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Is Soldering as Strong as Welding and When to Use It

Over the years I’ve welded all kinds of stuff from hog gates, trailers, and even metal trees for the Columbus Zoo. Yes, you heard that right. However, when it comes to something like soldering my experience is a bit lacking. The question is if you can solder something and hold just as well as welding something?

Solder melts at around 360 degrees Fahrenheit, unlike welding which melts at around 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result, the solder does not penetrate like a weld which will melt into the steel causing it to bind itself to another piece of metal.

Now, this doesn’t mean soldering doesn’t work, it actually works great for certain situations that welding wouldn’t. So in the rest of this article, I’m going to share the difference between the two and when to use them.

Is Soldering as Strong as a Weld?

Soldering is not going to hold like a weld would. There are a lot of reasons for this from the temperature, the type of metal that is used, and the process that are used are completely different.

Temperature

The first major difference between soldering and welding is the temperature difference. According to TWI-Global, the optimal temperature to solder at is around 600 degrees Fahrenheit.

When comparing this to welding it can range in temperatures around 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. To give you some perspective the surface of the sun is around 9,941 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is hot enough to melt metal and fuse it together with another piece of metal.

Type of Metal Used

Next, the metals used in soldering and welding are very different from each other. Soldering uses a mixture of tin and lead. This metal is used for everything you solder.

However, welding uses the same metal that you welding on. For example, if you’re welding mild steel then you would use a steel wire, if you were welding stainless steel then you would weld with stainless steel wire, and if you would weld aluminum then you would use an aluminum wire.

Process

Finally, you have the process that soldering and welding use and they are very different.

To start, soldering uses a hot iron that melts the filler metal. As the metal drips on the surface of the metal it hardens creating a joint. A soldered joint will typically just lay on top of the metal to form a joint.

When you’re soldering it also doesn’t require a positive and negative ground, unlike welding which does. You can learn more about how the welding process works in this article.

With welding, it creates an arc the instant the filler metal comes in contact with the base metal. From there it creates a pool of metal at an extreme heat of 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit causing the filler metal and base metal to fuse together.

At this heat is will form a solid joint that can be many times stronger than a soldered joint.

When Does It Make Sense to Solder

Soldering has many uses from soldering wire splices, circuit boards, plumbing, jewelry, and a whole lot more. So when does it make sense to use soldering vs welding?

Materials

To start you have to consider what kind of metals work best for soldering. Here is a shortlist of metals you can solder.

  • Tin
  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Cadmium
  • Palladium
  • Rhodium
  • Copper
  • Bronze
  • Lead
  • Nickel
  • Berylium

If you are trying to join any of these materials together then soldering is your best option. You can also weld other metals like low carbon steel or zinc but they don’t hold as well as the list mentioned above.

Electrical

Soldering is the best option when it comes to anything electrical. Solder is a great conductor of electricity. On top of that, it works great at getting in those tiny places to bond wires together.

If you have a circuit board that you need to reattach a wire to or a wiring harness that needs to be fixed soldering it is your best option.

No Weldable Materials

Solder also works great when it’s something that is not a weldable material. For example, you wouldn’t weld two copper water lines together. Cooper is a very soft metal and the welder would just burn right through it.

The same goes for electrical stuff link circuit boards and wiring. Most wire is made of copper and it would disintegrate if you were to try and weld it.

Jewelry

Solder also works great for making or fixing jewelry. Again you wouldn’t try to weld jewelry together as it would likely melt the whole thing.

The great thing about solder is that it can attach itself to the metal without deforming the other piece of metal.

When Does It Make Sense to Weld

When it comes to welding it has a lot of great uses from welding structural beams, creating solid joints to hold the metal in place, to artistic projects.

Material

First off, if you are trying to join two pieces of mild steel together then a welder is going to be your best option. Here are just a few materials you can weld together?

  • Mild steel – a36
  • Harden steels – AR400
  • Stainless Steel – 304 grade
  • Aluminum

All of these materials can be welded.

Strength

Welding also works best if you want to have strength in it. For example, you wouldn’t want to solder a skyscraper together. Welding joints will penetrate the metal deeper and form a stronger bond.

If you want something to hold in a permanent position and support things then welding is the best way to go.

A few years ago I build a bunch of shelves for my basement and in that case welding is the best option to hold it together.

Colors

The other great thing about welding is that it can make some very beautiful colors when using certain levels of heat. This look can be very decorative and appealing to the eye.

This can be hard to do but when done it the right looks great. This is something you just can’t do with solder.

Final Thoughts…

So if you are trying to figure out if solder is strong enough to hold or if you should use a welder then use this article as a guide to help you get started.

What Happens if the Feed Roller Tension Is to Tight, Loose, or the Wrong Size – Complete Guide

If you have a MIG welder you know that it has a set of feed rollers on it the pull the wire from the wheel to the lead, to the weld gun where it ultimately welds a bead. However, what you may not know is how important these feed rollers are.

I learned this the hard way one of the very first times I was putting a new roll of wire on my welder. I replaced the wire and noticed that when I was welding the wire wouldn’t feed through the welder correctly. It would start and stop causing breaks in my welds.

What I had come to find out was that I was smashing the wire. This caused the wire to widen and small parts of it to break off. As a result, it made it hard to push through my liner.

This all happened because I tightened down my feed rollers too tight. In the rest of this article, I’m going to cover exactly what happens if you tighten your feed rollers too tight, or not tight enough plus more so you can avoid these mistakes.

What Happens if the Feeder Roller Tension Is to Tight

If the tension on a MIG welder is set too tight it will cause the wire to flatten, making it harder to pass through the liner. This will cause small shavings of the wire to break off and plug up the liner. This could also cause the wire to brake and bunch up.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article this happened to me once where it actually flattened the wire. This can cause a few big issues with your welder if this does happen.

Deformed Wire

The first problem is that can deform the wire. Welding wire is meant to be the size that it is. Everything from the tip to the liner depend on it staying the size that it is.

If it gets flattened because the tension is set too tight it will make it hard to pass through the liner and especially hard to pass through the welding tip. In some cases, it won’t even pass through the tip based on the tip size.

Shavings

The second problem this will cause since the wire is being deformed is that it will cause tiny parts of the wire to break off as the wire passes through the rollers. These shavings can play havoc on your liner.

Over time they will bunch up and begin to plug up the liner. If you don’t catch this soon enough you have to replace the liner altogether.

What Happens if the Feeder Roller Tension Is to Loose

If the tension is not tight enough on your MIG welder then the wire will slip on the rollers and not feed through the liner. This could cause the wire to start and stop creating infrequent welds.

I’ve had this problem happen to me a few times over the years and it can be a bit annoying. Here are a few reasons this might be happening to you if you’re experiencing this issue.

Loose Tension

The first problem is that you probably don’t have the tension on the feed rollers tight enough. In order for the feed rollers to pull the metal wire through the welder, it needs to be tight enough to grab the wire.

To tighten this to the correct setting just follow me step below on how to set the tension correctly on your MIG welder.

Tension Not Hooked Up

The other reason this could be happening is that the tension isn’t hooked up. This usually happens to me when I’m putting a new spool of wire on the welder. I run the wire on and forget to set the tension altogether.

This is a quick fix since you just have to pop the tensioner back on and you’re good to go.

What Happens if I Use the Wrong Size Rollers

If you are using the wrong rollers on your MIG welder they may be either too tight or loose on the welding wire. A smaller roller size may cause the wire to become deformed and break off small shaving and to bigger roller size will cause the wire to slip and not pull through the lead.

If this is the case here are a few things you can do to fix this.

First, check the size of your wire. Make sure it’s the correct wire size that you intended to use.

Second, check the roller size you are using. The wire size should be stamped on the side of the roller you are using.

Third, change the roller. If the wire size and the roller size are not the same numbers then you need to pull the rollers off and put the correct size on. A lot of times a set of rollers will have two different sizes on them. For example, on one side you might have .035, and on the other .045.

If this is the case all you may have to do is take the rollers off and just flip them around.

How to Set the Tension on the Feeder Rollers

Now that you understand what happens when the wire feed rollers are too tight, loose, or even the wrong ones you need to know how to set the welder to the proper tension so you don’t run into this issue again.

1. Loosen the Tension

To set the feed roller tension on a MIG welder start by loosening the tension on the rollers. If the wire is slipping then it is too loose. Tighten the wire till it starts feeding though.

2. Remove the Ground Clamp

Then remove the ground clamp from your table. In order to set the tension, you’ll need to use your welding table and you don’t want the wire to arc while this is happening.

3. Squeeze the Tigger

Finally, keeping the weld tip face straight down at the table and squeeze the trigger. As the wire comes out it should start to curl around like a spring. If the wire doesn’t do this then tight the tension till you start to see the wire curling up.

As a side note, some welders have built-in tension settings for all the different wire types, such as stainless steel, and aluminum. If this is the case then you can set your tension to those settings but for good measure, you can do the test I mentioned above to double-check yourself.

How Do You Keep a MIG Tip Clean – 7 Actionable Tips

One thing that is inevitable with MIG welders is tip issues. Over the years I’ve had all kinds of issues with welding tips over the years but I’ve learned a lot about how to to keep them clean so I don’t ruin them and most of all save money buying a lot of tips. So what do to keep my MIG tip clean?

Tip dip will protect the tip from getting covered in spatter and building up. Use tip cleaners regularly and remove the tip to clean behind it. Adjust your welder for spatter to avoid build-up and avoid burn back into your tip. Finally, if you have too much dirt on your tip you may need to replace the liner.

Now that you have a basic idea of what might be causing your tip to plug up in the rest of this article I’m going share my seven tips to keep your tip clean and working longer.

7 Tips to Keep a MIG Tip Clean

In order to keep your MIG tip clean its all about regular maintenance and knowing what to look for so you can get the most out of your tip. So here are seven actionable tips to help you out.

1. Clean Your Nozzle

The first you need to do especially when are putting a new tip on your MIG welder is to clean the nozzle. If you put a nozzle on the welding gun that has a lot of spatter on it already it can cause a number of problems.

It could end up plugging up the tip, arcing out on the nozzle frying both the tip and the nozzle. Not only that it won’t allow the shielding gas to come out properly and protect the weld.

How to do this: To do this I like to use a pair of welding pliers to clean out the nozzle. Welding pliers have a long slender nose to help you remove spatter from the welding nozzle.

One thing to watch for is that you don’t damage the nozzle. For example, Bernard nozzles have an insert on the bottom side that can be very delicate and if damage won’t allow the shielding gas to move through the nozzle properly.

2. Use Tip Dip

Once you’ve done a weld or two you need to check the tip again but this time the tip will be hot. Its usually at this point you’ll want to use tip dig to coat the tip.

By doing this is will put a protect layer of grease that will help prevent the tip from build spatter on it.

How to do this: To do this get a can of tip dip. Once you’ve made a few passes with your welder pull the nozzle off and plunge the tip into the grease. Finally, put the nozzle back on.

You can also dip the nozzle and tip-in at the same time. I like to do this because it coats the nozzle as well protecting it from spatter.

Depending on how much you weld you’ll want to reapply the tip dip from time to time as needed.

3. Avoid Burn Back

Another thing to watch for is burn back. This is where the tip gets too hot and the wire actually melts inside or on the top of the tip. This will stop the wire from moving.

This can happen from welding for long periods of time. I have one employee that welds skid loader buckets for me and he uses to do this all the time because he ran 72″ welds. As a result, he would burn through a bag of 10 tips a week.

How to avoid this: First, don’t try to weld long welds if you don’t have to. Do shorts and small breaks in-between. This will give the tip time to cool down.

If you have to weld long welds like this you may want to consider using a pulse welder. These types of welder are designed to run longer welds. They even have a coolant pump that pushes water and coolant through the gun to keep the tip from overheating.

Finally, if the tip does burn back it will be ruined. If this happens you’ll need to get a new tip.

4. Use Tip Cleaners Regularly

The next thing you can do to keep your welding tips cleaners is to use tip cleaners. I personally don’t like this when the dirt is plugging up the tip hole or I get a small piece of spatter on the tip.

A lot of times I can use these to clean things up enough to keep using the tip without having to throw it away and get a new one.

Quick Tip: If the tip hole gets worn out and oversized it can cause the wire to come out of the welding gun where it will walk back and forth instead of coming out straight.

How to do this: First get yourself a set of tip cleaners. They come in long and short sets, I personally like the long set of tip cleaners.

Next, find the tip cleaner that fits the size of the hole in your welding tip. Don’t try to force the tip through the hole. It should move freely through the hole.

Finally, run the tip cleaner through the hole till it runs freely. If you can’t get the tip cleaner to move through the hole you may need to get a new tip.

5. Clean Behind the Tip

Another place to check from time to time is behind the tip itself. This is because they can build up dirt as the wire moves through the lead and welding gun. This happens because dirt lands on the welding wire and moves through the liner.

Dirt can be a huge culprit to welding in general and if you don’t manage it, it will ruin your welding consumables. So how do you fix this?

How do you fix this: The first thing you’ll want to do is remove the tip from the welding gun. A lot of times the problems you have with the welder are the ones you can’t see.

Next look at the bottom side of the tip. Check to see if it has dirt on it. This is a clear sign your welder has a lot of dirt in it and that it’s plugging up your tip.

Finally, remove the dirt so it doesn’t keep plugging up the tip.

6. Adjust Your Welder For Spatter

Another way to minimize tip issues is to adjust your welder so it doesn’t produce so much spatter. If you have too much spatter it can be hard on the tip and nozzle.

The best way to fix this is to adjust your welders setting to cut down the spatter.

How do you fix this: Start by adjusting the wire speed on your welder. If you’re getting a lot of spatter it’s likely because your wire speed is too fast. Instead, slow it down and you’ll likely see a reduction in spatter.

You may also have to adjust your voltage depending on your wire speed to help cut down the spatter.

7. Change Your Liner

Your final option is to change the liner on your welder. The liner is the part that goes inside the lead that goes between the welder and the welding gun.

One of the common problems that happen is that the wire will move through the liner and as it does this any dirt on the liner will tend to build up there. Eventually, the dirt will make its way to the tip plugging that up.

If it gets to bad this can not only plug up the tip but also plug up the liner.

How do you fix this: The best way to fix this is to replace the liner altogether. Start by removing the lead from the welder. You will also have to remove the tip and diffusor from the welding gun.

Once you have this off you should be able to pull the liner out. You may have to loosen a set screw to get the liner depending on the type of welder you’re using.

Related Article: Read my complete guide on changing your welding liner here.

Finally, slide the new liner in the lead. The lead may be too long so you’ll have to cut it down to size. Then hook the lead back up to the welder and put your diffuser and tip back on the welding gun.

How Do You Weld Rusted Metal – 7 Steps With Pictures

If there is one thing I can tell you about welding it’s that it’s not always pretty, and over the years I’ve welded some pretty nasty stuff. At the top of that list is rusty metal. This can be one of the most difficult things to weld and get to look good. So how do you weld rusty metal?

Stick welding with 6010 and 6011 rods on pure rusted metal is the best option without any surface cleaning. If you can grind and clean the surface the MIG welder will do a much better job and give a more aesthetically pleasing weld. Once welded check the weld for any porosity and imperfections.

In the rest of this article, I’m going to go more in-depth on how to weld rusty metal and what you can do to prepare metal to give you the best outcome possible.

Can You Weld Rusty Metal

Welding rusty metal is possible. However, its not going to give you the best looking weld in most cases. However their are times where you’re going to have to put things aside and weld it to get through things.

For example, what if you were out in a field pulling your last load of hay in and all of a sudden snap! The hitch on the wagon snaps and you’re stuck. In order to move the wagon, you need to reweld the hitch back together.

I’ve been in these situations, and you need the job done right now. You don’t have time to make a great-looking weld because everything is rusty.

So what do you do? You weld it.

In this kind of situation, the best option is to use a stick welder. If you don’t have access to a stick welder a generator welder such as the Miller Bobcat 225 is a great mobile welder to have in situations like this because you can take it anywhere to get the job done.

The reason I suggest a stick welder in this situation is because it tends to work better at burning through the rust, dirt, grease, and paint to an effective weld that will hold. I also suggest using a 6010 or 6011 rod.

These kinds of welding rods will burn hold and allow you to get through the rust to pernitrate down to the better steel.

In the rest of this article I’m going to share my process and tips to welding rusty metal to help give you the best outcome.

7 Steps to Weld Rusted Metal

Now that you know that you can weld rusty metal, the next question is how do you weld rusty metal to give at the very least an effective weld that will hold. In the rest of this article, I’m going to share the seven steps I use when welding rusty metal.

1. Assess the Situation

The first thing you need to do is assess the situation. Before you can do any welding you need to know somethings about the metal you are welding. A lot of people skip right over this and start laying down beads.

You want to know what you are welding so you can do it right the first time. So here are a few questions that I usually ask myself before I do anything else.

How thin or thick is the metal? If the metal is extremely thin it could be hard to weld. You’ll likely burn through the material. If it’s too thin it may disintegrate on contact and may not be able to weld it. If the metal is thicker it will at least give you something to weld to even if you have to burn through a few layers of rust to get to it.

What is on the metal? Next, you need to consider what is all on the metal. Rust is one thing but if you have dirt, grease, and paint it’s going to make your job a whole lot harder.

How rusty is the metal? You also need to determine how rusty the metal is. If the piece is rust all the way through it may not be able to be welded. In some cases, you may have to cut out the bad rusty spot back to a more reliable thicker spot and weld a new piece of metal in.

Is the metal structurally sound? Finally, is the metal structurally sound or will it hold up under stressful situations. In some cases, this can be hard to tell but if the metal is paper-thin it probably won’t hold up.

2. Determine the Kind of Welder You Will Use

Now that you have a better understanding of what you are working with you need to determine what kind of welder you’re going to use for the job. In this case, you’re going to use one of two welders a stick welder or a MIG or wire welder.

The question is which kind of welder should you use?

If you have to weld the metal as it sits then you would be better of using a stick welder. As I mentioned before it’s going to give you the best penetration for rust and burn in hot enough to hit the deeper solid layers of steel.

If you have time to clean the surface and prepare it properly a MIG welder would be your best option. If you can remove the rust with a hand grinder and wipe away any excess dirt you’ll be able to penetrate better, create a better-looking weld, and put something in place that will hold for a long time.

3. Clean the Surface

Your next step is to remove the rust from the surface and get down to the better layers of metal below. Their are a few ways to do this.

Your first option is to use a wire brush. This is a good option if you don’t have access to anything else. It will allow you to remove some of the rust that may be loose on the surface of the metal.

The brush below also has a scraper on it to help remove loose rust, paint, and dirt. If you have no other option this is a great way to go.

Your second option is to use a hand grinder. I personally like the Dewalt Angle Grinder with a 4 1/2″ grinding wheel. This is the best option if you are dealing with thick and heavy rust.

If you’re only dealing with some light surface rust then I like these Forney Wire Cup Brush. These do a great job for the price of cleaning up basic surface rust.

Sandblaster. The third option, if you have a lot of rust to clean off and a surface grinder would take a lot of time is to use a sandblaster.

Related Article: To learn more about how to prepare metal before welding check out my complete guide here.

This works great and cleaning of large rusty surfaces and hard to reach places a hand grinder can’t reach.

4. Set Your Weld

Now that you have the rust removed you need to set your weld. You want your get your weld set in place to weld and your ground clamp in place.

If you weren’t able to remove all the rust don’t worry. You’ll want to get the majority of the loose stuff removed for one major reason, grounding.

If you have too much rust on the surface of the metal it’s going to affect your ground. The rust will not allow the circuit to complete and the arc to strike.

5. Make Your First Pass

Now that everything is ready to go its time to make your first pass. Before you start their are a few things to check.

First check the type of wire or rod you are using. If you’re welding thinner metals at 1/8″ or less you’ll want to consider using a smaller rod size like 3/32″ or an .035 wire.

Using a smaller wire will help with preventing burn through but you need to do check one other setting.

Safety Tip: You may need to wear a welding fume mask. This will help protect you from the nasty rust, dirt, and paint fumes that may come from welding this kind of stuff.

Second, check your amperage settings. If you are welding something thin that is mostly rusted through you’re going to want to turn your amperage down to avoid burn through as well.

As you’re making your first pass take your time to see how the weld reacts to the rust. If the weld gets to hot it may burn through.

6. Check Your Weld and Clean

Now that you’ve made the first pass you need to see what the weld looks like. Here are a few things to look for.

Clean the Weld. First, take a wire brush and clean the weld. This will allow you to see the imperfection in the weld. If there is a crack or porosity then this will help you better identify them.

Porosity. If the weld has a bunch of pinholes in it then it’s likely the gas mixture and the rust have something to do with it. If your weld has this then it will likely be a weak weld and needs to be ground back out and rewelded.

Penetration. Next look at how well the weld penetrated the metal. If you’re not seeing a smooth uniform penetration then you’ll likely have a good weld.

Related Article: Want to know what makes a good weld? Read this article.

Also, make sure the weld didn’t burn through or undercut the metal. This means you’ll also have a weak weld or a thin penetration.

7. Make Your Final Welds

Finally, if everything looks good you can make your final welds. With each pass make sure to look things over to see that everything is going correctly.

If things start to change then you need to correct them before they get worse.

So if you are welding a rusty piece of metal then consider following these basic steps to achieve a successful weld.

What is the Cheapest Metal for Welding Projects – 7 Places to Start Looking

Whether your just tinkering around on the side or doing a welding project for high school then you’re going to need metal for your welding project. I’ve done a lot of these over the years a to be a truthful metal can cost a lot of money especially in today’s economic state. So what is the cheapest metal for welding projects?

To find cheaper metals for your welding projects you can start with what you have laying around. You also try scrap yards, doing a neighborhood clean-up, talking to local businesses to buy their scrap metal, buying secondary metal, and even buying lighter types of metal to save on cost.

In the rest of this article, I’ll share each of these and exactly how you can use these options to buy and in some cases get metal for free. So whether you’re looking for metal for a school project or to make some extra money on the side, or even a farmer just looking to make a few gates, keep reading.

What is the Cheapest Metal for Welding Projects

When it comes to metal they charge by the pound for it. However this all depends on the type of metal you buy.

New metal or primary steel is usually the most expensive metal to buy. The pricing for new metal can run from $0.60 cents a pound to $1.00 or more depending on what it is. I find sheet steel and tubing to be the most expensive metals whereas rod and flat tend to run a bit let. The pricing all depends on the demand for the type of steel you are buying.

From there you have secondary metal. Secondary is metal that has slight imperfections in it that are rejected. This kind of metal can run half the price a lot of times. These imperfections could be slightly thinner metal, pipe with no welded seems, or even a little rust on it.

Finally, you have scrap metal. This is material local companies or people scrap. This metal can run from $100 to $300 or more per ton. This is a type of metal is usually the cheapest to get but the downside is that it comes in all different shapes and sizes.

So now that you know which types of steel are the cheapest where can you get this kind of steel?

6 Places to Get Cheap Metal for Your Welding Projects

Below are seven unique ideas to help you find this metal for your next welding project.

1. What Do You Have Laying Around

The first place you can start is to just look at what you have laying around. If you live on a farm or have a lot junk sitting around then start digging through it.

You would be amazed at what kind of junk metal you might be laying around. This could be anything from old bikes, old fence post, or even old wire fencing.

Surprisingly this stuff can still be used for a lot of things. It’s also the cheapest option as well. So take some time and look around your place and see what you have laying around.

2. Scrap Yard

Next, consider your local scrap yard. Scrap yards are where people brink junk when they don’t want it. This scrap can be anything from old refrigerators, cars, scrap metal, and pretty much anything else you can think of.

These scrap yards pick through this stuff and find what’s what worth selling, and recycling. You can go to these scrap yards and see if you can buy some of this scrap to use for your projects.

A quick side note, some scrap yards don’t allow reselling stuff but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

3. Local Business Scrap

You can also look stop by local welding shops. Often times these businesses will have scrap metal from jobs they did that they would normally just scrap out and get rid off.

A lot of times if you ask them you can buy it for scrap price or a little above. For these companies their just happy to get rid of it and even get a little bit of money for it.

I get people who come in from time to time who are looking for this kind of stuff and I’ll have everything from the leftover rod, flat, and even pipe. We typically don’t have a lot of scrap at my weld shop but I know other companies who throw away a lot of metal.

So you never know what they might have.

4. Neighborhood Clean Up

Have you ever driven by a place in your local area that need some cleanup. These people often times don’t have the time to clean up these messes.

You could offer to clean up part or all of it in exchange to keep the scrap metal they have. To be honest, some people don’t want you to do this, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

5. Buy Secondary

Next, you could buy from secondary steel providers. These are companies that sell the metal that is rejected by the mills that make them. Like I mentioned at the beginning of the article these companies will reject material because of its imperfections.

I have farmers who come in all the time to buy secondary to build cattle gates with. In fact, they will even buy entire bundles of it. These people like it because it’s cheaper than buying primary steel and it still works just as good as using primary.

To find these dealers call your local welding shops and ask if they deal in secondary metals. So if you can deal with a few minor imperfections then check into secondary metal companies near you.

6. Buy Lighter Types of Metal

Another option is to buy lighter metals. A lot of companies do this. If it works buy material that weigh less and can still do the job.

The reason I suggest this is because metal is charged by the pound, so the less weight you have the more you can save.

For example, if you are building a campfire cooking grate you might be able to use 3/4″ or 5/8″ rod instead of 7/8″ rod. This could save you a lot in cost and still gets the job done.

The only time this doesn’t work is when you have to build something that has to be structurally sound like a set of car ramps. The last thing you want to do is build these out of lighter metal only to have to collapse on you while changing the oil.

7. Barter

Finally, the last option is to barter with others. If you know someone who has metal you want why not barter with them instead of paying cash.

For example, what if you tell them in exchange for the metal you will build them one of the items you are making.

Not everyone will go for this but some people will and it gives you a way to get the metal you need without paying a lot of money.

Why is My Wire Feed Welder Not Working – 7 Ways to Fix It

If you’ve ever used a MIG welder you know that the wire feed can have issues from time to time. If you’re new to this then just know that these things happen and there are things you can do to fix it. So what can you do to fix a wire feed welder when it’s not working?

Check the power hookups to the head to see if they’re plugged in incorrectly. Then check the wire feed tensioner is not too loose or too tight. Make sure you’re using the right rollers, the liner or tip is not plugged, and if that doesn’t work check to make sure that you don’t have a bad welding gun trigger.

I know that’s the quick answer to what the problem could be, below I’ll go into detail with 7 different reasons your wire feeder might not be working correctly and what you can do to fix this issue.

7 Reasons Your Wire Feed Welder is Not Working

Below are the seven main reasons the wire feed can stop working on your MIG welder. Try each of these to figure out which of them is the culprit.

1. Power Hookup

The first thing to look into is the power hookup. The power hookup plugs into the head and gives it the power to pull the wire through the liner to the welding gun.

A lot of times these hook up connections can become loose if not checked regularly. These hookups are typically a twist and lock hookup and some are just a simple plug in go setup. Either way check to make sure the hook up is plugged in and tight.

Finally, check to make sure there is no spatter or dirt is caught in between the plug-in and the hookup. Sometimes spatter from your weld can build up and cause the plug to short out or not push in all the way. Just make sure the plug is secured tightly.

2. Wire Feeder Not Tight Enough

Next, you’ll want to check your wire feed tension so that is not to loose. If the tension on your welding wire isn’t tight enough then it won’t push the wire though.

Some welders will have handy instruction that will show you how tight your tensioner should be set at. However some welders don’t have this. The best way to fix this is to tighten the wire tension and keep checking it till the wire moves through the gun.

I’ve had this issue usually after I change a roll of wire and I start welding I find that I don’t have the tensioner set tight enough.

3. Wire Feeder is To Tight

You can also go to far the other way as well. If you tighten the tensioner to much it can cause the wire to be harder to pass through the line.

Worse yet if you tighten it to much it can flatten the wire and not allow it to pass through the liner. I’ve had this happen to me and in this case you’ll have to remove the flattened wire and loosen the tensioner.

Having the tensioner too tight can also cause the wire to break and cause a ball of wire to build up commonly referred to as a bird’s nest. To fix this loosen the tension on the wire and do some test welds.

4. Using the Wrong Rollers

Next you need to check if you have to wrong rollers set up in your welder. The rollers are what pull the wire through the welder. However they need to be the right size for the wire they are pulling through the welder or they won’t work.

For example if you’re using an .035 wire and you have an .045 roller its probably not going to work the best at pulling the wire through the welder.

To fix this you’ll have to check the rollers. They will have a number printed on the sides of them to indicate the wire size. So if you have an .035 wire and a .045 roller then check the roller because the roller may have the correct size on the opposite side.

5. Liner is Plugged Up

The liner could also be causing your problems as well. One big problem with welders is that they create a lot of dirt and dust that can land on the wire as if feeds through the machine.

Overtime this dust and dirt can begin to fill up and plug the liner keeping the wire from passing through the welder.

There are a few things you can do to fix this. First, you can tie a clean rag to the wire before it feeds through the welder. This will wipe the wire clean and get a majority of the dust and dirt off of it. You can also put an old shirt or cloth over the top of the wire if it’s exposed to keep dirt and dust off of it.

You can also try blowing air through the liner with an air compressor. You will have to remove the wire from the machine to do this but it may be able to push some of the dirt out.

This works sometimes but if the liner is really plugged up you’ll have to get a new liner.

6. Tip is Plugged Up

Next if the wire is not feeding through your MIG welder then you may want to check the tip. Just like the liner it can get plugged up over time as well.

On top of that you’ll want to check the tip for spatter. As you weld spatter can plug up your tip. If the tip is not cleaned up from time to time it will get plugged up.

Finally if the welder is not set right it could it could cause burn back. This is where the heat from the welding causes the tip to melt at the tip and plug the hole.

To fix this issue start by taking the tip off. If it doesn’t come off the wire might have fused with the tip. In this case you’ll have to twist the tip off and cut the welding wire to remove it.

If you can remove the tip check the bottom of it to see if their is any dirt build it. If there is remove it and you should be good to go.

If the tip is plugged up try using a tip cleaner to remove it. However if nothing works you’ll have to get a new tip for your welding gun.

7. Bad Welding Gun Trigger

Finally, if your welding wire still won’t move through your welder then it could be the trigger on the welding gun. The trigger does go bad from time to time.

This can be due to excessive use, heat, weld spatter, and occasionally falling on the ground. Any of these things can damage the trigger on the gun.

If this is the case you may need to have a welding technician look at it to have it fixed.

Final Thoughts…

When it comes down to it any one of these problems could be the culprit. Over time as you weld more and more you’ll have a better understanding how your machine works and what might be causing the problem.

So why is your MIG welder not feeding wire through properly? Share your thoughts and comments below,