How to Use a MIG Welder

By ced •  Updated: 02/18/22 •  8 min read

A MIG welder is a popular tool for home users. It offers enough power to create a strong join between metals. However, it’s also very easy to use. Because of this, you won’t need a wealth of experience to use this type of welder. Let’s look at everything you need to start welding like a pro.

Where is MIG Welding Used?

The MIG welder uses a wire electrode to heat an arc. This forms a short circuit. The anode is the welding gun while the cathode is the material that you are seeking to weld. The wire will then come out of the welder, to join the pieces of metal together. This article goes into more depth about how this technology works.

There are a dozen of ways that this technology can be put to use. It can be used to join aluminum, copper, magnesium, bronze, nickel, and carbon steel. The good news is that it creates a strong bond. Because of this, you will be able to use it for a wide range of purposes.

Tips on Choosing a MIG Welder

There are plenty of MIG welders that you can choose from. But this can make finding the right one for you a challenge. Here are some of the things you should be looking for.

First, you should look at the duty cycle. This refers to how long you will be able to use the welder before it needs to cool down. The lower the electrical current, the longer you will be able to use the machine.

It’s also important to consider the size and weight. This is even more important if you have a small garage.

Finally, you should think about the price. You don’t need to spend a fortune to get a high-quality welder. You can purchase one for under $500. For more tips on what to look for check out this guide to budget MIG welders.

Preparing your MIG Welder

The first thing that you need to do is get the device ready. You will need to adjust the settings on the welder, depending on the thickness of the materials that you want to join. You will also need to consider how thick your wire is. This will determine what you will need to set the voltage and wire feed speed at. On most machines, there will be a chart to help you find the right settings.

The next thing that you need to consider is the speed at which you want to release the gas. This is designed to shield dangerous gases from the atmosphere. The settings you will need to use will depend on the intensity of the weld. Generally, though, you should be using 20 cubic feet an hour. You don’t want to open the tank to a full crank. This makes it easier to shut off the machine if something goes wrong.

You will also need to attach the grounding clamp. You can either put it on the piece of metal. Or you can attach it to the table. This is important for the conduction of electricity.

Safety Tips

Before you start using the machine, you will need to make sure that you take safety precautions. For example, you will need to make sure that you are using gloves. You should also wear leather clothing. This will be resistant to any sparks. If you don’t have leather, you can also use cotton.

It’s also important to make sure that you are using a mask. You’ll also need to make sure that you are only welding in a well-ventilated room. This ensures that the potentially harmful gases don’t build up.

You also need to clear any flammable objects out of the area. As you are welding, it can throw sparks. You will be so focused on the weld that you might not notice something igniting. It’s a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher on hand.

Preparing the Metal

Before you start welding, you should take a few minutes to prepare the metal first. You should grind down any edges. Ideally, you should have a small V in the area you want to join. This doesn’t need to be pronounced, but it does need to be enough to give the weld pool somewhere to sit while it dries.

It’s also important to clean the metal. This means removing any rust or paint. You might also need to sand it down, so it has a flat surface. Though it only takes five minutes, this is essential to creating a strong join.

Practicing Your Weld

If you are new to welding, it might be a good idea to spend a little time practicing your welding skills. It’s usually best to put both hands on the welding gun. This will give you more control, so you get used to making the precise movements needed to create a strong weld.

When you are starting, you should focus on getting a straight bead. The key to doing this is laying small circles, as you move down the piece of metal. Another option is to think of it as sewing, using tight zagged lines. Each of these welds has a distinctive shape, so you might want to change your approach depending on the type of project you are working on.

It’s also important to consider the speed that you are moving at. Too fast and your welds won’t hold. But if you linger on any area too long, there is a risk that you will burn a hole in the metal. You can measure speed based on the weld height. The ideal weld height is based on the thickness of the materials you are joining. This video goes into more detail about these concepts and shows you examples of what a quality bead should look like.

As you are practicing your beads, you should play around with the welding settings. For example, you might notice that you are cutting small holes in the metal. This means that you are using too much power. Another common problem is finding that there are small splotches of weld, rather than a consistent bead. This indicates that your power is too low. It might also be a problem with the wire speed.

Adding the Weld

Now it’s time to start welding. This is a fairly simple process. Ideally, you’ll want to start at the bottom of the joint and move your way to the top. This can feel unnatural, so it takes a bit of time to get comfortable with this process. As you are learning, you can go from the top to the bottom.

Wait until the weld has dried, then inspect it. Sometimes, you will spot imperfections in the weld that need to be fixed. For example, you might find that you have penetrated too deep and created a small hole. In most cases, you’ll be able to weld over these minor issues.

Once you have made the weld, it’s time to finish off the joint. You can try grinding the area to smooth it out. After you’ve done this, the weld should be barely noticeable. You can then, you can paint over it so the area is the same color as the rest of the metal.

Maintaining Your MIG Weld

Finally, you need to make sure that you are taking care of the MIG welder. There are a few common issues that you might encounter. One of the most common is blocking the end of the welder. This means that the wire will no longer be able to come out. To solve this issue, you will need to unscrew the welding cup and replace the tip.

Another common problem is the wire getting a kink in it. To solve this, you’ll need to pull it out of the weld, this can take a while. Then, you’ll need to re-spool it. Then, turn on the welder and wait for the spooled wire to start coming out. This can take around 30 seconds.

When you aren’t using the welder, you should be careful about the way that you are storing the equipment. First, make sure that all the knobs and dials have been turned to zero. Remove any cables or hoses. Then, put everything under a tarp in a part of the garage where it won’t get disturbed. This will protect it from dust and insects.

You should also be careful about the way you are hanging the gun. You want to curl it up and put it on the gun holder. Make sure that the gun assembly is pointed upwards. This article goes into more detail about how you should be storing your MIG welder equipment.


A MIG welder is a very useful tool, especially if you love working with metal. While it can look intimidating, it isn’t very hard to learn how to use it. You just need to check you have the right power settings. Then, you’ll be able to work on your technique. Before long, you’ll be creating strong joins between pieces of metal.

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