Should you Push or Drag a MIG Gun?
Just like swinging a baseball bat feels more natural from the left or right side, it may feel more natural to push or drag a MIG gun.
The push or forehand technique involves pushing the gun away from (ahead of) the weld puddle. With the drag or backhand technique, also called the, pull or trailing technique, the welding gun is pointed back at the weld puddle and dragged away from the deposited metal.
There are some technical reasons why you might want to choose one over the other. Pushing directs the arc force away from the puddle, which tends to create a wider and flatter bead with less penetration.
Dragging — directing the arc force back into the puddle — tends to produce deeper penetration and a narrower bead with more buildup. For MIG welding mild steel you can use either technique, but …
- Pushing usually offers a better view of the weld puddle and helps you keep the puddle centered in the joint. As a slight aside, one of the “joys” of learning is making what you think is a great weld only to find that you mostly welded on bottom plate.
- On sheet metal, you want to push (and do everything else possible to prevent blowing a hole in the metal).
For MIG welding aluminum, always push. Gas coverage is huge issue, and pushing is the only way to ensure you have good coverage. Even still, you’ll be scrubbing black soot off the weld as you learn.
Here at Arclabs, we train welding students for the real world. That means working in situations where you’ll have no choice but to work from right to left, left to right and everything short of hopping on one foot while patting your belly. While you might have a preference as to whether you push or drag, our instructors will make sure you can do both.
Lastly, some welding machines are just weird, and the arc will be more stable in certain situations. As you practice pushing and dragging otherwise learn to weld, hop on a different machine if you get a chance. Learn on your favorite machine, but master the tough ones, too.