Hobby Farms

Welding on the Farm

Welding is a really useful skill for farmers to have that helps with general repair work around the farm.

- By John Ward

Welding is a really useful skill for farmers.

Picking up a cheap welder can save you a lot of money as you can quickly repair gates, fences and machinery without hiring someone to do it or allowing it to get more damaged. The most common welding method used on farms is stick welding because it offers a few key advantages such as cost and portabilit­y. However, stick welding isn’t right for everyone, and some farmers prefer to use a wire welding process such as metal inert gas welding or flux-cored arc welding.

STICK WELDING

Stick welding (shielded metal arc welding, aka SMAW) is one of the most popular welding processes. It’s a simple procedure that is popular with outdoor welders due to it not being affected by wind. (For a stick welding how-to, visit https://bit.ly/3cAJKBw.)

SMAW PROS

• Easier set up. It’s simple to set up, and you don’t need to connect a gas cylinder.

• Portabilit­y. Stick machines can be very light and portable; they’re easy to carry around.

• Suitable for windy conditions. Stick doesn’t require shielding gas. Welding processes that use shielding gas won’t get good results in windy conditions because the wind will interfere with the gas.

• Cheaper. Stick machines are some of the cheapest welders on the market

• Rusty metal. Metal doesn’t need to be clean before stick welding so it’s good if your metal has bits of rust or paint that you don’t want to clean off.

SMAW CONS

• Unable to weld thin metal. Stick welding is very hot and isn’t suitable for welding 18-guage sheet metal.

• Clean up time. SMAW doesn’t produce clean welds, and there is a lot of spatter. If you want to reduce clean up time, stick isn’t for you.

• Skill level required. Stick is a harder process to learn as you need to learn to strike the arc.

• Slow process. Stick welding is slower because rods need to be changed whereas wire welding uses a continuous spool of wire.

METAL INERT GAS WELDING

Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding (also known as GMAW) is a really popular type of welding that’s frequently used for welding low-alloy steels and is well suited for welding auto-body parts and homerepair projects.

MIG PROS

• Better quality welds. MIG welds produce less spatter so cleanup time is reduced.

• Suitable for thinner metals. MIG is versatile and will easily weld 18-gauge steel.

• Continuous process. You don’t need to change rods like you do with stick; you use a wire spool so you can weld near continuous­ly.

• Easier process: MIG is easier and more reliable. Once you’ve set up the welder, you basically need to hold the gun at a certain distance from the metal and press the trigger.

MIG CONS

• More expensive set up. MIG welders are typically more expensive, and you need a gas cylinder as well, which can add up.

• Not suitable for windy conditions. MIG requires shielding gas to protect the weld from contaminat­ion. In windy conditions, the wind can interfere with the gas and cause the weld to be contaminat­ed.

• Not portable. MIG welders are typically heavier than inverter stick welders and you’ll need to transport a gas cylinder as well.

• Need to clean metal before welding. If you have metal that has rust or paint on you’ll need to clean this off before you can use MIG.

FLUX CORED ARC WELDING

Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW) and MIG welding can both typically be performed with a standard MIG machine. The key difference: MIG requires use of a gas bottle; FCAW doesn’t.

FCAW PROS

• Continuous process. FCAW uses a spool of flux wire so you don’t need to stop and change rods.

• Portable. FCAW doesn’t require shielding gas because the wire contains a flux which protects the weld from contaminat­ion. You don’t need a gas cylinder.

• Can be used in windy conditions. The lack of shielding gas means FCAW can be performed in windy conditions without threat of interferen­ce.

• Basic operation. Similar to MIG, FCAW is a basic process and even easier than MIG because you don’t need to connect a gas cylinder.

• Rusty metal. FCAW is forgiving on metal that has rust or isn’t clean.

FCAW CONS

• Produces lots of fumes. Smoke and fumes are released from the flux coating so you’ll need to be in a well-ventilated area, ideally wearing a respirator.

• Requires clean up. In addtion to fumes, high amounts of spatter are released.

• Not suitable for aluminum

• Not suitable for thinner metals. The thicker wire and higher temperatur­e makes FCAW unsuitable for welding thin-gauge steel.

• More expensive wire. FCAW has a cheaper start-up cost than MIG; however, wire is more expensive and can add up over time.

Hopefully these tips should help you choose the right welding process for you and get you even better results on the farm. See www.hobbyfarms.com/welders for more advice on choosing a welder.

 ??  ?? Stick welding is popular with outdoor welders due to it not being affected by wind and portabilit­y, which is great for a farm.
Stick welding is popular with outdoor welders due to it not being affected by wind and portabilit­y, which is great for a farm.
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 ??  ?? Stick welding (above) allows for welding on metal with mill scale or rust.
Stick welding (above) allows for welding on metal with mill scale or rust.
 ??  ?? MIG welding (right) is easy to learn, making it a good choice for home and hobby welders.
MIG welding (right) is easy to learn, making it a good choice for home and hobby welders.

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