7 Tips & Tricks to Get You Started with Flux Core Welding for Beginners

7 Tips & Tricks to Get You Started with Flux Core Welding for Beginners

Flux core welding is a popular welding technique that is used in a variety of industries. It is known for its simplicity and versatility, making it a great option for beginners. If you’ve made the decision to start flux core welding, that’s a great choice, especially for beginners. The equipment is user-friendly and you can easily initiate an arc with the trigger pull. Compared to other welding techniques like stick welding, flux core is easier to learn.

Although flux core welding is not the traditional first step in welding (stick welding is usually learned first), it can still teach you a lot about welding principles. However, there is still a learning curve involved. To help you get started, here are some tips to keep in mind.

7 Tips & Tricks to Get You Started with Flux Core Welding for Beginners

7 Tips & Tricks to Get You Started with Flux Core Welding for Beginners

Here are 7 tips and tricks to help you get started with flux core welding:

Tip #1: Verify Your Polarity is Correct
When using a dual shield flux core (flux-cored wire with shielding gas), it’s important to confirm the wire is DC+, meaning direct current electrode positive. This directs 2/3 of the heat in the arc toward the wire.

On the other hand, some wires, particularly those that are self-shielded, require DC-, which means direct current electrode negative. Using DC+ with these wires may result in significant spatter as the wire cannot handle that level of heat. It also won’t provide as much penetration into the joint.

Tip #2: Master Dragging the Welding Gun
For FCAW, it’s best to use a slight drag as your travel angle. This is because flux and slag are produced during welding, and dragging the gun helps prevent slag from getting underneath the weld. However, be careful not to drag too much.

Keeping your gun at an angle of 15°–30° while dragging it is acceptable. Going beyond this angle can result in a too-convex throat of your weld (the distance from the joint to the surface of the weld), which can affect the appearance of the weld. Generally, you want a flat weld appearance, unless specified otherwise. Although pushing the gun can create a flatter weld appearance, it can also trap slag and result in a too-concave weld. Therefore, it’s best to stick to a slight drag.

Tip #3: Monitor Your Travel Speed
When aiming for a smaller size weld, increasing your gun speed is not the only factor to consider. There are other variables to factor in. First, try reducing your wire speed, then move at roughly the same speed. If you move too quickly, the weld may not fill in enough.

Moving too fast can result in undercutting and a lack of fusion. Conversely, if you move too slowly, it may cause undercutting. Another problem with moving too slowly is that it exposes the material to a hot arc for a prolonged period, resulting in unnecessary heat and distortion. Try to fine-tune your settings to allow for a reasonable pace.

Tip #4: Prepare the Material

Although flux core welding can tolerate some mill scale and dust in the joint, it’s still best to prepare your material to some extent. If the material is rusty, it’s best to grind off the rusty section. If it’s wet, dry it with a torch or a quick wipe-down. However, don’t just clean it at the beginning; remove all the slag in between passes.

When using the dual shield, the slag comes off easily. However, when welding with a self-shielded flux core, it can be tempting to leave a little bit of slag that won’t come off. But that could result in slag inclusion that shows up on an ultrasonic scan, and you’ll have to dig it out. So, make it a habit to clean all the slag off the surface.

Tip #5: Break off Your Wire
Breaking off your wire might seem like a minor step, but it can save you time in the long run. With hardwire MIG, you have to clip off the wire’s tip with welding pliers or strike a quick arc on another piece of metal to clean up the wire.

With flux core, since it’s not a hard wire, all you need to do is run your wire out a few inches, grip it between your fingers, bend it, and wiggle it back and forth a few times to break it off. You won’t always have welding pliers nearby, and this quick technique will save you time searching for them.

Tip #6:Tying in Your Starts and Stops
Tying in your starts and stops is an important technique to master in flux-core welding. By leaving a small crater at the end of your first segment and then tying it in with the start of your next segment, you can create a smoother and more consistent weld. This technique also helps you avoid having to grind down your starts and stops, which can be time-consuming.

To tie in your starts and stops, you will need to strike your arc and quickly move back into the crater you left. Hold the wire in the crater for a second before continuing with your weld. The key is to make sure that the puddle of molten metal from your previous pass has solidified before you start your next pass. This will ensure that you don’t create any cold lap or lack of fusion.

Tying in your starts and stops can take some practice, but it’s an essential technique to master if you want to create high-quality flux-core welds. With time and experience, you will become more comfortable with this technique and be able to create smooth and consistent welds.

Tip #7:Being Comfortable
Being comfortable is key to producing quality welds, regardless of the welding technique used. Flux-core welding is no exception. It’s important to make sure you are comfortable before starting a weld. This includes having the proper equipment, such as a comfortable welding helmet, gloves, and jacket. It’s also important to have a stable platform to work from and to be in a comfortable position while welding.

If you’re welding for long periods of time, it’s a good idea to take breaks and stretch your muscles to avoid cramping. Additionally, if you find yourself uncomfortable during a weld, don’t hesitate to stop and adjust your position or equipment as needed. This will help you to avoid making mistakes due to discomfort and will ultimately lead to better weld quality.

That’s a great point! Welding can be a very rewarding skill to develop, and flux-core welding in particular can be very versatile and useful in many applications. With practice and patience, you can develop the skills to weld confidently and create strong, attractive welds.