How to Use a MIG Welder? – [Steps to Follow]

Using a MIG welder is not as complicated as many people assume.

In the article below, we shall show you steps to follow when using a MIG welder.

MIG Welding

Step 1-Safety is paramount

Welding literally melts metals, and so you can imagine the intensity of heat generated by these tools.

Further welding generates a lot of extremely bright light and UV ray.

Because of these, you must cover yourself with the right safety gear.

For starters, having a helmet is non-negotiable. The arc generated by the MIG welder can be detrimental to your eyes, and at worst, it can result in blindness.

Beyond your eyes, you mustn't expose your hands and legs, or any other part that might come into contact with the UV rays and heat.

In particular, wear hardy gloves that will protect your hands against the sparks generated and the heat.

We also recommend that you also wear welding apron to keep your clothes, and body protected against the sparks and heat.

Step 2-Prepping your Metal

First things first, you need to prepare the welding metals and the area in general.

Clean your surface and remove any flammable materials.

More importantly, a thorough clean of the metal to be welded is required.

See, for an effective weld, you need to clean your metal. This will prevent the occurrence of porous joints that will later become weak. Or even result in dirty mixes that cause the metal not to bind well.

Ideally, you should ensure your metal is free of grime, dust, and paint and as such.

To clean the metal, you’ll need to use steel wool or grinders.

However, if a thorough clean is not possible, there're specially designed wires that can weld dirty metals. But still, you should give your weld an upper hand by cleaning the metal.

Step 3-Setting the Gas, Voltage & Amperage

MIG welders use shielding gas for welding.

Therefore, you must have sufficient gas for the task. Also, the gas must be properly connected to the welding gas.

Most importantly, you must have the right kind of gas.

What determines the type of you’ll use include the thickness of the metal, metal type, wires and temperature of the weld.

The good news is, most of the welding machines come with a chart to guide you on that.

Besides the gas, you also need to set other metrics such as voltage, amperage, and wire feed speed.

Gladly, most of the welding machines feature pre-sets for easier selection.

Step 4- Install the Wire

When installing the wire, ensure that it’s the same type as that of the material you’re welding.

For instance, if you’re welding aluminum, it would be advisable that you use a similar cable.

To prevent the wire from unraveling due to tension, we recommend that you tighten the tension on the reel.

While at it, ensure the first three inches of the wire is straight to prevent tangling.

And like the metal, ensure the wire is clean and free of dirt, grease or rust.

Step 5- Clamp Down

For arc creation, the welder needs to be grounded.

You can ground your welder either directly to your workpiece or using a clean metal.

Whatever method you choose, ensure it's near you as setting it far away will result in a weak arc and consequently a weak weld too.

Step 6- Get Comfy

The biggest challenge of welding is not the choice of wire, the thickness of metal or type of metal, its fatigue. A dead arm, a sore back or a shaky hand can contribute to a bad weld.

It’s therefore crucial that you keep yourself comfortable, in a position that will give you the ultimate control while allowing freedom of movement.

Step 7- Welding Process

Assuming everything is properly set, it’s time to get on the welding process.

While welding, it’s vital that you follow these steps;

  • The polarity of the welding machine must always be set to DCEP
  • During the welding process, the length of the wire must be set at a constant length

Types of MIG welds​​​

There’re various types of MIG welds that you can perform

  • If you’re to make a flat weld, you should place the metal into the joint directly. Make back and forth movement to fill all the large spaces. While at it, the gun should be placed at 90 degrees.
  • To make a horizontal weld,lower the gun angle slightly to prevent sagging. The angle of the back and forth movements should remain constant. However, the wire diameter needs to be slightly small to prevent widening of the weld pool.
  • To make vertical welds, begin from the top towards the ground. This will prevent materials from penetrating through the arc. However, if you’re welding hick materials, you can start from the ground, all the way up. However, you need to tone down the power by 15-15%, to account for gravity.
  • The overhead welds remain largely similar to the standard welding process. The only adjustment you need to make is to increase the traveling speed along with the gas flow rate. Overhead welding reduces the risk of filler falling from the joint. Also, it allows for quicker spatter build-up.

Once the welding is complete, grind off the excess filler. And in case of any defect, you can grind down and repeat the entire process.

David Hughes

Hey, I’m David Hughes - a free spirit with a passion for power tools blogging. With more than a decade in the construction field, my mission is to help the everyday workers realize their dream by sharing on creative ideas, tips, and reviewing products.

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