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Welding Symbols - An Introduction to Reading Drawings

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>>> Welding Symbols - The Basics<<<

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Like other aspects of drafting, in welding there's set of symbols and

protocols that simply the communication between designer and builder.
The language of welding symbols itself, however, may seem a little
obscure at first. So the best way to learn it is to divide the overall
welding symbol into separate parts, and learn one at a time.

Anatomy of a Weld
Types of Beads
Welding Parameters

The main symbol is in the shape of a horizontal stick figures. Here are a
few variations on the theme:



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Welding Symbols

As you can see, the symbol has an arrow, a horizontal line known as the
reference line, and a tail at one end that forks off in two directions. The
arrow is attached to a leader line and always points to the location
where of the joint, hole or other spot to be welded. For example:


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The geometric shape you see at the center of a reference lines is known
as the weld symbol, which is not to be confused with the overall welding
symbol. The small shape indicates the type of weld to be performed, like
a fillet or groove weld.
The Weld Symbol and Arrow
The three weld symbols you see in the drawings above represent a
square, fillet and V-groove weld, respectively. The weld symbol may be
placed above the reference line, or below it (as shown).

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This location is important. When the weld symbol sits below the
reference line, it means the weld is performed on the "arrow side" of the
joint. In the next drawing, a fillet weld is specified on the side of the joint Welding Symbol Chart
nearest to the arrow.

Welding Symbol Reference

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Welding Symbols on
Drawings (PDF)
If the weld symbol appears on top of the reference line, then the weld
should be made on the opposite side of the joint from where the arrow
points. Here's an example:

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And if the shape appears on both sides of the reference line, it specifies a
weld for both sides of the joint to which the arrow is pointed.

Symbols and Abbreviations

in Construction Drawings



Welding Symbols - An Introduction to Reading Drawings

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Numerous weld symbols have been devised to represent all the different
joint or weld types used in the trade. Here are the most common ones:

If you're not familiar with welds and joints, be sure to check out those
topics in the green menu box located on the top right side of this page.
And since it takes time to memorize and interpret all these symbols, it's
a good idea to print out or photocopy a chart with both the symbols and
drawings of the completed welds. For a sample chart, click here.

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Dimensions and Angles

Numbered dimensions for a weld are indicated on one or both sides of
the weld symbol (which is why the reference line is long). For instance:

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In most cases, the weld size (i.e. width ) is located left of the weld symbol.
(As explained in Anatomy of a Weld, the width is measured using one or
both legs of a weld.) The length of the weld is written on the right side.
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Often, no length is indicated, which means the weld should be laid down
----------from the beginning to the end of the joint, or where there's an abrupt
change in the joint.
Naturally, any dimensions provided below the reference line apply to the
joint on the arrow side, while dimensions above the reference line apply
to the joint on the other side.

MAS Flight

Sometimes, a series of separate welds are indicated, rather than a single

long weld. This is common when thin or heat-sensitive metals are welded MalaysiaAirlines.c
on, or where the joint is a really long one. In the following symbol and
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drawing, 3-inch intermittent fillet welds are specified. The "pitch"
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indicates that these welds should be centered at 5-inch intervals.
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- -Notice that the fillet shapes on either side of the reference line are offset,
rather than mirroring each other. This means the welds should be
located at staggered spots on either side of the joint, as depicted in the
A weld symbol may sometimes specify an angle, root opening or root
face dimension. This is common for metal components thicker than 1/4
inch. The following example is a symbol and drawing of a V-groove

- -- - - - - -Here, the groove weld has dimensions written inside the symbol. The
first is 1/8 inch, which pertains to the root opening. The larger number
below it signifies 45 degrees, which represents the included angle
between the plates. "Included" means the sum of the angles beveled on
each side. In other words, the bevel made on each plate is 22 1/2 inches.

Other Symbols and Multiple Reference Lines



Welding Symbols - An Introduction to Reading Drawings

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Moving to another part of the overall welding symbol, at the intersection

of the reference line and the leader line (which is attached to the arrow),
two common instructions may be provided:

- - - - - - -- A flagpole indicates a field weld, which simply tells the welder to

perform the work on site, rather than in the shop. The weld-all-around
circle, located at the same juncture, means just that. While this symbol
is often used in pipe and tubing, a non-circular structural component (as
shown above right) may likewise need welding on all sides.
Here are a few other types of instructions you might see on a drawing:


A curve located above the weld symbol's face specifies that the finished
weld should be either flat, convex or concave. (If you see a straight line,
then it's a flat - i.e. flush - face.) As shown on the top right, a V-groove
weld symbol with a box above it indicates a backing strip or bar is
required for this joint. The strip or bar must be welded onto the back
side of the joint before the groove weld is performed.
A backing strip or bar is sometimes confused with a "back" or
"backing" weld. A back weld is where a second weld is created on the
back side of the joint after the primary groove weld is completed.
Conversely, a backing weld is a weld that the welder performs first (so it
serves the same function as a backing strip). The symbols for each of
these three options are illustrated below using the tail of the welding

As you can see, the only difference between the back and backing welds
is when they're performed. The symbols look the same, so both must be
specified by name. In the third symbol, the dimensions and type of steel
(A-38) for the backing strip are specified.
When a welding operation involves a lot of steps, you will sometimes see
multiple reference lines on the welding symbol, as shown below.

To keep the instructions clear, several reference lines may extend from
the leader line at a parallel trajectory. Each line represents a separate
operation and is performed in order, beginning with the line closest to
the arrow.



Welding Symbols - An Introduction to Reading Drawings

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Optional Tail = Special Instructions

The forked tail of the welding symbol is used to convey details that
aren't part of the normal parameters specified on the reference line. For
instance, the engineer or designer might want the welder to use stick
welding (i.e. SMAW), or another welding process. Or there may be
other information to convey:

Of course, when no special instructions are needed, the tail is ommitted

from the welding symbol, leaving just the reference line, arrow and
leader line.

More Complicated Welding Specifications

Once you grasp the basics, you'll be ready to absorb the many other
particulars conveyed on shop drawings and blueprints. Among the most

Finish and contour instructions

Countersink and chamfer specs
Grinding or other machining
Spot or plug weld instructions

Below you'll find the standard chart that's used to communicate

information with a welding symbol. You may need to refer to it when
there are lots of dimensions listed or uncommon specifications to sort

To research welding symbols further, follow the links in the resource

box on the upper right of this page. The Lincoln Foundation also
publishes a book, "How to Read Shop Drawings", which costs $10 if you
purchase it from their website. (See the link above.)

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