12. Get A Grip "Clamps, vise grips, and magnetic squares are your friends."

13. Never Forget: Wood Burns "If you're welding on a table, get one with a thick metal top. A top with a 1/4-inch steel plate or thicker will not warp while you're welding on it. Do not place a metal plate on top of a wooden table and think you can safely weld on it. It will still burn the wood. I know it sounds stupid, but people still do it."

14. Grinding Tungsten "When TIG welding steel, grind your tungsten tip to a point using a fine grit grinding wheel dedicated only to tungsten. Grinding anything else on that wheel can cause the tungsten to become contaminated, and that will affect the quality and strength of your weld."

15.Know Your Elements "TIG tungsten types are as follows: 2 percent Thoriated (red band) for steels and Pure (green band) for aluminum. This is true unless you have an Inverter type TIG machine. Most Inverter type TIG units can run on sharpened 2 percent Thoriated or Ceriated (orange band) for EVERYTHING. NO GREEN Tungsten."

16. To Push Or Pull? "When MIG welding, it doesn't really matter if you use the gun in a pushing angle (pointed toward the leading edge of the puddle) or a pulling angle (pointed away from the leading edge of the puddle), just stay consistent while welding. Changing from a push to a pull during a weld will affect weld penetration and appearance. This is because it normally takes a slight change in wire speed when changing from pushing the gun to pulling it. Also, the angle of the gun determines if the weld wire is hitting the colder edge of the puddle (as in a push angle) or pointing to the hotter part of the puddle (pulling).

"The pull gives you deeper penetration, so if you're welding thinner material use the push method to prevent burn-through. With TIG welding there is no exception. Always push the torch at a 10-15-degree angle if possible. Never pull the TIG torch. This ensures you have proper gas coverage and cleaning of the weld zone. If you pull the torch, it causes the weld bead to appear black and contaminated."

17. Through Thick And Thin "When welding two materials of different thicknesses, concentrate or point the gun more at the thicker material and roll the bead to the thinner material. This will help you achieve adequate penetration on both the thick and thin piece without blowing through the thinner piece of material."

18. Find Your Comfort Zone "When preparing to weld, especially in TIG, get comfortable. Prop yourself up so you are not suspending the gun or torch in mid air. Put something under your hand to get situated for proper weld angles. In MIG, use both hands to grasp the gun. This helps stabilize the gun and reduces the chance of jerky movements ruining the quality of your weld. Do a dry run with the gun or torch to get positioned properly for the joint you're attempting to weld."

19. Find Good Resources "Don't be afraid to take a night course at your local tech school. They are good resources for the particular weld process you're trying to learn. They also cover some basic metallurgy for matching filler metal and base metals. Your local welding distributor can also help you with filler metal selections."

20. Finally, Safety First "As always, safety first. Welding sleeves and gloves will keep you from burning your skin. The rays from a welding arc will burn you faster than sitting on the beach. Plus, I'm sure your wife won't appreciate the stink of burned skin when you roll into bed after a night of welding on your racecar. Welding helmets are a must, at least to protect your eyes. Anyone with a bad case of welder flash can tell you they would rather take a mixture of salt and acid in the eyes. A welder's cap or beanie is nice, too. Some of the better ones cover your ears. You haven't lived until you're welding under your rig and a hot molten weld spark rolls down your ear and parks itself next to your brain and sizzles for a while.

"Finally, keep flammable material away from weld sparks. This is another common-sense thing that too often gets overlooked. I am guilty of this one. The most common fire hazard is grease- or oil-soaked rags lying around your work area."

Well, there you have it: 20 Tips to Welding Bliss. Now you can get to work on that racecar.

Miller Electric