5 Tips for Welding Sheet Metal

Welding sheet metal is one of the more laborious projects for homeowners. However, you may have to undertake the task at some point. This may be necessitated by some new installation or repair of an existing structure. Whatever the case, it helps if you know how to go about it. Properly welded metal sheets are vital for whatever you intend to use them for. Below are 5 tips to enable you to weld effectively.

1.   Lighting

Be sure to have adequate direct lighting in the area where you intend to work. It enhances visibility, which is vital for welding jobs. Due to the intense heat involved, you want to be certain that you’re able to see as clearly as possible.

2.   Clean the Sheets

A clean surface is vital for the success of the job. Use a wire brush or sandpaper to clear dirt, paint or wax from the area to be welded. If you encounter tough spots, it is best to clear these with a grinder. If you weld on a dirty surface, there’s a high likelihood that the weld will not stick.

3.   Support

Due to the thin nature of metal sheets, you can end up with holes instead of weld. The intense heat from the welder can easily create holes as the liquid metal drops from the sheet. It is vital that you have some form of support underneath the place you intend to weld. This helps to absorb some of the intense heat, as well as contain the liquid metal. A thick strip of aluminum makes a good support base. You also need to have metal clamps to securely hold the metal. When the sheet shifts as you work, this increases the risk of an accident. Unstable sheets also give you unsatisfactory results when welded.

4.   Welding

It is important that you hold the wand at an angle as you weld. This reduces the possibility of a hole being burnt through the metal. It is also easier to regulate the welding when the wand is held at an angle rather than a direct aim. Work steadily and weld small portions at a time. Some patience is called for, but it is more effective than if you rush through the job. It is best to weld from one edge of the area to be worked on and move towards the middle. You can then position yourself at a different edge and move towards the middle. The result is much better when you spread out the weld spots. Do not move the wand back and forth, as it encourages a melt through.

5.   Safety

You need to protect your eyes, ears, lungs and skin. Wear a welding mask, hearing protection, respirator and heavy duty gloves. It is best to wear a long sleeved shirt to protect your skin from burns and irritation. Keep the work site clean and remove any flammable materials. You also need to have a fire extinguisher available. This comes in handy in the event of an accidental fire. Place the ground clamp and welder cable away from the weld area so that it doesn’t accidentally trip you. Finally, be sure to turn off the power when the welder isn’t in use.