Welding on your own, that is without an instructor over your back and in your ear, is the ultimate goal for any budding welder – just don’t throw your sensibilities out the window. The same advice should be drilled, hammered, loaded, and forged into the minds of more experienced welders. Skill level aside, open your ears and prepare your brain to take in some of the most common welding mistakes that can (and should) be easily avoided.
Not Practicing – Mistaking Certification as Expertise
You had to work hard to earn that welding certificate. Unless you were born with a welding torch attached to your hand, you will always need to upgrade and refine your welding skills.
As the industry changes – don’t forget that machines are also your competition (see "Welders VS Robotic Welding" and "Work With (Not Against) Robotic Welding") – employers expect their welders to keep up with trends, newer welding machines, etc. Even the most advanced welder can’t expect techniques he/she learned 20 years ago to still be widely used today (whether or not those techniques are the most effective). Short story short – practice!
Metal Mistakes 101
Though you should try to avoid this, the only way to truly gain experience with different types of metals is to experiment with them. Unless you specifically took a course in metallurgy or had an instructor that made metallurgy a focus of your welding class, most newbie welders don’t have much experience working with various metal types. Most everyone starts off learning how to weld using soft steel, but when to get to other metals (such as aluminum) you have to keep in mind what types of electrodes to use and which heat settings to apply. Making mistakes with metals can lead to weak welds and other easily preventable disasters.
Not cleaning your piece properly
Come on! Really? The smallest area of dirt can have the most profound affect on the outcome of your weld. Just a little paint, a bit of dirt over there, a tiny smudge covering that – recipe for disaster.
Slag, the residue or shielding material left on a weld bead from the flux, also fits into this category. Slag can easily be removed with a slag hammer. Forgetting to do so creates brittle weld beads and welding annoyance.
How often have you made the mistakes above, and how do you remind yourself to keep from repeating them?