I want to weld...now what?

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I have never had the need or opportunity to weld anything. Lately I have found that there are many items that I can purchase for the yard, arbors and such that are made out of welded steel. Pretty pricey, I think with a little practice I could fabricate these types of things myself. I happen to have access to quite a selection of steel stock, so all I need to do I learn to use a welder.
Lets start here, what are the differences between MIG, TIG and ARC welding, seems to me it has something to do with the gas envelope around the "hot" area of the weld. And how do they actually work?
I am quite mechanically inclined and learn quickly and become quite capable at whatever I choose to learn in a short period of time.
Any thoughts on where to start? I am guessing that Mig is the most likely type if welding I would want to do here.
What kind of specs do I need out of a welder for this type use? (amperage) Thanks Brandon
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Brandon,
There may be a welding course offered at your local community college. There may be information and knowledgeable personnel at a welding supply shop. Your local library probably has books on welding.
Dave M.
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Brandon wrote:
snip

snip
MIG - Metal Inert Gas, a motor fed sacrificial thin wire is fed out of the gun tip. The current passes through this wire and causes the weld. Inert Gas (Argon/CO2) is blown out of the end of the gun displacing the air from the weld.
TIG - Tungsten Inert Gas - A non sacrificial tungsten electrode belches electrical fire on to the work, same gas shroud as MIG
ARC - A sacrificial flux coated, fairly heavy rod 1mm - 2mm is electrified. As the tip melts, the flux coating atomises to produce a gas shroud around the weld. When you have finished welding you will find a glass like slag on the weld which you bash off with a pointy hammer.
Oxy Acetylene - Burn oxygen & acetylene together to make one heck of a blowlamp. Use it to melt the metal and feed in a bit of spare metal from long thin rods.
MIG is like a hot glue gun for metal. Easy to use but costs a lot for the gas. Machines aren't particularly cheap. TIG is like electric oxy acetylene, I like it but gas costs raise their head. ARC, cheap to buy, fairly heavy duty but takes a little getting use to as you have to advance your hand towards the work as the rod shortens. Oxy Acetylene, not my favourite method of welding. Double gas costs and I have had problems with heavy work where the metal conducts the heat away as fast as you are adding it.
Hope this helps
Marky C
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Thank you, I appreciate the clarification and descriptions.
Brandon
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The internet is an excellent source.
Fortunately, you can get your equipment very cheap and weld for as long as you want and then sell your equipment for about what you paid for it.
I bought a cheap mig welder from Sams and it came with an excellent instruction manual that really helped. I used mine immediately to repain a broken clutch lever and it more than paid for itself in 45 minutes. It wasn't a pretty weld but it was hell for stout.
Just about every library has books on welding.
Practice practice practice.
PJ
wrote:

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Not to worry. The first time you throw a twenty or a Franklin on the table and say you got it by using your welder, she will have a VERY quick change of attitude.
Steve
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Check out Harbor Freight, they have a 120V gassless wire fed welder. Good for light gague metal, I built all of my gates with it, up to 2 inch square tubing, mostly 1 , 3/4 and 1/2 inch material Gassless wire feed is pretty easy to figure out. The wire is a bit more pricey but I only go through a spool a year. Ya need to get a full hood, the hand held mother that comes with it is junk. Get a few of the magnetic holders and some welding clamps. They also have a Cut off saw for about a 100 bucks that makes short work of tubing and bar stock. Have fun I do,

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Why not just use coat hangers?
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You can't feed coat hangers through a wirefeed welder.
coat hangers work well enough with an oxy-acetylene torch, but I highly doubt they'd be of much use in any electric arc welder. There's no flux.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It's not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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said...

Coat hangers do work well for OA work, though. And cheap. They used to use them a lot for body repairs back when they made cars out of steel.
Steve
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snipped-for-privacy@nortelnetworks.com said...

Nevermind me. I was thinking torch, not electric.
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Excellent, sounds like about what I need, harbor freight is just a few miles up the road from me. Thanks ! I will check it out.
Brandon
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wrote:

Do you have plans/pictures of your gates??
PJ
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There you go. You can build all manner of things, including ornamental metal (incorrectly called wought iron).

All work by the principle of heating the surrounding metal with a heat source so that the added metal is fluid and makes complete fusion with the base metal. The base metal is the piece being heated. In all welding, the surrounding air must be kept out or the molten pool will have properties such as porosity (foaming) that are bad for the finished weld.
MIG - Metal Inert Gas, proper name Gas Metal Arc Welding GMAW - A wire is fed into the arc. It is surrounded by gas to shield the molten pool.
TIG - Tungsten Inert Gas, sometime called "Heliarc welding" uses a tungsten rod to make an arc to heat up the base metal. When a pool is created, another uncoated rod of the same metal as the base metal is inserted in the pool and let melt. This is done repeatedly, moving from one puddle to the next. A gas shield surrounds the tungsten electrode and keeps the air out of the molten pool.
Stick - SMAW - Shielded Metal Arc Welding - a metal electrode has a coating that keeps out the air from the pool.
Oxyacetelyne - OA - welding - like TIG, but you use a gas/oxygen heat supply to make the puddle, then also use a filler rod. A pretty good way to weld, but you have to heat up a lot of metal to get it hot enough to melt. You can also use the OA setup for cutting. Mainly, you can cut out figures from sheet metal and car fenders for your sculptures, another source of cheap materials, and then sell them for gawdawful high prices like everyone else does. DO NOT buy anything but Victor OA gear, as it lasts, and is easy to get repaired. An OA rig will cost you around $250.

Then just get to it. Take classes. Go to the library.

MIG would give you a lot of capabilities for thick and thin metal. An AC/DC machine would also get you started a little cheaper.

I am a proponent of buying for what you will need two years down the line. No need of buying something you will outgrow or a piece of junk that will not be useful in two years of heavy use. I personally like a 220 machine, although they are not as portable as a 110 MIG. Sometimes you can get a good used old machine that still has years and years of use on it that has a high amperage capacity. Unless you are using it to weld heavy metal 3/8" or thicker, you can get by with a smaller welder that doesn't go over 160 amps.
If you can find a good used stick welder, get it. DO NOT buy one that is AC only, as this machine burns quite hot, and will not work for the thin stuff. A good AC/DC machine is the Miller Thunderbolt, ($300) or even an AC/DC Lincoln Tombstone (sometimes for around $150). Sometimes you can get one of the old Lincolns or Millers for $200-$400, and they will last longer than you. They won't be pretty, but were made when things were made to last.
A good MIG like a Lincoln 135 or 175 is from $300 to $700, but will last a LONG time.
Don't even worry about TIG until you learn this other stuff.
Now, the skinny .............
If you are serious, try to buy good equipment. Your equipment will make you money and pay for itself. Charge reasonably for repairs you do and things you build. Buy the best you can afford, because something that doesn't last or that you have to upgrade is no deal.
Look around for good NAME BRAND used stuff.
Good luck.
Steve, who has been welding 29 years now.

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Pardon the top post... Thanks for the information Steve.
Brandon

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Brandon:
Keep it and reread it in a year. It will be interesting to look back a year from now.
Steve

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I've oft thought about buying a welding rig of my own. I've done a few hours worth of stick welding, and a bit of OA.
The emphasis being on _cheap_ and _occasional_, I don't seem to have any good choices.
I found OA welding to be the easiest. The equipment is fairly cheap, but renting/refilling cylinders seems to be _very_ expensive. Like $100-200/year just to have the cylinders. I wouldn't do anywhere near enough welding to justify that.
Stick welding gear and supplies is relatively inexpensive. But I have a tremendous problem getting the arc started, and it sticks on me so much the result (in a word) sucks. I seem to be using the "right" rods (6018?), but as they're from a school, they're probably quite old.
A friend (who is a properly trained OA welder) switched from OA to a wire-feed MIG welder (used without gas) because the OA tanks cost more than he could justify for occasional use. He reports that "all I've been able to make is porcupines" - as in, the wire's always sticking, and he has to keep stopping to clip off the wire.
Another friend (a professionally trained stick welder) spent some considerable time trying the TIG (in the school) on aluminum, and every few seconds of operating time, he'd foul the tip and have to disassemble/file/reassemble it.
My other problem with arc welding is that I always have a big problem trying to actually start the arc where I want the weld. Position the tip, flip down the helmet, and try to start the arc. Then I found out I'm trying to start the arc on the _vice_. Yeah, an automatic darkening visor would _probably_ make things better, but those things cost more than welding rigs!
Thoughts?
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It's not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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On 18 Dec 2003 21:12:31 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@nortelnetworks.com (Chris Lewis) wrote:

Learn to flip down the face shield by sharply nodding your head forward, without moving your hands. With a little practice, it's not that hard to do.
BB
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On 18 Dec 2003 21:12:31 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@nortelnetworks.com (Chris Lewis) wrote:

I've made a few porcupines myself. But I did fix my welding on the vice. I got my wife's high intensity halogen reading lamp and placed it about 18 inches from the welld and I can actually see the work before I strike an arc.
PJ
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