Whether you’re thinking of getting into welding as a job and want to learn more about it.
Or you’ve several projects at home that could do with welding and want to understand what are the welding methods out there.
You’ll find the answer to your question using images and videos in this ‘Best Welding Method for Beginners, the 15 Minute Guide.
There are several different welding techniques and you may be thinking where do I start?
Which is the easiest one to learn and build my skills with as a total beginner?
To answer your question straight away just in case you’re in a hurry and before I get into the details;
Best Welding Method for Beginners
You’ll find that MIG welding and in particular flux core wire welding is the best and easiest form of welding for someone new to welding to start off with.
Because, they are the most forgiving for a beginner and here is why.
You can start with the minimum amount of equipment and even be quite inept and still produce a weld.
For example you could get yourself a flux core wire welder, welding wire, gloves, helmet and with space to weld and oh yeah, a power socket you can start.
Sure, your welds may not be pretty at first, in fact they may be pretty ugly.
But with any new skill practice makes perfect.
Let me start you off with some fundamentals so that you have a grounding in how welding works before we get to the methods.
Basics of Arc Welding
What happens when you weld?
In all the welding techniques described below electricity is used – this is what is meant by the arc part of all the terms.
Electricity is used to raise the heat of the metals to be welded (or fused together) up to a molten state.
Filler metal is introduced at the point of the weld to help form the weld.
As you move along the joint, welding, electricity builds heat to form a weld puddle of molten metal.
As the puddle cools behind you the joint solidifies and forms your weld.
Inert gas known as shielding gas is used in various forms in the welding techniques described.
The gas protects your weld from contamination from the surrounding air.
This contamination would make your weld fragile and cause your welded joint to fail.
Another thing to understand is the filler metal contains the same metal as the joint to be welded.
This means that if you are welding together two pieces of mild steel then the filler metal must also contain mild steel.
Welding stainless steel, then the filler must also contain stainless steel.
Let us take a look now at the common welding methods you may have heard of. If you haven’t then no matter just read on:-
- Arc which is also known as Stick Welding. Official term SMAW (Shielded Metal Arc Welding)
- TIG Welding – Official term GTAW – Gas Tungsten Arc Welding
- MIG Welding – Official term GMAW – Gas Metal Arc Welding also known commonly as Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding
- Flux Core Welding – Official term FCAW – Flux Core Arc welding
You’ll find the different welding methods compared below to help give you an overview of the basics of each.
Stick Welding vs TIG Welding
In stick welding the electricity is passed down a slim piece of metal – the stick part of the term. The stick is a length of metal that acts as an electrode.
The stick is made so that it contains the filler metal – e.g. steel, stainless steel, Aluminum, copper and nickel.
And around the filler metal is flux containing components combined that when melted forms the inert gas. The shielding gas for your weld.
The gas evaporates as the electrode stick heats up and the metal filler melts into your weld. As the electricity raises the temperature of the metals to be combined they form a molten puddle.
The metal electrode melts away and into the join the pieces of metal to be welded fuse together and the weld is formed.
Stick welding is a very popular welding method and is used most often in large repair and in the maintenance and construction industries.
The key to this welding method is to hold the stick at the right angle and distance while welding. A skill that takes time to master and and takes quite a lot of practice to perfect for a total beginner.
Stick welders are also are more expensive to buy.
YouTube Video on Stick Welding
I think this YouTube video should explain the stick welding method perfectly.
What is Stick Welding?
Video Credit: WeldNotes.com
In TIG welding is electricity is passed through a Tungsten based electrode.
Different to Stick welding because in TIG welding the electrode in this case does not melt away or contain flux (shielding gas).
Gas is used in TIG welding but it supplied to the welding point separately. From a gas cylinder, through a hose to the torch head to protect the weld from contamination from the air.
A separate stick of filler metal is used.
The person welding needs the skills to use both hands to not only hold the Tungsten electrode the right distance from the piece of work.
The welder must also hold in their hand the filler metal and supply it correctly at the right rate with the other hand.
TIG welding produces excellent results, strong high quality welds but is much more difficult to do well and can take years to master. It’s a slower process requiring more finesse from the welder. Not a method I’d suggest a beginner starts off with.
TIG welders are also expensive to purchase.
YouTube Video: What is TIG Welding
I think this is a great YouTube video explaining TIG Welding. Enjoy.
What is TIG Welding?
Video Credit: WeldNotes.com
TIG vs MIG Welding
TIG welding has a Tungsten electrode and the filler metal is supplied separately in metal stick form.
TIG welding and the difference to MIG welding is in MIG welding a spool of filler welding wire is is installed in the MIG welder.
And fed up to the weld point through a hose to the welding torch head.
The filler wire is fed at a speed and voltage set by the user. The speed and voltage is set on the MIG welder itself.
The filler wire – your welding wire acts as your electrode.
The wire used can be solid steel, stainless steel or Aluminum. Generally thinner wires are better fillers for thin metals. Thicker wire for thicker metals.
Like TIG welding Inert gas is also supplied to the weld point from a separate gas cylinder through a hose to the torch head to protect the weld.
MIG welding is a very popular welding method. The method is used both by professionals, semi skilled and beginners. Great results and strong welds can be achieved.
Though for beginners as well as purchasing your MIG welder, you do have to source, store and use cylinders of inert gas.
Gas such as Argon/Carbon dioxide mix, straight carbon dioxide or even Tri-mix (gas containing Helium). MIG welding is an indoor process mainly as windy conditions can cause the shielding gas to be blown away affecting the integrity of the weld.
Should you want to know more about MIG welding take a look at my document “What is MIG Welding, the Essential Need to Knows“
Starting MIG welder costs are within the reach of those wanting good welding results, who want to weld a wide range of metals in a home workshop or garage.
YouTube Video Introducing MIG Welding
Here is a great video introducing the concepts of MIG welding. I hope you like it.
What is MIG Welding?
Video Credit: WeldNotes.com
MIG versus Flux Core Welding
MIG uses a spool of solid filler wire as the electrode and separate shielding gas from a gas cylinder.
The difference with Flux Core welding is that a spool of flux core wire is used as the electrode.
Flux core wire is welding wire with a hollow center that is filled with components/compounds that when molten form the inert gas.
There’s no need for a separate gas cylinder because when the flux core wire melts the shielding gas is formed. And the weld puddle is protected from the contaminants in the surrounding air.
The user simply needs to set the voltage current they want and the wire feeding speed and they are ready to weld.
Flux core wire welding is the simplest method of welding.
Convenient and portable in that you can bring the welder to the piece of work rather than the other way around.
It’s more suited to out door use than MIG welding. Though really high wind could affect your weld by blowing the shielding gas away before it has a chance to protect your weld.
Nice welds can be produced though more work is needed to tidy up your weld and clear the by products from your weld, called slag. Flux core wire welding generally produces more slag compared to MIG welding.
The metals that can be welded is restricted to mild steel, galvanized steel and stainless steel (at a stretch). Aluminum welding is outside the scope of a flux core welder, as a separate cylinder of shielding gas is needed.
Welding thin metals such as auto body parts is difficult, as most flux core welders would blow through the metals.
MIG welders capable of Flux Core wire welding are within the price range for home amateur use.
Would you like to know more about flux core welding?
Or read a comparison document that goes into more detail putting flux core welding head to head up against MIG welding?
A fuller explanation can be found in these documents;
or have a look at
Definitely a method I think a beginner should start off with. You can self teach and practice yourself.
Though if you have a class available at a local community college and you have the time then why not book yourself on it and learn under a good tutor.
Plus if you can get a machine that can do flux core welding and also use separate shielding gas then you are really set.
You can advance to MIG welding as your skills increase and you are keener to produce better results and weld a wider choice of metals, types and thicknesses.
YouTube Video on Flux Core Welding
And to complete the series here is YouTube video on Flux Core Welding. A great primer on the process.
What is Flux Core Arc Welding
Video Credit: WeldNotes.com
There are other welding techniques that I haven’t touched on here.
Those methods are really for the professional and skilled welder to use and wouldn’t be something a beginner welder would use as their first welding experience.
So now you are an expert on the terms what else should you think about?
I do hope you enjoyed and found my article Best Welding Method for Beginners useful. Please feel free to explore my other articles on the site.
MIG welding Image Attribution: Nathaniel C. Sheetz