Home welder, what to buy?

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Old 03-25-03, 09:52 AM
DieselNut
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Home welder, what to buy?

Hi all.......looking to pickup a welder, mostly to learn on and home use..any recommendations?....Thanks.
 
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Old 03-25-03, 02:45 PM
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Smile What to buy???

DieselNut:

My personal preference as a first machine would be a small ac/dc machine.
They are not very expensive and would give you a good taste of what welding is all about, plus let you be able to buy the other accessories you likely will need.

I'll copy this over to the welding forum where our welding experts reside.
 
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Old 03-26-03, 06:16 AM
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Hi Dieselnut,
I recommend first things first, Buy a name brand (Miller or a Lincoln) because you can always get your money back if you decide to sell it, to move up to a bigger model,
Now, what kind of welding are you going to be doing if its for home use you can either go to mig or stick, a stick welder is a little cheaper but a little harder to use, if you go with a stick welder, do not even bother to look at a AC output welder tell them you want a DC output only, and make sure its a 220Volt. with this you can weld 1/8" on up.
I prefer a mig welder for home use its more user friendly for a beginner and dont let them talk you into a gasless wire tell them you want a shielding gas of 75% argon and 25% co2, you will find this to be the best set up.
Now determine what thickness you want to weld, a 110v is typically good up to 3/16" and can do thicker if you run multi passes. If you are typically going to be welding 3/16" on up you may want to consider jumping up into a 220V model that will weld any thickness you will ever need.
Just remember, if you buy the name brand machine you will not be sorry and if its not the right size for you you will get your money back. I know that over the years I've had several people stop in off the street and tell me they wish they had bought the name brand to start with. As for what brand, Miller or lincoln to buy, find out what brand your local welding supply carries and go with that. I myself am a true blue kind of guy( Miller)
 
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Old 03-26-03, 11:53 AM
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We've got the 120v Miller wire fed "mig". It's on a cart with gas and it's a great welder. As I recall it was under $300.

Also a great investment is the auto darkening shield.
 
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Old 03-26-03, 01:18 PM
NutAndBoltKing
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Portable Welder's suggestion to buy a name brand is solid sound advice. You will be able to recoup any investment you've made into a name brand product and will always have access to their well established part, product and training network.

For me it's rough to give advice because I don't know the type of welding you plan on doing. An inexpensive 110v "buzz box" might be your ticket, so could an inert gas wire fed, so could a 220v DC.

It's hard to shop for a welder. Big chain stores have them, but the sales staff usually knows very little about them. Welding supply outlets have them, but you can't test drive one like you can test drive a new demo car. There are lots of used welding units for sale, available at auctions, large flea markets, and at liquidation ad bank sales, but the condition and history of the unit may be at question.

I'd suggest you first figure out the type of welding you plan to do and then visit a few supply outlets, talk to the sales people, and grab all the brocheures. Then I'd go find a local welder. Welders are a rare and almost extinct breed of trade/craftsmen. By that I mean that welders are throwbacks to the old days where pride and doing a good job still comes first, where no job is too big or too small, and they're always willing to help with advice or offer a tip. I'd find a welder and pick his mind. You'll get rock hard great advice.
 
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Old 03-26-03, 10:00 PM
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Although they do work somewhat well I try to stay away from anything 120v. If there is there 240 is near too. Often the building wiring isnt great on branch circuits and its too easy to try to run that stuff with cords. As these other extremly knowledgable and upstanding gents have eluded to there are different machines for different things. I really like the new 210 amp feeders that both red and blue companies came out with and they should run .035 well and for under 1200$ they will do anything the average guy can want to do for small shop and farms etc. They also take 30# spool of wire which saves big. With that, and the addition of a AC/DC (400 or so) machine you have quite complete welding except for aluminum. I like one of those little stick machines for reaching outside the door and for running nickel on cast and the occasional alloy rod that you dont want to set up wirefeed for. Chop the leads off and add connectors and about 50 ft of lead a couple sizes bigger on so you can reach. I made a lot of money with a Lincoln tombstone I paid 300 for.
 
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Old 03-26-03, 10:15 PM
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If I could only have one…… I think I would go with a 220v Stick unit from either Miller, Lincoln, or Hobart. The other posterers have a point to suggest you tailor it to you needs. What are you going to do with it? If you tell us, we might be able to give you a more specific answer. But either way go with a name brand unit. When talking about name brand welding people always seem to forget Hobart, am I the only one who considers them name brand?
 
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Old 03-28-03, 02:54 AM
josh1
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i too am looking for a home welder ( or a good body shop). If you havent, you might try the buyandsell. Its sort of a canadian classified website. I have seen some fairly good deals, especially with the exchange rate. There's also a good book on welding, it covers oxy act mig tig and arc, the guy is all about oxy act, so you learn proper heat range. ive just started reading it but its well worth $20 to read through before you buy something, and also has safety info. its called "welders handbook".
-Josh
 
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Old 03-28-03, 04:43 AM
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Josh:

Stating your intended use for a welder makes it easier to make a selection.

If you plan to do bodywork then the choice is simple.
A small mig welder would do wonders on tin. You don't need a lot of heat so even a 120 volt one would work well.
 
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Old 03-28-03, 06:39 AM
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Asian welder and Hobart. I have both.

When I got the itch to weld around the house, I purchased a $99 asian brand wire welder (no gas, flux core wire) from AirHarbor freight catalog. I think they are $150 now. I used it for about 2 years and ran about 4 lbs of wire through it, then I bought a $700 Hobart Mig welder. I keep my first asian wire welder on the shelf but don't use it anymore. However, it is small and portable. I can grab it with one hand and take it next door or across town for a quick and dirty weld. I wouldn't dream of dragging my Hobart around with its long cords, gas bottle and cart setup.

Of course there is a world of difference between the two welders, but I have had no regrets with my purchases. Many freinds and neighbors have offered to buy my asian welder, but I prefer to keep it as a backup.

The asian welder has really short cords and short cycle time, meaning I can only weld about 30 seconds every 5 minutes before it trips an internal breaker or trips the household breaker. Then I have to let it cool for 15 minutes if the breaker trips. The welds always look like 'bird crap' with the flux core wire. But I did alot of fun welding and learning with that box.

Oh yes, I have done some stick welding too with other peoples welders. Without question, I prefer the Mig welder. But my welding hobbies use less than 1 lb of wire a year. Except for the log splitter I am building. There I tack the log splitter parts with the Mig and come back a second time with a stick welder because the steel is 1/8" and thicker.
 
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Old 03-28-03, 03:03 PM
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As someone who's been welding professionally for the better part of 25 years now, I like the suggestion, for home use, of an AC/DC SMAW power source. Buy a good used one (if new is too expensive) in Lincoln or Miller, and you'll be able to do most anything.

My LX-10 Lincoln (diesel powered unit) is essentially the same thing, except it has constant current taps for MIG welding (with an external wire feed unit). An AC/DC SMAW unit can have a hi-freq box added for TIG welding as well, which then makes it capable of short-run welding of any weldable material. The DC taps on the unit simplify welding OOP (out of position) simply by adjusting the polarity of the unit. DC also allows for precise penetration control, depending on current and polarity, by either putting the heat in the work or in the electrode.

I have commercial single phase MIG and TIG units in the shop, as well as the portable one, and I would say the MIG gets the most use, since I well together hydraulic cylinders and fabricate heavy metal sections the most. However, I could, with a small time penalty (for changing rods and cleaning welds), do all the same work with the TIG machine, which is essentially a AC/DC SMAW power source with gas valves, timers and a hi-freq box built in. I can either stick or TIG weld with it.

My best advice is not to spend a ton of money (unless you're rolling in it ) on a welder unless you plan on using it every day, or nearly so. Buy a good quality used unit from any of the majors and you'll never buy another one....at least that's been the case for me anyway.

Good luck!

Pat
 

Last edited by camachinist; 03-28-03 at 03:35 PM.
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Old 03-29-03, 02:38 PM
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Something else a that is sort of related that being in the mechanic proffessions I really see the difference and the advantage of a strong welding background and that I can do things the non welder just cant. It seems that I cant even change a fuel filter with out welding something. I had to modify bracket. I built hundreds and probably thousands of brackets over the years and remove broken bolts by the hundreds too that really frustrate the other guy. Salvage of broken parts too. The other day I find a broken baffle in an oil pan so I walk to the bench and in a couple mins its better than it was when its new. I am rebuilding a 91 Ford pickup for my own use and I have fixed dozens of things that would have had to be replaced or made it impractical to salvage this thing. I have about 10 trucks and pickups and the amount of exhaust work has paid for a machine several times over. I have a system for mufflers, sawzall and wirefeed, cut them off and put new on, they dont leak and dont shake off. The welder has a huge advantage and I always stress this to young guys getting in. Other times when I was younger and traveling I often hired in because thats what they needed and in small shops being a class A welder really stood out compared to the hacks. It was a really good foot in the door. I have had young guys work for me and when they went elsewhere the first impression of using a torch at journyman level really stood out. Its one of my first thoughts as a first option instead of a last resort, can I cut it off or weld it on. I have also seen large companies with no welding background in maintance,, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in productivity. I reworked a machine for a national company recently and took a feeer with me to the job. The maint crew had never seen work like that and they all want to buy it from me. 2 of them bought machines for home and this company bought one. The only welding work they had seen was some stick stuff from an amateur they had working there.
 
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Old 04-07-03, 06:46 AM
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I agree, most of the parts I seem to need both at work and home are not made by anyone or are super expensive. When I had extra time I use to make pretty good extra money with my tube bender and welder making roll cages for unusual applications. Speaking as some one who hires Automotive And Industrial Technicians, I first look for experience in a similar environment, next I look for electronic trouble shooting skills, then hydraulic repair and replacement, and then welding. If they do not have all of those I do not consider them for a job. With out welding it really limits them as to how they can solve a problem and the quality of the repair. I always liked the statement that real trucks are built not bought.
 
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