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Question for Experienced Welders

by Jerry
posted 09-10-2012 11:03 PM


26 replies so far

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

557 posts in 887 days


#1 posted 09-10-2012 11:42 PM

You are looking at two different types of welders.. arc and MIG.. not the same. Arc welders are much cheaper and IMO much harder to learn. MIG welders are more expensive but are what I consider the ‘hot glue gun’ for metal (ie: very easy to learn and use). They also give you the option of using either a shielding gas or using a flux-core wire.

Miller, Hobart and Lincoln are the top three.. Miller bought Hobart a few years ago, so they both generally come from the same place.. Hobart is marketed more towards the consumer market while Miller is more towards the commercial market. Lincoln has been around forever and is Millers top competition. I’ve used all three and the differences are very slight.. I currently have a Millermatic 210 that I wouldn’t trade for anything other than perhaps a MM250. I had a Hobart 180 for a while that was a very nice machine but couldn’t take the 40lb spools and had a slightly less duty cycle. I also had a Lincoln 175 years ago and it did a fair job but had a much rougher arc than either the Hobart or Miller. I really don’t think you could go wrong by getting any one of the three brands and many people leave it up to their choice of color (the long standing Miller Blue versus Lincoln Red). Whatever you get, figure out how big a machine you think you will need and get the next biggest :)

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View lew's profile

lew

10092 posts in 2443 days


#2 posted 09-10-2012 11:48 PM

I have a Lincoln stick welder. As Brad said, they are less expensive to buy and use but harder to learn- I’m still not very good at it.
If I had it all to do over again, and they were available when I bought, I’d get a Mig setup.
Just my 2ยข

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Jerry's profile

Jerry

2208 posts in 2234 days


#3 posted 09-10-2012 11:50 PM

Thanks Brad. I am leaning towards the new Hobart from Northern Tool. The reviews are all great on it and seems to be a good beginner welder. And I am new to welding. So I will have to see. Thanks

-- Jerry Nettrour, San Antonio, www.topqualitycabinets.net

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

5080 posts in 1264 days


#4 posted 09-11-2012 12:18 AM

I opted for a Dynasty 200TIG for the inverter technology and the
penetration capabilities. Great machine off of ebay and at a great price.
As Brad correctly points out, figure out what you want and get the next
bigger machine.
Harbor freight has an inexpensive welder that you can use to tack things up
and get things ready for the bigger welder.
Please have someone on fire watch when metal working.
Good luck with your decision Jerry.

View Don W's profile

Don W

15235 posts in 1255 days


#5 posted 09-11-2012 12:30 AM

I’ve been looking at the Hobart 140 at tractor supply. I learned on a stick, but I like the flux core wire and love the fact it runs on 110.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View rhett's profile

rhett

699 posts in 2355 days


#6 posted 09-11-2012 12:32 AM

People are either good at welding or good at grinding. A stick welder is exponentionally harder to use than a mig. I would suggest taking one more step, get a gas shielded mig. We used to call them “monkey welders”, i.e. simple enough for a moneky to use….once they are properly set up.

The only other advice I can give is to have seperate areas for metal and wood working. Metal dust on a bench will quickly scratch wood and it clings to everything. Not to mention sawdust is extremely easy to light with hot sparks. Also, once you start in working metal, oil is involved and it only takes a bit of machine oil on a piece of wood, to make it unable to take a top coat.

I like to work with metal, in someones elses shop.

-- It's only wood.

View Dark_Lightning's profile

Dark_Lightning

1761 posts in 1797 days


#7 posted 09-11-2012 12:56 AM

As waho6o9 says, make sure to use a fire watch. We’ve had buildings burn down at work from stray sparks from a torch, and I’ve had (admittedly ratty) coveralls catch on fire while stick welding. I guess I’ll get a mig welder someday, but I have a pretty fair hand stick welding, something I learned in the ‘60s, in high school.

View Jerry's profile

Jerry

2208 posts in 2234 days


#8 posted 09-11-2012 01:01 AM

Thanks for all the advice. So I understand I need to look for a Mig welder. I am brand new to all this and have never welded before but I need to learn very soon. The guy who works for us does weld but says he has not welded anything in years so even he will be rusty.

And I need to be safe and ensure I utilize a fire watch. We used to have fire watches while in the Navy.

Any suggestions on any particular mig welders? Thanks

-- Jerry Nettrour, San Antonio, www.topqualitycabinets.net

View Dallas's profile

Dallas

3042 posts in 1175 days


#9 posted 09-11-2012 01:20 AM

If you use a flux core Mig you can use it just about anywhere. Inside, outside, in the wind, the sun, the moon the stars.
If you use Gas with your Mig you’ll use different wire and need a tank of whatever gas is recommended. Co2, Argon, etc. They are hard to use outdoors if there is any wind at all because the wind blows the gas shield away.

Both make decent welds, but the Flux core is a lot uglier.

I used a stick welder for years and am good at it, but it does take awhile to learn.

I have a Lincoln Arc 225A “Buzz Box” I seldom use it anymore although it does a great job for what it is.

I also have a 180A Millermatic that is going to go to a good home as soon as my son comes and gets it.

My go to is a cheap little Clarke 130EN gas/gasless it does everything I need usually, and if not the Lincoln comes out. With the Clarke I can weld 1/4” in a single pass, 3/8” with a couple of root passes and I also have a spool gun so I can do aluminum.

I don’t recommend the Clarke for anyone, they were bought up by Miller and are getting harder to find.
Mine uses the same parts as the Millermatic 135, but most will say you cannot get parts for it.

Oh, yeah, I forgot….. I’ve run at least 30 10lb rolls of .035 flux core through it, another 5 rolls of .030 hard wire and gas, and 2 small rolls of aluminum wire and Argon repairing some RV’s.

Not bad for $350 about 6 years ago including a medium sized tank of Argon and another of Co2.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

5080 posts in 1264 days


#10 posted 09-11-2012 01:43 AM

http://www.millerwelds.com/products/helpmechoose/index.php

Here’s a guideline to help you along another slippery slope.
Plasma cutters rock, yes, another fun toy.

View Grandpa's profile

Grandpa

3182 posts in 1363 days


#11 posted 09-11-2012 01:50 AM

I have the Lincoln 225A like Dallas mentions above. I am convinced that a good welder has to have an eye that takes lots of frames per second. The brain actually converts still pictures to movement. That is why some baseball players say watch the laces turn and others just see a blur for a ball and no laces. I have a friend that used to build trailers so he has a lot of experience. He says anyone can make pretty beads with a wire welder but not everyone makes it hold. With all that said I borrowed a skid steer loader a couple of weeks ago. It had a broken boom arm. A crack that had been welded. Well that thing was moving faster than the Mississippi at flood stage. A friend was with me and he has a Miller wire feed with inert gas. He ground it out and welded it back. We worked it all week with big loads and it held fine. No visible cracks. Might see something with dye penetrant but nothing I could see. So they will hold.
As far as the rods being a selling point….you never know how he took care of them. Welding rods ruin. Too much moisture or too little moisture and they don’t work. They might run a perfect bead then a crack will occurr along the edge of the bead. I like to buy what I think I will use on a given project. I do keep rods but I wouldn’t buy 50# and plan to keep them 5 years. Too risky.
The duty cycle on the Miller from Craigs List is 20% while the 225 Lincoln is only 10% I think. That is still more welding time than most people can get in.
This is like picking out a table saw for someone on here. Everyone has their favorite and it isn’t universal. They will all do thge job for you. How is that for stepping up to the plate. There is a lot of preference both ways.

View Tenfingers58's profile

Tenfingers58

79 posts in 1365 days


#12 posted 09-11-2012 04:03 AM

Jerry,

Depending on how much the welder gets used, you may be further ahead to farm the work out. Especially if weld appearance or strength is critical.

However, once you have the capability to weld you will wonder how you got along without it.

However it takes a lot of practice to get good and more practice to stay good.

I’m a certified welder, and I lose my cert if I don’t weld for a period of time. (can’t remember how long now, I think it’s six months)

View Jerry's profile

Jerry

2208 posts in 2234 days


#13 posted 09-11-2012 04:14 AM

Thanks everyone. A lot to think about. I have wanted to take up welding for a while now. I have hired some welding done. But I have projects that are stacking up that I am biting at the bit to tackle myself. Thanks for all the input. I knew I could count on friends at LJ.

-- Jerry Nettrour, San Antonio, www.topqualitycabinets.net

View Loren's profile (online now)

Loren

7732 posts in 2335 days


#14 posted 09-11-2012 10:03 AM

A good starter is a basic wire feed welder with flux core wire.

You can upgrade a wire feed to run as a mig with gas,
but with the flux core wire you can weld without gas.

Flux core wire feed is pretty economical compared to gas
and the machine makes learning to weld about as simple
as it can be. There is still a lot of technique to get really
good, but for welding up shop racks and things like that
the welds don’t have to be perfect at all.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

557 posts in 887 days


#15 posted 09-11-2012 11:24 AM

I am leaning towards the new Hobart from Northern Tool.

The Hobarts are great machines.. I loved my 180. It was silky smooth and a joy to use. I only got rid of it because I came across an unbelievable deal on the Millermatic and the wife wouldn’t let me have both :)

If the thickest you plan on welding is 1/8 inch, you really could get away with the H140 which will do up to 1/4 inch no problem. It also has the advantage of running on 110v and is very portable in case you need to take it with you to a work site. I say that with some reservations though, because it seems inevitable that sometime down the road you will wish you had something just a little bigger. The next step up from the H140 will put you into 220v land though.

It’s also a shame that you are in a hurry, as great deals are always popping up on CL and similar places.. and Tractor Supply, which has the Hobarts for the same price as Northern Tool, has a sale on them at various times during the year which drops the price significantly. I waited for a deal on the H180 for almost a year before I found the one I bought (on e-bay).. and then 2 weeks later, the Millermatic surfaced (on CL). Seems like it always happens that way for some reason :)

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

5080 posts in 1264 days


#16 posted 09-11-2012 01:40 PM

http://www.weldingtipsandtricks.com/mig-welding-techniques-edge.html

Here’s a great site with tips on all sorts of welding.

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

1425 posts in 1057 days


#17 posted 09-11-2012 01:45 PM

Echoing what seems to be the consensus here, i would go with MIG. I have both and for your application would grab the MIG hands down. If you haven’t welded before, you might spend more time learning to start and control the stick welder than it would take you to learn the MIG.

P.S. I have the auto-darkening mask from Harbor Freight (yea yea, I know) and it works great. A friend of mine also uses the same one and loves it. Not pricey, especially with the coupon. Also got my slag hammer, some 90deg magnets, and a stick container there, all work fine.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

5080 posts in 1264 days


#18 posted 09-13-2012 02:49 AM

View doordude's profile

doordude

1085 posts in 1670 days


#19 posted 09-13-2012 03:29 AM

get a good helmet and leathers,safety glasses, gloves, and some burn ointment for your skin.lol

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

11732 posts in 1793 days


#20 posted 09-13-2012 03:31 AM

I have a Milller 225 and it does all I need to do except on this stuff 1/16” or less. then I gas weld it or braze it.
I have found that if I buy stainless rods, they are much easier to weld with and give a very nice looking weld as well. I buy 10# and it is $100 an last me for years. I bought it to build a hovercraft trailer and my first job was welding .047 trapezoid shaped tubing into the frame. It had to be cut on an angle to fit the side of the mating one and I used 1/16 rod and learned a lot on that job. I had to fix a few blow holes but it turned out fine and I got real good at the feel of the light rod and thin metal.

I’d love to get a MIG set up, but I don’t want to bother getting the inert gas. I have used the flux core wire, but it is not nearly as good as using shielding gas on a MIG.
It boils down to preference and cost. If there are good sales on the Millermatics it might be smart to wait and get in on them!!..............Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View fussy's profile

fussy

980 posts in 1738 days


#21 posted 09-13-2012 06:59 AM

I’ll add just a little confusion here and then go to bed. I love welding. Wasn’t allways like that. In 1975 I bought a Lincoln 225 ac with 100’ of stinger and ground cable for $125.00 brand new. It still works kike a champ.

Later, they came out with a 225 AC/DC and I wish I had that. Never know when you’ll have to weld lo hydrogen, aluminum or out of position. Being able to weld dc reverse really helps out on overhead welds, and is essential for non-ferrous and hard facing. If you can find a deal on a lincoln 225 ac/dc I would get it.

Tig may be easier, but stick will handle more jobs. Not all weld jobs are on clean, new maTERIAL, but some that requires a bit of preparation for tig. Tig doesn’t appreciate rust, oil, dirt or paint. Good stick material just blows through that stuff and a clean, MALEABLE bond is left. The choice of specialty welding material is great. Finally, you can do so much so easily with a stick. Tig is for fabrication. If you’re going to be doing something other than tacking light stuff, I’d look at the Lincoln 225 AC/DC; or a Hobart or Miller. If you could find an old Lincoln “Fire Plug” (some from the ‘40s and ‘50s still exist and can be had cheaply).

Whatever you buy, use good material and practice. Don’t weld galvanized material, and know for sure what it is. Take care or yourself.

Steve

-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View casual1carpenter's profile

casual1carpenter

353 posts in 1163 days


#22 posted 09-13-2012 11:54 PM

jerry, I see you are looking at both small shop jobs and a 60×40 I assume building. The steel erection will require you to be where the weld is and the stick welder often allows for easier movement, just a thought. You have said one of your guys had some experience so you might want to consider what type of welding he has done. Stick welding does have a learning curve but MIG and Tig also have a learning curve. In a perfect world each process has it’s own particular place biased on inherent strengths and weaknesses. If you decide to go with the Mig splatter-gun route machine set-up, maintenance, and technique will be rather important, not to mention using the right wire or wire gas combination. Not all weld wires are created equal even if they are of the same class.
If your actual need is not immediate you might want to see if there is a vo-tech at public school, some offer adult night programs or the instructor might be willing to talk to you about your specific needs etc and recommend a weld process. I realize that weld supply’s are might be a higher dollar route but the staff might be knowledgeable and might be you want to rent equipment so you can try your hand – before you buy.

View Jerry's profile

Jerry

2208 posts in 2234 days


#23 posted 09-14-2012 01:14 AM

Thanks everyone, I think I will have to spend some time reading through the posts again before I buy. There have been so many very informative postings here and a vast amount of experience and knowledge.

I will mention that I do plan to weld a 60X40 down the road. Within the next week or so we will be welding a small carport for an RV, it has 3X3 square tubing 1/8” thick. Mostly though I will be doing small welding projects at the shop or for the shop. I have a clamp rack I plan to weld, it involves threaded rod, “U” channel, pillow blocks and framework. I think a welder does open up some other options for jigs and such in the shop.

As casual1carpenter has mentioned, the guy who works for us has his experience with a stick welder from what I have been able to gather from speaking with him. He also seems to think he stick welder will do better in windy environments.

So I probably will buy a welder in the next few days after considering much of what has been advised on this forum. Thanks a ton to everyone. Jerry

-- Jerry Nettrour, San Antonio, www.topqualitycabinets.net

View Dallas's profile

Dallas

3042 posts in 1175 days


#24 posted 09-14-2012 01:27 AM

Here’s some welding advice:

Don’t grab the stinger of a stick welder by the welding rod if you are grounded to the work piece and the machine is on.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Don W's profile

Don W

15235 posts in 1255 days


#25 posted 09-14-2012 11:52 AM

especially when standing in water!

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

2860 posts in 1931 days


#26 posted 09-14-2012 04:35 PM

Don’t buy a cheap MIG welder. Get one that has a high duty cycle. The Hobart 190 sounds like a good choice.

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