In common welding practices, the welding surface needs to be prepared to ensure the strongest weld possible. Preparation is needed for all forms of welding and all types of joints. Generally, butt welds require very little preparation, but some is still needed for the best results. Plate edges can be prepared for butt joints in various ways, but the five most common techniques are oxyacetylene cutting (oxy-fuel welding and cutting), machining, chipping, grinding, and air carbon-arc cutting or gouging. Each technique has unique advantages to their use.
For steel materials, oxyacetylene cutting is the most common form of preparation. This technique is advantageous because of its speed, low cost, and adaptability. Machining is the most effective for reproducibility and mass production of parts. Preparation of J or U joints is common prepared by machining due to the need for high accuracy. The chipping method is used to prepare parts that were produced by casting. The use of grinding to prepare pieces is reserved for small sections that cannot be prepared by other methods. Air carbon arc cutting is common in industries that work with stainless steels, cast iron, or ordinary carbon steel.
Prior to welding dissimilar materials, one or both faces of the groove can be buttered. The buttered layer can be the same alloy as the filler metal or a different filler metal that will act as a buffer between the two metals to be joined.