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Choosing a Welder

 
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I have never welded before and would like to use one for welding items that need welding and creating art work as well. What kind of welder should I get? My ex said he will gift me one from Harbor Freight. I have 220 in the garage but don't plan on doing heavy things.
 
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May I suggest a MIG welder. It will let you bond metals, make repairs and do art. MIG welders have an easy learning curve. It's like using a glue gun. I have a little Miller 190 and it's been great. I don't use it often, but man it sure does come in handy when I need it.
 
pollinator
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How hard are you willing to work with the skills and what do you want to do with it?

The easiest machine to run is MIG and if you do a bigger 220V machine you can do most things you would likely want to do.  By the time you get gas bottles for it it means handling heavier weights and some other problems.  Better for thin materials.

Probably the most versatile is a stick machine.  Learning curve is far steeper and will need more effort.   But probably the more versatile machine over all for the price.

Finally is TIG and heliarc.  Really versatile but more expensive machine.

Now some machines will do either 2 or all 3 of these.  Common is TIG and stick.


 
Susan Boyce
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C. Letellier wrote:How hard are you willing to work with the skills and what do you want to do with it?

It will mostly be for thin metal welds to fix items that have broken at the weld or solder and to use for light metal art. I haven't done any welding just soldering electronics in Silicon Valley back in the late 70s.

The easiest machine to run is MIG and if you do a bigger 220V machine you can do most things you would likely want to do.  By the time you get gas bottles for it it means handling heavier weights and some other problems.  Better for thin materials.

Don't think I'll want to haul around bottles etc. My ex is nice enough to offer but think it will amount to under $250 - $300 for the gift card. So a decent MIG would cost much more.

Probably the most versatile is a stick machine.  Learning curve is far steeper and will need more effort.   But probably the more versatile machine over all for the price.

This I'm trying to decide

Finally is TIG and heliarc.  Really versatile but more expensive machine.

I know there are the 2 he told me about but don't think the other was a TIG

Now some machines will do either 2 or all 3 of these.  Common is TIG and stick.


 
Susan Boyce
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James Freyr wrote:May I suggest a MIG welder. It will let you bond metals, make repairs and do art. MIG welders have an easy learning curve. It's like using a glue gun. I have a little Miller 190 and it's been great. I don't use it often, but man it sure does come in handy when I need it.



I believe these are also the most expensive then there's the bottles etc that I really don't want to add since I'm limited on indoor space to store it.  Maybe in the future or I might find one at an Estate Sale at a price that I can't walk away from…

Saying it's as easy as using a glue gun is very attractive.

This has me leaning into it. I'm patient and can pick up new things fairly easily.
 
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Hi Susan;
I also agree about  a 110vt wire feed machine. (Mig)
Very easy to learn to use and not very expensive.

What you might want to buy on your own is a "Quality" auto darken welding hood. With a large window!
If you are young any old auto darken hood will do.
Anyone else should go with a name brand high quality hood with good optics.
 
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I can't find it now, but I swear I saw someone post a review on a Harbor Freight welder somewhere on here. From what I recall, it was very compact and inexpensive. I second the recommendations on a MIG welder ...you can get flux core wire that eliminates the need for the gas bottles, allowing you to upgrade in the future if you choose to do so. I have a Lincon Electric 140c that has served me well, but I believe that model may have been discontinued. It's compact and relatively lightweight - it also runs on 120V which is a handy feature if you ever need to use it somewhere that doesn't have 220v ....in my opinion, 220 is probably going to be overkill for what you plan on doing.

 
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Almost too much info. BUT I will try and make it easier;
- Arc welding [ stick ] is the oldest style and 3mm upwards metal can be welded when rusty
- MIG uses a fine very hard wire as the filler rod and metal must be clean.
- TIG
MIG (metal inert gas) welding uses a feed wire that constantly moves through the gun to create the spark, then melts to form the weld.
TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding uses long rods to fuse two metals directly together.
From; diference between welders
Which is better MIG or TIG?

MIG welds work well with larger projects with thick metals that need longer, continuous runs.
TIG welds are better for thinner metals and smaller projects because they produce precise and clean welds.

Arc welding is a technique that uses an electric arc to melt and fuse metals together. This process uses intense heat and can be done either mechanically or manually. It is also a technique that is not beginner-friendly.
Arc welding has its advantages because it offers high efficiency as well as speed. You can always expect a near-perfect quality pass with the arc weld. While welding creates a strong bond between metals, the arc is by far one of the strongest.
Arc is absolutely one of the fastest methods, but it is a rather complex skill to master. Operators must have high levels of knowledge and be able to work at an advanced, professional level.
Like most perfect things, arc welding will take practice as well as genuine effort and patience.
Which Welding Technique Is Faster: TIG or MIG?
MIG welding is faster than TIG welding. While it is still important to take your time when using welding tools, you can expect to finish your project in less time with MIG.
MIG welding guns can operate continuously for extended amounts of time, which allows for higher percentages of efficiency.
TIG, can still aid you greatly, but this will really slow things down as TIG is generally more focused on the finer details versus speed.
TIG welding offers better quality. With TIG welding, you can expect a fine, clean-cut finish.
TIG welding is on the artistic side, as it allows for craftsmanship and detail.

What’s The Basic Step-By-Step “At-Home” MIG Welding Process Like?
Using a simple and mechanized technique, it goes a bit like this:

Begin by placing a fume extractor above the area you will be welding in. If you have one of these, it’s imperative to keep it near your workspace. It will run automatically if fumes are being exuded. Otherwise, make sure your space is open and breathable.
Prepare your workspace and materials. Ensure your metals are clamped together so they won’t shift, observe your welding settings, prepare your welder by turning it on, and adjusting it accordingly.

Don’t be dismayed if your project doesn’t turn out pristine the first time around. MIG welding is just the beginning of your welding career, and practice makes perfect! If you’re constantly experimenting with different temperatures and wire feeds with your MIG welder, you’ll be more aware of the potential mistakes and mishaps that could occur.
If your welds are fusing during your first pass, having that experience will only act as a learned lesson.
Perhaps your speed setting was the issue, or the voltage was not quite right! With consistent practice, understanding how to adjust these things so that they properly come together will aid you in improving your overall skills.
Always remember to practice welding safety. Anyone who wishes to become a professional and advance into TIG and eventually Arc welding will never forget to be a safe welder!

Getting the welding unit is the start, after that you will need;
- mask, leather gloves
- files, chipper, clamps, hammers
- angle grinder an assortment of blades
- fume extractor or fan
- beer fridge, TV and 3 seater lounge
- DOOF Doof music machine


Staff note :

Link to source of difference between welders - Alexander Berkin, TIG Welding

 
Susan Boyce
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John C Daley wrote:Almost too much info. BUT I will try and make it easier;
- Arc welding [ stick ] is the oldest style and 3mm upwards metal can be welded when rusty
- MIG uses a fine very hard wire as the filler rod and metal must be clean.
- TIG
MIG (metal inert gas) welding uses a feed wire that constantly moves through the gun to create the spark, then melts to form the weld.
TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding uses long rods to fuse two metals directly together.

I heard it would be messier without a MIG but just thought I'd do a lot of practice pieces and adjustments on the welder and if I still have unclean welds I'd use the grinder on them..but like I said I haven't tried to weld anything yet.

Getting the welding unit is the start, after that I will need;
- mask,
- chipper
- angle grinder assortment of blades
- materials for welding metals



 
C. Letellier
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If that is your budget then you are looking at 110V MIG machines mostly.  Harbor does have one 220V machine in your price range.  That also means you need a flux core machine as you can't afford a bottle on that price.  Remember you are going to want a chipping hammer and wire brush for descaling, a good auto darkening helmet, gloves and spool of wire.  Altogether you are looking at nearly $100 for the needed accessories.  Looks like you have 3 options currently at harbor.

The ideal MIG would have the gas valve  built in to be able to change to welding with gas at a later date.  Guessing nothing you can afford will have that and all your options will be flux core only.  Flux core is fine for basic welding.  Be aware it generates way more sparks that gas MIG.  Be aware these light welder were never intended for serious welding.  Most are a 10% to 20% duty cycle.  That means you can weld 1 minute in 10 or 2 minutes in 10.  Real world you can weld longer than that the first time as it takes time for things to warm up.  And if the room you are in is a bit cooler duty cycle increases slightly.  3/16 thick is about the most you can expect to weld with such a machine without preheating your work.  Of course with enough preheat you can weld more.  Now most of the time you spend time lining things up etc and a 20% duty cycle is fine a fair amount of the time.  Long welds will get you though I was welding 8 triangles together to form the bottom of a cone bottom coal bin.  They were cut out of a 4 ft wide sheet of steel so I was welding 50+ inches for 16 welds.  When the thermal overload tripped it was also tripping the circuit breaker.  So I had to crawl out of the hole I was working in walk nearly 140 feet around the shop to the breaker panel and reset it.  Then I had to wait for the welder to cool down and then I could weld again.   I finally got so I could recognize a slight change in the hum of the machine in the time slightly before the overheat tripped. Usually if the welder is cold you can weld 3 to 6 feet at max power before the overheat trips.  Most simple welding jobs can be accomplished with that.


Helmet you want an auto darken with shade control that is solar powered so you don't need batteries most likely.  If you expect to weld in truly dark places the solar powered is not a good choice.  You also want a grinder position so the helmet doesn't darken while grinding.  Be sure you study the shade information before you use the helmet if it is adjustable shade as you should be slightly darker than you likely want to be.

Be aware most of the household power migs need at least a 20 amp breaker to run on.  And outlets for 20 amps are different from the normal cheap outlet.(the plug looks the same but the outlet looks different typically.)  And you need to be sure the wire to that outlet is heavy enough to handle it.
 
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Maybe knowing the kind of artwork you will be doing might help folks advise on the welder.

Are you going to do sculpture or the character cut out of sheet metal which are really big here in Texas?

this article might be really helpful in deciding what kind of welder and the equipment that goes with welding:

https://www.weldingmania.com/newbie/welding-for-new-artist/
 
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done welding for awhile and the most versatile machine by far has been my inverter welder, a good one costs in region of 600 to 800 euro were i live ,go shopping for one at the biggest welding/engineering supply warehouse depots you can find near you.They will have specials and deals  on them which usually includes all the attachments and box of rods ,helmet and gloves , a good machine is capable of high frequency tig welding starts---google this for a long explanation on tig welding  start s , and these can also do the stick or rod welding process as well . Yes sounds expensive but cheaper units dont generally last for years and the attachments for them are lower quality and can be harder to replace or source, the tig process does require more outlay to get going like the gas bottle but these are available in small size s with out a rental contract . These units are the size of a shoebox and smaller, with a shoulder strap --very handy --and run off your average wall plug outlet for most jobs ---easily coping with most diy . Between the two processes available from the one machine i have been able to repair pots ,kettles ,car exhaust ,leaking  bulk tanks , build a steel frame shed ,weld half inch steel plate , join up two dissimilar grades of steel ,copper pipe repair , indoors and outdoors ---my advise save up for a good quality one---and once you start its addictive.
 
Susan Boyce
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Anne Miller wrote:Maybe knowing the kind of artwork you will be doing might help folks advise on the welder.

Are you going to do sculpture or the character cut out of sheet metal which are really big here in Texas?

this article might be really helpful in deciding what kind of welder and the equipment that goes with welding:

https://www.weldingmania.com/newbie/welding-for-new-artist/






I was wanting to give a try with different applications to find out which one feels good to me. I do have several thinner metal items that are broken at the welds and I'd like to fix those after practicing on test pieces.
 
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Hey Susan,

I'm excited you're getting into welding! It is so much fun melting metal.

When I first I got into welding I bought this little inverter one here: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B07T244BYC/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I paid around $200 CAD and it has been awesome for me. The folks above are right. Stick welding does have a higher learning curve but it is extremely versatile. All you need is access to electricity and some rods. I mean I've been running my welder off 120V and on a 15A breaker, and it only trips when I'm running 125 amps for about 6 seconds or longer. It's helped me build a cargo bike, a kindling splitter, a trailer hitch, and more. You with your 240V will be able to do just about any project you'd like. Stick welding thin gauge metal can be done, but it is more challenging than with mig or tig. I just saw you mentioned doing some thin steel.

So stick is one option. You mentioned you don't like that you need the gas bottles for mig and tig - I agree with you. I like stick because there is not much equipment needed. There is one option that has been mentioned a couple times now - flux core! It's similar to stick welding in that the welding wire supplies its own protection from the atmosphere, BUT it is wire fed and not a rod. It can be done outside where it's breezy, something that is more challenging with mig and tig. So with flux core you get some benefits of mig without the big gas bottles. I think there is more spatter than with mig, but that's only what I heard and not from my experience.

Either way you go I know you'll have fun. There is lots of great stuff on youtube too if you're gonna be self taught.
 
Susan Boyce
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I have it down to these two but might talk to a neighbor who had his own welding business before he retired


https://www.harborfreight.com/welding/welders/stick-225-inverter-welder-with-electrode-holder-64978.html


https://www.harborfreight.com/170-amp-dc-240v-migflux-cored-welder-68885.html

 
Susan Boyce
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John C Daley wrote:Also check with your mate about the 'duty cycle'.
I notice your stick welder has

Duty cycle 120V: 70A @ 40%, 240V: 225A @ 20%




Will do…thanks

 
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I see some welders are AC and others are DC.
I know what AC alternating current is.
And direct current is current with the positive voltage staying above zero
so it's always flowing he same direction.
What's the difference in how they are used.
 
John C Daley
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From; Diff. between Ac and Dc welding

AC and DC welding are forms of arc welding that use different currents to produce an electric arc. These types of welding involve the creation of an electric arc between an electrode and the metal being welded. The electric arc provides heat to fuse the metals together.
The power source used also impacts the weld produced.

Selecting the correct electrode polarity impacts the strength and quality of your weld. Commonly known as ‘straight’ or ‘reverse,’ the two types of current flow are also called ‘electrode negative’ and ‘electrode positive.’  The DC polarity is constant while the AC polarity flows in one direction for half of the time and half of the time in the other, reverse, direction.


What is DC Welding?
Direct current is an electric current that has a constant polarity flow in a single direction. This current can be positive or negative.
With DC welding, since the magnetic field and current of the arc are constant, stable arcs are produced.

Advantages
The advantages of DC welding are:
A smoother welding output than with AC
A more stable arc
Less spatter
DC negative offers faster deposition rates when welding thin sheet metals
DC positive provides greater penetration into the weld metal

Disadvantages
The disadvantages of DC welding are:

DC welding is unable to fix arc blow problems
Equipment is more expensive as DC currents require an internal transformer to switch the current
Applications
DC welding is ideal for joining thinner metals as well as being used in most stick welding applications, including TIG welding of - steels. This form of welding is also good for overhead and vertical applications.

What is AC Welding?
An alternating current is an electric current that reverses its direction many times per second. A 60-hertz current will change its polarity 120 times per second. With AC welding, because the magnetic field and current rapidly reverse -direction, there is no net deflection of the arc.

Advantages
The advantages of AC welding are:
The alternating current between positive polarity and negative polarity allows for a steadier arc for welding magnetic parts
Fixes problems with arc blow
Enables effective aluminium welding
AC welding machines are cheaper than DC equipment

Disadvantages
The disadvantages of AC welding are:
More spatter
Weld quality is not as smooth as with DC welding
Less reliable and therefore more difficult to handle than DC welding Applications
When switched to AC positive, it also helps remove oxide from the metal surface - hence it is suitable for welding aluminium.
AC welding is also widely used in shipbuilding, particularly for seam welds, as it has the ability to set the current higher than with DC.
AC welding also offers fast fills and is used for down hand heavy plate welds.

One of the main uses of AC welding is with materials that are magnetised. This makes it useful for repairing machinery.



 
C. Letellier
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if you want to weld thin stuff I would go with the MIG.    If you want mostly thick stuff go with the stick machine.    Old stick machines are still more commonly found at auctions in this area so getting one of them cheap at a later date I would rate as more likely.
 
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C. Letellier wrote:if you want to weld thin stuff I would go with the MIG.    If you want mostly thick stuff go with the stick machine.    Old stick machines are still more commonly found at auctions in this area so getting one of them cheap at a later date I would rate as more likely.



This was my experience. I got started with a used 110v flux-core wire feed welder, welding thicknesses up to 1/4 inch. Then a few years later when I eventually needed to weld some heavier material, I picked up an old (circa 1980s) 220v ac/dc stick welder on craigslist for like $50. The stick welder has been my go-to welder for anything 1/8 inch or thicker, and I now use the 110v wire feed only for sub 1/8 inch material.

 
Susan Boyce
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Going to buy this one with all the goodies to use it.



https://www.harborfreight.com/welding/welders/flux-125-welder-63582.html
 
thomas rubino
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Great choice Susan!
That machine will serve your needs perfectly!
 
Susan Boyce
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Can't wait to start learning something new and exciting
 
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