Tips for a noob MIG welder

Doc Watson

Lifetime Supporter
Finally a MIG welder is arriving today, will get the gas at the weekend. Any tips or tricks when starting?

Randy V

Staff member
Lifetime Supporter
Eye protection with a good auto-darkening hood. Get comfortable.
Leather gloves. Lots of practice. Use scrap materials obviously.
Clean, clean, clean... I use lacquer thinner and a wire brush. Do NOT be tempted to use Brake-Clean solvents as their residue creates toxic gas even worse than welding anything that is galvanized.
I normally use shielding gas at 20, but if welding outside I crank it up to 30 or higher. You’ll know when you don’t have enough shielding gas by your weld spattering and slag.
I tend to put more heat into the torch than what’s needed and then control the penetration by the speed in which I am moving with the torch or by pulsing the trigger..
If your welding has the sizzle sound of bacon frying, you are at least close to being dialed in.
Have fun snd practice, practice, practice...

Eddy McClements

For the relatively small amount of welding I do (all of which is mild steel), I found the Hobbyweld 5 bottles the most convenient.

I bought a cheap solar-powered auto-darkening helmet from eBay UK and it's worked just fine. Like this one:-

Under the helmet I wear some cheap reading glasses so that I can get close to the work, and my welding bench is under a good LED batten strip light to ensure I can see what I'm doing.

As well as using the big gauntlets which came with the Clarke 135TE, I also use a pair of softer TIG gloves when working on small fiddly items:-


Randy V

Staff member
Lifetime Supporter

Howard Jones

When you buy an auto-darkening hood, make sure the battery is replaceable. The less expensive ones are not. A few years from now you will be right in the middle of a project and the hood will stop working. Then you will spend a couple of hours trying to figure out how to replace the battery................Ya...............Now you will need to find another hood to continue.........................F#$%ing Chinese crap! Ask me how I know.

And get some glasses for welding. Have them set the focal length (distant from eye to book page) at about 8-10 inches, and magnification at 2X.
wear full lengths long sleeves and long pants, without any rips or holes in it. Also a shirt that has a high neck line, not an open Un-buttoned shirt.
The welding flash will give you a nice sun burn in no time at all.

I normally wear a full length set of overalls
When putting the welding wire in keep you fingers on the wire or it will unwind rapidly , feed wire through by hand with the tip off this will help you feel if the wire is going through or getting snagged. Keep your gas cfm low out of the nozzle a vortex will pull oxygen in. Keep glass and plastic out of the area or you will find small metal balls melted into them. Don't move your hands away from weld let the weld solidify .
Make sure there is nothing flammable underneath or behind the area you are welding on.
Remove any rags or containers that may have had solvents in them.

the bit about not moving your hand away from the weld area relates to keeping the shielding gas over the weld whilst it is cooling. most welders will have some post weld gas flow, some will be adjustable. if you move your hand away, you drag the shielding gas with you and allow oxygen into the molten weld.

welding coated metals sucks eg metals that have been galvanized.
I am not familiar with Zintec.
Is the Zintec sheet something that is an alloy and in the grain structure or is it coated?

Doc Watson

Lifetime Supporter
Thanks James I'm aware of bad vapours from Zintec will be practicing on mild steel for a few weeks and will get a remote air feed mask for the chassis.

Ryan, Zintec is mild steel with gas vapour deposited zinc covering, different from galvanised or paint.
One word: YouTube

Bunch of excellent How To vids on mig welding techniques there. 50% of what I know about mig welding I learned from YouTube.


Cannot emphasize enough about buttoning up your shirt collar and long sleeves. Many of v-neck and inner arm sunburns... also wearing shorts, you will burn those inner pasty legs with the UV as well. Go to WELDMONGER for great videos on how to get started. Also separate wire brushes clearly marked or stainless, carbon and aluminum!
Also separate wire brushes clearly marked or stainless, carbon and aluminum!
The bloke we went to for some metal shaping lessons had different sets of hammers and dollies for Steel and Aluminum as well as another set for when making aircraft alloy parts. All to try and avoid impregnating and contaminating the alloy. All highly polished as well so that no particle build up occurred on the faces or something like that. My head is still spinning from trying to take it all in.


Chris Kouba

All good tips above, take them all in and practice. The sizzling bacon sound is a great objective.

The only advice I've heard which makes sense but is difficult to do in the moment is if it starts going wrong- STOP. Tweak whatever needs adjustment and start again. Don't try to power through.

Try some destructive testing as well. I'm reasonably confident in my work but I recently had to break down something I put together and ended up tearing the tubing apart before the weld broke. Felt good about that! That's your goal.

Also, if you watch what's happening with the weld pool, you can adjust how you move the torch to best fill in any gaps or fillet radii. Not sure how to quantify it, but watch what's happening with the molten metal, don't just get mesmerized with the sparkle.
To aid in seeing the weld puddle I find a magnifying lens in the helmet helps a lot, they are available from welding supply stores. Also a portable lamp you can position so it shines on the work will make it easier to see the weld pool. Adjust the welding helmet darkness level to that recommended for the work you are doing, don't just leave it on the darkest setting.