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Key Rules on Welding Angle, Direction, and Speed

One of the amazing aspects of welding is that even a novice welder can experience some success. However, Karl Hoes of Lincoln Electric and John Leisner of Miller Electric caution that there are some hard-and-fast rules to produce a lasting welding repair.

  • Push or pull: Here the rule is simple. “If it produces slag, you drag,” says Leisner. In other words, you drag the rod or wire when welding with a stick or flux-core wire welder. Otherwise, you push the wire with metal inert gas (MIG) welding.
  • Work angle: With wire welding, hold the gun at a 10° to 15° angle into the direction you are pushing the weld. With stick welding, maintain a 20° to 30° lead angle in the dragging direction. With a fillet (tee) weld, hold the rod or wire (regardless of weld process) at a 45° angle between the two pieces of metal.
  • Speed: Watch the welding puddles and ridge (where the molten metal solidifies). When wire welding (MIG or flux-core), the ridge should be approximately ⅜ inch behind the wire electrode, Hoes says. A too-slow travel speed produces a wide, convex bead with shallow penetration that also deposits too much metal. On the other hand, a too-high travel speed creates a shallow weld that produces a narrow and highly crowned bead. Most travel speeds for various joints are well below 40 inches a minute.
  • Arc spacing: Adjust travel speed so that the welding arc stays within the leading one third of the weld pool. For wire (flux-core or MIG) welding, keep a work distance of ⅜ to ½ inch. With stick welding, look to keep that distance ⅛ inch between the rod tip and work piece. “The arc length should not exceed the diameter of the core of the electrode,” Leisner says. In the image below from left to right, too short arc spacing, normal arc spacing, and too long arc spacing.

 

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