Jump to content

Doing a welding course - notes as I go


Recommended Posts

As it's come up a few times on here I thought I'd post up about the experience as I go.

Although I flatter myself that I can fly a MIG welder satisfactorily, I recently acquired a TIG set which I definitely can't pretend to use.

So, with that in mind I signed up for an evening course in welding at Basingstoke College of Technology (BCOT). I also signed up my better half as she's forever saying things like "you could make a coffee table like this" or drooling over replica AC Cobras and I've got enough projects of my own :lol:

A friend of mine is also on the course, he's no stranger to engineering but he's not done welding before, he's bought himself a MIG/TIG set to play with in his retirement.

The course is XEBL016 should anyone be interested, it's 8 weeks and costs £260.

So, last night was the first session;

Most of the lesson was talk - introductions, where the toilets are, health & safety, then on to the very basics of welding - the dangerous stuff (fire, fumes, electricity, burns, UV) , what the course will be (4 weeks MIG, 4 weeks TIG), what the equipment is and how it works, gloves, helmets, overalls etc., and a demo from the tutor just putting a bead of weld down, the showing the same again with too much wire, not enough wire, and with the gas off.

He covered some setup - volts, amps, wire speed. How the welder works, how the torch works, how to set wire tension*, holding the torch, moving the torch and supporting the torch.

Then we each got a lump of 4mm plate to squirt some metal at - thankfully I managed that without too much trouble :ph34r: for others as it was the first time they've picked up a torch it took a few goes but the atmos is relaxed - just go into the bay and squirt away, if you want another lump of plate just ask. I suspect this was as much just so people could have actually made a weld on their first night as anything as there's no analysis of the results at this point.

After this first step, we then got a 50x100 lump of 4mm plate, draw 3 chalk lines on the end and try to lay 4 beads - the first 3 (trying to) follow the lines and the 4th following the 3rd as a guide. Again, this was just about within my abilities :ph34r: others results were varied as obviously this is still only the 2nd or 3rd weld they've ever done.

These 2nd test pieces were initialled and I believe we're going to conduct a post-mortem on them next week :lol:

No word on metal prep, no grinders etc. - they teach apprentices there during the day, as the tutor said "I like teaching evenings because you guys WANT to be here" and I suspect they don't allow access to any power tools they don't absolutely have to. I'm expecting metal prep (cleaning, chamfering etc.) will come up later, certainly by TIG-o-clock.

The tutor said the aim is that, by week 4, everyone will be able to lay a good MIG bead on a couple of different joints, and by the end of the course we'll all be familiar with TIG if not exactly welding gods, which is pretty reasonable as everything I've ever heard about TIG is that it's 99% practice plus another 99% practice :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tig is definitely  99% practice, repeat, then if your not using it regularily 99% practice repeat you get the message although after your training session perhaps you will only be 99% practice no repeat😉 will be interesting to see how you get on might mean my self taughtness may have to go educational enjoy, both of you regards Stephen 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, FridgeFreezer said:

I did it and didn't set fire to myself yet" :D

Fixed that for her :D

Very cool. A friend of mine looked at booking but it was already over subscribed. 

I need to get some torch time with the TIG. I'm still at the stage where its awkward, frustrating and unrewarding. I think being pretty good with other welding processes makes it even harder going back to sucking at welding! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

51 minutes ago, lo-fi said:

I think being pretty good with other welding processes makes it even harder going back to sucking at welding! 

In a nutshell ! don't know about anyone else but in my younger days all my welding was with oxy acetylene and I  got pretty dammed good at it then I discovered mig. When I  bought my tig I thought electric gas welding like riding a bike gonna be pretty good at this also not a hope in hell suck suck suck etc bloody hard learning to ride that bike again , the only adage for me is buy a foot pedal it does make life easier regards Stephen 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 hours ago, lo-fi said:

A friend of mine looked at booking but it was already over subscribed.

Yeah they're booked up till November I think, they're commissioning more MIG/TIG bays (and removing Oxy as they can't justify the expense / risk) so things may well improve.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 hours ago, FridgeFreezer said:

everything I've ever heard about TIG is that it's 99% practice plus another 99% practice

The remaining 1% (unless you're Nige) is swearing when you touch down the tungsten and have to spend time resharpening it / cleaning it up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here we go...

#1 test piece - you can see in the left one the "EEK, FIRE!" start and then going a bit too fast, by the 3rd bead a bit more relaxed, going slower.

Right one is my effort, getting used to the settings.



This is the 2nd test piece - doing 4 parallel lines. Something went wrong here :lol: possibly getting too far away from the surface.

Mine's on the right, gradually getting used to the settings but I still can't follow a straight line :ph34r:

The setup was dictated by the tutor and for these pieces he said it should be taking 7 seconds to run the bead which felt quite slow to me and led to the wavering in my first & 2nd run as I was trying to work out the pace. Well, that's my excuse anyway :SVAgoaway:


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have been looking for this sort of course around here but without luck, it's either the day release type course or the full week like a company might send you on at £1200. Very envious you have such things!

I was nervous of buying second hand or cheap as if it was faulty I spend a long time going nowhere and managed to convince myself that rather than spend £1200 on training I could buy a new tig and have a go so I went down to R-tech and used them as much as I could for a first lesson. It was well worth while and there was no pressure to buy. They were almost shocked that I wanted to take one away with me - not sure what that says about my image. I was doing some pretty good welds on steel and aluminium by the end. I've got the set setup at home and folded some steel sheet into a tray, I'm just plucking up the courage to actually try to stick it together without someone stood over my shoulder telling me why it's going wrong and how to correct it. Look forward to your write up!


Tray I'm going to try to weld, I promise the red isn't blood!

20200120_172313.jpg.4ab1ce3f80c87efccc4a794596035bf0.jpg 20200120_180100.jpg.396d967128d930a1fd6429c1efa3b394.jpg

Had to make a tray to hold a second gas bottle on the welding table, didn't try to tig that, welds aren't too bad with the old migmate! Don't ask me to work upside down though, can't do that. 


Excuse the mess but I'm coming to you for advice when I get it all wrong :unsure: Space for a plasma too... 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had one a few years ago but couldn't get on with it. It was a very cheap one I bought from china on new years eve after a drink and whilst it did cut well it wasnt easy to use accurately and cleanly. A friend pestered me to sell it to him as he had some cars to cut up so I did. I think if I get another one it will have to be the hf start type which does seem to bump the price up. 


It was a cut 40, I forget the make, cobra or something. Some of my efforts with it;





25mm cut from both sides around the hammer head;


Edited by Cynic-al
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I made a crib sheet based on what I found online to remind myself whilst I'm sat at the machine, some of it should be relatable to other machines, if you know better explanations for things let me know and I will update it. 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/hmkxxbqkxt5nh9s/Tig Welder User Guide.pdf?dl=0


My first go was not as good as I wouldve liked, although I have thought up some extenuating circumstances I wont bore you with them, we can just say more practice required! Some of the runs got going reasonably well once I was away from the corners and its stuck, but not great. 


here is what it's for anyway, an ash pan, bit of cleaning up and it will be good enough! 



  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you watched any of these videos on line:




I've had a cheap Tig welder for years and never really got the hang of it. I ended up buying an Everlast 255EXT and really focusing on it, watching all these videos over and over and hours of practice. Couldn't take a course because of my random work schedule but these two guys are great teachers. For the price I don't think you can beat Everlast for performance and functions, I can't afford a comparable Miller.

I pretty much use 2% Lanthanated 3/32" tungsten on everything, rarely thoriated on aluminum but that's it, keeps it simple. I like the chart you've come up with, good baseline.



  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...

Important Information

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience. By using our website you agree to our Cookie Policy