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Add a new dimension to your work with a few basic skills and an inexpensive machine.

Woodworkers are joining the welding renaissance that’s happening among makers. Understanding the fundamentals of welding is key when you begin welding. Here’s how to incorporate beautiful welded frames into your furniture using simple designs and just a few tools. In fact, you can put together a complete welding setup for less than $1,000.

The Fundamentals

Stick, MIG and TIG are the three distinct systems of welding, and each approaches the three main components (arc, filler and flux) of welding differently.

The arc (component 1) is created when an electrical circuit is completed. This high-amperage circuit melts the stock you’re welding and adds more material through the filler. Stick welding generates the arc through the filler rod, MIG welding through the wire feed and TIG through the torch. Many seasoned welders say that it’s best to learn on a stick machine so that you develop a feel for controlling the arc manually then move to MIG and TIG. MIG and TIG processes typically produce the highest quality, aesthetically pleasing welds in difficult materials such as stainless steel or aluminum.

With stick welding, filler material (component 2) is delivered through a solid rod that’s covered in flux. On a MIG machine, wire is fed into the weld by pressing the gun trigger. TIG welding requires manual feeding of a welding rod into the weld that’s created by a separate TIG torch. TIG is considered the most difficult welding system because of the coordination required with both hands.

Arc welding requires a flux (component 3) of some sort to shield the arc from impurities. With stick welding, the flux coats the filler rod and nothing is required but electricity and the rods. The flux on the rod reacts with the arc and creates a gas that shields the puddle….

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