Question for Experienced Welders

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Forum topic by , posted 09-10-2012 11:03 PM 2649 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2387 posts in 3570 days

09-10-2012 11:03 PM

I am getting ready to purchase a welder for our cabinet shop. We can always use a welding machine. I have a list of things I want to build such as a clamp rack that will require a welding machine.

This week I am tasked with welding 3” square tubing 1/8” thick together for a small metal building we are erecting. So it is time to purchase a welding machine. Lots of Lincoln welders on CL. I want one that is 220, large enough to handle some larger tasks (we plan to build a 60X40 weld up soon) but can be dialed down for smaller things as well.

The options I am currently considering:

Northern Tool: Hobart Stickmate 205 AC 230V. Says it can weld up to 3/8” thick which seems plenty capacity for me. Price is less then I would expect at 299.00 so that makes me wonder if it is any good. The link is as follows:

Home Depot: I know HD has the Lincoln HD 140 and the HD 180 Pro Mig. I don’t really know much about these mig welders at all. In fact I don’t know anything about any of the welders.

Possibly my best deal, but not sure: On CL advertised as Miller Industrial welder Model M-225, link is here: Says comes with extra set of leads, 100’ extension chord, 2 boxes of rods. I spoke to the fella who told me it is too big for his backyard projects. He told me it just burns holes through the things he works on so that makes me wonder a little. He is asking 300.00.

I deal a lot on CL and with great success. So I am leaning towards the CL deal. But, since a welding machine is something I know very little about I am wondering if I should not just go for the Hobart, (also sold at my near by Tractor Supply) and have a new model that I am certain works fine.

Please let me know what everyone thinks as I need to make a decision on a welding machine and I am trying to keep my expense as low as I can without going to small.

Thanks, Jerry

-- .

26 replies so far

View MrUnix's profile


6766 posts in 2222 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 :)


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View lew's profile


12101 posts in 3779 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.

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2387 posts in 3570 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

-- .

View waho6o9's profile (online now)


8207 posts in 2600 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

18754 posts in 2591 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.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View rhett's profile


742 posts in 3691 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.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3165 posts in 3132 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.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3570 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

-- .

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2511 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 (online now)


8207 posts in 2600 days

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

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

View Grandpa's profile


3259 posts in 2699 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


96 posts in 2701 days

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


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 ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3570 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.

-- .

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3671 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.

View MrUnix's profile


6766 posts in 2222 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 :)


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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