How To Set Up A MIG Welder? Full Guide

MIG Welding is undoubtedly the most versatile and commonly used welding process. But for the best outcome and effortless use, you also need to have precise knowledge on how to set up a MIG welder or how you can deal with MIG welding equipment setup.

And fortunately, my today’s article is specially dedicated to readers like you who are not aware of those details.

So Let’s Learn How To Set Up A MIG Welder?

If you are using a traditional MIG Welder for your welding projects, you will need to adjust three primary settings or controls first. Such as:

Voltage: This works as the main heat setting and will get changed depending on several other factors such as the thickness and joint of your used metal, type of gas, and position of your weld. The voltage generally does not fluctuate much when welding because MIG welders are known as constant voltage power sources.

Wire feed speed: It controls the quantity and speed of wire feeding into the weld joint. It indicates the regulated result in inches or IPM per minute. In MIG welding, the amperage rate changes depending on the wire feed speed and electrode stick-out.

If you do not have a manual or user guideline you can follow this chart as your reference guide.

Wire Sizes Multiply By (Per Inches AMPs) Using 1/8 inches Or 125 AMPs IPM
.023 3.5 3.5 X125 437.5
.030 2 2 X 125 250
.035 1.6 1.6 X 125 200
.045 1 1 X 125 125

Gas flow rate: It helps to control the transfer type, and the main goal of this is to give enough gas to shield the weld area from surrounding air. Gas flow rates are presented in Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM in short). Remember not to set the gas flow at too high rates. Otherwise, it can cause some turbulence or contaminate the weld.

How To Set Up A MIG Welding Machine?

Let’s learn MIG welding machine set up in an easier way-

Assemble Safety Gear

You need a full set of safety equipment such as gloves, masks, and protective clothing. You should bring a mask minimum of 10 shades darker or even darker than that. Also, do not forget to keep a CO2 extinguisher or a bucket of sand for emergency fires.

Choosing MIG Gun

There are different shaped MIG guns available where some look like pistols and others may look like acetylene torches. MIG guns are also available with water and air-cooled variation. If you intend to use it on home welders or work in a small area, then air-cooled ones will work perfectly.

Preparing Your Welding Area

Preparing the area where you want or need to weld means finding a good surface and removing all flammable materials from there. Remember to set up welding curtains around the welding area if there will be other people during the welding work.

Obtain Wire Type

You need to choose a wire type same as the metal you are going to use. For example, if your welding material is stainless steel, choose a stainless wire. Also, the wire diameters may vary based on the thickness of the metal you will use to weld. So, the wise way out is using a thin wire for thin and a thick wire for the thick material.

Preparing The Reel And Feeding Your Wire

Now, to prevent the wire from unraveling, tighten the tension on the reel. To avoid any tangles to the feeding line, make the first 7.6 cm of your wire as straight as possible.

After that, insert that wire into the wire liner to feed it over the roller. Make sure that there is no rust or grease left on the wire, and you can even use a dry towel to clean before inserting the wire. When you have inserted the wire properly into the guide tube, turn on the welder to use the wire feed mechanism.

Adjusting Tension

When the wire feeding mechanism is done successfully, adjust the tension. But remember that too much tension can force the mountings to bend, which means damaging the welder. Therefore, you should keep the tension at the minimum level for both the reel and the feeding line.

How To Set Up A MIG Welder For Aluminum?

Let’s keep these below instructions in your mind while you are setting MIG welder for aluminum-

Your Matel’s Thickness:

Your material’s thickness should be 14 gauge or more for MIG welding. But the output capacity of your MIG welder is supposed to determine the required thickness you can use. Therefore, if you need to weld aluminum thinner than the standard range, you will require a specialized pulsed MIG welder.

Choosing Right Gas Type:

Since aluminum is non-ferrous, it needs a 100% argon shielding gas with flow rates of (20 -30) cubic feet per hour. So, you should keep this recommendation in mind while you are doing the setup for MIG welding.

Determining The Process:

For MIG welding aluminum, you can use spray transfer mode which is a smooth way of molten metal droplets. In this mode, droplets crossing the arc are smaller than the electrodes.

Remember, this mode involves a high amount of heat, simultaneously creating a large weld pool with good penetration, which can be difficult for you to control.

Choosing Correct Gun And Wire Feeding Option:

Now, you need to determine the gun and select which wire feeding option is ideal for welding. You can either choose a spool gun or a push-pull system. A spool gun can eliminate the bird’s nesting possibility since it only feeds a few inches. When your welding project is far from the power source and required an ergonomic and user-friendly option, pick the push-pull system.

Determine Your Filler Metal:

To determine the right filler metal, you need to consider a few factors. You need to identify the alloy of your base aluminum. Then need to figure the conditions where your finished part will be subjected to. If you need a reference, then the two most commonly used and preferred aluminum filler wires are ER5356 and ER4043.

How To Set Up A MIG Welder For Thin Metal?

To set up a MIG Welder for thin metal, consider the following instructions-

  • Choose a wire with a smaller diameter for thin metals since that will require less heat to melt. Also, using a smaller wire will let you have more control over a weld bead.
  • You should also use .023 or .024-inch wire for light gauge sheet metal work. But if your material is 18 gauge or thicker than that you can use .030-inch wire instead.
  • You will need a higher argon-based gas as your shielding gas or you can also use a mixture of 75% argon and 25% carbon dioxide.
  • In case you are using thin stainless steel, you can use ER308, ER308L, or ER308LSI welding. But, if you are using 316L stainless, you will need to include a 316L wire.

How To Set Up A MIG Welder For Flux Core?

If you wish to fix your exhaust pipe without welding, you can follow below mentioned temporary method-

  • Your material must be cleaned and free from any dirt, paint, or other contaminants. You can also use carbon steel or stainless wire brush to clean.
  • Need to gather equipment including the welder, all protective gears, slag chipping hammer, and a spool of the flux core wire. Put on your safety gears even before you start the settings.
  • Now load the wire into your machine according to the given instructions.
  • Clean the surface and grounding clamps with a wire brush.
  • Then clamp the workpieces together with C-clamps, magnetic squares, or locking pliers. Now, use the DCEP cables.

How To Set Up A MIG Welder With Gas?

Follow the given instruction that comes with the main welder package to set your gas regulator.

  • Be very careful during the valve cracking of your cylinder and other regulator setups.
  • If you intend to weld in an indoor area with no breeze or moving air, then 10 psi is enough for you.
  • In case you need to weld a project in a 20 mile per hour wind, set the gas flow rate at 30 psi.
  • In case you are having trouble getting nice beads after doing all the setup accordingly. Then turn on the gas flow up to 20 psi, and your problem will be solved.

How To Set Up A MIG Welder Without Gas?

Let’s have a glance at the gasless MIG welder or, self-shielding MIG settings-

  • You will need a drag or pull gun technique for this MIG welding.
  • Remember to keep your welder wire clean and dry before starting the welding task.
  • In this type of welding task, you will need a welder similar to stick welding. So, keep in mind to remove a layer of slag from the weld after each welding.
  • You can also use a wire brush and chipping hammer for better cleaning.
  • In this welding process, you do not need an external cylinder of shielding gas. That makes it ideal for outside working projects where you do not need to worry about blowing of shielding gas.


Hope now you are clear on how to set up a MIG welder for your welding projects and get the best outcome from your welder machine.

So, let us know how informative and helpful was this article for you.