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Metal origami - my first attempts at welding aluminum.

3942 Views 15 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Manomet
Please read the album cover and photo captions for details.

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I'm no pro, but it doesn't look bad. Are you on weldingweb, or any of the other welding forums? Let me know if you want some links. Both tackit and I are on W.W., with the same handles we use here, by the way...

No, I'm not on any of the welding forums as I weld infrequently.
Okay, just let me know if you want some links if you want to check the forums out.

No, I'm not on any of the welding forums as I weld infrequently.
I think they all look good for a first attempt,:good2:
Welcome to the aluminum welding club Matt. You will find that aluminum is a little fussier than steel. I find that some times it looks like I weld professionally and some times just beginning again. Here is an easy tip you can try. On the welds that aren't up to your liking, just run anonther bead right over the top of it (after a quick brushing). Also, you can build weld and than grind smooth, sometimes without it being obvious it is even a weld. Just keep practicing. :good2:
Use Good Wire

Hey Matt,

Another tip, Do not buy the cheap wire. I once ran out on a weekend only to purchase a spool at our Farm & Fleet, then to find out that there was no way I could get that stuff to weld. It was full of impurities, it looked like I was not using the gas. Ended up throwing it out. Buy from your local welding supply. :thumbup1gif:
If I was reading this thread (which I'm not), I'd say you're off to a good start there.

If I was interested in welding (which I'm not), it would be more the small stuff and aluminum for chassis work than bigger stuff. People I know that can do small piece work say it just takes a lot of practice/experience. And clearly you're on your way!


I'm using Harris wire. If I recall correctly, Harris is owned by Lincoln, and I like Lincoln wire for steel. My first roll of steel wire was Airgas' house brand Radnor, which I didn't like. Now I've heard that Harris makes the wire for Radnor; but I don't know for certain.


For small work, it sounds like a TIG unit would be for you; but I've heard TIG is the toughest of the three arc processes to learn. I posted this reply in case you cruise through this thread later. :laugh:
Remember to never use brake cleaner to clean the surface before welding.

Here are links to the dangers of doing so.
Thanks for the tip to avoid brake cleaner. Generally the only solvent type cleaners I use are naphtha or lacquer thinner. I like these as they evaporate quickly and generally don't leave a residue.
Not bad for first time. as said eariler make sure its clean there are some good cleaners for aliminum, wipe it down then brush it with a new stainless steel wire brush and only use it on aliminum. then make sure there is noe breez. the welds look like you used a mig welder so hold your gun tip in front about a 45 % angle. and either do a small circle or an c configuration when you weld the c method will look a bunch of dimes layed on top of each other when finished just watch very closely to make sure it is melting and blending to the metal you are welding. and at the end of the bead whip it back the direction you just came from other wise it will leave a big divot at the end of your bead. on your practice welds try pushing and pulling the bead i like pulling the best. and just watch your edges and watch your wire speed if it splatters to much slow down the wire speed. welding aluminumis fun just takes a lot of practice first. Tig welding is another story. been there done that welded up several thousand aluminum missel storage boxes so we got lots of practice on them. GOOD LUCK
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and at the end of the bead whip it back the direction you just came from other wise it will leave a big divot at the end of your bead.
I will have to try this, thanks for the tip. I myself like pushing the bead as it really gives good penetration. I have not tried pulling aluminum welds as that was not recommended in the stuff I have been reading.
I have got to get me a spool gun. Looks like fun.

On another of the big negatives about my profession is phosgene gas exposure. When refrigerant is exposed to a flame,it will turn to phosgene gas. Field repairing leaks is dicey. Luckily it makes a chlorine smell at the same time. You know it instantly as just a few parts per million will take your breath away .Some refrigerants are worse than others but all will do it. Unfortunately R-404a that is used for low temp refrigeration is the worst and what I use the most (This is the replacement for R-502).R-410 (puron) is almost as bad and is the replacement for R-22.For the record...I have had chronic bronchitus now for over 25 years.
Welding aluminum is a totally different kind of welding and one of my bucket list things to improve on. Although I have a MIG, 90% of my welding is done with a TIG and I have a torch setup for aluminum and everything I need to do it. Although I have burnt through 100s of bottles of gas and used 100s of pounds of filler rod for mild and stainless steel, aluminum is something I never have got the hang of. I need to find some scrap and start playing.

One thing I hate about it is you have to use a lot of heat and the work gets hot !!!

Keep at it. Looks good :)
I started out my new welding with a Miller Synchrowave 250 about 10 yrs ago. Most of my welding ( which is not that much) has been aluminum. I have welded my 10' truck utility body w/ racks, a T top for our center console boat and a bunch of misc projects and if there is one thing I learned ,it's everything has to be CLEAN. Miller has an excellent handout book about welding and I refer to it if not reread sections every time I do a project. Most of my stock I clean with dedicated brushes and grinders and then clean with an acid dip made specifically for aluminum welding. I wanted to buy a mig but was told repeatedly if you don't use it enough the wire will oxidize and be very difficult if not impossible to weld with. Argon/helium is much easier than straight argon and it all must be CLEAN. It's like anything the more you do the better you become and the more infrequently you do it the harder it is to maintain the skill to achieve good results. It's not rocket science although some people would like you to think it is. Keep it CLEAN, and if you don't have water cooled torch it gets hot!
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