As a former welding instructor, I would often watch as new students walked in and looked completely overwhelmed at all the welding equipment in class. Dials and digital readouts, gas tanks, regulators and torches...
My first goal as an instructor was to put them at ease.
“See all these gizwidget dials? Just wait and let me walk you through it, because it’s so easy,” I would tell them. “It all starts with what metal you want to weld.”
Setting up your welder is easy once you’ve chosen the metal you want to weld. From there, it’s just following the directions so you can start practicing and fine tuning your craft.
At home, I use a Tweco Fabricator 211i for my personal projects. I make things like fire pits, backyard swings, and right now my buddy and I are working on an aluminum dog box. The Fabricator is a nice little portable machine that can take care of pretty much any small project you have in mind.
So, let me take you through a setup we used for a fire pit we made.
Following the Chart
We had some 1/8” mild steel to build the fire pit with, so from that I know how to set my machine. I just use the chart that’s inside the door of where you load the wire spool. Most MIG welders have this chart. This particular machine also has a chart for stick welding and TIG welding.
To work with a thinner metal, like 1/8” mild steel, I run 75% Argon / 25% CO2 gases, which is standard for the thinner material. I already know I prefer ESAB's ER70S-6 Spool Arc filler metal, and to work with the thinner metal we’ll need to go with a 0.030 diameter wire.
Remember that you always want to match your drive rolls and contact tip to your wire diameter. Since I am running 0.030 I’ll match to that diameter. If these don’t match, the drive rolls will slip and cause feeding issues, and if the contact tip is too small the wire won’t feed through because it’s too big. If this happens it won’t be able to get a good electrical connection and may cause feeding issues.
Setting the Machine
With my metal and wire choices in mind, I refer to the chart and see the suggested settings are:
- Wire Feed Speed: 268
- Volts: 18.0
- Inductance: 10
From here, just set your machine and you're ready to start welding. It's that easy to get started!
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*(Sparky Sommer is a TCP Trainer and Application Engineer for ESAB.)