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Is Welding Hard To Learn?


Welding is a skill that you won’t pick up right away, but with practice and the application of a few simple techniques, you’ll be laying down beads you can be proud of.

So, is welding hard?

It depends on the type of welding and the material you intend to work with. Stick and MIG are pretty easy to pick up, TIG and Gas welding will require more skill. The type of materials play a part too, mild steel is easiest to work with, stainless steel and aluminum will require a higher level of skill.

If you’re interested in classic car repair, you’ll want a MIG. If precision and a super pretty weld are important, you’ll need a TIG, and if most of your work is outdoor on heavy gauge steel and aesthetics isn’t a concern, a Stick is perfect.

These welders are all different and require particular knowledge and skill, some more than others. In this post I’ll outline what it’s like to use each of them, the skills and knowledge you’ll need, by the end of this article, you’ll have a better idea of what type of welder is right for you.

I like to keep things simple, the four most common types of welding are:

  1. Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) known as Stick welding
  2. Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW) also known as MIG welding
  3. Gas Tungsten Arc Gas Welding (GTAW) also known as TIG welding
  4. Oxygen Acetylene welding also know as Gas welding

Is Stick Welding Hard?

Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW) The Arc welder, aka Stick welding is the easiest type of welding to master, its strength is its simplicity, it’s the most popular type of welder worldwide.

When I was a kid, a Stick welder was impressive-looking kit, they were about the size of a car engine and required a special high voltage supply to run them.

But, just like a big mac, they got smaller over time, now you can buy one the size of a shoebox that plugs into your household electric supply.

A basic arc welder consists of a wall plug, an Amp control dial, an earth clamp, and an electrode holder.

The process of welding is simple, heat metal to a liquid form and use a filler rod to help fuse the metals together.

To use a stick welder:

  • Select and fit stick (electrode)
  • Fit earth clamp to work piece
  • Plug in welder
  • Select suitable Amperage
  • Weld, by touching the work-piece with the stick

A Stick welder works by sending a high current down an electrode (stick), which creates an arc between the stick and the base metal. The arc creates the weld pool, and the stick melts into the pool.

An Arc welder will have a dial button to control amperage (Heat).

The sticks come in a range of diameter sizes, the size is relative to the thickness of metal you are working (base metal), they’re also rated by the speed at which they melt.

The sticks are covered in a flux coating, and as it burns, the gases purify the air around the weld pool, without the flux, contaminates in the air would weaken the weld.

Common uses

So, we know a stick welder is easy to use, but what type of jobs or metals would you use a stick welder for? I own a small portable stick welder and the last time I used it, I was welding stays on a shooting cabin treehouse.

It’s the perfect welder for that type of job, the base metals were mild steel and pretty substantial, maybe 1/4″ plate, I was working on a height, outdoors in windy conditions.

Stick welders are more forgiving, other types of welders are very particular about how clean the weld area is, a stick welder is less so.

They’re favored by construction and the agricultural industry, if you have a lot of outdoor projects to take care of, where the base metals are thicker than 12 gauge (.1046″, 2.6mm), a stick welder is a perfect fit.

They’ll weld steel, alloy steel, and cast iron, the thickness will depend on your skill level, thicker materials are easier to work with. When you can weld 16 gauge sheet metals, you can call yourself Sensai.

Stick is not so good for indoor work, the flux-covered electrodes throw off fumes and smoke, making it difficult to breathe and sometimes see the weld pool.

Stick welds may be strong but they won’t win a beauty contest, so bear that in mind, if you’re working on a project where you need finesse.

Pro tips for better Stick welding:

  • Clean the work area
  • Fit the ground clamp close to the weld area
  • Clean ground clamp area really well
  • Use correct size electrode for base material
  • Use correct Amp, usually marked on the stick box
  • Maintain correct Arc size – about the width of the electrode from the weld pool
  • Drag the weld pool and tilt the stick towards the pool at about 10°
  • Have test material same size as work piece
  • I make a repeating joined letter c shape when welding heavy materials
  • Adjust your speed and Amps as necessary

Is MIG Welding Hard?

Mig welder

Metal Arc Gas Welding (MAGW) also known as Metal Inert Gas (MIG) is a form of electric welding where a spool of wire can be consistently fed through a handheld welding gun.

It’s my favorite type of welder, I got my first MIG welder when I was about 19 and I’ve never been without one since.

MIG welders are really user-friendly and are perfect for the occasional user or pro alike. Once you get to know your machine, you’ll quickly find the sweet spot for different gauge metals. Here’s a pretty neat Lincoln electric MIG welder I seen on Amazon, and the price really surprised me.

A MIG will need more care than a stick welder, the MIG gun won’t tolerate abuse, it carries feed wire, gas, a feed switch, contact tube, and tip, all require care.

The wire is held on a spool inside the welder, and it creates an arc as it contacts the grounded base material, the wire is fed through the gun by an electric motor.

Most MIG welders come with a useful chart inside the wire spool door, it details wire size, amperage, and wire-speed for various metal gauges.

Wire sizes vary, it depends on what size material you are working on. I use .023″ wire because I mostly use it for patch welding body panels, I want to keep heat to a minimum, it warps body panels. Note: if you’re changing wire size, you must also change the wire rollers and copper tip, they are all grouped by size.

Fabricating old car repair
MIG is the perfect welder for car repairs

For best results a shielding gas should be used, usually C25 (75% Argon 25% Carbon Dioxide), the gas is fed down the welding gun and is directed at the weld pool. The c25 protects the weld from the harmful effects of nitrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere.

A flux-cored wire spool is an option for the occasional user who doesn’t want the extra complexity of buying and using the c25 gas. The flux-cored releases a purifying gas as the wire spool hits the weld pool, a similar idea to the stick welder electrodes.

Pro tips for using a MIG welder:

  • All weld areas need to be really clean, especially if using c25 gas
  • Ground clap should be fitted close to the weld area
  • Clean ground clamp area really well
  • Car batteries must be disconnected before striking an arc
  • Use correct size wire (Consult chart)
  • Use correct Amperage (Consult chart)
  • Use correct wire speed (Consult chart)
  • Stick-out no more than 3/8″ (wire length from tip)
  • Check gas flow
  • Have test material same size as work piece
  • Push the weld pool and angle gun about 10° away from the pool (depends on the joint type)
  • Spot weld materials to secure
  • I make a repeating joined letter c shape when welding heavy materials
  • I just spot weld in alternative corners when welding in a patch panel

Is TIG Welding Hard?

Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) also known as Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) is at the top of the welding pyramid. Yes, it’s more complex, but it offers greater rewards in terms of weld quality.

You won’t learn to TIG weld in an afternoon, realistic it will take months of commitment, and possibly longer.

TIG welding allows for greater control of the heat and filler material, when done right the welds are cleaner, stronger, and very close to being called art.

Common uses

TIG welding is used when welding aluminum, thin pipework, and in critical operations like aircraft manufacturing, racing car roll cages, motorbike frames, and bicycle frames. TIG offers strength, aesthetics, resistance to corrosion and is very flexible in terms of the types of filler rods that can be used.

So how do you use a TIG?

Coordination here is the key, the welder strikes an arc and creates a weld pool by moving the arc in a circle. The welder must maintain an arc at all times by holding the tungsten tip no more than .012″ from the base material.

When the filler is needed, the torch is tilted backward about 10° to allow the filler rod to be fed in from the front of the pool at a low angle, without touching and contaminating the tungsten tip.

If the tip touches the filler rod or the base metal, it will likely need to be cleaned by sharpening on a diamond wheel.

When the filler rod isn’t needed, it needs to be removed from the pool but stay within the gas shield, otherwise, the rod is contaminated by the atmosphere.

Some metals are susceptible to heat shock damage, to overcome this the welder applies heat gradually at the beginning and at reduces heat gradually at the end of the weld, a foot pedal is used to control amperage.

TIG torch tungsten tips will need to be sharpened like a pencil before using, different materials will require a slightly different method of sharpening. A diamond sharpening wheel will be needed, tungsten is tough stuff. Grind the tip so that any grind markings run parallel with the tip.

TIG consumables include:

  • Filler rods
  • Ceramic cups
  • Tungsten tips
  • Argon gas

Rods, Cups, and Tips all come in different sizes. Filler rods are available in many different materials, which type you use will depend on factors such as, base metal, thickness, application, and many other factors.

Walking the cup refers to a technique where the work material is used to guide the torch around the weld.

Pro tips for using TIG welder:

  • Weld material must be clean
  • Ground clamp clean and close to work piece
  • Tungsten sharp
  • Find a comfortable position
  • Torch angle at 10°
  • Filler rod enters from the front at a low angle
  • Keep filler rod in the gas shield
  • Push the weld pool
  • Have test material same size as work piece

Is Oxygen Acetylene Welding Hard?


Oxyacetylene, Oxy welding, or Gas welding all describe the same type of welding. My father ran his own workshop and when I was growing up, welding to me was Oxygen Acetylene we just called it Oxy or Gas.

Oxyacetylene Gas welding is a process where two gases, oxygen, and acetylene meet in the mixing chamber of a torch.

The tip of the torch focuses the gases to a point where the operator ignites the gases and adjusts the flame using gas valves on the torch, for whichever job is at hand.

Welding tips come in various sizes and are dependent on the proposed use. The gasses are stored in cylinders which come in various sizes and are stored in a mobile trolley.

At my father’s shop, we had a selection of torches. We had a torch for welding, a torch for cutting, it had an oxygen control lever, that turbocharged the torch, it was pretty cool to use. Oxygen Acetylene burns hot, over 6000°F.

We also had a heating torch which we used to heat body panels, it made them easier to manipulate.

Regulators are fitted to the top of each of the cylinders, this allows the operator to control supply and gauge volume.

Supply hoses, up to 25 feet long are used to carry the gases from the regulators to the torch. Colour coded green for oxygen and red for acetylene, they’re special hoses and will be labeled with an industry-grade and type marking.


Mostly we used our plant to cut, repair exhausts, or heat up frozen bolts, but occasionally my father would teach me about the finer uses for Oxy.

Stuff like Brazing (Brass welding), or lead working or heating a panel to make it more pliable for repair.

Gas welding was once the only way to weld, and when I was growing up every shop had a welding plant. Today most shops won’t have gas, Arc electric welding has taken over, it’s more convenient and easier to learn.

Old school

Oldtimer garages and classic car shops that specialize in panel work will likely still have a gas plant though.

Welding with gas like TIG is a two-handed job, one for the torch and the other feeds in the filler rod. Filler rods just like other types of arc welding come in many different diameters and material types, all depended on the type of base metal and thickness.

The process is similar to TIG welding in many ways, the operator creates a weld pool and feeds filler into the weld pool, as needed. The pool melts the filler rod, not the torch. When the filler rod isn’t needed, it’s kept in the outer flame of the torch, this keeps atmospheric contaminates away.

Some welding jobs won’t require a filler rod, we call this type welding Fusion welding, it’s not as strong as a normal weld, but it has its place.

Pro tips for Gas welding:

  • Use correct tip size
  • Keep tip clean, buy some tip cleaners
  • Turn on Acetylene main valve first, 1/2 turn
  • Adjust Acetylene regulator to about 6 psi
  • Turn on Oxygen main valve and adjust regulator to 8psi
  • Adjust your flame cone, about a cm long
  • Red heat, ready for brazing
  • Yellow heat, ready for welding or Fusion
  • Push weld pool
  • Keep filler rod in the outer flame when not needed
  • Turn off Acetylene first, then Oxygen
  • Purge both valves after use

Welding Safety Kit

Welding kit

Welding creates lots of opportunities for injury, large heavy metal work-pieces, heat, sparks, ultraviolet light, dangerous gases, and fumes.

Safety gear is serious business, you’ll need to be protected no matter how infrequent or brief your welding sessions are.


You need steel caped pull-on boots, laces create areas for sparks to lodge and burn. Clothes need to be free from tears and holes, otherwise, you know a spark will jump in.


A welders jacket is a great investment, it comes with leather sleeves that prevent spark penetration, under that, you could wear heat resistance sleeves.

Heavy leather gauntlets

Gauntlets come down over the sleeve protecting from sparks when gas or Mig welding. Smaller leather gloves offer more dexterity when using the TIG welder.

A welders cap,

Cap protects the hair and has a rear-facing bill hat that directs sparks away from the back of your neck.


Take your time before buying a helmet. A good welders helmet will have auto-darkening and be suited to the type of welding you do, it protects your eyes and skin from UV light.

I especially like the helmets that go the extra mile, fit vents, and a leather bib to protect the neck and chest area.

Related Questions

Is welding a good career? Yes, welders are constantly in demand, there are great opportunities at home or abroad. With commitment, you can become a skilled qualified welder in under a year.

What is the easiest type of welding to learn? Most people could learn Stick and MIG welding pretty quickly, but all forms of welding will have a learning curve.