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MIG Welding: "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?!"



One of the problems Kevin has is mixing up the tips that go on the MIG welder. His .024, .030 and .035 tips all came in a single bag, which he dumped into a bin. That makes it way too easy to grab the wrong tip. If you're welding and your welder is skipping, missing and just giving you fits, make sure you have the right sized tip to go with your wire. It makes a world of difference.

Another mistake is leaving the nozzle off of your MIG welding torch when you're using flux core wire. If you do, you can fill the gas holes in the end of your welding gun with spatter. Then, when you go back to using solid core with welding gas, the gas outlets are plugged up. So run flux core with your nozzle on your torch, and dip the tip of the gun into some anti-spatter gel, which helps keep things clean for when you want to switch back to solid core wire and gas.

One problem that really irritates Kevin is when he's welding, going hot and heavy, and runs out of wire. This is easy to avoid: before you start a project, just look inside the welder at the spool to make sure you have enough welding wire for the job before you get started. Otherwise, you can be moving right along and the wire just quits feeding. You pull the trigger, but nothing happens.

Speaking of changing wire, another MIG welding mistake is forgetting to adjust the tension on the drive roller when you change wire size. If you don't adjust it and have one little mishap at the end of the gun - the wire gets caught, the arc doesn't start - the drive keeps feeding and you have a rat's nest inside your MIG welder. Just remember, when you change wire sizes, adjust the tensioner for that size wire and your cable length.

Kevin says his biggest mistake, though, is when he is fabricating something out of steel at his workbench - cutting, bending fitting, shaping, grinding - and is finally ready to tack weld a piece of steel or other metal onto a sculpture. He puts on his welding safety equipment (leathers, jacket, helmet) but forgets to change from his work gloves to his MIG (or stick) gloves. The sparks go right through the fabric and burn up the gloves - and you. Take a moment when you are switching tasks to think about what you are doing and plan your next move. Put on the right type of safety gear, and then get on with what you were doing.

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