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What welder to get?

Posted by Megapea (My Page) on
Sun, Sep 19, 04 at 21:57

My birthday is coming up soon, and my wife wants to get me a welder. I don't know a whole lot about welding, but would like to get into it. I have about every handtool made, so my wife is running out of ideas for me. I would like to do smaller type projects like automotive repairs, tractor repairs, tool cart fabrications, etc. Budget for this gift is from $300.00 - $500.00. I've checked out Sears, Northern tools, Harbour Freight tools, Lowes, Home Depot, and a few other local places. What can you guys teach me, so that I get the right machine? I don't have 220V, so I need to stick to 110V. I was leaning toward a feed type welder, but after reading the posts here, stick welders seem to be recomended. What are the real differences between them? Any information would be greatly appreciated!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: What welder to get?

Guess that I should stand back and let someone else jump in here. What I would do may or may not be right for your circumstances, but my thoughts would be for a first welder to use some of that money to get a 220 outlet dropped in a convenient place where you are going to be welding, unless you are just planning on welding real light stuff. Then get a good used 225Amp AC stick welder a few rods, clamps etc and a welding helment. Eventually you will decide what you need most. An auto darkening helment is a definite plus, but can run 2 or 3 hundred or more. You are going to need something to cut metal with and a supply of stock to use. If there is a metal scrap yard in your area, you can find a lot of angle, square tube, pipe, strap and lots of other "treasures" that you can practice on, or use for fabrication. A good metal welding table or workbench is almost a must and there are things that make it more useful like a vice, magnetic welding blocks to help hold materials in the proper position and a good fire extringuisher could occasionally come in handy too. Be safe and learn the safe way to do things first. Just my thoughts.
Bill P.


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RE: What welder to get?

I have been saving to buy the welder at the link below.
A Lincoln AC/DC Tombstone Welder K1297

Pooh Bear

Here is a link that might be useful: AC/DC Lincoln Tombstone Welder K1297


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RE: What welder to get?

Stick welders and wire feed each have their place in a shop. I have both and use both. I have a AC/DC 225 amp stick and a 135 amp 120 volt mig - both Lincoln. I use the Mig welder most of the time until I get into either metal over 5/16" or rusty metal. The good thing about the Mig is that it runs on 120 volts and is portable enough to throw into my van and carry it over to a friends to do some welding. It also allows you to get into tighter places than a stick welder. Using a wire feed is easier to learn than a stick. Like gonefishin said - an auto-darkening helment is a pure joy to use.

Patrick - Shreveport, La.


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RE: What welder to get?

Older welders are better (copper wound) than the newer (aluminum wound) ones... Much better...


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RE: What welder to get?

What Kevin said....far better and will last for your lifetime.

And I would recommend a stick machine to start out with. And if possible, AC/DC.
Also, a lot of that other stuff, you can make yourself, once you have a welder!!

But that's just me, a long time stick weldor

Joe


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RE: What welder to get?

You're really limiting yourself with the 110V requirement. A decent stick welder will be 220V--I wouldn't buy a 110V stick welder, having bought one in the past. There are some smaller MIGs (Hobart Handler, Lincoln SP135, and some others) that run on 110V and are pretty nice, but you won't be using them for thick stuff. They also can't easily do cast iron welding, hardfacing, etc. If you get a 110V MIG it should be a good one. The cheapies are not well-designed.


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RE: What welder to get?

I was going to put in a bunch of my own opinions, but I think this is a lot better. Most welding equipment is good for certain things (with the possible exception of the 120V 70 amp arc welder sitting in my barn :). I was thinking about a list of questions to ask to get the right welder for the right weldor :). Here is a start.

The questions I thought of are:

What would you like to do with your welder right now?
What do you think you will want to weld 6 mo from now?
How do you feel about a learning curve?
How much money do you have to spend on a welder?
Do your welding jobs require portable equipment?
Do you have 220V available?
What types of materials do you want to weld?
Will you be welding outside, inside or both?
How much will you use the welder (duty cycle)?
How important is getting the welder fixed in a timely mannor if it were to need repair?

I think a list of this type could help answer the "which welder" questions that are sure to occur on this board. Please add/edit or modify the list as needed.

If you dont mind being a guinnea pig Megapea, you could answer these questions too. I think that "I dont know" is an acceptable answer too. It should make the recommendations a little more accurate.

Kurt


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RE: What welder to get?

I'd be glad to be a "ginnea pig" for some good advice! Right now, I would spend my time learning and practicing ( no projects scheduled yet). In 6 months, I would hope to be somewhat capable, and tackle maybe a bench grinder stand, or fixing a rod iron chair. I'm very accepting of a learning curve, although, I am a perfectionist, so I hope to do well. Money is $300-$500. Portability would be very nice, so that I could help my friends out if they need something welded. I have 220V for my pool filter, but would have to install another line if I went that route, so would prefer 110V. I want to weld rod iron, car sheet metal, maybe my tractor if something broke, other than that, at this point, I don't know. I will be welding inside and out. I don't know how much I'll be using it, and I don't understand "duty cycle". I am buying a welder as more of a hobby at this point, not for business, but I would'nt want to wait a couple months for repairs. I am convinced to get a "name brand" (ie:Lincoln, Miller, Hobart etc.) Hope you guys can digest all of this info, and help me out! Thanks! P.S. I called Lincoln Electric today, and talked to a nice guy, who, after hearing what I'll be doing, suggested the Weld Pak 3200HD Wire Feed Welder. Any thoughts on that machine?


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RE: What welder to get?

Considering the answers you gave, I'd say the linocln guy gave a good recommendation.

"called Lincoln Electric today, and talked to a nice guy, who, after hearing what I'll be doing, suggested the Weld Pak 3200HD Wire Feed Welder. Any thoughts on that machine?"

For what you want to do, that sounds pretty good. I have a friend that likes that model very much. I think it is sold at Home Depot. Flux core would give you the ability to weld outside and this unit is 110V and portable. It should be able to handle most of your jobs. Just no structual "bet your life" welds bigger than 3/16 with gas or 1/4 with flux core. If you decide to use gas shielding (welds are much prettier and no slag to chip off) I think you would have to get the optional gas coversion kit. If you decide you want to weld bigger stuff, the 220V AC/DC stick welder would make a nice complement later.

The duty cycle is related to the amount of continous welding time. 60% duty cycle would mean that out of 10 minutes time, 6 minutes would be actually laying down a bead with the welder. 4 minute of rest/cooling before starting the next bead. In a production environment, duty cycle is a big deal. In you or my case, it isnt :).

regards,

Kurt


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RE: What welder to get?

As I posted in the other thread.... I have a Lincoln MIG PAK 10 110v mig welder. I have had it for 5yrs with no problems. I do not make trailers or ships! I do what I consider to be hobbie metalworking. My current project is my Arien GT17 tractor. The Frame is 1/8 to 3/16" thick. I had to cut the front plate and reposition it due to factory defect when they put it in the jig to weld it. It does a beautiful job with that. I have never tried to push it past it's limits which is IIRC 1/4". I just don't work on that big of projects and not that I have turned down any either. If I had to look at what I might do, possibly, maybe, someday, once and buy that more expensive equipment which for me wouldn't be justified, then I wouldn't be able to do half of the things that I already can do. I can always sell my equipment and buy the larger stuff later and I have gotten 5 yrs use out of it without taking too much of a hit. What if I had bought a $1,500 dollar welder and decided metalwork wasn't my thing.

P.S. Just bought a 115V plasma cutter and it seems to do just fine on "my stuff".:)

Chad


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RE: What welder to get?

Chad, tell me something about your plasma cutter if you don't mind. I have been thinking that I want one ever since I heard about them, but all I have seen have been too expensive for what I can rationalize / justify. My chop saw has really done a job for me, but occasionally I need to cut something that I can not position right on it and wind up taking my cutting torch to it, but I can't cut real smooth with it. A friend owns a pawn shop and gives me really good deals, had a pretty big used one but even that was more than I wanted to pay with it being used, no manuals etc and not knowing anything about them.
Bill P.


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RE: What welder to get?

Buying a 110 volt stick welder could turn you off from welding... 110 volt mig welder is OK... But you need 220 for the stick welder or it will be very hsrd to use... I weld every day and my friend got a 110 stick and I had a very hard time with it....


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RE: What welder to get?

Kevin,
That was my experience exactly. That 110V stick unit was very frustrating. I couldnt hardly strike an arc with anything but 1/16 electrodes. I did get some 5/64 to work once, but try finding them at your local welding shop. I am on the lookout for a used 220V stick though. AC/DC would be nice, but just AC would probably get me by since I already have the mig.


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RE: What welder to get?

I have both Ac and Ac Dc welders... I don't think the extra bucks for Dc is worth it... I can do allmost anything with my Sears 30 year old welder... Dc welders also draw more amps... My Dc will trip a 40 amp breaker...


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RE: What welder to get?

Ah, but you can use a DC welder for scratch-start TIG, or full TIG with an HF box.


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RE: What welder to get?

So how does that work? You use the DC from the arc welder as a power supply and run that into a high Frequency generator? Also, how do you regulate the current or voltage then in a controlled fashion? Forgive my ignorance, but I've never used TIG.

Thanks,

Kurt


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RE: What welder to get?

Other mines would also like to know....


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RE: What welder to get?

BIll,

My plasma cutter is a Blue point Plasma115v. It is rated to cut up to 3/16" but can probably do more like 1/4". It is doing ok for me so far. I think if I had it to do over again(for the money I spent), I would have bought a 220v and also one that is a more mainstream machine so It would be easier to get consumables for. I would look at cost of consumables as a deciding factor too. I can cut 45 degree angles to make a frame and weld them together without even grinding them! I definitely think it will help me get stuff done much faster.

Is there anything else in specific that you want to know?

Chad


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RE: What welder to get?

Thanks Chad! How does the dang thing work (in laymans terms) ? What consumables do you need ? I guess that I could research it and find out the technical aspects but have been too lazy I guess. My friend at the pawn shop, in talking about the 220V used one that he had, said the previous owner told him that you could write your name in a 1" plate with it like writing with a pencil, and make real smooth cuts like you describe. The little bit of reading that I have done mentions inches per minute, related to type or thickness of material you are cutting. Just wishing, I guess, my writing ain't all that smooth any more anyway! \":^) Someone posted one or two pictures on one of the forums awhile back, but just showed a small hole in a piece of metal comparable to one that had been drilled.
Bill P.


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RE: What welder to get?

If you don't want to scratch start, you just hook the TIG torch up the DC welder. Current control isn't a slick as a real one, but it works. The HF box allows much more control in starting.


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RE: What welder to get?

Bill,

Here is a link to an article about it.

Chad

Here is a link that might be useful: Plasma cutters


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RE: What welder to get?

Megapea,
Way out of your price range and needs, but this is my welder. I have just made a deal to sell it to a friend up in Canada, but will be getting a small, 220, stick machine to replace it.
It is a 250 AMP AC/DC machine, 100% duty cycle and 8000 watts, 115/230 volts. A Hobart Titan 8 Combo.

JoeJ


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RE: What welder to get?

Well, I finally got a welder. Thanks for all the great advice. I decided on the Lincoln Weld-Pak 3200 HD Mig welder. I got it at Home Depot, got them to price match an internet lower price, and used a 10% off coupon, and ended up saving about $70.00! I tried it out on some scrap metal, and welding is harder than it looks! I ended up burning thru the the first piece! I bought the Welders Handbook, and will continue to practice. As a new welder, it would be nice to hear from you experienced guys on techniques and "tricks of the trade". Again thank you all!


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RE: What welder to get?

All the theory in the world is good to have, tricks of the trade sometimes better, and I will be watching for some new ones too, but it still takes that time spend doing it and practice, practice, practice to get the hang of it. Don't despair, or get frustrated too early, get you some scrap metal, be safety conscious and get after it. One of the first problems is to keep from sticking the stick or wire to the metal, turn the power up a little and caress the metal kinda like stricking a match. Some of the welders eliminate a lot of that problem. I am sure others more familliar with your type rig will have some good advice. Keep us posted.
Bill P.


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RE: What welder to get?

Best "Tips" I can think of are:
#1 Safety always comes first, use personal protection equipment.
#2 Read your machine operations manual paying close attention to heat ranges/Wire speed specified for the various thicknesses and types of metal to be welded.
#3 Make sure the metal to be welded is clean and oil/paint free.
#4 Always have a good ground(may require cleaning a spot).
#5 Practice, Practise, Practise.

You need to learn how to stabilize the arc, you will readily see/note that if the arc is not consistant(in speed, or distance or angle from the surface) then the weld bead won't be consistant either.
Start with short beads about 1 to 2 inches, stop and evaluate what you have done.
Start out with a basic flat butt joint, or stringer beads, then fillets, "T" joints, uphill, then overhead, and pipe.
DED


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RE: What welder to get?

Megapea:

I just took a look at the specs on your welder on the Net to see if I could offer any helpful information to keep you from burning holes.

Just wondering, are you using the welder with the flux core wire or do you have it set up for gas? What gauge metal are you practicing on? I've never used a flux core machine so I can only offer good information on MIG, but in reading the Lincoln specs, I think I can give you some idea of what you need to consider to produce good welds even with flux core.

Thinner materials require smaller electrodes. The flux core wire supplied with your machine is .035, and the recommended minimum gauge steel you can weld according to Lincoln is 18 gauge. If you are welding thinner materials such as auto body work, you will need to get down to .023 using gas, your amp settings should be fairly low, and the wire speed should be probably less than half speed. You need to set your speed so the wire doesn't feed too fast and bounce on the work, and it has to be fast enough to keep from burning back into the tip and welding itself shut. Also, thin materials have less mass, which means that welding heat will not be dissipated into the work as quickly, and burning through is more likely. Two things that may help with burn through, if you are already running minimum heat and wire speed, is to make shorter beads, or back up your weld with a copper heat sink.

Practicing with your welder will be a lot easier if you start with thicker materials, at least 1/8 inch. Good luck to ya!

GG


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