I completed an introductory welding course at Conestoga College last year, and bought myself a small oxy-acetylene torch outfit. I figured my first real project should be a welding cart. I had my gas cylinders freestanding up against a wall, and that’s just not very safe. I try to cultivate a healthy fear of compressed gas cylinders. Especially cylinders containing oxygen and quasi-stable fuel gases. There are very good reasons for being afraid of gas cylinders.
I know you can buy a welding cart, and it would probably cost a lot less than I spent on materials alone. But if I did that, I wouldn’t have learned anything. I thought it would be useful to gain more experience before I embarked onto some of the projects that I learned welding for in the first place. And good thing I did, because one of the things I learned is that I’m a piss-poor welder.
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Last year I took an evening course in Basic Welding at Conestoga College. It was just an introductory course for people who want to learn how to weld for their own projects. No credit toward welding as a profession.
It covered oxy-acetylene and a bit of GMAW (aka MIG). I like oxy-acetylene, but i didn’t really care for GMAW. With GMAW, I felt like I had no control over the process. I couldn’t get an intuitive grasp of the effects of all the variables (voltage, current, wire feed rate, arc length), and the welding gun nozzle is so big that I can’t see what’s going on in there. With oxy-acetylene, everything is right there in front of you.
Besides, when it’s time to go buy yourself some equipment, an oxy-acetylene rig is cheaper than a reasonably-capable GMAW machine. And a decent GMAW machine may require a new electrical circuit to power it. And you can cut with oxy-acetylene: it’s two tools for the price of one.