Welding is a key component of metal fabrication, and one that new fabricators shouldn't underestimate. If you're tackling your first fabrication job, whether in your home garage or your first metal shop, it's important that you understand some of the fundamentals of getting a strong, solid weld. One of the most important parts is starting with a clean surface. If there are any oils or contaminants on the surface of the metal, you're going to risk a poor weld. Here are some key tips for preparing that metal for welding.
Removing Steel Coating
The coating put on some steel products can interfere with the welding process. A weld requires bare metal to adhere, so anything coated isn't going to get the job done. The most effective way to deal with coated steel is with a grinding wheel. Use a moderate-grit pad, though. You don't want to get too aggressive with it, because you'll create uneven spots and divots if you're not careful. Just work your way over the surface slowly, consistently and with even pressure.
Dealing With Visible Rust
Rust is a common problem for exposed metal, because there's nothing to protect it. If you're getting ready to work on a project and your metal components have some visible rust spots, you need to deal with that first. The flakes of rust can actually weaken the structure of a weld, causing it to break over time. If the rust is just surface discoloration, steel wool and a good scrub should do the trick. If it's progressed a bit, a grinding wheel will get the job done.
Removing Prior Weld Residue
If you're working with metal that has some residue left behind from a prior weld, you need to get rid of that before you can apply a fresh weld. You won't get good integration if you try to weld atop existing welding material. Grind away the welding material until you have a smooth surface. That eliminates the buildup and lets the fresh weld form properly.
Metal fabrication doesn't have to be a complex process. When you understand the fundamentals of getting a strong weld, you'll be able to complete your project with the confidence that your welds are going to hold. If you aren't confident in your welding skills or you're not experienced enough with metal fabrication to be ready to dive in on your own, reach out to a local fabrication shop like Legacy Restoration & Construction LLC instead. They can help you bring your project to life.