Difference Between Forehand vs. Backhand Welding

Welding is an essential fabrication process used in the manufacturing and commercial construction industries to join multiple objects. As you may know, it involves heating the respective objects, thereby causing them to melt.

As the objects begin to cool, they fuse together to create a secure connection. While all welding processes are performed by melting the objects, there are two primary ways in which they are performed: forehand or backhand. So, what’s the difference between forehand and backhand welding?

What Is Forehand Welding?

Forehand welding (push welding or forward welding) includes holding the welding torch at approximately a 30–45-degree push angle. As the torch stands, the welding rod precedes the torch. The heat is pointed in the direction of welding and directed between the rod and the molten puddle.

Next, the flame and the filler rod/electrode are moved in a semi-circular fashion in opposite directions. As a result, by moving the filler rod and welding torch in the opposite direction, you can carefully melt the end of the rod and the sidewalls of the plate into a uniformly distributed molten puddle.

In addition, as you use forehand welding, you uniformly preheat the edges of the metal, allowing excellent arc welding results.

Since the heat of the welding torch tip is pointed away from the rod, the metal is molten evenly. Overall, the forehand technique is known for excellent control of the weld puddle and penetration. In addition, forehand welding is suitable for overhead and vertical welding positions.

Even though the push welding technique allows faster weld progression, it results in a shallower penetration. Additionally, forehand welding may result in more spatter and inconsistent arc.

What Is Backhand Welding?

In this method, the torch tip precedes the rod in the direction of welding, and the flame is pointed back at the molten puddle and the completed weld. The end of the rod is placed between the torch tip and the molten puddle.

The welding tip should make an angle of about 45 to 60 with the plates or joint being welded. Less motion is required in the backhand method than in the forehand method. If you use a straight welding rod, it should be rotated so that the end will roll from side to side and melt off evenly.

You may also bend the rod and, when welding, move the rod and torch back and forth at a rapid rate. If you are making a large weld, you should move the rod so as to make complete circles in the molten puddle.

The torch is moved back and forth across the weld while it is advanced slowly and uniformly in the direction of the weld. You’ll find the backhand method best for welding material more than 1/8 inch thick. You can use a narrower “V” at the joint than is possible in forehand welding.

An included angle of 60 is a sufficient angle of bevel to get a good joint. It doesn’t take as much welding rod or puddling for the backhand method as it does for the forehand method. By using the backhand technique on heavier material, it is possible to obtain increased welding speeds, better control of the larger puddle, and more complete fusion at the root of the weld.

Further, by using a reducing flame with the backhand technique, a smaller amount of base metal is melted while welding a joint. Backhand welding is seldom used on sheet metal because the increased heat generated in this method is likely to cause overheating and burning.

When welding steel with a backhand technique and a reducing flame, the absorption of carbon by a thin surface layer of metal reduces the melting point of the steel. This speeds up the welding operation.

Forehand and Backhand Welding for Other Fabrication Processes

The main difference between forehand and backhand welding is the way in which the torch and rod are held. Forehand welding involves holding and applying the torch before the rod, whereas backhand welding involves holding and applying the rod before the torch.

With names such as “forehand welding” and “backhand welding,” you may assume that are only used for welding. However, both of these techniques can be used for other fabrication processes, including brazing and soldering.

Brazing and soldering, of course, are unique fabrication processes because, unlike with welding, they don’t melt the objects intended to be joined. Regardless, forehand and backhand techniques can be used for all three fabrication processes.

Similarities between forehand welding and backhand welding

  • Forehand and backhand welding techniques are associated with fusion welding processes (primarily gas welding, but the concept is equally applicable to most arc welding processes).
  • Most of the arc welding and gas welding processes can be carried out either in forehand or in the backhand technique.
  • Filler metal can be applied in both configurations.
  • Flame or arc length remains within same range regardless of forehand or backhand strategy employed.
  • Irrespective of welding technique, the joint quality depends predominantly on the capability of the welder.

Differences between forehand welding and backhand welding

Forehand WeldingBackhand Welding
In forward welding, the flame or electrode is pointed towards the direction of weld progression.In backward welding, the flame or electrode is pointed away from the direction of weld progression.
Here the torch is inclined at an obtuse angle (usually 135° – 150°) with the feed vector.Here the torch is inclined at an acute angle (usually 30° – 45°) with the feed vector.
The torch is situated above the deposited weld bead (puddle).The torch does not remain above the weld bead, rather it remains above the unfilled root gap.
Filler metal is applied ahead of the torch.Filler metal is applied behind the torch.
Pre-heating of the base metals takes place automatically in the forehand technique.No pre-heating occurs here.
No post-heating occurs here.The backhand welding technique facilitates the post-heating of the deposited weld bead.
The weld joint is subjected to undesired residual stress.Post-heating allows the joint to be continuously annealed which helps to relieve the residual stress.
Pre-heating offers a faster torch-feeding rate, which helps in improving productivity.Torch feeding rate is usually slow due to a lack of pre-heating.
It increases the filler deposition rate but cannot fetch deeper penetration.It assists in achieving deeper penetration, though the filler deposition rate is slow.
The tendency of spatter formation is more with the forehand technique.The backhand welding technique creates comparatively less spatter.
This technique offers good visibility to the welder.The weld zone has poor visibility.
It is preferred for joining thin plates (usually up to 3.0 mm without edge preparation).It is preferred for joining thicker plates.