Welding Positions | For Better Quality Welds & More Efficiency

Well, you’ve done your shopping. You know the difference between TIG and MIG welding and have chosen your favorite. You’ve studied up on great welders for the job at hand. Now, it’s time to learn about welding positions. 

Do weld positions really make a difference on the final quality of your weld? Absolutely! Choosing the right welding positions for your job can mean the difference between proper penetration and less slagging. Whether you’re doing vertical MIG welding or horizontal welding, you will want to know which position to choose.

This article will help you fid the right position for your project. If you don’t know the difference between vertical welds and overhead welding, we can tell you. If you need to learn the difference between 6g welding, 4g welding, and 2g welding, we will let you in on that secret, too. Keep reading to learn more.

Welding Positions – How to Choose the Right One

Choosing the right welding position is more than just saying oh vertical up and down sounds good! Let’s get to vertical stick welding! The way to determine your position is to weld in the position in which your welded part will be used. Whether you’re welding on the ceiling or in the corner, it is necessary to properly describe your weld so you know which way to perform. 

Basic Welding Positions

The four basic welding positions are defined by the American Welding Society. They are horizontal, flat, vertical, and overhead. Each position gets a number. So, 1 would be flat welds 2 is horizontal welds, 3 refers to vertical welds, and 4 is an overhead weld. 

The letter on common welding positions refers to the weld type. There are 2 main types of welds, fillets and grooves. So, if your position is 1F, you’re going to weld a flat fillet. If it’s 3G, you’re not talking about a cell phone connection… you’re referring to a vertical groove weld. 

Fillet welds are closed. This means that the base metal isn’t cut to accommodate the welding metal. You don’t usually need to bevel before welding fillets, but if the metal is thick enough you may want to. These are usually done with 2 plates that are perpendicular to each other.

Groove welds are welds that fuse 2 sides to each other. They are trying to forge a strong connection between separate plates. There should be a fusion zone created by fusing together and reinforcing both sides of the base meter.

You should bevel these edges to create a wide enough gap that your weld can achieve proper penetration and fusion. This position makes a groove pocket that will hold the molten metal while you work. 

Tack welds are pretty standard in nearly every type of welding. When metal gets heated, it tends to expand or warp. Anchoring a joint quickly is critical. These spot welds are tacks. When the permanent weld is completed, you then remove the tacks to lay down your beading. If you don’t tack properly, you will end up with cracks. 

When a position refers to the axis of a weld, it is referring to an imaginary line through the length of the weld that runs perpendicular to the cross section. It’s at the center of gravity. 

Horizontal Position Welding

When you are performing horizontal welds, the axis is what will be horizontal and the weld type completes your definition. For a fillet, you perform on the upper side of a horizontal surface against the vertical surface. For grooves, the weld face is vertical. 

Welding in a horizontal position is harder than flat welding. When metal becomes molten, it wants to flow to the lower side of your joint naturally. The heat rises to the upper side. These make it really difficult to achieve a uniform weld deposit for the joint. 

To help, you need to align your plates and tack weld both ends. Move your torch with a very slight up and down motion to distribute your heat more evenly. This will make sure heat is equal to both sides of the joint. Doing this keeps the molten metal from moving and flowing to the lower joint side and also helps your metal solidify much quicker. 

With this technique, you will need a lot of practice. It won’t come as naturally as flat welding, so you will have to learn. Make sure you do before moving to other positions because it only gets harder from here when technique comes into play. 

FLAT POSITION WELDING

Flat welding is the easiest welding to perform. Occasionally, it is referred to as downhand positioning, but flat position is the industry standard term. It’s a great way for beginners to experiment with MIG, TIG, and stick welds to find out their preference and also a good way for professionals to familiarize themselves with the fine tuning necessary on new welding guns before starting more difficult projects.


This welding requires welders to work from the upper side of their joint. The face of the joint is horizontal. To make the right beads on the surface of your plate, you need to use the flare motion and tip angle to position your welding flame above the molten puddle.

This requires careful maintenance. Adjust your torch tip to give the right type of flame for the metal you’re welding, because it will be different based on materials and thickness. 

Raising and lowering your welding flare in an arc motion, almost circular, can create narrow beads. These arcs should be very slight as you move your tip forward along the joint. Your tip should be at a 45-degree angle with the surface of the plate and your flame should point in the direction you’re welding. 

If you want a deeper fusion, then you can increase your angle between tip and plate surface or decrease the speed you’re using to weld. The puddle size should be kept smaller or the flame will burn through the plate. If you’ve made it correctly, the bead weld without its filler rod will rest slightly below the upper surface of the plate. 

Make a small puddle on the surface when you’re beading with a welding rod. Insert the rod into the puddle and this will melt the puddle together with the base plate. Move your torch very slowly in a side-to-side motion for excellent fusion. You can control your beading size by varying your weld speed and how much metal you deposit from the rod.

Tack welds should be used in this position to make surer your plates stay aligned. Lighter sheets should allow for contraction in the weld metal so you avoid any warping. 

The number of passes you need to make is determined by how thick your plates are. Only 1 pass is required for plates that are ¼ inch or less. From ¼ to 5/8 inches you need 2 passes. A third pass is necessary if your metal thickness is from 5/8 to 7/8. If you have a thickness of up to 1 1/8 inch then you will need 4 entire passes for your weld. 

Your flame’s motion needs to be carefully controlled because you want to melt the side walls of your plates and still have enough welding rod to produce a puddle. When you move the tip of your torch, you can carry the puddle along the joint with you to ensure ample penetration and enough filler metal to reinforce the weld. 

Do not overheat your puddle. If you do, you’ll burn the metal, weaken the weld strength, and cause porosity issues. 

Vertical Position Welding

For a vertical weld, your weld axis is… you guessed it… vertical. If you’re performing a vertical weld, the molten metal will run downwards and pile up on o ne side of the joint if you’re not careful. 

You can control the metal’s natural flow by pointing your flame upwards at a 45-degree angle to your plate. Hold your rod between the flame and the puddle. This will keep your metal from sagging and make sure that you’re getting proper fusion and penetration. Your torch and your rod both need to be moved slightly up and down to create uniform beading. The rod should be slightly above the center line of your joint. Your welding flame should move the molten metal across the joint to ensure even distribution. 

Overhead Position Welding

If you’re working from the underside of the joint, you’ll need to use an overhead position. Make sure that you have mastered your technique and are wearing proper safety gear for this so you don’t end up with molten metal burning your scalp. 

These joints will usually have issues because of metal dropping on the plate. The beads end up with very high crown points. You can counteract this by keeping your puddle of molten metal very small. Add enough filler metal to ensure solid fusion and reinforce the bead. 

If your puddle gets too big, you need to remove your flame until the weld metal freezes. If you’re welding incredibly light sheets, you can control your puddle size by applying equal heat to both the base metal and filler rod. 

Your flame needs to melt both edges of the joint when you point it at your weld. You also need to make sure you have enough filler metal to keep a good puddle and reinforce your joint. 

Your welding flame needs to be able to support the molten metal and you need to do small welding so you don’t burn it. Distribute it along the joint. Use a rod to ensure small puddles and make sure you control your heat through the plates.  This is especially important when it comes to side only welding. 

Positions for Pipe Welding 

Pipe welding has some unique positions. There are a lot of unique requirements and a variety of welding situations. Your welds are usually fixed, especially with the smaller work pieces as most welders are using the best bench vise they can find for this. However, sometimes you can roll your pipe to work in the easier flat position. 

Horizontal

For a horizontal pipe weld, you need to align the joint with your tack weld or use steel bridge clamps to hold the pipe in position on rollers. If the pipe’s circumference were a clock, you’d want to weld at the 2 o’clock position. Move upwards to the 1:00 position, and then rotate your pipe clockwise. Hold your torch between 1:00 and 2:00 while your pipe rotates and let the pipe rotate by it. 

Your torch position should b e similar to a vertical weld position. As you approach the 2:00 position it should go nearly flat and your angles should change to make up for the change in position. 

Stop your weld right before reaching the starting point so you leave a small opening. Then, reheat your starting point until the entire area is at a uniform heat level so you can create a complete fusion of the end of the weld with its starting point. You should make multiple passes if your pipe is thicker than ¼ inch. 

If your pipe is in a horizontally fixed position, do some tack welding. Orient your tacks at diagonals. If it was a compass, the tacks should be at NE, NW, SE, and SW corners. Once you start to weld, you can’t move your pipe. 

First, start at the bottom of your pipe, or S on a compass. Weld upwards towards the E position. Stop, and go back to the bottom, then weld upwards to the W position. Go back to the E weld and go to the top, or NN, of your pipe. Move the same way from the W to the N, overlapping your previous bead. 

If you’re welding downwarwards instead, start at the top of your pipe and work down one side to the bottom. Then, work top to bottom on the other side. This is a great method for arc welding because higher temperature arcs let you move very quickly. In fact, you can finish 3 times faster with this method. 

Vertical

For fixed position vertical pipes, your joint will be horizontal. Most welders choose the backhand method for this piping. Start your weld at the tack and carry it continuously along the pipe. 

If you’re using a clamp for lining it up, your root bead should start at the bottom of the groove while your camp is positioned. If you’re not using a backing ring, be careful. You will need to build up a little bead on the inside of the pipe. If you do use a backring, your root bead should fuse to it. Apply as much of the root bead as possible before removing the clamp, and then complete the bead upon removal.

Filler beads need to be carefully fused into your root bead. This will remove any possible undercut issues the root bead may have caused during deposit. You may need several filler beads along the pipe.

Finished beads come over filler beads. They will complete your joint. This is typically a woven bead of about 5/8 inch. It is usually about 1/16 inch above the outside surface of your pipe when it is finished. 

Conclusion

Now that you know a little more about the different welding positions, you’re ready to go weld! If you are more of a visual learner, then there are some great diagrams here. Hopefully now you will know the right technique for your project. 

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About the Author Gregory

Hi, my name is Gregory! I have been welding practically all of my life and love it. As I have gotten older I have started to weld less and less, so in order to continue my love for welding I created this website. I like to write about my experiences and help you all become welders. I hope that you enjoy the site!

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