Recently I’ve been teaching myself to weld. I live in Cambodia. The guys who weld here professionally are anything but rich, so the equipment they buy is the most basic and cheapest. Not cheap in quality, but cheap relative to other welding equipment. So that means no MIG or TIG welding, just stick. That also means none of those other welding types are available to buy here. I could jump over into Thailand to get it, but it’s easier for me to just learn how to stick weld.
Another thing is, most of the welding here is structural, and the most common metal building material is square tubing. The thickness of the tubing is very thin, often less than an eighth of an inch. So, the only stick electrode one can buy here (in my town anyway) is the E6013, which is designed for thin metal. How the local welders here manage to work with that thin metal without burning it full of holes is a skill I have yet to master. I usually do my own work on some thicker gauge angle iron or flat bar stuff.
My intention is not to become a professional welder. Rather, I just want to be able to fix things around the home, and do some small projects here and there. I recommend the same for anyone with some free workshop space and a desire to build stuff. I’m already a master electrician, so I have experience with electricity, but I know welding can be somewhat intimidating. But, if you work smart and safe, welding isn’t anything to be afraid of.
First off, I recommend reading How to Weld by Todd Bridigum. This book covers everything from safety to required tools to the different types of equipment and how to use it. The book will also help you decide what type of machine to buy. It also has quality coloured photos to show you all you need to know to get started.
Next, I recommend subscribing to some good welding Youtube channels. One of my favourites is Welding Tips & Tricks. In these videos you get to see close up what the welding process looks like before having to try it yourself. They often film with a shaded guard over the camera lens so that you can see what the welder sees as the rod is burning. It’s very helpful. And you get good advice from experienced welders. There are several welding channels on Youtube to choose from.
Here’s a typical video to be found on Welding Tips & Tricks…
And here’s another one from the Youtube channel ChuckE2009…
So, if you’ve been wanting to teach yourself to weld, then go for it. The worst that could happen is you kill yourself. But you probably won’t, so stop worrying!