Getting Comfortable – Setting Up for a Weld

April 6, 2021

If you’re not comfortable when you start a weld, it can really tank the quality of the final product. Even minor adjustments to position and posture can make a difference in how your weld comes out.

Here are a couple of tips for prepping yourself before a weld so that you’re as comfy as can (practically) be.

1. Rest your hands

Having steady hands can make or break a weld. If you’re working on a bench or otherwise flat surface, support your wrists, forearms or elbows against it.

Being able to lean up against a solid surface will give you more control as you run along a joint; there’ll be less movement in your torch, giving you a more consistent weld. You can set up a wood or metal block to elevate your hands for the same effect if you need to.

If you’re welding vertical or overhead, you can attach a clamp to something nearby, and then use it to lean on instead.

2. Get rid of some weight

If you’re welding out of position, overhead, vertical, you name it, you’re going to be dragging the torch lead along behind you as you go. These can get pretty heavy, especially if you’re holding the torch above your head. That extra weight can build pretty quickly.

Grab a chair, bench, horse or otherwise and drape your torch lead over it. You can eliminate a lot of that extra weight by having something else support the length of the torch so your arms and shoulders don’t get tired so fast.

Placing the welding torch lead on a stool

 3. Use both hands

Welding with both hands is always going to be better. Holding the torch in one hand and using the other for support and guidance will help your weld and keep you stable. Tack your job so that you can have both hands available, and then use both of them to keep your arc and torch steady and consistent.

This doesn’t apply to TIG, as one hand is needed to feed in your filler metal, but it definitely applies to stick and MIG welding.

4. Put something under your knees

If you have to weld on the floor, get something for your knees. If you can move whatever you’re welding off the floor, that’s even better, but kneeling down trying to weld can get painful.

Get an old jacket (the thicker, the better) or knee pads, anything that’s softer than the ground to protect your knees.

5. Make sure you can see

If you can’t see what’s going on, you’re not going to get a nice weld. Make sure that you’ve got a good, clear view of your arc and weld. The best way you can do that is with a good helmet.

The bigger your viewing lens, the more you’ll be able to see out of it. On top of that, keep your helmet clean. If the lens is dirty or scratched, you’re not going to be able to see regardless of how big it is.

For TIG welding, you can get quartz cups. They’re see-through, so you can see what you’re doing better. No more straining your neck trying to get a good view of your weld.

Close up of TIG welding with a quartz cup

6. Flexi torches

Some MIG and most TIG torches come with the option of getting a flexible neck these days. Instead of bending or folding your body and arms in weird ways to reach tight spots, you can just bend the torch neck.

If you’re stick welding, you can bend the electrode where it inserts into the holder if you’re trying to weld at an awkward angle.

7. Tidy your leads

Before you start a weld, just take a moment to make sure that your torch lead, power cables, or anything else that you’ve got plugged in is neat. You don’t want to find halfway through a weld that your torch lead has wrapped itself around your chair or something else, and now it’s tangled and stuck. Keep it tidy.

8. Sit down

If you’re TIG welding, sit down. It sounds super lazy, but seriously, if you can reach the weld sitting, do it. If you don’t have to hunch over and give yourself back problems, that’s a bonus, and it’s going to show in your weld. Sometimes sitting isn’t possible, like if you’re doing an overhead weld, you won’t be able to sit for that, but if you’re working on something at a bench, go ahead and take a seat.

Sitting down, TIG welding a pipe

Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to MIG or stick welding because sparks can land in your lap and burn, rather than just bouncing off and falling down if you were standing. Instead, if you can’t sit, try to lean a hip, shoulder or elbow against something for that added stability.

Welding might not be the comfiest thing you’ve ever done, but there are a few things you can do that will make a job feel a lot better.

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