“Welder’s Handbook” is a good introductory text to basic welding. Yes, it does not have an endless amount of detail on most welding processes. And yes, in order to actually weld, you’ll have to actually weld. But reading this book first, and then getting basic instruction from someone who knows how to perform the type of welding you’re interested in, will get you off the ground very effectively.
The author, Richard Finch, who has been welding for decades, arranges the book by all the basic topics. He covers equipment, safety basics and metal basics, along with cleaning and fitting. He discusses oxyacetylene welding (and cutting) in considerable detail, using oxy welding to communicate basics of creating a weld pool, heating metal, and so forth. Later chapters cover arc (“stick”) welding, MIG welding, TIG welding, plasma cutting, and special processes. Within each chapter Finch covers techniques as they apply to the welding of different metals. He then suggests some projects and additional references for further reading. That’s it. Nothing fancy, and not a lot of wasted words.
Would I pay $150 for this—the cost for the much more voluminous “Welding Processes And Applications,” frequently used as a textbook? No. But I’d happily pay $10 or $15 for this, and did. And, with some minimal instruction and practice, I can weld—casually, not professionally. If I practiced more, I’d weld better, and this book helped my confidence level in getting started. For the home handyman, that’s usually all one needs.