The following are my non-technical definitions for some
basic welding terms. These are good for the home hobbyist and those just coming
into the welding field. Most people don't want to sit down and learn all the welding
vocabulary and I don't blame 'em, I didn't either. But if you will learn these,
you'll be a cut above most beginners.
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Arc Blow is the arc
going everywhere that you DON'T want it to go. It only happens in DC, happens
a lot welding up into a corner, and is believed to be caused somehow by magnetisim.
It sometimes helps to move the work clamp to a different position on the steel.
Cutting can be done with a 6010 or 6011 rod with the machine turned
up to "warp 10". (very hot) Other rods can be used but these two are
the best. It is where you cut through the steel using the force of the arc. It
doesn't make the prettiest cut, but will do in a pinch when you don't have a torch.
Gouging is where the steel or metal is cut using an arc from a carbon
electrode. The electrode is solid carbon wrapped in copper for conductivity. The
stinger has compressed air and when a button is pushed, it blasts air at the molten
metal being cut. The machine is turned to "warp 10" which means you
are using a LOT of amps (heat).
An example of this is when we went to a
job where 5 stainless steel tanks about 10 stories high had almost every weld
flunk an x-ray test. We gouged the weld on the outside, then re-welded them. We
then gouged the welds on the inside and re-welded into our previous weld.
stainless can't be torch cut, and even if it could, the heat would cause it to
warp. Arc gouging keeps the heat concentrated at the cut.
is an element added to a metal. An example is mild steel with chromium (resist
rust), and nickel (makes it less susceptible to oxidation which is rust) which
makes a form of stainless steel.(the most common stainless is 304)
Current reverses back and forth from positive to negative on a sine
wave. It makes for an erratic arc on most welding processes and that is why DC
Amperage measures electricity flowing and is
the same as current, which is your heat.
Arc is what is between
the end of the electrode and the base metal. The resistance causes heat.
Welding is a weld made by equipment such as robots.
Strip is a strip or section of steel butted up to an open gap between
two pieces of steel. 6010 welding rods can be used for open butt welding, but
7018 cannot and requires a backing strip to provide a surface for the electrode
to weld to. Some backup strips are cut off and some are left in place.
- the deposited filler metal on and in the work surface when the wire or electrode
is melted and fused into the steel. A stringer bead is a narrow bead with only
a dragging motion or light oscillation, while a weave bead is wider with more
Bevel - an angle cut or grinded at the edge of the work-piece
to allow more penetration for a stronger weld.
Blown-up - what you
will be if you weld or cut on containers with fumes. NEVER weld or cut on any
container unless it is new or you know it has been cleaned and safety certified!
Containers can be toxic, flammable, or explosive.
Brush - steel
wire bristled hand brush, disc brush for a hand grinder, cup brush for hand grinder,
or wheel brush for bench grinder. They're used to clean mill scale, oxidation,
dirt, oil etc. off of steel surfaces. Cleanliness is of utmost importance on the
work piece to assure there will be no weld defects. It is important to use a stainless
steel brush and mild steel brush correctly.
Build-Up Weld - building
up the surface of a steel part such as the teeth of a sprocket, surface of an
idler wheel (keeps the track in place on tracked vehicles such as bull dozers
or cranes), or bucket on a front-end loader. In most cases it is far less expensive
to have a welder build up a component than it would be to replace the part. Build-up
welds are usually done with hard surface electrodes.
It is also a good way
for a new welding student to learn proper re-starts and tie-ins.
Out - failing a weld test because of defects in the welds. "He busted
out on his test plates and didn't get hired."
Butt Joint -
just what it sez'
two pieces butted up against each other. Only the top and
bottom surface can be welded. Without good penetration, this weld does not have
the strength of a multi-pass fillet weld, or beveled joint.
the last bead of a groove weld, it can be made with a weave motion back and forth,
or with stringer beads tied into each other.
Also what you need to wear
on your head when welding Mig vertical, or any process overhead, to keep hot sparks
off of your head. (see Cussing.) Welder's hats have a small bill and are so high
they need a warning light to keep airplanes from crashing into them. This is so
they can be turned and pulled down over your ear when welding pipe and your head
is tilted. You don't EVEN want a glob of molten metal going into your ear! You
can literally hear it sizzle as you suffer through the burn. Welding hats could
win any ugly hat contest with all the crazy polka dots, paisley and other crazy
Cardinal Sin of Welding - see undercut.
- ah, this is when the metal or steel is fused (joined) grasshopper.
Electrode - That is the flux on the filler metal of a welding rod. They used
to use bare rods only in the horizontal position. Someone noticed that a rusty
rod worked better than a brand new one so they started experimenting with different
coatings on different rods. They found that some coatings produced a shielding
gas that protected the weld pool from contaminants in the atmosphere. Contaminants
cause Porosity and Longitudinal Cracking. With the weld pool protected the weld
was smooth and sound and could be used in different positions rather than just
flat. I can only imagine how many times those bare rods would get stuck!
- It is when a Fillet Weld bead sags inward from the root Face to the Root.
Insert - This is where a filler wire or rod is in a gap and you weld it into the
base metal along with your wire or rod. It becomes one with the weld grasshopper.
Convexity - This is when a Fillet Weld bead protrudes outwards from the Root
to the Face.
Corner Joint - One of the five basic weld Joints. It
is when the edges of two plates butt up to each other at a 90 degree angle. It
usually provides a groove to fill providing good Penetration.
or Cover Plate - Clear glass or plastic lens in a hood or cutting goggles
that protects the #5 (for cutting) or #10,11, 12 lens (for welding) from getting
spatter on them. Gripes the heck oughta' me when a student forgets to put it in
when they change out the lens. They then weld with it and the spatter ruins the
# glass which ain't cheap! You should change the cover plates often as they restrict
your view when they get spattered or scratched up.
Crack - Where
the weld fractures or breaks apart. A good example would be welding on cast iron.
If it is not pre-heated and post-heated right, or if the wrong electrode is used,
it will crack BIG TIME. Sometimes the crack will run right in front of the weld
pools as you weld.
You should pre-heat, post-heat, and run cast iron rod,
which has a nickel content. A trick to keep a crack from spreading is to drill
a hole before and after the crack you are about to weld. Run the weld, and then
fill the holes. The holes keep the crack from spreading.
At the end of the weld bead you burn into the steel without depositing any filler
metal which leaves a depression in the base metal. When doing a Restart, you want
to start at the end of the crack, weld back into where the weld stopped, and then
proceed in the direction you were welding. This pre-heats and gives a good Tie-in
into the bead you just laid.
Critical Temperature - This is when
the base metal transitions from solidus to liquidus as you heat it during the
welding process. It's right at that point where it goes from being solid mass,
to melting and becoming liquid. This is a great term to discuss at a cocktail
party to make you sound smart, ESPECIALLY if your audience doesn't know much about
Current - In the electric circuit the current is the flow
of electricity. What you're welding on resists the flow and that forms heat. AMPS
are the measurement of your current. To get a bit more technical, current is negatively
charged electrons passing through a conductor, which is usually a wire.
- What we store oxygen and acetylene in for cutting, and SHIELDING GAS for the
MIG and TIG welding processes. They come in different sizes and you wanta' research
before you buy. If you get too small of one, you'll get real tired of refilling
it all the time.
Defect - Something that ain't right with the weld.
Main defects are Longitudinal Cracks, Porosity, Slag Inclusion, and the "Cardinal
Sin" of welding
Depth of Fusion - How deep your
filler metal penetrates into the metal from the surface.
- DC welding is the smoothest welding producing the least amount of spatter. The
current is flowing one way, from negative to positive. (Cathode to Anode)
is similar to when you turn on a water hose and the water flows out. With DC the
current ALWAYS flows the same direction. You can however, change your welding
leads to change Polarity.
Direct Current Electrode Negative - Electricity
flowing OUT OF the welding Rod or Wire is dispersed into the work piece therefore
giving less penetration. About 1/3 of the heat is on the end of the rod and 2/3
on the work piece. This is what you want to use for thin gauge metals.
Current Electrode Positive - Electricity flowing INTO the welding Rod or Wire
and therefore putting more heat at the rod or wire end. This gives you 2/3 heat
on the rod and 1/3 on the work piece, which gives greater penetration for thick
metals because the arc force digs into the steel before depositing filler metal.
- Is the metal bending and staying bent without breaking.
- This is how long a machine can run in a ten minute period of time before
10% = 1 minute out of every 10.
20% = 2 minutes
out of every 10.
On up to 100% which would run the full time without stopping.
a machine in a factory or construction site you'd want a 100% duty cycle.
your hobby workshop you might get by with 20 or 30%.
Even in the busiest
factory there's gonna' be off time in a ten minute period. If you're stick welding,
you might run a little over a minute. Then you're gonna' raise your hood, check
out what everyone else is doing, think about what you're gonna' do that night,
chip the slag, brush the weld, check what time it is, change rods, and FINALLY
start back to welding.
Edge Joint - The outer edge of two plates
butted up 90 degrees parallel to each other.
Edge Preparation - Before
welding the edge of a plate or pipe, care is taken to ensure a sound weld. It
may be torch cut or beveled, machined with a grinder, filed, or all three.
- Electrodes come either covered with flux, or just bare wire. In the field an
electrode is called a "rod" in stick welding, and "wire" for
Mig and Flux Cored Arc Welding.
There are MANY different types of electrodes.
WWII bare rods were used that could only be used in the flat position. It was
VERY easy to stick these rods, and I can only imagine how frustrating it must
have been to use them. One day a guy noticed that a rusty rod he picked up welded
better than the brand new ones.
Experimenting with different types of coatings
like silicon and potassium, it was determined that flux on a rod not only helped
it burn better, but produced a shielding gas that protected the weld pool from
Electrode Holder - A hand clamp that holds a welding
rod and conducts electricity out of the rod in DIRECT CURRENT ELECTRODE NEGATIVE,
or into the rod in DIRECT CURRENT ELECTRODE POSITIVE.
Face - On plate
or pipe welding there is a ROOT PASS, HOT PASS, FILLER PASS, and CAP. The root
penetrates through the back of the plate, the cap is on the surface which you
are welding, which is the face.
Fan: Welding machines have a fan
to cool the machine down and keep it from overheating. (see DUTY CYCLE) Some fans
run constantly, while others run "on demand" which means it comes on
when necessary and clicks off when not needed.
(It is a good idea to blow
out the welding machine with compressed air at least once a month. This keeps
dust from accumulating and possibly interfering with the inside electrical workings.
All machines have vent slots and each slot should be blown out.)
Metal - Iron comes from ore that is mined from the Earth. See How
Steel is Made. Ferrous means that the metal is iron, or iron with alloys.
Metal - This is metal added to the weld pool. A weld can be made with or without
filler metal. Thin gauge metal is sometimes welded by melting the two base metals
Flash Burn - This is a burn from the radiation produced
from the ULTRA VIOLET rays from the welding arc. It can burn the skin similar
to sunburn, and even blister the cornea. You don't realize it until hours later
when it feels like someone is rubbing hot sand in your eyes.
Two of my
students were welding too close to each other and I told them to move, but they
said they were just fine. Yeah, what do I know? I've only been doing this 30 freaking
years compared to their three or four months!
Welp, that night they were
in the emergency room getting salve for their eyes and a nice $300 emergency room
You should never be where you can see the welding arc light without
protective lenses, even if it is just out of the side of your eyes. In my shop
we announce loudly "WATCH YOUR EYES!" before striking an arc to warn
you to cover your eyes.
Fillet Weld - The king of welds because it
is used in so many applications, it is mostly used on Tee joints. . (See JOINTS.)
pieces of metal butted together at a 90 degree angle, a bead is run half way into
each piece. Depending on the thickness, it could take one bead, or multiple beads
TIED-IN to each other.
Fillet Weld Face - The surface or top of
Fillet Weld Leg - From the intersection of the joint to
the end of the weld. There will be a leg for each plate.
Toe - Is the end of the weld at the end of the leg. Again there will be one
for each plate.
Fillet Weld Root - Where the weld begins at the intersection
of the joined plates.
Fillet Weld Throat - The distance from the
root to the face.
For the above FILLET WELD definitions, see Miller's Tig
Welding page for a good illustration
Meter - The pressure in a SHIELDING GAS bottle can be up to 2400 lbs. per
inch. The flow meter reduces this to a working pressure, usually around 20 to
25 cubic feet per hour.
Cleans the surface and when burned
makes a SHIELDING GAS that protects the weld POOL, or PUDDLE from atmospheric
contaminants that cause DEFECTS.
Flux-Cored Arc Welding (FCAW) -
Long thin flat strip is run through a series of dies until it begins to curl up
on the sides. FLUX is then added and it continues through the dies until it is
rolled into a tubular wire.
Similar to SOLID STEEL WIRE, it is rolled and
used similar to MIG usually set to DIRECT CURRENT ELECTRODE NEGATIVE. When the
wire is melted to become FILLER METAL, the FLUX burns and forms a SHIELDING GAS.
no SHIELDING GAS is needed, so it can be used in drafty areas or even in the wind,
unlike it's cousin MIG.
Free Bend Test - Also called a guided bend
test, this is a destructive test. A coupon is cut from a test plate, the weld
grinded, then the coupon (usually 1 ½ "wide by 7" long) is bent
in a JIG. It is then VISUALLY INSPECTED for cracks and defects.
is one way of demonstrating QUALIFICATIONS to become certified. Welding is one
of the most demanding trades because the welder always has to show they are qualified.
I have 30 years of experience in the shop, Iron Workers Union, and education,
yet if I went to a job on say, a power house, with a welder whose been in the
field only a couple of years, I'd still have to take a test with them!
demanding jobs require X-RAY qualifications which are non-destructive, but show
Fumes - Whether you are a skilled JOURNEYMAN, or NEWBIE,
you should always be careful of fumes when cutting and welding.
zinc fumes which make you sick, to more dangerous phosgene gas which can be emitted
from the UV RAYS around some cleaning solutions, FUMES can be dangerous!
make sure you have proper ventilation, especially in confined quarters!
- If you purchase a welder to use around the house, make sure you have the proper
fuse so you don't blow everything out. In older houses, make sure the wiring has
been updated or you could cause a fire when they overheat.
- As stated in COALESCENCE, fusion is the melting and becoming one with the base
metal or PARENT METAL you are welding grasshopper.
This is also a word
for what the doctor wants to do to my ankle that I shattered when I fell three
stories. Wants to take a chunk of my hip bone and fuse it to my ankle. Trouble
is, it'd take longer for the hip to heal than the dang ankle! So
operation ain't gonna' happen. Heck, it only hurts when I'm awake anyway!
- An electrochemical process where mild steel is hot-dipped into liquid zinc to
make it anti-corrosive. I was surprised to learn it has been done for 150 years!
you weld on galvanized steel you have to burn through the zinc coating first and
it produces FUMES that can make you feel sick like you've been punched in the
Drinking milk before, during and after welding is supposed to help, but
proper ventilation and not breathing it at all is best.
Gas Metal Arc
Welding (GMAW) - see "MIG"
Gas Tungsten Arc Welding
- see "TIG"
Groove Weld - When a very strong weld is needed,
such as where two columns are spliced together on a high-rise, it is important
to get the maximum penetration and fusion. This is done by cutting a BEVEL so
that you can weld solid from the ROOT, to the FACE of the PARENT METAL.
Affected Zone - Something many welders do not consider, but they should. Anytime
you weld on metal or steel, you are heating the area next to the weld. After it
is heated, it cools at different rates depending on the temperature in the shop
On construction projects in the winter, this can be very rapidly.
Both the heating and cooling can affect the properties depending on what base
metal you are welding on.
The heat affected zone on mild steel is usually
no big deal. However, if you weld on cast iron, for example, without properly
pre-heating and post-heating, it will crack right before your eyes.
- Relatively new, I first heard of them about 13 years ago. A power source for
welding machines that is much more efficient than the normal transformers most
machines use, and therefore much smaller units.
When I first started welding
thirty years ago in a black iron shop, I used a welder that looked like a big
atomic bomb with a box on top of it. It was at least four feet wide, two feet
deep and about three feet tall.
Today they have machines that can do everything
that one could, plus some and they're the size of a small suit case which is much
more convenient for the shop and field.
Iron Workers - There
are a couple of meanings here. The first is the union I belong too, the International
Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers. As
the title suggest, we work on structures, everything from high rise office towers,
to dams, power houses etc. After a 3 year apprenticeship, I became a structural
welder. There are other gangs (crews) such as the Raising Gang, Plumb Gang, Bolt-up
Gang, and Miscellaneous Gang. Although I've worked on them all, I spent most of
my time on various Welding Gangs seeing as how welding is my true love!
is also the term for a machine, both HUGE ones, and those small enough to be portable
on jobs. It can shear metal, cut angles, and punch holes. You're gonna' invest
a minimum of around a couple of thousand for a smaller model. Don't even want
to think what the big ones cost.
Intermittent Weld: A very common
mistake in welding is welding it too much! A lot of welders, especially those
new to the trade, figure "the more the weld the better it'll hold."
Well, it AIN'T true! Many times one or two inches of weld every couple of inches
will hold just as good as a continuous weld.
On most jobs, whether in the
shop or field, the welds will be on a blueprint so that you will know just what
to do. Engineers determine what kind of weld is the best for the joint involved.
There are two types of intermittent welds. I'll give an example from a
black iron fabrication plant I once worked at:
1) "Chain" On a
twenty foot beam, we would find the center at say, ten feet. We would mark two
inches, one inch on each side of the center. Then, from the center of that weld,
we'd make a mark twelve inches away. On that mark, we'd measure one inch on each
side. That way we were measuring from center to center on each weld. In most construction,
just about everything is measured from center.
On the other side of the
beam, we'd mirror the marks of the first side.
Obviously, the ends of the
beam would not come out right in sequence, so it was important that we made sure
and put two inches on each end even if it was right next to the other two inch
marks we had made.
2) "Staggard" After making the marks on one
side of the beam, we would place the other side in-between the marks on the first
These welds are strong enough to hold and it is overkill to weld
these joints solid. When overzealous welders over weld, they are screwing up in
- They are heating the base metal which can change
its properties adversely.
- They are spending unnecessary time. In the shop
and field "Time is MONEY!"
- They are wasting materials by using
rods which are costing more and more each year.
Jig - Jigs
hold the metal or steel you are working on in place as you are fabricating. They
can be steel clamped with a vice or C-clamp, bolts tack-welded to a table, or
very elaborate frames. Positioners in large fab shops hold the work piece, spin,
rotate, or revolve so that you can weld in the flat or horizontal position.
- Intersection where two different sections of PARENT METAL meet. To be listed
under WELDING JOINTS. On a power house, they'd ask how many joints we welded each
There were many different types such as beam to beam, beam to column,
x braces etc. Although it was not an accurate account, it gave the foreman an
idea of what was getting done.
Excellent chapter on JOINTS is Miller's
- When welding an open butt, or open groove weld JOINT with STICK, MIG or TIG,
a "keyhole" will open up. When the sides of the plate burn away on each
side of the WELD POOL a hole is formed which allows for good TIE IN and PENETRATION.
The keyhole must not be allowed to grow too large or the WELD POOL will
waterfall out the back of the joint.
If the keyhole grows too large, stop
welding immediately, let the plate cool and make the proper adjustment to correct
the problem. (Too much heat, wrong rod angle, or staying too long in the puddle
may be the cause.)
Labor Unions - A good site listing trade unions
my experience as an Iron Worker, I'd say you'd have the most chance of welding
in the following
Leads - These are the lines from the machine to what
you are welding that carry the current. They are lots of copper wires woven into
one to conduct electricity, then covered with a non-conductive rubber or plastic
It is important to make sure there are no rips or a tear in the leads
exposing bare wire which could arc on a grounded surface. Besides being a shock
or fire hazard, it would especially be bad if it came in contact with a pressurized
Liquidis - A word that makes you sound smart when you
mean the lowest temperature that steel or metal is liquid. Guess what "solid"
is called? (See SMART TALK)
Machine Welding - Equipment performs
the weld while a person watches to make sure it is working right. They will also
visually inspect the completed weld. Whether with robotics, or machine welding,
most companies prefer someone who has actually welded in the field because they
have a "feel" for it.
Journeyman welders can actually feel the
weld TIE-IN to the steel. When I'm STICK WELDING with 7018, I can literally feel
the rod give ever so slightly as it coalesces with the steel.
Welding - A person is doing the actual welding. In SMAW (stick) they are holding
the STINGER and manipulating the WELDING ELECTRODE to control the WELD POOL. In
MIG they are using a Mig gun feeding wire to do the same. In TIG they're using
a torch and manually feeding a filler rod.
Melting Rate - How much
of the rod (electrode), wire, or TIG rod is melted in a certain amount of time.
Melting Point - Ahhhh grasshopper, this is where the metal goes
from SOLIDUS to LIQUIDUS. See SMART TALK.
MIG (GMAW or Gas Metal
Arc Welding)- It may be technically called GMAW, but in the shop and field
all I ever heard was Mig.
Mig welding uses a solid steel wire rolled up
on a spool and fed through a welding lead with a liner in it. Drivers push, pull
or both to feed the wire through the lead to the WELDING GUN.
It uses several
different mixtures but the most I've used is either stratight carbon dioxide,
or a mixture of the inert gas argon and CO2 (75/25 is common. 75% Argon, 25%CO2)
to shield the weld PUDDLE from the atmosphere.
2 - Basic Welding Terms
list of Welding Terms is brought to you by Keen Ovens, leader in Welding Storage