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This is what I do with repair panels welded not at the stitch welds.

I drill holes 1/2 to 2" back on both the old and new panels. I place the old and new panels flush. Then I use a backing piece(often cut from the old material) to weld the two panels to at the holes. Then I stitch weld the two flush panels. You need to make sure you let the metal cool and move around so you do not warp the metal.
The final result is a flush panel that can be smoothed out easily and is much harder to burn through. If done correct the repair will not be noticable and no filler will be needed.

You are adding more material and you will have a backing plate that might be seen(usually not as its on the inside). But you do not have a step. This takes longer as you need to cut out the backing piece which might be curved or have a roll.

If your making the repair at the old spot welds then yes you (almost) always melt into the thick and walk the puddle over/into the thin. This may have your dimes going right to left instead of left to right depending on whats thicker/your welding direction.

I always keep a fender, rocker, or something else around of diffrent thicknesses in my scrap pile. Gauge it then burn through on some scrap adjusting settings and feel before moving on to the stuff you spent cash on.
 
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