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How to Get a Good Welding Ground



The Voice: Hey, Kevin. What are you doing over there?

Kevin Caron: I'm wrestling with aluminum-inum-inum. This is a large public art sculpture I'm working on here in the studio.

Right now I'm trying to fill in this little seam right here, so I need to hold this together, get the spool gun and give it a little zap. Then I'll come back later on with the TIG welder and do all my finish welding all along here.

The first thing I've got to do is put a ground on it, but first I have to solve a problem. The problem I have here on my Miller 251 MIG welder is that I've got it set up here with the spool gun, because I'm doing aluminum. But I've got a magnetic ground on it and it won't stick to the aluminum. So, let's talk about grounds.

You've got to be grounded all the time. I've got a metal table, so I could just hook it right to the metal table if I had to, but it's always best to have the ground on your work instead of on your table. That's because if you put it here on your table and you're working on your piece in hot summer temperatures like we have here in Arizona, when you are all hot and sweaty from the welding, and lean up against the table, you'll get shocked.

The current wants to go through you to ground rather than through the table back to the machine. So, it's always best to have your ground on the work.

Hmm. I don't have aluminum magnets. But wait a minute; I do have clamps. All you need to do is clamp onto your work, anything that you can get your magnet to stick to. Now you've got a good ground; now you're safe. Nobody else is going to get shocked, and you can get your work done.

Having the ground on the metal, on your piece itself, gives you a good ground. With a good ground, you've got a good path for the current and you get a better weld.

The Voice: Now, most people have a clamp ground anyhow, don't they?

Kevin Caron: Most people have the old squeeze clamps like I've got on the the Miller TIG welder over there. I believe it's usually referred to as a regular spring clamp. Those would work here. The one that I had on the MIG welder burned up. I was doing some high-amp welding, 150 amps worth of welding on a piece of three-quarter-inch plate steel, and I overheated it; it cracked and I had to change it, so I thought I'd try the magnet.

I've just put on a Kant Twist clamp. They call it that because of the way it's built. It's got these great copper blocks which make it really conductive for electricity, and it also helps keep you from welding the clamp to metal. (Been there, done that.) I can just put it down low on the metal someplace where it's out of the way.

I'll put my ground on there, get my helmet and get back to work on my metal sculpture.

Speaking of that, I'll see you next time.

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