Suggestions For Beginner Welder - What Type To Begin With :)


Old 08-07-04, 12:50 PM
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Talking Suggestions For Beginner Welder - What Type To Begin With :)

I've been wanting to weld for many years and now I have a little cash to throw at it and a few small projects I'd like to make.
I was wondering if anyone could suggest what kind of welder I should start with / invest in.
I've been doing some reading online and I am still not sure whether I want to go with ARC, MIG or TIG. I will be mostly welding square, round cheap steel tubing or angle iron etc. I'll probably be welding either in the backyard or in the garage with the garage door open.

It seems that ARC welding is good for just about anything but may be harder to learn/do. I've seen some cheap MIG welders at harbor freight that are 150 volt etc but I'm not sure how they would work on angle iron etc and I dont really want to have to rent a bottle of gas (perhaps disposable bottles would work?) TIG seems like it is very accurate and would let me work on small things without making a huge messy weld but from what I understand it is difficult to do.

Would a harbor freight model serve me well for $150-$250 for the small ammount of welding I'm going to do every once in a while? Or Should I spend quite a bit more on a higher quality welder? Also in the end would a cheap $150 Chicago Electric welder do just as good as a $450 Lincoln for my purposes.

Thanks for any information you can provide
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Old 08-07-04, 01:41 PM
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I bought my 1st welder when I was 17 years old. An AC 225 Amp 'buzz box' and I hacked a lot of things together over the years with it. Worked fine for that occasional thing that required welding. Bought a cutting torch around the same time. Been hacking for 40+ years. Worked fine on 1/8" and above. Never got good at anything 1/16" or thinner. Now I got a 200Amp mig and have expanded my horizons the last few years.

My 2 cents.....
Buy name brand (Lincoln, Hobart, Miller) you can't go wrong. In the event the welder breaks you need decent local support. You also need to be able to buy consumables easily. The box stores and places like harbor freight aren't going to help you.

225A AC Buzz box - cheap (can find used for $150 or less). uses electrodes. Have to chip slag off. Real good first choice if you don't want to do thin stuff. Will handle 1/4" easily for the hobbyist.
225A AC/DC Buzz box - new about $400, DC capability helps you in some situations.

Next step up for a few hundred$ more are your 135A and 175A mig welders. I think the 135s run on 110V and the 175A may require 220V. You can use flux wire with them if you don't want to have a tank. Flux welding gives some splatter that you don't get with using the tank of inert gas. I'd opt for the tank though. You 'buy' it at the welding place, but then just exchange it for another one when it gets empty. You just pay for the refill then.

To me mig is a lot more versitile. Easier to do sheetmetal too. For a home shop I'd go with the 175A migs with the gas bottle. You need a good helmet too. If you have the money look into the auto darkening ones. Lots of debate on those cheap ones that are under $100 though.

Tig is going to cost money, the learning curve is probably higher and you need a gas bottle. Tig is slower too.Someday I'll buy a tig but just because I want to 'play with it'. Just don't have $2000 laying around just now (yeah you can get cheaper ones but I'm interested in trying aluminum too)

Go here and read about the 135/175 amp migs (and just about anything else that has to do with welding). Lots of info in the boards

or here

or even this one
although its traffic has seemed to decline the last few months.

many of the same people frequent all 3 boards (to some extent).
Old 08-08-04, 04:30 PM
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try a mig welder

I weld as a hobby and my first welder was a century 130 amp mig welder which runs off of 120 volts with a 20amp circuit. I am using flux core wire and haven't tried gas yet. When you get into your higher powered mig welders then you need to run it off of 240 volts. I built a 5'x10' utility trailer using angled steel. I would also recommend a major brand welder as you get what you pay for.

I have bought from harbor freight before and haven't had any problems with their floor model metal cutting bandsaw which works great for cutting all sorts of steel. What I don't like about harbor freight is they make their tools sound like there made in usa like for instance chicago electric. You would think that tool was comming out of chicago but it comes from who knows where. I would recommend a mig welder for your first welder. It comes with gauges should you decide to use gas. If you buy a wire feed welder it comes without the gauges and cost a little less. dave
Old 08-09-04, 06:38 AM
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MIG is great. The Chicago Electric jobs are made in Italy and I've known of some folks who have had good luck with them and I've known of some folks who've had bad luck. I think their quality control is sort of hit and miss...
With Miller, Hobart or Lincoln you can't go wrong I have a Hobart 135 which is a great little welder. I believe Hobart is the consumer grade Miller. It uses Miller parts which you can get at any welding shop.
A few things to look for are the length of the cables and the power cords. Some of the cheaper ones have 5 foot cords/ cables which can be a pain. Some also have infinately adjustable heat while others have 4 settings.
I think most of the home stores carry Lincoln which is good because if you need a tip or something on sunday you can run to Lowes and get one.
Get a big c25 tank. I've done the flux core, and the small tanks. I lease mine for about $5 a month and a tank lasts me about 6 months.
Good luck!
Old 09-24-11, 07:00 AM
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I also would like to get a welder. The project I have in mind is a railing with black pipe newel posts and rebar for balusters. So I would be welding rebar to rebar and rebar to black pipe. I saw on Craigslist a Clark 130en. What do you guys recommend?
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