There are three commonly used electric welding processes; Manual Metal Arc (MMA) - most often known as stick welding - Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welding and Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding. All of these methods are suitable for building the kart but care must be taken on thin walled sections to avoid burning through tubing or distorting parts with excessive heat build-up.
Welding is a very accessible and affordable hobby; do not be put off by the price of higher-end machines. Whilst these units make welding considerably easier, much can be accomplished with cheaper systems and a bit of practice. In big handfuls, the cheapest welding process to start with is MMA, followed by flux cored MIG (i.e. gas not required) and then MIG and TIG. It is perfectly possible to develop a cheap and effective TIG set-up for steel and stainless steel using some readily available MMA inverters that can be configured for scratch-start TIG.
A few minutes surfing the web will throw-up a mass of websites dedicated to the art of welding. On this kart building site we can't possibly do justice to the depth and complexity of welding as a topic. However, over the years, we’ve found some sites that really make things clearer.
Welding websites and YouTube channels
Some basic tips that we’ve found help:
Use a welding table, these can be purchased fairly cheaply or can be made easily. The benefits of having a true surface to which you can clamp your workpieces, with magnets or hold-down clamps can't be overstated.
Make sure that you’re working in a well-lit and properly ventilated area. If you can’t see the weld puddle properly you can’t control it and therefore will produce poor welds.
Setting the correct current for the type and thickness of material is essential to achieve proper weld penetration.
If you’re approaching a certain age consider using corrective reading lenses in your safety glasses to make sure you can focus well enough to see what’s going on!
No matter which welding method you select to build the kart remember, safety first. Wear proper welding head and eye protection, cover exposed skin, wear the correct gloves (MMA creates splatter and you will need gauntlets, TIG requires more feel and therefore lighter gloves). If you are using inert welding gases (e.g. Argon) you must fully understand the hazards of compressed gases.
Whilst, with the proliferation of YouTube videos and welding forums, it is perfectly possible to teach yourself to weld proficiently, we would thoroughly recommend attending a few classes – the cost may seem high but your speed of learning will be much faster and you’ll save a small fortune in wasted gas, materials and spoilt parts and not to mention much reduced frustration and stress
Above all, practice, practice and then practice some more.