How to weld iron? A guide to materials, welding machines and accessories

Reading time: 2 minutes and 10 seconds

If you’ve never welded in your life but want to learn, this is definitely one of the first questions you’ve asked yourself: how to weld iron?
By reading the following lines you will find all the answers: the right welding machine to use, the wire and electrodes to choose and especially the material to buy for your DIY projects.
That’s right: because you need to know what iron is before trying to understand how to weld!

No, this isn’t a lesson in metalworking! We’ll only give you the basics you need.
Iron is a chemical element, but we commonly call the alloys used for welding “iron”. To be more precise, we should speak of carbon steel, the alloy composed mostly of iron and a small part of carbon.
For convenience, in this article we will continue to talk about iron referring to this alloy, but remember the difference!

Let’s get down to basics number two: not all carbon steel can be welded! That’s why it’s important to choose the right material to learn how to weld.
In practice, the greater the percentage of carbon, the harder the steel which thus becomes difficult to weld, until this gets impossible.
Here is a diagram that shows you the uses of steel as the carbon content increases in the alloy.

Are you wondering which of these can be welded and which cannot?

Here’s basics number three: to be welded, steel must contain no more than 0.25% carbon. Basically, following the diagram, you can weld up to construction steels. Of course, we certainly don’t expect you to build bridges! In this case your passion for welding would be a real job!
So, how to choose the iron to weld? Simple: go to a hardware store specialising in materials and ask for an iron plate to weld. If, on the other hand, you cannot count on the shop staff and you want to be sure of what you are buying, look at the code.
The steels most commonly used for welded structures are specified in the standard EN 10025 and are indicated with a capital “S” at the beginning of the code. Here are two examples:

S275JR: also called steel. It’s the easiest material to find, and you can often buy it hot-rolled or as steel plates or shaped as angles. It also has surface scale, so it needs to be cleaned before welding.

S355J2: it is the construction steel par excellence. You can find it both hot rolled and cold rolled and you often need to order it. Since it’s cut from sheet metal, you can already have it in the sizes you need. Plus, it’s ready to be welded.
These are also the two types of iron we used to show you welding defects. To learn more, read the article.

So, you should know by now that before welding any piece of iron you should ask: what is it? Before you make repairs or choose a workpiece from your friend who scraps iron, make sure what material it is! Otherwise, go to the hardware store, which, besides giving you the right material, can also provide you with a certificate!
And now… action!

How to weld iron?

Iron is welded with a stick welding machine, wire welding machine (with or without gas) or even a TIG welding machine. Versatile, isn’t it?
The choice of the welder depends either on what you have at home or on your manual skill and experience. If you need advice, read the article that helps you understand which welding machine to choose.
In all cases, remember that if you have a laminated workpiece, you will have to clean it before you start welding. You can use the grinding wheel and degreaser depending on the soiling to be removed.

How do you heat up iron with a stick welding machine?

With this welding process you will have to choose the right electrodes to weld your workpieces. You can choose either rutile electrodes or electrodes with basic coating. The difference lies in your experience and skill: if you are a beginner, start with rutile coating.
To learn more about the topic read the article that helps you choose which electrode to use.

How to weld two pieces of iron with a wire welding machine?

You can use both modes: wire welding with gas (MAG) and wire welding without gas.
If you choose the latter, you need to use a roll of cored wire.
If, instead, we are talking about wire welding with gas, then you will need to use copper-coated steel wire, also known as solid wire. You will also need the active gas cylinder, which contains a mixture of CO2 and argon. Ah, don’t think that the cylinder is a problem: if you buy Mister Work cylinders, you’re all set because they are non-returnable and you have no rental costs.
You can also learn more here by reading the article on MIG MAG welding wire.

How to TIG-weld iron?

If you have or choose a TIG welding machine, it means that you have some welding experience. With lift (or smear) TIG or HF (high frequency) TIG, you will need the argon cylinder and the filler rod for iron that is used to add material to the weld. You can find them both online or in specialised welding shops.

You now have all the information you need to start welding iron! If you still need a welding machine or accessories, have a look at our helviLITE welding machines and accessories. And don’t forget that our DIY welding machines make welding even easier!