Arc Welding Procedures, Techniques, and Welding Safety Equipment (Part Two)

in Aircraft Welding

Multiple Pass Welding

Grove and fillet welds in heavy metals often require the deposit of a number of beads to complete a weld. It is important that the beads be deposited in a predetermined sequence to produce the soundest welds with the best proportions. The number of beads is determined by the thickness of the metal being welded.


Plates from 1⁄8-inch to ¼-inch can be welded in one pass, but they should be tacked at intervals to keep them aligned. Any weld on a plate thicker than ¼-inch should have the edges beveled and multiple passes.

The sequence of the bead deposits is determined by the kind of joint and the position of the metal. All slag must be removed from each bead before another bead is deposited. Typical multiple-pass grove welding of butt joints is shown in Figure 5-34.

Figure 5-34. Multiple-pass groove welding of butt joints.

Figure 5-34. Multiple-pass groove welding of butt joints. [click image to enlarge]

Techniques of Position Welding

Each time the position of a welded joint or the type of joint is changed, it may be necessary to change any one or a combination of the following:

  • Current value
  • Electrode
  • Polarity
  • Arc length
  • Welding technique

Current values are determined by the electrode size, as well as the welding position. Electrode size is governed by the thickness of the metal and the joint preparation. The electrode type is determined by the welding position. Manufacturers specify the polarity to be used with each electrode. Arc length is controlled by a combination of the electrode size, welding position, and welding current.

Since it is impractical to cite every possible variation occasioned by different welding conditions, only the information necessary for the commonly used positions and welds is discussed here.

Flat Position Welding

There are four types of welds commonly used in flat position welding: bead, groove, fillet, and lap joint. Each type is discussed separately in the following paragraphs.

Bead Weld

The bead weld utilizes the same technique that is used when depositing a bead on a flat metal surface. [Figure 5-35] The only difference is that the deposited bead is at the butt joint of two steel plates, fusing them together. Square butt joints may be welded in one or multiple passes. If the thickness of the metal is such that complete fusion cannot be obtained by welding from one side, the joint must be welded from both sides. Most joints should first be tack-welded to ensure alignment and reduce warping.

Figure 5-35. Proper bead weld.

Figure 5-35. Proper bead weld.

Groove Weld

Groove welding may be performed on a butt joint or an outside corner joint. Groove welds are made on butt joints where the metal to be welded is ¼-inch or more in thickness. The butt joint can be prepared using either a single or double groove depending on the thickness of the plate. The number of passes required to complete a weld is determined by the thickness of the metal being welded and the size of the electrode being used.

Any groove weld made in more than one pass must have the slag, spatter, and oxide carefully removed from all previous weld deposits before welding over them. Some of the common types of groove welds performed on butt joints in the flat position are shown in Figure 5-36.

Figure 5-36. Groove welds on butt joints in the flat position.

Figure 5-36. Groove welds on butt joints in the flat position.

Fillet Weld

Fillet welds are used to make tee and lap joints. The electrode should be held at an angle of 45° to the plate surface. The electrode should be tilted at an angle of about 15° in the direction of welding. Thin plates should be welded with little or no weaving motion of the electrode and the weld is made in one pass. Fillet welding of thicker plates may require two or more passes using a semicircular weaving motion of the electrode. [Figure 5-37]

Figure 5-37. Tee joint fillet weld.

Figure 5-37. Tee joint fillet weld.

Lap Joint Weld

The procedure for making fillet weld in a lap joint is similar to that used in the tee joint. The electrode is held at about a 30° angle to the vertical and tilted to an angle of about 15° in the direction of welding when joining plates of the same thickness. [Figure 5-38]

Figure 5-38. Typical lap joint fillet weld.

Figure 5-38. Typical lap joint fillet weld.

Vertical Position Welding

Vertical positing welding includes any weld applied to a surface inclined more than 45° from the horizontal. Welding in the vertical position is more difficult than welding in the flat position because of the force of gravity. The molten metal has the tendency to run down. To control the flow of molten metal, the voltage and current adjustments of the welding machine must be correct.

The current setting, or amperage, is less for welding in the vertical position than for welding in the flat position for similar size electrodes. Additionally, the current used for welding upward should be set slightly higher than the current used for welding downward on the same work piece. When welding up, hold the electrode 90° to the vertical, and weld moving the bead upward. Focus on welding the sides of the joint and the middle takes care of itself. In welding downward, with the hand below the arc and the electrode tilted about 15° upward, the weld should move downward.

Overhead Position Welding

Overhead position welding is one of the most difficult in welding since a very short arc must be constantly maintained to control the molten metal. The force of gravity tends to cause the molten metal to drop down or sag from the plate, so it is important that protective clothing and head gear be worn at all times when performing overhead welding.

For bead welds in an overhead position, the electrode should be held at an angle of 90° to the base metal. In some cases where it is desirable to observe the arc and the crater of the weld, the electrode may be held at an angle of 15° in the direction of welding.

When making fillet welds on overhead tee or lap joints, a short arc should be held, and there should be no weaving of the electrode. The arc motion should be controlled to secure good penetration to the root of the weld and good fusion to the plates. If the molten metal becomes too fluid and tends to sag, the electrode should be whipped away quickly from the center ahead of the weld to lengthen the arc and allow the metal to solidify. The electrode should then be returned immediately to the crater of the weld and the welding continued.

Anyone learning or engaged in arc welding should always have a good view of the weld puddle. Otherwise there is no way to ensure that the welding is in the joint and keeping the arc on the leading edge of the puddle. For the best view, the welder should keep their head off to the side and out of the fumes so they can see the puddle.