control molten metal when using a stick machine. But, sometimes it looks like you have a good weld until you lift the hood and chip the slag off.

Thin tubing is a challenge. I recently welded some EMT conduit. It was a matter of striking an arc and stopping it after only three or four seconds, waiting until the tubing cooled, and then doing it again. Steel for bike frames should be a little more forgiving.

Anyway, you will make a lot of mistakes, but you can learn by yourself. If a weld is bad or it breaks, grind it out and do it over. It does not need to be pretty. It just has to hold when you use it.
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Old 04-03-08, 10:33 PM   #6
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I took a welding class at a high school in my area, it was $60 bucks for 8 weeks. SO worth it. The instructor basically gave a few basic instructions and let us loose on the shop, observing and making suggestions from time to time. The best part was having really nice equipment to learn on. When I had to start using crappy welders and cutting everything by hand with grinders and saws it really really made me appreciate being able to learn with good stuff.
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Old 04-04-08, 12:12 AM   #7
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i'm not too worried about figuring out how to lay down a good bead, i'm more worried about the safety stuff. the "What not do to" things i wouldn't know about...

i'm a pretty independent learner, i'm confident i could figure it out, i just don't wanna hurt myself or burn my house down...

i posted on craigslist that i'm looking to learn, perhaps someone there will come thru...

thanks for the responses, all. they've been helpful...
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Old 04-04-08, 12:26 AM   #8
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Be a good idea to take a short course in welding. If you're not being fussed about laying good welds then chances are you're not laying welds which will handle stress and strain.
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Old 04-04-08, 05:01 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by veganboyjosh View Post
i'm not too worried about figuring out how to lay down a good bead, i'm more worried about the safety stuff. the "What not do to" things i wouldn't know about...
The instructional materials I have viewed and read all stress the dangers of electrical shock. But, chances of getting a shock are almost remote under normal conditions. A friend lays the electrode in his bare hand when placing it into the stinger while the welder is running. I always use a gloved hand. He says it is perfectly safe. I always lay the ground clamp on a separate table away from the live stinger when finished, just so they do not get together by accident. I make sure I am not part of a path to ground that is easier an easier path than the ground clamp. Still, it is possible to weld safely with a stick underwater. I would not want to try it.

Fumes are not a good thing to ingest into your body. Keep your garage door open and you should be OK. Run a big fan nearby, if necessary. Do not have containers filled with things that can explode sitting around where the sparks fly. Keep as much of your skin covered as possible. Do not weld wearing sandals or with bare arms and legs to protect against sunburn.

Treat yourself to an auto-darkening helmet as soon as possible.

Last edited by twobikes; 04-04-08 at 05:04 AM. Reason: bad spelling error
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Old 04-04-08, 05:45 AM   #10
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Welding is "easy to do, hard to do well"

I know this because I'm self taught on a 115v wire-feed welder and although I can stick two pieces of metal together- I'm not really a welder.

I reccomend taking a class. Also, the guys over @ http://www.hobartwelders.com/weldtalk/index.php are super-knowledgable. It's the BF.net of welding.
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Old 04-04-08, 07:56 AM   #11
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I bought a MIG and then failed gloriously to figure it out. It sat around for a year. So I took a class, over winter, and then made a tallbike.

It doesn't have to be a long class - or even a formal one - but I think that being shown what to do by someone who knows their stuff is worth a lot.
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Old 04-04-08, 08:45 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by veganboyjosh View Post
i want to learn to weld. the options for taking a class around me are not that great.

[snip]

i know from reading about the dangers of electrocution, and fumes...
You will definitely be ahead of the game if you get some professional instruction. This can be in a school setting or just some help from a friendly local welding shop.

The only danger from electrocution exists on the primary [supply] side of the welder [120 or 220v]. And this danger exists with anything you 'plug in'.

Welding machines are required to keep the OCV [open circuit voltage, i.e. the voltage between the welding rod, or mig wire, or tungsten electrode and ground] below 80 volts. Even though you are dealing with amperages as high as several hundred amps, the voltage is not high enough to 'push' it through your body. Therefore there is no lethal danger from the OCV. You might feel a tingle here and there but unless you are simply afraid of the 'buzz' . . . there is no problem.

Learning both oxy-acetylene and arc/TIG/MIG are valuable skills to possess.
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Old 04-04-08, 02:39 PM   #13
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i'm not too worried about figuring out how to lay down a good bead, i'm more worried about the safety stuff. the "What not do to" things i wouldn't know about...
For what not to do, you might try the library. I too am interested in learning to weld. But I haven't found the time for it. But I did check out a book on welding to give me a foundation should I ever find time or opportunity. It covered all the types and styles and how to make blueprints for welding and had a lot of good question and answer exercises. Sorry I can't tell you the name. It was put out by a welding rod manufacturer.

I think it was Welding: Principles and Applications by Larry Jeffus, Dewayne Roy

But of course, to really know you need practice.
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Old 04-04-08, 03:04 PM   #14
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i posted on craigslist that i'm interested in learning, and will trade some work or moving heavy things or something in exchange for being shown the basics, and already have someone interested in helping out...

so, i may get to have someone show me the basics anyway.

thanks for the responses so far. some good stuff.
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Old 04-04-08, 04:29 PM   #15
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I took a welding class at the nearby technical college. It was $700 and I could get certified through it. It was a quarter long class on Tuesday and Thursdays and taught brazing, torch cutting, MIG, TIG, and stick welding. I learned a TON in that class and also was allowed to bring in any projects I wanted to work on. Welded an exhaust for my car, built a lift stand for my dirtbike and a whole bunch of other stuff. Totally worth the time and money. A great deal can be learned by trial and error by yourself at home too.
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Old 04-04-08, 09:05 PM   #16
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i know im probably younger than most of yall here but we have welding/machineing as an extracurricular in the very nearby highschool
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Old 04-06-08, 06:31 PM   #17
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I was a welder for years. I put together shipping containers, wood stoves, all sorts of stuff.

As someone else has already said 'Easy to do. Hard to do well'.

Find someone to show you the basics and safety stuff. Its easiest and cheapest to do stick welding. But thin bike tubes are gonna be a problem. If you want finess you're gonna have to learn MIG, or GMAW as its often called.

Also, steel frames are generally brazed as this doesn't heat the metal too much. Thin steel being welded can leave it brittle and prone to breakage which shouldn't be a problem at all on an alternative bike with plenty of metal. On a light roadie it will be a problem as you're probably not going to be able to make a frame light and safe enough with welding. Thats not to say it can't be done, but it requires finess.
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Old 04-06-08, 07:07 PM   #18
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I would recommend taking a class if you intend to do it more than just a hobby. I took a week long class in York, PA from one of the few Welding Engineers in the country ($1,600 plus room and board). The easier part was retaining the book work, while the hands on was a struggle for the first few days. In the long run, the book knowledge is more important, with understanding your welding machine and the metal you are working on. When you start talking about structural welding and high stress joints, knowing the proper way to weld is worth it's weight in gold. I decided to learn stick welding but will be going back for the tig/mig welding class, hoping to get some certifications for pipe welding.
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