I've started thinking that I'd like to try some welding. Mostly
for quick repairs on old equipment- but also for light fabrication.
I was thinking of getting one of the $100 MIG welders from Harbor
Freight just to see if this was something I could learn. But then I
read on some tutorial online that MIG was not good for painted or
rusted surfaces- and most of what I'll be welding will probably be
So-- do I switch gears and look at a different setup- or get used to
using a wire brush?
Any suggestions for a must read first book that might help me choose a
welder- and then how to use it?
[Suggestions of websites- forums- and Usenet groups appreciated.]
Probably the least expensive and most useful setup would be a stick welding
rig like Lincoln AC-225. you'll probably need a cutting torch as well, if
you plan to fabricate anything. Any how to welding book will give you the
basics, then you just have to practice the various types of welds and
positions. Once you get good at it, if you have the need, you can spend for
shielded arc and specialty equipment
No specific title. Anybody can learn to weld, the question is how
quickly and well... :)
What I would recommend that's pretty inexpensive in general is if you
have a local vo-tech or community college, go sign up for a first
course--they'll supply the tools, expertise and you can normally bring
in a project or two and in a couple of months you'll have the basics
covered including safety--always a key.
Then, if you're wanting more, go for it. Here the course fee is $60 for
county residents plus (I think) $40 lab fee--pretty cheap...
I'll check around some more- but it looks like my local college uses a
local "Welding School" - "Modern Welding School" in Schenectady, NY.
The school looks like it caters more to businesses- but it offers a 6
hour course for $179. [and these are broken down into MIG, TIG, Gas,
etc- no 'overall' intro course.]
There must be other courses available- I think it might be money well
There are a couple of women here in town that have been "taking" the
vo-tech class for about five years now. They're into artsy kinds of
stuff as well as wrought iron, etc.
Started out as total newbies, now are damned good, both of them. They
bought an old clunker truck and attend local farm auctions and buy up
most of the junk and scrap metal as their raw material. One was
fighting cancer when started and started out as a diversion and the
other started to simply be supportive. Now the guys in the classes see
what they're doing and virtually all end up making at least one or two
decorative items besides the "just welding" -- there's some really nice
work coming out of there besides a qualified high-pressure gas pipeline
weld (this is oil production company so that's where a bunch of the guys
doing it for a "real job" end up).
A welder is only as good as the operator and how well you can prep the
materials. I've welded many rusted metals and painted as well. Grind, chip
or do what ever you can to remove the contaminents, then weld. Stick is a
little better at welding painted/rusty metal, but not much better. As long
as you get it hot enough, should be fine.
I'm a welder by trade and I know your not always gonna get perfect, clean
metal. Some new metals need to be cleaned up before welding as well.
Welding is 10 percent welding, 90 percent prep, better prep, better the weld
and fusion your gonna get, no matter what the condition of the metal.
Yes, new metal is easier to weld, but who can always afford new, when
old/used is cheaper.
"Jim Elbrecht" < firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote in message
Do not let the 220 intimidate you. My Lincoln 175SP+ is rated at a 22 amp
draw MAXIMUM. I weld at about half power on most things, so you won't come
close to hitting max or your duty cycle. A friend of mine is a union
electrician with 37 years in now. He looked at it and stuck in a 20 amp
breaker. I've NEVER popped it in five years now. With a stick, it's
another matter. You don't need a huge honker 220 high amp circuit to run a
220 MIG with .035" wire. And that will do 95% of what you want to do.
oh, another thought: Do not get one of those lincoln AC "buzzbox". If you
try AC welding to learn, you'll tear your hair out and never do it again.
If you're going with a stick welder, please spend a few extra dollars and
get a DC machine.
First, you are stepping into an abyss. Welding can be addictive, and it
opens up doors you don't even know are there right now. So buy a machine
that will do the work. You say casual use, but once you start welding,
you'll do more.
What kind of welding are you going to do? It is nearly impossible to find a
machine that will do everything, so we have three types: MIG, stick, and
For you, the beginner, a MIG or a Stick would do it. I would say a 220
Please consider that if you start to do ANY welding at all, you may outgrow
a small cheap starter machine in no time, and be having another capital
outlay soon. That said, I would suggest these:
Lincoln 225 AC/DC
Miller Thunderbolt AC/DC
Any of the Miller or LINCOLN wirefeeds, but I tend towards the 220v, as you
can use flux cored wire, and essentially don't need a stick. That one
machine will do MOST of the welding you want to do. If you get to the point
of needing big stick, you'll be able to find a good used Lincoln or Miller
stick for around $500, probably less. Once you get good enough to run 7018,
you'll make that much on one job.
MY CAUTION TO YOU: Buy Red or Blue (Lincoln or Miller). You can find
parts, and their warranties are outstanding. The HF stuff is a PITA, unless
you get the one in ten that works. If you do buy the HF, get the one with
the heftiest handle, as that makes the best boat anchor. When it fries, or
doesn't work, or you can't get consumables, that's about all it's good for.
I will get all kinds of flames from people who have had cheap machines and
they worked fine. I'm just telling you that you get what you pay for in a
welder, and if you want to do nice work, and not have the thing down or in
the shop half the time, spend a few extra bucks now. As you know, there are
some tools that you can do a much better job with than a cheaper model.
Let's put it this way: you're going into the hauling business. Do you want
a cheap wimpy low capacity truck, or one that will haul bigger loads and
make more money and run more of the time? No sense turning down work and
money because you got wimpy equipment.
Steve, who's been welding since 1974. I got the Lincoln 175SP+
But it at Harbor Freight, and you'll be tossing it in the garbage by
next New Year. Spend the extra money and get something that will
To prepare painted or rusty metal, be sure you have an angle grinder.
Wire brushes are far too slow for most work. You can put both a
grinder wheel and a wire wheel on the angle grinder. I own 3
grinders. One has a cutting wheel, one has a grinding wheel, the 3rd
has a wire wheel. It's just too much hassle to keep changing wheels
during a job. I'll have to admit that the wire wheel grinder is just
one of those cheap imports that cost under $20. The ones that get the
hard work are better quality. Angle grinders are one of the easiest
way to cut metal in a small home setup, unless you got lots of money
to buy power tools and torches made for cutting metal.
I personally own and use an old Sears AC stick welder. It gets the
job done. Knowing how to weld is 90% of the job.
Check out this website. Lots of tips and stuff to learn from:
They have a PDF file on there to download and it's full of good
educational stuff about welding.
That's exactly what I use mine for. I dont know what my duty cycle
is, I just know it works, and never stopped welding on it's own. I
dont do production either, except the time I made 16 ten foot fence
panels out of some scrap metal I got. That was a chore !!!!
I've never used a DC welder. I have no idea what it would feel like.
I once used a small (borrowed) wire feed welder. Either the welder
was too cmall, too cheap a brand, or something else was wrong with it.
All I did was fight to keep the very thin wire from getting too long
or too short or getting stuck. I was not highly impressed, not to
mention the price of the wire compared to plain stick rods.
Not to discourage the OP, but I think the wire feed welder was
something like Harbor Freight would sell. Cheap junk if you ask me,
but then I wont even step a foot into H.F. or places like it. I
normally I buy quality tools, but if I only need something to use
once, or for light duty, I generally buy them at Menards, which have
proven to be fairly decent for the price and easy to return. (They
dont sell welders though).
My only problem with the AC welder and stick rods is welding thin
material. Sometimes it just burns thru no matter what I do. Although
the choice of rod types helps somewhat.
Have you (or anyone else) ever used a DC welder? What's the
difference? I learned to weld with AC, got fairly good at it, and
that's pretty much all I know.
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