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Always wanted to learn MIG welding but didn’t know where to start? This quick guide on how to use a MIG welder should get you going…

Many enthusiasts lack the confidence to carry out welding repairs on their classic Ford. If you invest in a quality welding machine though, a little bit of practice is all that’s needed to produce good welds. Not only will it enable you to keep up momentum with a restoration project or keep an otherwise usable classic roadworthy, it’ll save you money that would have to be paid to a specialist.

MIG welding machines will soon repay your initial investment. Remember that you’ll also need the correct Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). A quality mask is a must if you’re to avoid a painful encounter with arc eye, and you’ll also need thick welding gauntlets. Ensure your work area is well ventilated and clear of flammable materials.

To improve your technique, you need to examine your results and correctly set up the machine based on that feedback. However good your technique, you’ll struggle if you can’t set up the machine properly. Here’s how to do it with the help of S&B Automotive Academy.

how to use a mig welder

MIG welding involves three parameters: voltage, wire speed, and gas flow. If one of those is slightly out, you won’t get a good weld. Use test pieces before moving on to your car.

Ensure you’re comfortable and secure before starting, with the nozzle positioned about 10mm from the workpiece.

how to use a mig welder


Too Little Gas
The weld needs to penetrate to the back of the workpiece. Setting the gas flow too low gives a pitted, porous weld with no penetration.

Wire Feed Too Fast
This gives a smooth weld, but the wire will be ‘stubbing’ in the bottom of the weld pool, meaning a build-up of weld. Also, there’s little penetration.

how to use a mig welder


Wire Feed Too Slow
If this is the case, you’ll end up with a blob on the end of the wire, which will occasionally drop a stubby lump of weld on to the workpiece. 


Voltage Too Low
The weld will sit on the surface and simply peel off again. You won’t be getting any penetration at all.

Voltage Too High
You’ll get instant feedback on this fault by simply blowing a hole in the workpiece straight away.

Just Right
You want a continuous ‘fuzzing’ noise when welding, like bacon frying. You may get a jump in the wire feed, but this shouldn’t cause problems.

Test The Tests
This continuous weld peeled away from the test piece when placed in a vice and bent. Destruction-test your work before moving on to the real thing.

The tech guide first appeared in the December 2010 issue of Classic Ford.

For more tech features like this How To Use A MIG Welder guide, click here.

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