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Long & Short Tack Welds


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There are many different kinds of joints and welds when welding for industrial purposes, but understanding them is not necessary when welding for fun and creativity.  the main types of welds we’ll be concerned with are what I’m calling short and long tack welds.  Then we’ll cover how to run a decorative bead.

Short Tack Weld

A short tack weld is used largely for temporary positioning and is basically the same as a long tack weld, just a little smaller.  Short tack welds are better than long tack welds when you want to make sure the weld can be easily broken apart if it’s not exactly where you want it to be and when you don’t want to create too much heat that could move or warp your material.  Before you get started, make sure you are dressed properly.  Then gather your helmet and gloves, and grab a practice piece of steel.

1.  Unscrew the valve on your gas tank, and set your heat and wire speed.

2.  Brace your pieces in place, attach the grounding clamp to your worktable or your workpiece, and put on your helmet.  Prior to starting your weld, snip off the end of the wire, called “stickout”, if it sticks out the end of the gun farther than about 1/4 inch.  The ideal stickout is bout 1/8 to 1/4 inch.  If the wire sticks out too long, you won’t be able to get in close enough to your workpiece to properly start your weld.

3.  Hold the gun at a 45 degree angle about 14 inch away from the workpiece.

4. With your welding gun held steady, lower your helmet (if you have an auto darkening helmet, skip this step) and firmly press the trigger.  It might take a while to get used to holding your welding gun at the exact spot where you want to place your weld when everything goes dark.  With a little practice, this will become second nature.

5. Hold the trigger for one full second for a short tack weld.

6.  Release the trigger and inspect your first weld.  It should look smooth and flat.

Don’t be afraid to get your head (with your helmet down, of course) close to where you’ll be welding.  About 16 to 18 inches or closer is a good distance in order to be able to see what’s going on.  When you get more comfortable with the process, you will begin to see the base metal melting (called the “puddle”) while you are adding the metal from the wire feed.  You will know you’re making a good weld when it sounds like eggs frying.

Long Tack Weld

Long tack welds are used when you’re ready to place our final weld.  Normally you’ll be going over your short tack welds with longer tack welds to strengthen them as well as adding additional long tack welds to your piece as necessary.  The steps for this type of weld are the same as those for the short tack weld, except that you’ll weld for a full two seconds without moving the gun.

Running A Decorative Bead

For the projects in this book, running a bead is used largely for decorative purposes on the surface of your metal.  In this process, keep continuous pressure on the trigger for the entire length of the weld.  Practice first on some flat bar to get the hang of things.

1.  Unscrew the valve on your gas tank, sand set your heat and wire speed.

2.  Attach the grounding clamp to your work table or your workpiece, and put on your helmet.  Snip off the end of the stickout.

3.  Lay the pieces out on your worktable, and secure them with a brick or clamp.

4.  Depending on the type of design you want to create, hold the welding gun at a 45 degree angle and move it slowly over the surface of the steel to draw designs.  Start out by making 1 or 2-inch (2.5 or 5cm) lines, slowly weaving the tip of the welding gun side to side in a zigzag pattern to create a line as you work across the metal, and then experiment until you get your desired effect.

5.  Grind the surface of the weld using the flap disc on your angle grinder.