Need Some Welding Advice for New Project

Sun Jan 29, 2012 8:22 am

I have been looking for a cultipacker here in Western Mass for about a year now. They just aren't common up here, and to have one shipped would be pricey. I am thinking about building my own. I have done the research. The wheels and bearing are all readily available. It's a pretty simple project, except for one thing....I can't weld. Don't know the first thing about it.

I pick things up pretty quickly and I'm decently handy. So, my question basic welding something I could teach myself, practice myself, and become decent enough at to attempt a project like this? There are no local classes offered. I don't know anybody who welds. This is a skill I'd like to learn, just not sure how I do that other than just teach myself. Is this crazy? Or doable? Any advice would be much appreciated.



Re: Need Some Welding Advice for New Project

Sun Jan 29, 2012 8:36 am

Keep us posted. I am trying to teach myself that skill at the moment. I am managing to "stick" stuff together so far, but it ain't real pretty. :lol: My friend Raymond Durban, who is a pro, says the way to learn is to "just do it".

I would think you might wish to practice on some scrap pieces before you embark on your final project.


Re: Need Some Welding Advice for New Project

Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:11 am

Go to and search, how to arc weld, and how to gas weld. Many, many good videos are on there and will teach you about any part of it you want, then get a welder and torch set up and go at it.

Re: Need Some Welding Advice for New Project

Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:17 am

Someone who wants to learn bad enough can teach himself anything. Wire welding (MIG) is probably the easiest.

The most common problem that new welders have is trying to weld (moving the electrode) to fast. With the instruction available online and using some scrap steel as Roy said, you can become proficient at welding in a short time.

Most MIG welders will come with information as to what amperage and wire feed rate you need for a given thickness of steel, all you need to do is select the settings and run the bead.

The second most common problem is not preparing the weld area prior to welding to make sure the weld area is free of dirt, paint and scale. The cleaner the weld area, the nicer the weld.

Go for it Blair!!

Re: Need Some Welding Advice for New Project

Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:18 am


Have you checked out McCann Technical School in North Adams? They offer welding in their metal fabrication curriculum. Their web site doesn't address adult evening classes, but I would bet that they have some.

Re: Need Some Welding Advice for New Project

Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:46 am

When I was 19 (yes we had electricity) I took a welding course at night at the local voke HS. Taught me the basics, then build from there. You can also learn on your own. Not terribly difficult. I have used many welders but mostly rely on the Lincoln 225 amp AC buzzbox that I bought >35 yrs. ago. Will need 60 amp service to your shop for these type welders. Mostly I use 6011 rods, 5/32" mostly, sometimes smaller or bigger. Work needs to be clean, even grind clean a small spot for ground clamp. Get some scrap and it won't take long to learn. Adjust your heat, you'll get the hang of it real soon. It can be difficult to see, better move out in the sun, use a bright light, or once you know it's worth investing some $$$, get yourself a helmet that automatically darkens when there's an arc. Oh, one more thing, never weld galvanized steel, it will kill ya. If ever I have to cut or heat galvanized, I go outside and only if there's wind blowing. Never breathe that stuff!

Another thing, when you get into bigger projects, be aware that all that heat does things to distort or twist your work. Especially if something's got to match up with something, have things well clamped or bolted together before welding, or else they probably won't line up.

Can be a very rewarding skill, especially if you enjoy inventions, you can do a lot !

also if you want to practice before spending money, you're welcome to use my stuff, but I'm 2+ hours away.

Re: Need Some Welding Advice for New Project

Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:53 am

Auto-darkening helmets are getting less expensive every day.

Re: Need Some Welding Advice for New Project

Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:09 am

Don McCombs wrote:Auto-darkening helmets are getting less expensive every day.

The auto darkening has been worth every penny to me . There are different setting features available so if you can find one you like, I would recommend it. More experienced welders may not agree , but for us novices I think every little bit helps. :D

Re: Need Some Welding Advice for New Project

Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:10 am


This is something that I have a bit of experience with but it is just my opinion and worth just about that much. I have been playing at welding for 20 years or so ... trying to teach myself. My brother-in-law Ray was the same way. His father (my father-in-law) learned how to weld by himself over the years and he taught both of us to weld as well. After 20 years I had to admit to myself that the one thing I got really good at over time was bubble gum welding. Not what you would call the best at all.

Last spring I finally got to attend Welding 1 at our local community college. This was the same course Ray took about 10 years ago and the one I have been wanting to take for since 04, Life got in the way. Anyways I finally got to take it. Boy do I ever wish that I had taken it earlier. Would have kept me from learning a lot of bad habits that I had to really work hard at and still do to keep out of my welding. The course was only 30 hours -- evenings -- ten weeks, but it was the best investment I had made in a very long time on something educational.

I can now weld properly because I was taught properly by an experienced welder/instructor who had almost 35 years experience in welding from the North Sea to Nuc plants to building Naval Vessels. He was good. He taught us the basics of welding and the things we needed to know before we could practice. Then he made us practice -- a lot. I even got to practice on a project that I needed:


Wood Splitter Storage Bracket - Part 1

This bracket is properly welded and will definitely support the splitter (has now for months). I was able to do this because I was taught how to weld properly including understanding using the proper heat and penetration which are two of the most important aspects to a good weld.

Can one learn to weld at home. Yes .. but it isn't nearly as efficacious as having instructions from a pro. If you have access to a community college/trade school/ag program etc., I would encourage you to take the course. You will not regret it and you will be a better welder from the get go. This is one area where a proper course is the most effective.

Materials you would need for a course or to learn at home:

Chipping hammer
Wire brushes
Safety Glasses
Welding Gloves
old leathers -- jacket etc. to keep sparks off of you. Leather work apron would help.
Long sleeve shirts
Beanie or other suitable head covering
Welding helmet (for mig, stick and tig) Welding goggles for oxy-acetylene.

My preference (I have both old and new style welding helmets) is the new auto darkening helmets. Ray has a $1,200.00 one and I have one I got on sale a princess auto for around $50.00 or so.... I would never buy anything other than an auto-darkening helment :!:

Auto-Darkening Welding Helmets at Harbor Freight

Adjustable Shade Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet

Re: Need Some Welding Advice for New Project

Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:34 am

Teaching myself is the way I learned, though I was about 50 years younger then. If you go to, They have some good how to manuals you can download. The old Lincoln 225 welders had it included as part of the instruction manual.

Re: Need Some Welding Advice for New Project

Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:47 am

It's not hard to do-you should be able to teach yourself no problem.
My advice is not to get the cheapo HF welders. That will make learning to do it difficult.

Miller is top notch, but pricey. They also make the Hobart brand. Cheaper, but still made by Miller and many welding pros and workers at the Miller plant have told me they are great units.

Wire feed with the ability to add shielding gas later on if you want would be my choice.
Stick welding for welding rusty dirt and grimy metal that you do nit want to clean up

Wire welding needs cleaned up metal

Re: Need Some Welding Advice for New Project

Sun Jan 29, 2012 11:33 am

As was mentioned above, if you are determined enough, you can teach yourself. Getting the basics down is the biggest hurdle, after that it's practice and application! MIG is easier, but I'd recommend ARC welding first, after you get the hang of that, then transition to the MIG gun will be easy and then you'll have two forms of welding to work with. With a project like this, there is not much if any danger of hurting yourself or anyone else if the weld doesn't stick. Jump on it and let us know how it works out!
Most of the schools that I know of won't give you pointers for a week or so, they want you to stay (and pay) the whole course.

Re: Need Some Welding Advice for New Project

Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:05 pm

Wow! I posted this over breakfast, went out for a few hours to do some logging, and came back to a ton of good advice. Thanks gentlemen. This is exactly what I was looking for.

Sounds like a phone call to a local vocational school wouldn't be a bad idea? In the meantime, I think I am going to go for it.

Thanks again everybody,

Re: Need Some Welding Advice for New Project

Sun Jan 29, 2012 4:44 pm

I bought a milk crate of cut offs, at the scrap yard, and kept welding and beating with a hammer, until they didn't come apart. Not always pretty, but they hold together. I've welded trailers, implements, a water storage tank,and hydraulic lines, all of which are secure. Ed

Re: Need Some Welding Advice for New Project

Sun Jan 29, 2012 5:25 pm


Yes, you can learn to do it yourself. However, you are going to learn some bad habits that will not be all that beneficial. Save yourself a ton of grief and learn from a pro at a local vocational/tech school. If you don't, you will be living the old adage, "Why is there never enough time to do it right, but always enough time to do it over?" A ten week course, such as Rudi took, will actually shorten your learning curve and get you to the point you can weld stuff together, that will stay together.