Setting the Wire Speed for Your Welding Project

The wire speed is one of those basic things that takes a bit of a knack and know-how for beginners to figure out exactly what they want and what they need to do to get it. Here are the steps you need to go through and the things you need to know to set up your MIG welder and get to the job at hand.

Setting Up the Torch
Start with the wire. The wire wheel usually includes a spring tensioner. The tensioner should be tightened until the wire isn’t tense enough to unravel. Keep the wire as straight as possible and whatever you do don’t let go, wire tangles like you wouldn’t believe. Insert the wire into the guide tube and over the roller. Line the wire up with the small hole on the torch side of the welder. Push the wire into the liner manually then feed it in gently. Once the wire is a couple of inches into the liner replace the clamp, switch on the welder and use the feed mechanism to get the wire through the liner. The torch should be as straight as possible to reduce the chance of the wire catching. Take care when you’re setting the wire tensioner, you want it to be minimum effective tension so you don’t bend the mechanism.

The tensioner on the reel is there to stop it becoming loose and tangled. The tension should be as light as possible to make life easy for the mechanism. Set up the wire speed at exactly what you’re likely to use, then press the trigger. The wire reel should stop without unravelling when you take your finger off the trigger.

Deal with potential problems in your welding project. Photo: bugphai/

Dealing with Potential Problems
Get comfortable with the knobs and settings on your wire feed welder, when you’re dealing with thicker metals you should up your voltage and your wire speed. Likewise for thinner metals these can both be lower. If you can get it exactly right you’ll get this steady consistent crackling and whirring that means you’re in the right place, however for a beginner it would be advisable to just stick to the recommended thickness for your metal. If you’ve got your wire set too fast your wire will start coming out too quickly and small wire stubs will come out in your welding puddle. If that starts happening turn it down a little and take a few seconds to cool your head before you start again.

Last but not least check the wire before you begin, if it’s frayed, rusted or pitted it will become more resistant and cause damage to the feeder. Liners damaged by rusty wire can be replaced fairly cheaply from the WIA, but why spend without needing to?

Setting up your wire feed is easy once you get the hang of it, just remember to be careful, pay attention to the state of everything and there’s no need to push at things.

Written by Robert Barlow

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