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Thread: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

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    Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    Howdy,

    Many people buy stick welders and make trailers out of steel tubing with them. So it strikes me as strange to now be reading that square/rectangular steel tubing is one of the hardest things to stick weld, especially in the thinner-walled tubing. Maybe trailers are usually made with the thicker-walled tubing?

    Anyway, I think I should, in keeping with my ability, use the thickest-walled tubing I can, but it gets very expensive when you get to 3/16"! So, I'm going to go get some 14g tubing to practice with. Chucke2009 says it's the thinnest he would consider stick welding (video at end). I know I can't do what he does though, so I may have to get some thicker. Anything worth doing is worth learning to do, so I'll be having fun practicing for a while.

    I will practice with 3/32" rod and avoid 7018 although I have had the most luck with 1/8" 7018 on 1/4" practice plate stock. One thread says 6011 (6011 vs 7018), is best because of control, but the aforementioned Chuck (same video 6013 vs 7018), says 6013 because it was made for thinner metals and so has less penetration. I have DC from my tombstone so I assume DCEP or should I be thinking 7018 with DCEN?

    Oh, these are for mobile tools stands in the garage and won't go over 1 mph, but I want to learn to weld this tubing as I would weld more structurally critical things.

    Somewhere, someone in a video showed how the weakest point of any weld is at the ends or most extreme locations, so it was best to weld tubing from the center of one flat around the corner to the center of the adjacent flat (can't find the link). This way the weakest points, the corners, would not be where the welds start and stop. But WeldingFever must know what he's doing because he has hats, and didn't do that on something he needed to be structurally strong (video at end).

    So here's the plan so far:
    • Use 14 gage tubing (start thicker or is this good);
    • Use either 3/32" 6011 or 6013 (I'd like to learn with the strongest for when I need that, so is that 6011?);


    Do I practice going from flat to flat instead of corner to corner, or does no one really do that, even on trailers?

    Thanks,
    -- Dunn

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    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    -3/32 , 7018 combined with a quick whipping technique with little to no weave while keeping the rod buried in the puddle ,should give you good results.
    - Keep your joints tight a gap would be a booger for a beginner.
    - practice, research and more practice .
    - on that thin wall tubing with a decent weld the tubing itself will fail before the weld regardless of where you start/stop
    - practicing starting and stopping all around the joint will only help you develop skill , because while welding you won't always be able to rotate your work.

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    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    First off, forget what Chuckles says. 3/32 7018, weld in the flat position whenever possible (flip your trailer over) do the butt welds first then the fillets.
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    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    Quote Originally Posted by dosswelding View Post
    -3/32 , 7018 combined with a quick whipping technique with little to no weave while keeping the rod buried in the puddle ,should give you good results.
    - Keep your joints tight a gap would be a booger for a beginner.
    - practice, research and more practice .
    - on that thin wall tubing with a decent weld the tubing itself will fail before the weld regardless of where you start/stop
    - practicing starting and stopping all around the joint will only help you develop skill , because while welding you won't always be able to rotate your work.
    Respectfully, I very strongly disagree - 7018 is not a rod to quick whip.
    Dave J.

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    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    I've welded a tad of thin and small sq tubing over the decades with a stick.Enough to build tRumpz wall. Twice ! Since you seem new get some 3/32 7014. Blue Demon runs well for me lately.Lincoln runs well too. 14 ga is easy enough to weld at about 65 amps. Go with 1/8" wall-10 ga.instead. Its stronger, more forgiving and wont break your wallet. Run it between 85 and 100 amps.See if your machine will blow a hole in it at 100 amps by moving really slow. If so ? back it down just a little and weld on.No manipulation of the rod required. Lay it over and drag it straight along the joint.It'll give you a nice looking weld and plenty tough. Stick like MIG ! .
    Welding tips and trix had a good video of some 7014 a few years back . Go look for it.
    Last edited by Bonzoo; 05-19-2017 at 01:53 AM.

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    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    Quote Originally Posted by MinnesotaDave View Post
    Respectfully, I very strongly disagree - 7018 is not a rod to quick whip.
    Please elaborate.
    Whipping is normally associated with the 60 series rods , but i have had good results with a quick whip running a 7018 on thin wall tubing and pipe patching rusted out sections of handrail and tank walls in the past . To me a whipping technique removes the heat and allows the base metal a second or 2 of cooling to allow the metal to "freeze" to prevent burn thru versus a drag technique with a 70 series rod , on thin wall tubing of course where penetration is not a concern. The trick is to get back in before the slag overcomes you . These days i just pull out my spool gun and go at it doing small repair work but the op does not have wire capabilities so i left that out . Also the op was questioning what was most peoples universal go to rod and i feel it is the 7018 .
    Again not arguing, just wanting to explore a difference of opinion , because i might learn something!

    Scratch the last part the op was not questioning what most peoples universal rod is.
    Last edited by dosswelding; 05-19-2017 at 07:54 AM.

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    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    Howdy,

    Thanks for all the help!

    I appreciate the conversation about whipping, and will certainly try that although to the uninitiated it sounds more likely to blow a hole in the tubing. There's a movie I've always liked mostly because of the line, "What one man can do, another can do." (link at end) I will try to stay in the puddle mostly, with the stick almost vertical, and move quickly ahead and right back into the puddle.

    Bonzoo, in 3/32" I have Hobart 6011 and 7018. In practice just flat welding with 3/32" 6011 close to the edge of 1/8" scrap with the edge in the air, I just blow the edge off. Since I have never tried welding tubing I have a lot to learn with the different types of weld joints. Also when practicing with 1/8" rods on different thicknesses of scrap, I have done much better with 7018 than 6011 or 6013. I have 10 lbs of 7014 I bought to practice with but haven't tried it yet, but that's 1/8" rod so I'll try the 7018; I am growing to think of that as my friend amongst the other acquaintances.

    Also, I will probably end up with 10 gage 1/8" wall thickness and wish I'd waited to read this suggestion before going out and buying some scrap. I thought I was grabbing many different wall thicknesses all 14 gage or thicker but apparently I grabbed many that were the same but just looked different because of flash on the ends and the different tubing shapes. Here's what I got...

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    I thought it would be about $20...

    Me - "I just need these scraps to see what wall thicknesses I can stick weld. Just this $20 or so of scraps"
    - "Looks like about $40
    - "I just need these scraps, that's all
    - "Ok, that'll be $40
    - <I gave him $40>

    (I do not have tubing laying around from previous jobs because I have no previous jobs.)

    I will try some 7018 on 3" or 4" pieces of these tomorrow. Today. Uh oh. It's time to get up.

    It looks like I mislabeled the rightmost tubing. It's thickness is 0.1815" making it 7 gage, and the gentleman at the metal store said that was 1/8". If buying by gage, I will ask for 10g and not 11g as per suggestion, or just buy 1/8" wall thickness. It looks like I ended up with more 11 gage (forgot tape measure and/or calipers, not to mention gloves).

    I must now try my $35 abrasive cutoff saw I bought ages ago, or the Central Machinery (HF) horizontal bandsaw that's been buried unopened under junk for about five years, or the thing I normally use when cutting metal, my Skilsaw with a metal cutting blade in it. What looked like plenty to practice with at the metal supplier doesn't look like much in the garage so I need a bunch of tiny pieces.

    Thanks,
    -- Dunn

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    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    Quote Originally Posted by dosswelding View Post
    Please elaborate.
    Whipping is normally associated with the 60 series rods , but i have had good results with a quick whip running a 7018 on thin wall tubing and pipe patching rusted out sections of handrail and tank walls in the past . To me a whipping technique removes the heat and allows the base metal a second or 2 of cooling to allow the metal to "freeze" to prevent burn thru versus a drag technique with a 70 series rod , on thin wall tubing of course where penetration is not a concern. The trick is to get back in before the slag overcomes you . These days i just pull out my spool gun and go at it doing small repair work but the op does not have wire capabilities so i left that out . Also the op was questioning what was most peoples universal go to rod and i feel it is the 7018 .
    Again not arguing, just wanting to explore a difference of opinion , because i might learn something!

    Scratch the last part the op was not questioning what most peoples universal rod is.
    Based on published results for 7018, whipping and/or long arcs are not to be used with them.

    Other documents list that whipping out of the puddle can allow melted steel to cool without the benefit of slag covering which reduces strength.
    Some specifically list that whipping out of the puddle and/or long arcing (over 1/8") 7018 can result in loss of gas shielding and cause porosity.
    Whipping is best left to the ones designed for it, like 6010/11.

    From page 35 of the Fabricators' and Erectors' Guide to Welded Steel Construction:
    http://www.jflf.org/v/vspfiles/assets/pdf/fabguide.pdf
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    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    I wouldn't make any type of trailer out of anything less than 1/8" thickness. Depending on the use of the trailer I might go heavier.
    If your stick welding a trailer, the only rod I'd use is 7018. Don't whip 7018. Drag it. Forget what Chuckles (the YouTube welding teacher) says to do.
    To me, a long arc with 7018 is 1/16 longer than normal. Don't go any longer.


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    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    Quote Originally Posted by snoeproe View Post
    I wouldn't make any type of trailer out of anything less than 1/8" thickness. Depending on the use of the trailer I might go heavier.
    If your stick welding a trailer, the only rod I'd use is 7018. Don't whip 7018. Drag it. Forget what Chuckles (the YouTube welding teacher) says to do.
    To me, a long arc with 7018 is 1/16 longer than normal. Don't go any longer.
    Does that make him "World Renowned" Mr.Chuckles?
    Dave J.

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    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    The only situation that I have ever really used a whip motion with 7018 was when welding verticle down on thin metal. Even that is a slight motion to keep the slag from over running the puddle. I would either use 7018 or 6011. 6013 and 7014 aren't much for a penetrating electrode. I wouldn't go thinner than 11 gauge on the tubing, being it doesn't take long for thinner tube to rust away.

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    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    I think choice of rod, and technique aren't gonna be as challenging as getting everything tacked up straight and square. Jodie@ WTAT has some good videos on how to tack up some tubing to get it square. He explains in 10 minutes stuff that took me years, and tons of scrap/grinding to figure out. 7014 is probably the easiest rod to use. No need manipulate just drag it on, 7018 is pretty close to the same. Remember, you can just grind steel down and re-weld most of the time. Enjoy your project, have fun welding.
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    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    I like how "weldfever" can say "penetration looks good" just from chipping off the slag and observing the top of the weld bead.
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    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    the edge is a great movie! one of my favorites actually. up there with, well i was going to list a few movies but it got really long. . . . .i like a lot of movies. for instance: crap i did it again

    anyway, your on the right track, and its awesome that you are putting some thought into this. all you have to do now is try some things and post some pics! you will weld fine no matter what.

    i think welding is very easy to learn, but near impossible to perfect.
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    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    I have to agree with the earlier post I would use nothing less than 1/8 tubing but if you proceed with the thin tubing my past experience has been to use 3/32 6010 to weld it as penetration is not going to be a problem . Your going to have issues using 14 ga trying to keep it straight warping and distortion is going to be very visible and the tongue if built out of 14 ga it will bend .

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    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    Quote Originally Posted by Bonzoo View Post
    get some 3/32 7014. Blue Demon... Go with 1/8" wall-10 ga.instead. Its stronger, more forgiving and wont break your wallet. Run it between 85 and 100 amps.,,,
    Welding tips and trix had a good video of some 7014 a few years back . Go look for it.

    Ditto

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    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    Howdy,

    Thanks everyone, for all the help.

    This is a learning process for me and right now is just for tool stands. I do have some 3/32" 6011 but made my first attempts with 3/32" 7018. While I've heard there is more control with the 6011 than the 7018, I'm sure I don't yet have the ability to control anything.

    I cut up the 11 gage tubing I posted a picture of earlier into 4" long pieces and cut some miters on the 2" pieces. Since 11 gage is 0.120" that's the same as 1/8", right? If the 0.005" makes a difference or if there's other differences between the gaged tubing and the 1/8" please let me know.

    For a T joint, I think from watching videos that I should tack in the centers of the 90 degree edges, right? Watching me do this might have seemed comical if I hadn't stuck the sticks so many times it would have led to boredom after a while. Since every video I've ever seen goes at 1000 mph for the tacking part, considered boring, I really have no idea how to tack with a stick. I do not know if it's held in one place, moved a short distance along the crease, or moved across the crease (or across the gap on the sides or corners). I suppose the tacking method is moot if you stick the rod so many times that the occasional time you get an arc, reflexes cause you to instantly yank the rod away while twisting it. I am constantly reminded as I type this that if you drop a stick on the concrete ground and cannot pick it up with your fancy Lincoln Electric gloves on, it's a bad idea to take off a glove and pick up the recently stuck rod with your bare fingers.

    So far, I have welded quite a few lines on 4" x 4" plates of steel using sticks of different denominations, but welding two pieces of tubing together is vastly different. Here's my first weld on 1-1/4" square 11 gage tubing, during which I could swear the arc was on the upper vertical piece of tubing. You can see my attempt at tacking on one of the other sides...

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    I welded along that edge again and could this time see a puddle and it was between the two pieces definitely touching the vertical piece, but when I was done that piece looked like it had never been touched. In fact, this picture might even be after the second bead. Hmmm.

    Here's the final result after welding all the way around. When going across the side on the left, I just continued around welding on top of the other two passes I had already done on the vertical side...

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    I did not blow holes in anything as I went around, but it does look in the picture like as the welds cooled they crushed the vertical piece even at the corners. I don't know if this is an illusion or even possible.

    Anyway, I did some more but they look even worse because I'm giving myself one pass on each. I've got plenty more scrap pieces and would like to see an improvement after 10 or 20 more tries tomorrow. I sort of lost a day figuring out how to cut this stuff but now the cuts are reasonably good, good enough so the pieces should be straighter than they are after welding. I think I'd better leave nuances such as squareness for after I can lay down some welds correctly. Any tips on tacking (or welding of course), are extremely welcome.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by dunn; 05-21-2017 at 04:49 AM.
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    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    11 and 1/8 is closer nuffer. Keep practicing and go get some 7014. Its much more forgiving as to the angle of the rod and position.
    Yup welding causes shrinkage hence the tube change. You can reduce this in a couple of ways. First, when tacking your tube tack the corners first.You can turn up the heat for a second to help the rod not to stick but do small fast tacks soz you don't blow a hole. Turn the machine back down and weld opposite sides. When building the actual piece you can tack everything up and then move around when welding.That reduces metal movement(a little) and also doesn't let one area get too hot, reducing the chance for blow through.
    What lens are you running ? I like a number 9 on the low amp stuff.You can mark the tube about 1/2" from your weld and that will help you run straighter and see better too.

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    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    Quote Originally Posted by Leogl View Post
    I have to agree with the earlier post I would use nothing less than 1/8 tubing but if you proceed with the thin tubing my past experience has been to use 3/32 6010 to weld it as penetration is not going to be a problem . Your going to have issues using 14 ga trying to keep it straight warping and distortion is going to be very visible and the tongue if built out of 14 ga it will bend .
    .
    .
    i agree use 1/8 or thicker. thinner stuff can be done but you need good joint fit ups with no gaps and it is much harder to weld. they do sell 1/16 and 5/64 rod in 6013 but if you got a gap it can be 10 to 100 times harder to control weld puddle
    .
    actually little 1/16 rod is hard to use. it often vibrates right after sticking arc. many cut rods shorter cause of vibration problem

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    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    One more thing. Gussets. When working with 1/8 stuff it is what it is. Flexible. The flex guitar strings at the joints. Gusset everything for a trailer.

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    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    Starting neatly is sometimes a problem, especially if you have a small machine that does not deliver enough amps to start nicely. I have done a lot of welding with tomb stone machines making stairs and rails in high rise buildings. We used to use 1/8" 7014 because it is a forgiving rod. 3/32" rod is not practical. 7014 contains titanium which seems to be effective as a welding rod. I did a lot of box tubing with it for ornamental iron work.

    Welding thin stuff with an ARC rod is somewhat problematic. That is not what it was designed for. TIG is what you want. Get a little buzz box and have some real fun. You can do that in a suit and tie. I have done it in a suit and tie so I am sure.

    I did a lot of 1/8" decking, lap welds and but welds with backing, using 7018. They are fun and easy. But when you try filling in voids that occur in box tubing especially overhead and vertical it gets a little dicey. Something like George Carlan's string of curse words came spewing out of me a few times on hot summer days, I could not tell if the burning was the sweat, the leathers pinching me or if it was hot balls of metal.

    I would use very low amperage and keep the rod on the deck, and just rock the rod back and forth about 90 degrees, letting it burn and move at its own pace. Favoring the solid edge just a bit, not the cut edge. You will probably have to drag it a bit (angle the rod back at the puddle) which is not what you are supposed to do for 7018. So get a TIG welder. You need dry rods, you really should have a very good machine. A lot of guys are telling you stuff that works with a three phase DC generator welder, a large gas or diesel DC generator welder, or a big AC powered power DC rectified supply. Those tombstones can be frustrating as heck. Especially after they heat up. That is why the boss switched to 7014 because we would just take the little tombstone up and down in the stairwells. The 7018 in a building that just had a couple thousand tons of cement poured is a damp and humid place, that 7018 on thin wall just does not like.

    You will blow some holes but most of the time you can just keep going. And then go back and fix the holes when it cools down.


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    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    Quote Originally Posted by dunn View Post

    For a T joint, I think from watching videos that I should tack in the centers of the 90 degree edges, right?.


    I welded along that edge again and could this time see a puddle and it was between the two pieces definitely touching the vertical piece, but when I was done that piece looked like it had never been touched. In fact, this picture might even be after the second bead. Hmmm.

    The few times I did stick on square tubing, I quickly learned that I preferred to tack at the corners, not at the 90 fillet. If I tacked at the corners, then I could run 4 straight beads instead of 4 beads where I would have to turn a 90 corner to meet the other tack at the middle of the fillet (or butt) joint. Not only that, corners tend to burn away quick. With a good sized tack at the corners, I had something to tie into that would help soak up some of the heat that inevitably begins to outrun me on small size square tubing, and not be left with a concave crater.
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    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    Howdy,

    Thanks, everyone, for the further advice. I've been gone a few days for a graduation but before I left I went out to try to stay with 7018 to start with, and to try welding some of my cut pieces of tubing.

    Here, after welding the bottom, I tried to weld the rest in position to learn how, so I had sort of sideways and an overhead corner (sorry my terminology is not up to snuff).

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    I know, it ain't pretty but I honestly felt like I was learning things despite sticking so many rods it ain't funny. The only reason I didn't waste a ton of rods after frantic twisting and pulling on them when stuck was because of two tips: 1) keep a scrap piece of metal nearby and use it to just burn off the exposed rod with no flux into a puddle blob so you always have fluxed rod to weld with; and 2) keep a file nearby to rub the end of the 7018 on to expose metal after a welding stop.

    Thinking I was doing well I tried to weld a square up with some tubing I thought showed the absolute accuracy of my freehand angle cutting. My welding table is a 4" wide painted metal sawhorse, but not to fear, I had bought some welding magnets that would hold everything together. It didn't go well...

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    I couldn't find a ball peen hammer but finally found a hatchet with no corrugated teeth on head. It was hard to try to hammer the pieces into position between the magnets and when I got a blow in the hatchet stuck to the metal. The arcs when tacking were wild. It wasn't until I was done and looked at this picture that I realized I could easily have made two sides I was trying to push together both north or both south and they were repelling each other.

    Due to these problems I couldn't put all the pieces together at once so I tacked each individually. This gave me this end result with my supposedly amazingly accurate miter cuts when done...

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    I used bonzoo's (and probably others') tip to tack at the corners instead of the sides. At the left was one of my best runs where I thought I was going right along the line but was way off. It gets too fast at the end because I had realized I should have hit the inside corner by that time and where was it? Until I have more practice, I decided to use the tip, also from bonzoo, to mark a line 1/2" away from where the weld should be. Now I'm just getting used to the (seemingly amazing amount of) other things I'm supposed to be watching and the separate line.

    This picture is a failed attempt to weld across the large gap my fantastically accurate cutting had given me...

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    I managed to cut a sliver of metal and sort of fill in with that and got something across the gap...

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    That was it for that day. I know there's not one good weld there but if I was getting paid by the hour and quality didn't matter, I'd be doing ok.

    Thanks,
    -- Dunn
    Lincoln AC-180
    Lincoln AC/DC 225/125

  24. #24
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Orange County, CA
    Posts
    41
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    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    Me again,

    I abandoned the square and went back to my regular tube welding. As I work on my miter cutting abilities, I know some corners will be butted anyway, so I'll try my hand at that. Now, I see metal just melting away to nothing...

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    I've gotten to where, as much as I want to be able to do this all with 7018, I'm going to have to try some of the other sticks I have. That's really all I can think of at this point. The bottom piece seems to disappear immediately so I don't know how moving faster would help. Change amperage? Dunno. If I lower it and I'm sticking as much as I already am, I'll be in stuck stick heaven.

    I must remember, I have to be learning because I'm sure learning how things are not done!

    Thanks,
    -- Dunn
    Lincoln AC-180
    Lincoln AC/DC 225/125

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    MN
    Posts
    5,173
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Square/Rectangular Steel Tubing Start & Stop Points

    Turn your welder up. When set right, 7018 will pretty much weld stringers on it's own. CC instructor used to clamp the lead in a vice just below the stinger loaded with 7018. Help it strike the arc and walk away letting gravity do the work.

    What size rod and amps are you running?
    My name's not Jim....

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