How NOT To Weld! Top 5 Welding Beginner Mistakes!

by Steve Darnell

Through my 30+ years working in the welding industry I’ve seen a consistency in several welding beginner mistakes. I’ll walk you through the most common mistakes and how to fix them so that you can start building healthy habits into your work.

1. Dirty Surface for Your Ground

It’s important to have a clean surface for your ground. Simply take a flap disk or a grinder and clean the surface up before attaching your ground. A good tip I learned over the years and to keep in mind is if you’re ever working on any rusty metal where it’s difficult to get a solid ground what I’ll do is tac weld the ground and surface together.

2. Make Sure Your Work Area Is Always Clean

welding beginner mistakes

Your work area should always be clean when working on any projects. You’ll always have some metal looking bb’s and other small bumps on your table that can be your worst enemy when not cleaned properly. Lets say you’re laying out a couple of pieces of square tubing where you need to weld the corners together. If you’re working over a surface that’s not completely clean and smooth then even the smallest bump can make a big difference on the quality of your weld.

I’ll typically use a stone wheel to run over the table before moving forward. It’s important to make sure your disk is flat on the table to help prevent digging into the surface. Something else to take note of is in my shop we use my tables for just about everything. We could be using it for welding, could be building a transmission or changing the bottom end of a motor etc.

Lets say a bunch of 90 weight gear oil pours onto the table. Once it gets into the table it’s going to cause a problem with ground issues and come up into your metal. So what I’ll do is take thinner brake cleaner or carburetor cleaner and spray a little bit on the table and wipe out all the grease and oil. Once you’ve exposed your metal it will attract the splatter from your weld a lot easier because it’s clean. Another thing I like to do is take my nozzle dip which is kind of like a paste and put it on a rag to wipe the table with which will help with keeping material from sticking on the table.

3. Consequences of A Dirty Table

You will encounter several problems when your table is dirty and inconsistent. For example, say you’re building a door frame that has to be square and nice and flat. This could all lead to a chain of bad events. Some problems include trouble with filling gaps, not square, grinding metal too far to try and make pieces square etc. Check out the video to see more issues you want to prevent.

4. Dirty Material

Most beginners will make the mistake of cutting pieces of square tubing with a chop saw. What will happen is at the very end of the cut will bend over because it just gets so thin on the saw. A lot of the saws like a stone saw where you’re cutting with a wheel it will leave a burr on the end. So you want to make sure you clean the ends up with a flap disk with just a couple of little hits on the ends. Remember to clean your material off as well if you feel it’s oily. What I’ll do is take a rag and some thinner and clean all my square tubing before I start.

5. Not All Welders Are Created Equal

A big issue I see with beginners is using lower volt welders for bigger tasks. It drives me crazy when welders starting out will take there 110 welder and try to weld a piece of 1/4″ or 3/8″ or a piece of 1/4″ to 3/8″. You need a bigger welder for bigger jobs, but lets say you’re desperate and have to weld something quick. Make sure to preheat it with a torch so you can get good penetration. For beginners I recommend investing in a welder that runs 110V and 220V.


You’re going to make a lot of mistake in the beginning just like any new skill anyone tries to learn. Don’t be intimidated because I used to make these same mistakes. These are just a couple of the top welding beginner mistakes made and now that you’ve learned them it will help prevent any issues in the future. If you’re interested in learning more in depth welding skills checkout my course here and get $200 off your purchase.

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