Sheet metal welding is popular in dent repair, metal finishing as well as very extravagant artwork. Getting the right sheet metal welds requires patience a lot of practice and average skill. The welding procedures used may be best determined by the specific project but may also be determined by tool availably and the level of welding experience.
The three most common methods of welding sheet metal are gas welding, MIG welding and TIG welding. Of the three, TIG welding sheet metal is less frequently used as TIG welders are not usually as accessible as gas and MIG welders.
One of the advantages to gas welding is that the sheet metal is kept soft during the welding process, so a novice welder will find the material more malleable and much easier to work with. MIG welding is just the opposite; the material is harder to work with, louder and is known to shrink. The best sheet metal welding combines the two processes to achieve the desired result. My advice is to work with a gas welder first to get the hang of it, and then introduce yourself slowly to the MIG welding process, testing in less visible areas. Most welding experts will gas weld as much as they can and then MIG weld in the harder to reach places. The important thing to remember when combining these two welding procedures is to gas weld before MIG welding and never weld in the opposite order.
As weld with gas, use a small tip on your welder and be sure to have all your settings right. You don’t want to try to weld with too much or too little pressure, so it’s worth it to pay attention to your equipment as you weld. If you hear excessive popping, or too much noise, you need to make adjustments to your equipment.
Less experienced MIG welders tend to complain about not being able to see their work as they weld. So be sure your face mask is in good repair with clear lenses, and always work in plenty of light.
Equipment other than welders is also need to weld sheet metal safely and successfully. For safety’s sake, you’ll need heavy welding gloves. The welding gloves will protect your hands from sparks or sheet metal shards which may fly during the welding process. You’ll also need a face mask specifically for welding; the best models have a light sensor attached to the mask.
Tool-wise, you’ll need grinders, wire brushes, sandpaper at varying grits, vice grips, clamps, pliers with rubber grips on the handles, and sheet metal hammers. None of these items are optional. They all make sheet metal welding easier, and safer, and will ultimately make for a job well done.