Worker welding metal pipe in industrial setting

The Different Welding Positions and When to Use Them

Welding is the process of putting two pieces of metal together. While you can use cutting torches to separate metal, here, we’ll talk about how to do the converse: connect two discrete pieces and make them into one. The resultant piece of metal is called a joint. Think about the connective joints in your body, and you’ll get a similar idea about how the metal is connected.

As a process, welding can get complex. There are four different positions available for you to use when welding your metal product. Each of these orientations serves a different purpose and can affect the end product. The four positions are flat, overhead, horizontal, and vertical. This article will cover these basic welding positions and how they work. Read ahead to find out more.

Man wearing protective face shield while welding metal

Welding Positions Techniques

It’s important to note that while you have these four orientations available, the nature of the structures you’re welding on may or may not be ideal. That’s why you have to adjust and accommodate.

Flat Position

To weld metal in the flat position, you must do so from the joint’s upper side. That means that the weld is facing horizontally. By and large, the flat position is the easiest, most convenient, and most common position with which to weld. You can also refer to it as the downhand position.

So what are the procedures for welding in the flat or downhand position?

The orientation of the welding flame is the most essential factor in determining welding capacity. Essentially, the key considerations are the flare motion (how the flame moves), the angle of the tip, and how the flame is positioned relative to the metal weld puddle.

Of course, the welding flame should always correspond to the type and thickness of its welding. In the flat position, the angle of the tip should be at a 45° angle relative to the surface of the metal. This means that the flame will orient to the direction of the weld.

Horizontal Position

Horizontal welding is a different orientation altogether. Here, the weld axis is horizontal, as the name of the position implies, but the type of weld creates the overall orientation for the project.

There are three subtypes of horizontally-positioned welding: fillet weld, groove weld, and butt weld.

Fillet welding is performed on the top side of a horizontal surface against a surface 90° from it (vertical).

Groove welding is where the face of the weld is on a vertical plane.

Butt welding, arguably the trickiest of these three types to get right and master, follows the flow of molten metal. Gravitationally, the molten metal will flow down to the joint’s lower side.

However, the heat from the flame orients to the upper side. Balancing these two opposing physical forces is challenging – but doable. Here are some suggestions for procedures to ensure an effective butt weld:

  • Align the plates and use a pre-welding process called tack welding, where you drop little beads across the length of the joint. Tack welding ensures alignment during the actual welding process as difficulties may arise.
  • At this point, the torch should oscillate up and down slightly. This is to ensure the proper distribution of heat across the weld. It also preserves the molten metal in what’s called a plastic state, which is less of a fluid and more of a solid, ensuring that the solidification process is quicker and more efficient.
  • You’re now ready to conduct a butt weld!

Vertical Position

The vertical position is conversely related to the horizontal position. All this means is that the weld’s axis is oriented vertically. As gravity would dictate, the molten metal flows downward on a vertical surface. However, you can mitigate and control the direction and volume of flow with your torch.

If you point the flame 45° upward against the plate and keep the rod fixed between the molten metal and the flame, you can successfully execute a controlled weld. This physical manipulation ensures that the metal won’t sag or fall and creates the circumstances for joint penetration and fusion.

In the vertical position, the flame should also oscillate slightly to ensure a uniform bead across the weld length. Make sure to hold the rod slightly above the joint’s centerline. Doing so will create the circumstances for the proper and uniform distribution of the molten metal across the joint.

It’s also important to note that welding butt joints in the vertical position should undergo the same processes and procedures for flat position welding.

Overhead Position

A tricky weld position, overhead welding is performed at the joint’s underside. Here, the deposited metal tends to drop and sag. To overcome this challenge, the weld puddle of molten metal should be preserved at a low volume, and you should compensate for its smallness with enough filler metal for proper fusion and reinforcement.

In the overhead position, orient your flame to melt both of the joint’s edges. Use a rod to control the plates’ heat with care and precision.

High precision laser welding machine

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the difference between 1G and 2G welding positions?

These two different position names are shorthand for flat and horizontal positions, respectively.

2. What is the most challenging welding position to master?

There are a couple of answers to this question. Butt welding as a process is the most challenging type of welding to master. The overhead position is the trickiest welding orientation to master.

3. Can I use any welding position for any type of joint?

Given that the flat position is the most commonly used welding position, you can weld any type of joint using this position.


Metal welding is a complex, highly engaging, and critical process in creating new metallurgical products. It’s a refined art, and you need to be familiar with all four different welding positions and the three types of welding to truly master it.

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