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Beginners Welding Suggestions (Read 867 times)
mmosel
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Beginners Welding Suggestions
08/10/11 at 21:21:04
 
This is a slightly generic topic, so maybe it should be in the Cafe as opposed to Rubber Side Down. Please move if necessary.

Ok. I've always wanted to learn to weld. I'd like to be able to learn at home. I'm sure it's better if I took a class or whatever, but I'm a rebel.

So, what would be the way to go? Something affordable, but not super cheapo either. I just want to learn to do some basic steel to steel welding. Not sure if I'd need anything beyond that. Does stainless steel weld the same as simple steel?

I would love to get people's input here on this subject. Might also be good for other people on the forum who have never welded before.

Finally, any idea on the price for enough stuff to get started? As in 100, 200, 300 bucks? Do I want an Arc Welder machine? What is a flux wire welder and how is it different from the Arc machine?
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« Last Edit: 12/08/12 at 12:51:52 by Oldfeller--FSO »  

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Re: Beginners Welding? Suggestions Please.
Reply #1 - 08/10/11 at 21:54:10
 
I know mild steel welding quite well,....done it all my life.
Arc welding in a shop is almost obsolete anymore, but they still have their place.
Mig welding is easier, and cleaner.
I would recommend a smaller Mig machine of 130 amp mininum, which will run on 220-240 volts. IMO, don't buy a 115 volt Mig machine, or you will be limited to ......like 1/8" material.

A HF machine (china) Mig welder may be ok,.....I haven't used one, but I would recommend a Hobart, Miller or Lincoln,....all in the smallest 230 volt will do you a good job on 1/4 - 1/2" steel.

Mig machines can be run 2 ways, either using solid steel wire w/ a bottle of Argon sheilding gas mixing w/ the arc, or using flux core wire.
Using bottled gas is much cleaner than the flux core, but both do better than an Arc welder.

I myself have a 135 amp Lincoln w/ Argon gas, cost around $500.
The china machines are less than 1/2 that price.

Hope this helped you a little

On edit, any good Mig machine can be converted to weld stainless steel just by changing your roll of wire to SS. The gas should be changed too, but doesn't have to be.
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Re: Beginners Welding? Suggestions Please.
Reply #2 - 08/10/11 at 22:24:35
 
What is it you would like to weld?  Would you like to do work to your frame or sheetmetal work like sidepanels, tanks etc?  That will play a part in the machines you might want to look into.  I do a lot of sheetmetal work on cars and have a small lincoln MIG that I picked up cheap that I use for that.  Small and easy to wheel around the garage so it is perfect for that application but it isn't going to work for materials much thicker.  I have a separate machine for welding frames, suspension components, etc.  If you don't want to be welding thicker materials a small machine that you can pick up at home depot or lowes will work great.  It will be between 400 and 500 for something like this.  Also take into consideration that if you want to do thicker materials it will likely mean a dedicated 220v outlet...can't just plug your welder into the washing machine plug!  MIG is easy to learn.  Don't skimp on the helmet, helmets are definitely "you get what you pay for".  Best of luck!!
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Re: Beginners Welding? Suggestions Please.
Reply #3 - 08/10/11 at 23:07:41
 
Your best bet for just learning (in my opinion) would be to start with mig welding.if you have a harbor freight tool store close by you can buy a flux core welder for about $100.a flux core differs from a standard gas shielded mig welder in that it uses a core in the wire that releases the shielding gas as the wire burns.I recommend it because you won't have to worry about having compressed gas cylinders around.start with some light duty welding to get the feel for it,when holding the gun try using your free hand as a base to steady your welding hand with.it's all about keeping the gap between the tip of the welder and the metal consistent along with a steady speed as you move along the weld.arc welding with welding rods (to me) is trickier in that you not only have to keep the arc gap and speed consistent but you also have to move the rod down as it melts away.Start by going to http://www.millerwelds.com there's a ton of useful info to get you started.
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Re: Beginners Welding? Suggestions Please.
Reply #4 - 08/10/11 at 23:19:52
 
Look for a used machine built by a good company. Make sure it Will weld,,
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Re: Beginners Welding? Suggestions Please.
Reply #5 - 08/11/11 at 02:44:06
 
Thanks for any new information.
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Re: Beginners Welding? Suggestions Please.
Reply #6 - 08/11/11 at 04:02:18
 
I've got two 115v fluxcores,both rated for up to 3/8" material. I've had one for 14 years, still works fine. The other is still in the never opened  box as a spare. The one I use is a Walmart Campbell Hausfeld made in Italy,not sure on the other one's country of origin, but if it is China it will never be out of the box until it goes to someone else.

Flux wire makes a mess, lots of spatter. But it works fine for what I use it for, repairing cracks in truck beds and implement frames.

If you want to learn the oldest form of welding, come for a visit. I've got tons of steel, plenty of anthracite, just need to get some more borax. Can teach you forge welding. Yep,that kind of work, forge, hammer, anvil... Look at some ancient chain links, there is no seam where the link ends come together.
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Re: Beginners Welding? Suggestions Please.
Reply #7 - 08/11/11 at 06:29:12
 
I'm happier than a pig in slop with my Miller 211, running gas.  It was expensive, but it's got plenty of power and selects the wire feed rate and current for me.  Not a whole lot else to screw up.. though I try..
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Re: Beginners Welding? Suggestions Please.
Reply #8 - 08/11/11 at 06:53:08
 
Boule’tard wrote on 08/11/11 at 06:29:12:
I'm happier than a pig in slop with my Miller 211, running gas.  It was expensive, but it's got plenty of power and selects the wire feed rate and current for me.  Not a whole lot else to screw up.. though I try..

Boule,
You are way past due for an updated machine !
The latest ones will weld it for you too ! Grin
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Re: Beginners Welding? Suggestions Please.
Reply #9 - 08/11/11 at 07:29:29
 
I acquired the $179 Harbor Freight inverter (DC) arc welder a bit ago for small repair projects.  I've fixed a few things at work and a part on a friend's motorcycle with it.  From what I can tell, shielded metal arc welding is kind of messier and considered more archaic than MIG or TIG, but I specifically purchased this particular welder because it runs on regular household power.  No problems so far other than my own skill level.
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Re: Beginners Welding? Suggestions Please.
Reply #10 - 08/11/11 at 11:18:53
 
Routy wrote on 08/11/11 at 06:53:08:
Boule,
You are way past due for an updated machine !


I know.. but at least the machine I have can get my welds from "embarrassing and dangerous"  to just "embarrassing"   Grin
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Re: Beginners Welding? Suggestions Please.
Reply #11 - 08/11/11 at 12:18:36
 
Great question and great answers.  I have always wanted to give welding a try also.
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Re: Beginners Welding? Suggestions Please.
Reply #12 - 08/11/11 at 13:02:38
 
Rods create some serious bad fumes, ventilation is crucial. The $$$ for a darkening hood is not that big & closing the hood alway made me lose my aim,, I suggest, spend the $$.
A MIG needs to be protected from wind, to keep the gas shield around the weld.
How you take care of rods matters, In a sealed tube with dessicants is how I do it.
Cheap rods suck. Go to a welding supply shop & pay for the good ones, steer clear of Harbor Freight rods & Grinder disks,, Buy the good grinder disks, Norton lasts a long time & doesnt disintegrate & sling nasty crap all over me..
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Re: Beginners Welding? Suggestions Please.
Reply #13 - 08/11/11 at 18:03:25
 
I agree with the previous opinions, MIG is the best way to go these days for general purpose welding on steel but keep in mind that inexpensive welders are more difficult to use.  I have a friend that does most of my welding for me and he has sold all his welders except one Miller MIG welder.  I was a certified welder in my youth and learned in a well equipped company with a variety of different welders.  This was a good way to learn, better yet is at a local community college.  They usually have quality welders of different types and makes and you will not only develop your skills but preferences for different welders.  If you self teach yourself welding you will likely learn to do some things well but you will never know what you have missed.

Stick welding is still effective and you can buy rods of various diameters, materials, and for different weld positions for a wide variety of weld situations.  I still keep a stick welder at home for odd jobs, an old Miller.  It takes up little space and I don't have to worry about gas cylinders.  If I were you I would rather buy a used quality welder than a new import welder.  So many companies have folded recently that used welders are going pretty cheap.
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Re: Beginners Welding? Suggestions Please.
Reply #14 - 08/11/11 at 20:00:08
 
I'd sure check with the local CC or tech school and see what a class for MIG would cost. It is nice to learn with some coaching and use their electricity, gas, wire and steel. Also depending on the course you might learn about some options. I took regular arc welding many years ago and my problem with MIG was wanting the weld to be built up like the coating arc gives. Instructor would come up and look over my shoulder and say faster, faster. Also got a chance to try stainless and aluminum and use a plasma cutter. Spent 2 hours 4 days a week for 11 weeks and know I got my moneys worth of materials. Your Experience May Vary Max
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