Top 10 tips for better MIG welding.

  • Firstly, as obvious as it may seem, safety is your number one priority. Remove any potential tripping/fire hazards from your work area. Correct safety gear includes flame-resistant long-sleeved shirt/jacket, full length pants, leather shoes, leather gloves, a skull cap or bandana (to protect the top of your head) and a welding helmet.

  • Avoid holding the welder too close to your material, otherwise the wire can weld itself to the tip of your gun, blocking new wire from coming through.

  • If the tip of your gun isn’t blocked, and no wire is coming out, try replacing the wire feed to the gun. Sometimes the wire can get a kink that may stop the wire from feeding through the hose to the gun.

  • The pulling technique will create a deeper penetrating weld; however, the push technique creates a flatter weld, covering more surface area. In some instances, this can create a stronger weld than what you might get with the pull technique.

  • The angle at which the tip is held when welding is also important to keep in mind. When using the push or pull technique, the tip should be held on an angle of approximately 10 degrees.

  • Setting up the machine correctly is a must before you begin to weld anything. A quick way to know whether the set up is correct is by listening to the sound of the arc when welding. Ideally, the arc should sound like “sizzling bacon”, a nice even sizzle/crackle sound, not too much popping.

  • Check the shielding gas flow rate, wire feed speed (wfs) and voltage with several practice welds on some scrap metal to ensure you’re happy with the chosen machine settings.

  • When MIG welding, failure to maintain the correct contact tip to work distance (CTWD) may result in a poor weld. Excessive tip wear may be a result of your CTWD being too close; if the CTWD is too far, you will experience a reduction in amperage. The optimum CTWD for a 0.9mm wire is 10 to 16mm and for a 1.2mm wire is 16 to 19mm (use this as a guide).

  • Spread out the time between welds to control heat and voltage when working on a thin sheet of metal.

  • Control your speed; use both hands to keep the gun moving at a steady/even pace, lean against something to stabilise your body.

For tips on TIG welding see: Top 10 tips for better TIG welding