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Is Welding a Stressful Job – 7 Tips to Avoid the Stress

Are thinking about becoming a welder but worried it might be a stressful job. Truth be told welding can be a stressful job. I’ve been doing it for 20 years and I don’t want to sugarcoat things and make it sound like it’s perfect. There are a lot of factors that can contribute to this.

Stress from a welding job can come in many ways from working in 95+ degree heat, dealing with your boss and other employees, the job you are welding, your health, family life, and even your own mental capacity can all play a role in how stressful it will be for you.

In this article, I’m going to break down all of these various stress points down for you and also share what you can do to alleviate or even avoid this stress altogether. So if you are considering welding as a career and this is a concern for you then keep reading.

1. The Heat

Heat can cause extreme stress. Working in 90 degree heat and welding 8 to 10 hours per day can take a huge toll on your body. Over time it can cause you to break down mentally, and start to get short with people.

In the heat of the moment disagreements and can become a full blown arguments. Why does this happen?

High temperatures over time will start to build up stress. This is usually different for everyone but when you combine some of the other stress issues I’m going to cover in this article it can lead to huge amounts of stress.

How To Deal With This Stress: The best way to deal with this issue is to dress as cool as possible. We also run floor fans as well. Having even just a little air movement will help keep you cool.

If that’s not possible you may want to consider getting a welding helmet cooling kit. While this is a bit pricey it will help to keep you cool while welding. Below is a picture of what I’m talking about.

Finally, keep yourself hydrated and drink a lot of water. If your joints are hurting it’s likely that you aren’t drinking enough water.

2. Your Boss

Your boss can also make things stressful. As someone who runs a welding shop I know what that can be like. In most cases I try not bother my employees while they are working. However not all work places are like this.

I’ve known other places to be down right terrible to there employees. Doing everything from demanding them to work two hours over their shift and counting the whole day against them if they don’t comply.

Some bosses are just down right terrible people and others are great.

How To Deal With This Stress: I’ve found smaller weld shops and companies like mine to be a little more lenient versus big factories. This isn’t always true but in most cases it is. Also, take the time to do your research and see what that company is like.

Check them out on social media or local job boards and see what others are saying. If it isn’t good then it may be a sign to stay clear.

There is no such thing as the perfect boss but if you go in for an interview it’s a good way to see how they treat their employees and if it will be a good fit for you.

3. Other Employees

Have you ever worked at a job and had to deal with that one employee who is always a pain in the butt to work with? Welders by nature can be a crude bunch of people. Over the years I’ve dealt with all kinds of bad employees.

I’ve even had other employees quit because of other employees and even walk out on the job. Some welders can be the most helpful people while others wouldn’t lift a finger to help you.

Why is this? To be honest I don’t know but it can drive the stress level of all the other employees through the roof.

How To Deal With This Stress: One of the best ways to deal with this is to avoid them altogether. If this person works next to you I find wearing a set of earplugs a good way to stop them from talking to you if you don’t want to listen to their trash talk.

If it get real bad, then consider talking to your boss or HR department. Sometimes they can help in relocating you to a different spot.

In my shop, I find the stressful welders like this the most tend to work better by themselves so they can’t raise the stress of everyone else.

Finally, try to stay away from really negative people. These are the people never have anything good to say. This will only drag you down and build up stress.

4. What You Weld

Some welding jobs can be simple and very repeatable jobs. Other jobs can be complex and overwhelming. I can remember one time where I had to weld something that was a bit out of my comfort level and it had to be done right now.

To make it worse the person that normally did those jobs wasn’t in that day which left it to me that day. By the end of that day I was stressed out and upset.

In the end, I knew that I should have just declined to do the job because I wasted a whole day on it and the customer didn’t even take it.

How To Deal With This Stress: The best way to avoid this kind of stress is to know your limits. If a job is way over your limit and to complex let your boss know ahead of time. This will save both of you time and headaches later.

If you’re boss still wants you to do the job be honest with them upfront, and let them know this may be a bit more than you can handle.

Finally, if you do have to do the job let them know you might want them to check over your work as you do the project. This can help you so you don’t get the project welded together only to find you did it all wrong.

5. Your Health

Your body and how it feels also plays a big role in your health and the amount of stress you have. For example, I recently talked to one of my employees about how he had a pinched nerve in his back that was causing problems with his arm.

While talking to him I noticed how much his arm hurt. I recommended he talk to a chiropractor and do a few other things. I could tell how much this was stressing him out and as a result of not taking care of it right away, it was costing him money for time off work to deal with this issue.

I had a similar issue like this a few years back and it causes a huge amount of stress but it doesn’t have to be like that.

How To Deal With This Stress: Take care of your body by doing basic exercises to stretch your muscles. I like to use a tends unit to help relax my muscles and joints, and ice packs when I have a pinched nerve.

Also try to drink a lot of water, not just coffee and pop. If you fill yourself up with garbage all day you’ll feel like garbage all day.

Finally, get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep a night. Welding can be an exhaustive job. If you burn the candle at both end its bound to catch up with you.

6. Family Life

When it comes to a career in welding it can demand long hours at work at times. Sometimes this can mean working six or seven days a week. If you have a family this can be very stressful.

I can remember one specific time we had a job that demanded 12to 16 hour work days. From the moment I was up till the moment I was at work. This kind of work schedule can work for very short periods of time but if this is something that goes on for weeks or months it can be extremely stressful.

That particular summer I didn’t get to see my family a whole lot but when things slowed down a bit I made sure to spend time with them.

How To Deal With This Stress: Start by putting family time first. The last thing you want to do is neglect them even when your welding job slows down.

Next, if you have vacation time make sure you schedule some time off to take a family vacation even if its just a few days.

Finally, let your family know your still there for them even if you can only see them for very brief moments.

7. You

Finally, as a welder you’re going to deal with an internal stress. If you work long hours and all you do is watch the clock slowly tick by its going to wear on you.

Then you have the combination of all the other things going on in your life, and at work building up stress. Some people can handle this great and others don’t handle it well at all.

When these thing wear on you long enough the tension can cause things to snap, leading to arguments.

How To Deal With This Stress: Make sure you try to take some time for yourself. Do something other than work for once. I find doing anything else than work can relieve a lot of stress.

This could be playing video games, gardening, taking a bike ride. Just do something different to get your mind off of work.

Finally, take some time to take to people. This could be a friend, spouse, or even a coworker. Doing this will allow you to get things off your chest that might be bugging you.

Final Thoughts…

Now if you’re reading this article and it sounds like welding can be stressful it can be, but it’s not like this all the time. I’ve dealt with each of these issues over the last 20 years and as I’ve shared there are ways to relieve that stress as a welder.

So take some time to figure out where are things stressing you out as a welder and how can you deal with them now. Can you put systems or processes in place to identify and deal with them as they come up?

For example if a negative coworker is always talking to you what can do avoid them?

Understanding these stress points in your welding career will make it better for dealing with these situation so your job doesn’t get stressful.

Is Welding Bad For Your Eyes – Here’s What You Should Know

I’ve been welding for over 20 years and one thing I can tell you is that proper eye care is a must. In that time I’ve probably burned my eyes at least seven to ten times. If you’ve ever burnt your eyes it’s a painful experience. The question is, is welding bad for your eyes.

Welding can cause you to get dry and watery eyes from the welding fumes, and arc eyes from too much direct welding radiation without wearing the proper welding helmet shade lens. If burned too many times it could cause partial or permanent blindness.

If you’re a welder or looking to become a welder then its vital you learn about these issues so you can avoid a lot of these problems. So keep reading to learn more so you can avoid some of the mistakes I’ve made.

Is Welding Bad For Your Eyes

If you’re a welder then your eyes are one of the most important thing you need to take care of. If you don’t take care of them over time its going to have some adverse effects and could even lead to blindness.

However if you take care of them and do what I say in this article you won’t have near the problems.

Dry & Watery Eyes

One of the first problems you’ll have to deal with when being a welder in general is that it will dry your eyes out even if you are wearing a welding helmet. This happens when the heat of the weld and a combination of the fumes coming up from the weld get in your eyes.

This will cause your eyes to dry out. I notice this a lot when I haven’t welded in a while and then later on that evening after welding I notice that my eyes feel dry. As you do this over time your body will get used to this and you won’t notice this as much.

If you get to much dirt in your eyes and can cause your eye to get infected and start to water. I had this issue last year and eventually had to go to my doctor.

Overall, these eye issues are very minimal compared to what I’m going to cover next

Arc Eye

Arc eye is where you catch too much welding flash from your welder or someone else’s welder and actually burn the outer layer of your eye. Think of it as a sunburn on your eyeball. If you’ve ever had something in your eye you know how uncomfortable that can be.

Arc eye or welders flash feels like someone would throw a handful of hot sand in your eyes and you can’t get it out. What’s actually happening as your eyelid moves up and down is it’s moving over the burnt surface of your eyeball.

If you’ve ever had a sunburn and someone rubs their hand on it you know how painful that can be. The same thing is happening to your eye when it is burnt.

Over the last 20 years I’ve probably burnt my eyes almost a half a dozen times from weld flash. The question is how do you deal with weld flash when you’re eyes are burnt.

How to Deal With Burnt Eyes From Welding

When you burn your eyes from welding flash it’s not like it happens right away. Instead, you’ll tend to notice after you fall asleep typically at 1 or 2am in the morning. Just like a sunburn, it doesn’t show up until the end of the day a lot of times.

When this happens it going to be extremely painful and if you’ve been through this a time or two you’ll know what to look for so you can better prepare for the situation.

Step 1: Set Out a Wash Cloth and Eye Drops

Before you go to bed you’ll want to have things ready just in case this does happen. The last thing you want to do is be looking for your supplies and you can’t open your eyes because of the pain its causing.

So set out a dry washcloth and eye drops. I personally use Rohto Ice when my eyes are burnt. It stings at first but has a nice cooling effect on your eyes afterward that can give some relief.

Side Note: You can take nonprescription eye drops before going to bed as well to help keep your eyes moist.

Important: If you have prescription eye drops for burnt eyes set those out but make sure to use them as your doctor prescribes as these drops can be very powerful and if used too much and could lead to blindness.

Now that you have your supplies ready its time for bed.

Step 2: When Your Eyes Are Burnt Do This

At this point you’re going to wake up at night. It could be 12am it could be 3am. When this does its going to be extremely painful.

The first thing your going to want to do is head to the bathroom where your supplies are and put some eye drops in your eyes to help give a little releif.

You’ll also want to keep your eyes clothes as much as possible. The more you move your eyes up and down the more painful this will be.

Finally, take your washcloth and get it wet with cold water. Then ring it out and fold it in half. You will put this over your eyes once your are back in bed.

Step 3: Sleep

Now that you’re back in bed place the cold wet rag on your eyes. Keep your eyes clothed. The best thing you can do at this point is to fall back asleep. This will help heal the eyes and is the best way to get through the majority of the pain.

The great thing about the eyes is that they tend to heal fast. In most cases, the pain is usually gone by morning. If the pain is not gone then you may need to see your doctor or go to the emergency room in the worst-case scenario.

I’ve known people to burn their eyes extremely bad and you want to do everything in your power to avoid this from happening to you.

Can You Go Blind From Welding?

In extreme cases, you can go blind from burning your eyes too many times, or using prescription eye drops for burnt eyes too much. However, if you are just welding, never burn your eyes, and do proper eye care you’re chances of going blind are much less.

When I weld I typically use eye drops to avoid dry eyes and always make sure I’m not getting welders flash to avoid burning my eyes.

In the next section I’m going to share some tips to help you protect your eyes while welding.

How to Protect Your Eyes While Welding

To help you protect your eyes while welding here are some basic tips I’ve learned over the years to protect myself.

1. Use a Dark Lenses

First, use the darkest lens possible when welding. For this, I recommend a shade 13 lens. If you’re using an auto-dark helmet then turn the setting to the highest possible shade setting. This will also help if you have sensitive eyes.

2. Where a Hood Flap

Next, you’ll want to wear a hood flap. This will help if you have other people welding around you or have a surface that is reflecting a lot of light back.

They make these flaps to go over the top of your helmet and head like the one shown above, and they also make flaps that go on the bottom of your welding helmet to protect you from underneath.

If you don’t have any of these at the time your welding then you could use an old shirt till you get these.

3. Where Darker Colored Shirts

Third, consider wearing darker-colored shirts. When your welding the light will bounce off light-colored material such as a white or yellow shirt. This in turn could be sending that harmful light right up into your helmet.

I have one employee who has sensitive eyes and will often times where black shirts to avoid this issue.

4. Check Your Welding Helmet for Cracks

You’ll also want to check your welding helmets for cracks. Even just a hairline crack will allow light to get through causing you to burn your eyes.

This happened to me once and I ended up welding all day and never suspected that I would have burnt my eyes till I woke up late at night. If this happens you’ll want to buy a new welding helmet.

At the same time if you have an auto-dark welding helmet make sure you check the batteries from time to time because if the helmet does not switch from light to dark it could also burn your eyes.

5. Use Welding Curtains or Blocks

Finally, you’ll also want to consider if other people are welding around you. The light from their weld could be hit you in the wrong ways without you even know it.

For this, you’ll want to have a welding curtain to block harmful rays. If you don’t have this available to you then you could also use a piece of plywood.

Final Thoughts…

What are you doing to protect your eyes from welding flash? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments below.

What Should You Wear to a Welding Interview – Advice From a Real World Welding Employer

I’ve been running a welding business for the last 12 years and hiring new employees is one of those jobs I’ve become quite familiar with over the years. In that time I’ve seen all kinds of people come through my door and there are some things that make a potential candidate great and things that don’t

At a welding interview, it’s good to wear similar clothes that you would be working in. This would include a clean long sleeve 100% cotton button-down shirt, cotton work pants or jeans, and steal-toe work boots. Also, bring your welding helmet and gloves just in case they want you to do a welding test.

In the rest of this article, I’m going to share the things I look for in a quality employee, what they should wear and not wear to a welding interview.

What Should You Wear to a Welding Interview

How you dress when you show up at my welding shop say a lot about who you are as a person. Whether you’re just dropping by to fill out an application or drop off a resume you need to put your best foot forward.

This doesn’t mean you need to wear a suit or dress business casual even. Instead you want to show looking the part. Most welders wear clothes that would be similar to what they would have while working on the job.

I once had someone show up in dirty ratty-looking clothes at my shop. At first, I was a little disturbed however I still gave him a chance and let him fill out an application. I even gave him a weld test but in the end when I had to make a choice I chose the person who took a little more pride in their look because I knew they would take pride in their work as well.

So what should you wear when you go to a welding interview? Here a few things to consider.

Welding Shirt or Leathers

First, you’ll want to bring a welding shirt. You can wear a regular t-shirt but you’ll also want to bring along a welding shirt or even welding leathers.

The reason for this is because most employers will likely ask you to fill out an application but you’ll want to be ready to do an on-the-spot formal interview. However, one thing we like to do is conduct a weld test.

Some companies like to set up a specific time to do a weld test but I find just doing it when applicants show up is way faster and if my welding shop does it’s likely other businesses do this as well.

So my best advice here is to be prepared for all options and bring or wear a 100% cotton shirt in case they want to do a weld test.

Jeans or Work Pants

You’ll also want to wear a decent pair of work pants. Again this doesn’t need to be a suit or a pair of caches. A good pair of jeans or 100% cotton work paints will do fine here.

Again, if the employer ask you to do a weld test you want to be prepared to do it.

Boots

Finally, you’ll want to wear a sturdy pair of work boots. I personally wear steel-toe work boots. This is what I wear when I’m welding and most of all most shops and factories require that you have steel toe boots.

I find Redwing steel toe boots to be the best option but Caterpillar also has good selection at more favorable pricing.

What do I Need to Bring to a Weld Test

Beyond what you need to wear to a welding job interview their are some things you’ll also want to consider bringing along. This all might seem a bit much but employers like people who are prepared and ready. If you can do that when you’re just doing a welding test then they’ll realize how prepared and ready you’ll be when you have to do your job.

So hear are a few things to bring along.

Welding Helmet

Having your welding helmet with you gives you the option to do a welding test. I’ve had a lot of people come in my shop to fill out an application and very few bring their welding helmets in. When I ask them if they could do a welding test they often tell me they didn’t bring their gear.

To be honest I keep a spare welding helmet around just for this purpose but it doesn’t always look good when you don’t bring your gear.

Welding Gloves

Finally, remember to bring your welding gloves with you as well. Having your own gear is going to help you perform much better than if you had to use other people’s gear.

So bring your own gear along just in case they want to see what kind of quality work you can do.

What You Should Not Wear To a Welding Interview

So now that you have a good idea of what you should wear to a welding job interview here are a few things you should not wear.

  • If you show up to a welding interview wearing a tank top, shorts, and sandals I can tell you’re likely not the right person for the job. I’ve had a few people show up to welding interviews like this and this doesn’t leave a great impression.
  • If you show up looking like you just rolled out of bed and you’re not happy to be there then it’s likely this will go against you and may likely not get a callback.
  • If you show up looking like you’ve been on drugs or alcohol it’s likely that you’re not going to get the job. Employers like people who look happy, work well with others, and take pride in their appearance.

Final Thoughts…

Overall if you can follow the tips in this article you’ll be ready to go for your welding interview. Welders are a peculier group of people and the important thing here is to just follow the tips in this article and be yourself and you’ll do great.

What is the Best Way to Weld Galvanized Metal – Tips, Techniques, and Concerns

One of the worst things I’ve found to weld over the years is galvanized metal. While welding does create fumes if you’re welding galvanized metal the fumes can be extremely unsafe. So this begs the question, what is the best way to weld galvanized steel and do it safely.

The best way to weld galvanized metal is to create a well-ventilated area that allows the fumes to flow away from you. Also, consider wearing a respirator mask or using a fume extractor to draw the fumes in. While welding, keep your head away from the fumes by sitting further back from the weld.

Galvanized welding fumes are nothing to mess around with. In the rest of this article I’m going to share the exact process I use to weld galvanized metal along with a few of the tips, techniques, and tools to keep you safe.

How to Weld Galvanized Steel Safely

Welding galvanized metal is very similar to welding regular metal instead it has been dipped in a galvanized coating that engrains itself into the metal. However its the fumes that come from burning galvanized metal that can be unsafe.

Welding galvanized steel is a dangerous task when it comes to all of the fumes that a human is exposed to. Any type of fumes from welding can pose a very serious health risk. However, anything with a coat of galvanization fumes should be taken with an abundance of caution.

There is a condition known as “Metal Fume Fever” that occurs when being exposed to the fumes of zinc, which is the main ingredient in galvanized metal. Just like the flu, metal fume fever can cause fever, thirst, headaches, chills, chest soreness, nausea, vomiting, and shortness of breath.

It is of the utmost importance to keep these harmful toxins and fumes away from the person while proceeding in the acts of welding. There are many different tools available to assist with this process. From vents to fume extractors, these safety requirements are a must when in the welding process.

So here a few things to consider when welding galvanized metal.

Work in a Wide Open Area

The first and foremost way to keep the fumes away from the person is to weld in a nice and open place. By having a more open space, there is more air and oxygen for the harmful toxins and fumes to dissipate into. Similar to not running a gasoline or diesel engine in an enclosed space, welders should not weld in an enclosed space if avoidable.

If this isn’t possible make to open any doors or windows to the building you’re working in. This will give the fumes a place to go instead of building up in your shop.

This will also create a suction to help draw the fumes out of the building you’re working in. In my shop I like to have my shop doors open as wide as possible when its nice out.

Stand in the Opposite Direction of the Fumes

Next, when you open the door and the fumes are being drawn out try to stand in the opposite direction of the fumes. This will keep you out of the path of the fumes and keep you from inhaling them.

To figure out which direction just run a small bead and after its done pull your helmet up and look to see where the fumes go. Another way to do this is to hold a small piece of paper up to see which way the paper blows.

If the wind is strong you can often times tell which direction the wind is coming from as it passes by you.

Keep Your Head Out of the Fumes

Finally, you’ll want to keep your head out of the fumes. This might sound like common sense but I often see new welders who come to work for me keep their heads to close to the weld.

Instead, stand straight up to keep your head directly out of the fumes. Welding fumes tend to go straight up before dissipating.

Also, make sure you keep your helmet tight against you while welding. If your helmet is not tight against you while welding it’s likely that some fumes will get up in your helmet. This can be a bit hard at first but with a little practice, you’ll get used to it.

Now that you know some basic their is also some simple tools you can use to help you out in this as well.

Tools for Welding Galvanized Metal Safely

Now that I’ve shared some practical ways to weld galvanized I going to share some basic tools I use in my show to help remove the galvanized fumes.

Overhead Fans

One of the first things you can do is set an overhead fan. Welding fumes tend to drift upwards but once they get to a certain height will start to hang overhead creating a haze. These galvanized fumes can be dangerous because they eventually start coming back down.

To avoid this you can run an overhead fan. These fans will help push the fumes out of your shop. In my shop, I have overhead fans that push the air and fans that suck the air out of the building.

Overhead fans should always continue to be used even when the welding is over. This will help to further disburse these dangerous zinc oxide fumes. Some shops will leave these fans running continuously.

The more overhead fans that can be installed in a specific work area, the better. It can be better to have several smaller fans moving the air rapidly as opposed to one huge fan. They should be run as quickly as possible.

Low Fans

Low fans also known as squirrel cage fans are an asset to have around the lower part of the welding area. These fans are designed to move the air below your weld. You never want to blow air directly on your weld as it will blow away your shielding gas.

If possible, they should be aimed at the open-air part of the shop. This is the safest way to move the galvanized air and avoid the problem quickly.

These squirrel cage fans are one of the oldest assets that welders use. By keeping them in the highest fan setting, they will move as much air as possible and also keep you cool at the same time.

Fume Extractors

Although they are expensive, a fume extractor can be a very important tool to have. Similar to a hood vent about a cooking range, a fume extractor serves a similar purpose. It will draw most (if not all) of the dangerous zinc-filled fumes up to the top of the room.

The fume extractor will be connected to an opening on the side or top of the building, allowing the fumes to quickly dissipate. By doing this, the fans will be more effective as there will be less harmful fumes to circulate. Both the fume extractors and fans can work in tandem with one another.

If cost is a big factor for you then check out mobile fume extractors. I have two of them in my shop and they work great in sucking up fumes.

There are many different brands of fume extractors available, and they should be chosen based on the square footage of the work area.

A fume extractor that is too small will not work effectively. A fume extractor that is too large is usually not a bad thing, however, it could use more electricity than necessary.

Respirator Welding Masks

Using a welding respirator mask is also a very important piece of safety equipment.

These respirator masks should always be approved by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

By being certain that the mask is approved by one of these committees, there is a better chance that it will be protected against these zinc oxide fumes.

Along with wearing a respirator mask, it is important that it is used properly and fit properly.

It should be properly secured before the welding machine is started, and should never be removed until reaching an open space away from the fumes. Plenty of time should be given for the fumes to dissipate before returning to the welding station.

If a person is always welding galvanized metal, they should always have one of these specialized masks on hand.

Health Concerns of Welding Galvanized Metal

When overexposed to fumes, a person can develop “Metal Fume Fever”. While the condition can never be completely avoided, there is much less of a chance of overexposure with the proper safety equipment in place.

If a person does develop “Metal Fume Fever” it is because they were overexposed to the zinc oxide fumes released from the galvanization. There are many flu like symptoms of this “Metal Fume Fever”.

  • tiredness and fatigue
  • weakness
  • stomach pains
  • muscle aches
  • chills
  • thirst
  • tight or sore chest
  • nausea and vomiting
  • fever

The onset of these symptoms will most likely take place quite some time after the welder has finished (usually several hours). A welder can usually know early on if they have been exposed due to a sweet or metallic taste in their mouth.

There are regulations in place as to how many zinc oxide fumes are permissible in the air, but it is not always feasible to detect this. In these cases, the proper safety equipment and observation of one’s health can be the best insurance policy to take out.

If a person does suspect that they have been exposes to too much zinc oxide from welding galvanized pipe or steel, it is important to seek medical attention right away. A physician or emergency facility should be able to provide advice and protection.

Typically, a normal temperature will resume within one to four hours after exposure. If it is persistent, medical attention should absolutely be sought after.

Summary

When welding galvanized pipe, galvanized metal, or galvanized steel, it is very important to know the proper safety procedures. There are many safety courses available that an individual can take. Some employers make these safety courses mandatory.

All professional facilities should be equipped with the proper fume hoods, vents, and protective gear. When working outside, at least a protective mask that is approved by The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) should be considered.

Welding is a dangerous occupation on its own, the the zinc oxide fumes found in galvanized materials make it even worse. The chances for injury go up greatly when dealing with these types of projects.

The most common people who are exposed to these issues would be welders in the railroad, construction, and pipe making fields. It is important for these people to understand their risks, and know that they can do to protect themselves.

When welding in any location, building, or area, the proper safety precautions should always be observed. It is always better for a worker to be protected rather than become ill due to toxic fumes. Welders are the backbone of the nation, and they should be protected and well cared for by having the appropriate equipment provided to them.

What Is the Best Way to Weld Stainless Steel – Beginners Guide

Over the years I’ve welded all sorts of stuff from regular mild steel, aluminum, galvanized, to stainless steel. When it comes to welding different types of steel especially stainless steel you need to understand the properties of the metal before you can just start welding it. So what is the best way to weld stainless steel?

MIG or GMAW is the best way to weld stainless steel. To do this you will need to use a stainless steel wire and stainless trimix shielding gas. When welding, keep your liner straight and clamp your project to prevent the metal from warping. Tack the stainless first to keep things in place before laying your final weld.

In the rest of this article, I’m going to cover exactly how I weld stainless steel and what things you can do to avoid costly mistakes and lay down some great beads.

How To Weld Stainless Steel

If you’ve never welded stainless steel don’t get too worried it actually not that much different than welding regular mild a36 steel. While it is a completely different type of steel it’s also important to know that stainless steel has some different properties to it than regular steel.

Stainless is made of iron and carbon but also has Chromium and Nickel in it to help prevent corrosion which gives it that shiny look. In my weld shop, we use a lot of stainless for feet on hog gates because of the harsh environment it’s in.

Below is the process to weld stainless steel.

1. Get the Right Type of Wire

First, you’ll need to change the wire you’re using in your MIG welder. You can’t use regular steel wire. The reason for this is because the steel weld will rust and will defeat the purpose of using stainless in the first place.

To do this you need to weld with a stainless steel wire. Stainless wire comes in various sizes rolls from 10 pounds to 30 or even 60-pound rolls if needed.

Side Note: If you don’t need a lot of stainless wire buy smaller rolls as these rolls can get expensive.

You can also get the wire in various thicknesses from .035 to .045 up to 1/16″. I find .035 and .045 to be the most common though.

From there you’ll want to remove the steel wire from your welder and install the stainless wire.

2. Stainless Steel Gas

After you choose the right wire you need to make sure that you are using the right gas. Since stainless is made up of different metal other than carbon and steel you’ll need a combination of gases called Stainless Trimix.

Stainless steel tri-mix gas contains a mixture of CO2, Argon, and Helium to work properly. This is the best mix as it gives the desired effect while keeping the CO2 level low enough to avoid damaging the corrosion resistance of the metal.

Again this gas can be a bit expensive so buy a smaller tank if you want to save some money.

Once you have the gas remove the current tank and hook up the new tank. If you’re not sure how to do this check out this guide on changing welding tanks here.

3. Properly Clamp Your Metal

Now that you have your wire and gas switched out you’ll need to think about how you plan to clamp your materials down.

Because of the different types of metal stainless steel is compared to normal steel it can very easily warp when you are applying high temperatures. If stainless steel is placed under excessive welding heat it will warp and can even distort under the cooling process.

For this reason, it is very important that you properly clamp your metal before you begin final welding. Additionally, it is a good idea to pre-tack everything to make sure everything goes as planned and that you have control over the process.

To do this you’ll need one or all of 4 types of these clamps.

  • Vise Grips. These are great for clamping flat plates, angle iron, and rod.
  • 11R Clamps. These clamps have bigger jaws and work great for clamping further in.
  • Bessy Clamps. These are heavy-duty type C clamps made in Germany and works great to keep things solid and steady.
  • Pipe Clamps. If you have something really big to clamp together then pipe clamps are your best option.

I have all of these clamps in various sizes and once you have then you’ll wonder how you ever got things done without them.

4. Running Your First Weld

Now that you have everything clamped down you’re ready to start welding well not quite. Since stainless tends to warp when it gets hot we also want to do one more thing. You’ll want to pre-tack your parts together.

You don’t want to start by welding the final weld all at once. This may cause your stainless to warp even though everything is clamped down.

A few years ago I had to weld a stainless steel hog gate together. I had two 1/4″ flats on the ends and half-inch stainless rods in the middle. Not knowing that things could warp so bad I welded the gate on just one side without tacking things first.

As you might imagine the whole gate warped and destroyed the jig. To avoid this issue you’ll want to tack everything first.

On top of that when you start to weld you’ll want to start on the opposite side of the tacks. Doing this will help prevent warping since one side is tacked in place it will help hold the parts in place.

Finally, keep your welds short. The more you weld all at once the more hotter your metal will get and the more likely it will a warp.

5. Check Your Weld Over

During the entire welding process, it is super important that you always check your weld over. Checking your weld over and fine-tuning your welder is very important in order to keep the performance and the final results as great as possible, which is what you want.

By fine-tuning your welder, you eliminate spatter as much as possible. This is super important as it can be extremely hard to remove spatter from stainless steel if it gets there. It is in other words just always best to have as little spatter as possible in your welder.

You can also use a weld spatter spray to help keep the surface clean from spattering as well. While I don’t rely heavily on these sprays I think a good combination of proper settings and spray will give you the desired result you’re looking for.

3 Quick Tips to Welding Stainless Steel

Now that you know my process to welding stainless steel I want to share some of my top tips with you. These are things I’ve learned over the years that will save tons of time and aggravation.

1. Lower The Tension

The first thing to know is that you don’t want the tension to be too high. As your wire spines off the roll it passes through a set of rollers. These rollers are set by a tension screw that determines how much force should be applied.

If you put too much tension on the wire it will cause it to snap or bend as it passes through the rollers creating a bird’s nest. This can be aggravating to clean up and fix.

I remember one of the first times I welded stainless steel and having this issue. It caused a lot of problems and wasted a lot of wire, and as I mentioned earlier stainless steel wire can get expensive, so don’t waste it.

2. Keep Your Lead Straight

Next you’ll want to keep your welding lead as straight as possible. Your welding lead is the black hose that comes out of your welder and goes to your welding gun.

Your lead also carries your liner which what the stainless wire goes through to get to your welding gun. The reason you want to keep this as straight as possible is because the stainless wire is harder type of metal that can break easy.

If your lead is all curled up it can be harder to push the wire through the lead causing it to snap and create a birds nest.

As I mentioned in the last tip this can be aggravating and costly.

3. Keep Your Tip Clean

The last tip is to keep your tip clean. Stainless steel weld spatter can be hard to remove and clean up. Worst of all if it gets on your welding tip it could plug the hole and ruin the tip.

The best solution here is to clean the nozzle and tip regularly and to use tip dip to prevent stainless spatter from sticking. Tips and nozzle can get ruin fast if you don’t keep these things clean.

So take some time regularly clean them.

Is It Difficult to Weld Stainless Steel

When it comes down to it stainless steel isn’t that hard to weld. You just need to set your, welder, up correctly, Clamp and tack your metal and you’re ready to go.

What is the Best Way to Weld Upside Down – Tips, Techniques, and Concerns

Welders have many unique methods to get a job done. One method is welding upside down, also known as overhead welding. This method is sometimes necessary to get a good result.

When you’re welding upside down or overhead you’ll want to keep the weld in front of you and slightly above eye height. This will allow you to see the weld without actually having it directly over you and having sparks and slag hit you on your head. When welding keep the puddle moving to avoid dripping.

The processes of MIG welding and stick welding are slightly different, and some methods prove to be very effective. Knowing how to control speed is a must. Effectively controlling the welder with the proper procedures are sure to get the job done right the first time.

The Best Way to Weld Upside Down

Also known as an overhead weld, welding upside down can be a great challenge. This is especially true for a welder that has not used this technique before. The reason for the name of upside down, or overhead weld, is because the welder is actually above the head of the person welding.

It is very important to line up the body of the welder with the welding machine precisely. Without the proper angle, the task can be very daunting. The weld should always be focused in front of the forehead.

Whenever possible, the welder should find a point to brace their hand. Steadiness is the key to performing a good, clean, and accurate weld. Sometimes, depending on position, it is necessary to use one hand on the welder and keep the body braced with the hand.

If it is possible, wether MIG welding or stick welding, it is best to have both hands on the welder. Similar to steering a motor vehicle, a person will undoubtedly have more control if both hands are able to be used.

It is important to keep a clear focus on the weld pool at all times, as well as the progress being made. Sometimes, overhead welding can be a dangerous proposition. Things may need to be changed or altered rapidly in some cases.

Stick Welding

When working with a stick welder, it is important to keep the welder straight up and down. Ideally, as close to a 90 degree angle as possible is the best angle of approach.

It is best to keep the welding slow, and move the welder from down to up (uphill). The reason for this is because this method gives the best possible penetration. By having the weld solid, it is unlikely to have to go back and fix mistakes later.

It is also important to note that for stick welding upside down, amperage settings should be kept low. By keeping these settings low, there is less of a danger of falling debris.

A welder should always remember that when they are welding upside down, gravity is working severely against them.

MIG welding

Mig welding is similar to stick welding in the angle, but rather than holding the welder straight up and down, it should also be tilted. The best approach is straight up and and down, and slightly tilted back towards the person welding.

According to many welders, MIG welding overhead is easier than stick welding overhead. There is more control over the weld pool, and the user can easily stop and start as needed to view the weld.

Finally, keep the weld up and in front of you never directly over you. This could result falling sparks and slag to land on you.

3 Techniques for Both MIG and Stick Welding

Positions are important to remember since they differ. However, some aspects are very similar. It is important to go back and forth to focus on the weld.

Sparks can fly down, or a part may not be covered as much as it should be. By focusing on the weld itself, and pausing as needed, a welder is more likely to catch an error that could take place.

1. The speed of the welding machine

It is important to keep the welding machine speed set as perfect as possible. This is in common with every welding position and technique. It is entirely possible to overspeed a welder, or not go fast enough.

The rate should be carefully calculated and dialed in to prevent the weld pool from dripping. The molten metal material can pose a very dangerous risk as gravity will force it to fall.

Also, the weld will not be eye appealing or effective if the rate of speed on the welder is improperly adjusted. It may take a few practice attempts, but once calculated, the proper speed should be locked in.

2. Keep Your Welds Short

If you’re new to all of this consider keeping your welds short. Don’t try to weld the entire bead in one shot. This will allow you weld in short burst and minimize the dripping.

I’ve had slag land on my arms, welding sparks get in my ears, and it can be painful. The best way I’ve found to do this is weld in short burst.

Once you get your first pass done you can start to lay longer beads down that will allow you to create a stronger penetration.

3. Turn Your Amperage Down

Finally, you’ll want to keep the amperage down and keep your weld a little colder. The hotter you weld the easier it will be for the weld to drip.

This doesn’t mean you need to turn the amperage all the way down but rather just slightly less then you normally do to keep a smoother weld.

Overhead Welding Safety Concerns

Without a doubt, welding upside down can be a very dangerous feat. If not armed with the proper safety gear and common safety knowledge, this welding technique can prove to be very dangerous. It is always better to be prepared and focus on safety measures at all times.

Gravity naturally pulls everything down. Similar to a penny falling off a table, the sparks from the weld pool will be rapidly falling. This slag and spatter can be severely dangerous.

Quick Tip: Keep all flammable materials and chemicals far away from the welding site. These obstacles can create a serious fire hazard or explosion. These sparks can also harm a person’s skin and cause burns or lacerations.

As well, if the weld pool begins dripping, it can cling to the skin and cause a serious burn. It is important to remember safety training and use common sense when welding upside down.

The position of the body is crucially important to safety. A person should be close enough to the welding area that they can easily control the welder. However, this should be done reasonably close.

The arms should be as low as possible, and not extend too far. Sometimes laying on an elevated item will help a person get closer to the welding site without overextending their arms. If the person’s arms are extended to far, it can cause fatigue.

When a welder gets fatigued, they are more prone to accidents. Whether it be dropping the welder or messing up the weld, fatigue is something to avoid. If pieces of the weld pool fall on the skin due to unsteadiness, it can be especially bad news.

A person should never be eye level with the weld. They should be able to see the weld perfectly, as lined up with the forehead, but directly in front of the eyes can be a great hazard. Dirt and weld splatter can get directly into the eyes.

Safety Gear for Overhead Welding

Here are just a few things I recommend doing.

1. Welding Helmet with Hood

A welding helmet is one of the most important pieces of safety equipment for any type of welding, especially overhead welding. Debris and sparks will be falling due to gravity, and these hazards should never come in contact with the face or eyes.

It is hard to watch the progress of an overhead weld. For this reason, both the inside and outside of the helmet lenses should be clean. If the lend is dirty or cloudy, the location of the weld pool or welder itself can be distorted.

You’ll also want to have something to cover the top of your head. This could be as simple as a welding cap with a bill on it. This will keep the sparks and slag from going down your back

2. Welding Apron

A welding apron is very important as well. These aprons have flame-resistant qualities. Slag will undoubtedly fall on the body at some point, even if it is just light sparks. The apron should always be worn snugly above the regular clothes.

While a scary situation, if the welder falls on the person using it because they lose their grip, an apron will save them from serious burns or other injuries. When possible, a leather apron should be used. This material is tried and true, and offers the most protection.

Leather aprons also consist of heavier material, so it creates a sort of “shell” on a person that a standard apron does not provide.

3. Leather Work Boots and Jeans

Heavy-duty work boots are very important to wear as well. They should preferably be flame resistant and have thick souls. The boots should be worn at all times when welding is being performed.

Though not a strict requirement, it is best to wear flame-resistant pants. This creates extra protection for the person welding.

There is a proper way as well to wear the boots and pants together. The pants should never be tucked into the boots. Falling sparks or slag can get stuck inside the boot and cause severe burns or injury.

It is important to always keep the pants leg over the top of the boots. This will prevent any sparks from getting down your boots. I’ve had this happen to me a few times and the worst part about this is that it doesn’t stop burning once it gets down inside your boot.

In Conclusion

Overhead welding, or upside down welding, can be a daunting challenge.

There are different methods of approach whether a person is MIG welding or stick welding. With patience and the proper techniques put into place, it can be a success and is often required to get the job done.

It is very important to always use caution, common sense, and the proper safety gear. By doing this, the weld should be a success.