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How Does Welding Work?

When you have two pieces of metal that you want to join together, there's no better way to do it than by welding. The idea is simple; you heat your work pieces up to the point that they actually melt and flow together creating a very strong bond.

What Types of Welding Are There?

The term applies to several different techniques for joining materials. Unlike brazing which uses molten brass to join two dissimilar materials, welding only works for joining the same metal. All forms require a heat source and most also require some form of gas cylinder:

  • Oxy-Acetylene Welding: Invented in the nineteenth century, this form uses two cylinders of welding gas: One cylinder of oxygen and another cylinder of acetylene. Gas from the two tanks mixes in a torch, and used with a welding rod to create welds. It can be tricky to balance everything and requires a constant supply of gas, but it was the only option for many years.
  • Arc Welding: Most modern welders use some form of arc welding where you pass a current from an electrode through the workpiece and use that to generate heat. Most arc welders also use some form of inert gas as a shielding layer.
  • MIG Welding: MIG Welders are among the most common pieces of equipment available today. They use a continuous feed electrode that puddles on the metal, and a cylinder of shielding gas to keep air away from the weld.

What About Equipment?

The first thing to consider before you start welding is safety. A gas cylinder can contain many pounds of gas under high pressure just waiting to get out. You need to always make sure your tanks are in good condition and replace them when they show signs of corrosion. Even shielding gas can be dangerous if your cylinder springs a leak. Every welder needs certain pieces of safety gear:

  • Mask: Both arcs and torches produce more light than the human eye can safely stand. A welding mask protects your eyes against damage and lets you see what you're doing.
  • Gloves: Gloves protect you from the heat of your welder, both the steel and the welding gun.
  • Shielding Gas: Shielding gas not only prevents a porous weld from too much air in the weld puddle, but also protects you from sparks. Always fill up you tank and check your gas supply before you start working.


The days when every welder had to worry about filling two heavy cylinders with gas before work are long gone. A smaller, lower pressure cylinder of shielding gas is all the supply most people need. Just be sure to check your gas cylinder before you work and don't forget your welding gas. There are lots of other things to consider when doing metalwork, but if you can't weld, you will always be at a disadvantage.