I have wanted to learn to weld for a crazy long time. It just seems to be both a cool and useful skill. I bought a cheap welder years ago and have been playing around with it off and on. I finally decided that in order to really learn to weld, I need a project. And my project is going to be rebuilding my back stairs. I am on vacation from work and have finally gotten started working on them. I spent days digging holes for footings, buying bags of concrete, mixing the concrete and trying to make the forms, etc. Today was a very rainy day. I couldn’t really mix and pour concrete to make my second footing. Instead, I decided to take some time to practice welding so that when the time comes, I’m a bit more comfortable with it. I have some metal tube cutoffs that I could play with, so I did.

I was trying to make nice welds so that I don’t have to spend a ton of time grinding them down when I’m done. Side note, I just realized today that I don’t need to grind all the welds to be perfect. If I make them look nice in the first place, I can just clean the slag off and they’ll look fine.

Anyway, I spent most of the day in my garage trying to weld the scraps together so things looked good. And I was not having much luck. The picture below shows how most of my welds looked.

lousy welding

I had given up and was thinking that maybe I wouldn’t be able to build my stairs out of metal. I watched a bunch of youtube videos that all made suggestions that I had already tried. I saw one where a guy compared the different types of flux-core welding wire. I bought a new spool of Lincoln Electric Innershield (I think it’s called) when I was welding last year and that didn’t make a difference. So many of the videos seemed to say that I had connected the wires on my welder wrong for flux-core welding, that I decided to go back to my garage to check. I had the wires hooked up correctly, but as I was putting the welder back on the cart, I saw the spool of new wire. I had purchased the wire, but never put it in the welder. So I decided to do that and did some test welds. Everything worked so much better!

bad and good welding

And here, I think are pretty decent looking lines.

better welding

Now I’m feeling a bit more confident that I can make this work. I’ll still practice some more before I actually start building anything. But I’m hoping I can be successful.