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If you weld - need advice

 
Old 07-05-2012, 02:32 PM
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froggy47
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Default If you weld - need advice

I want to teach myself to weld & know zero about it.

First off I won't be welding roll cages or making alum radiators etc.

This is just for fun, small household/garage repairs, kids bikes, maybe exhaust, ok?

Keep the price down, say under 500 inc helmet & eq.

Do I want oxy/acet? TIG, what brand, size, duty cycle, but not too much on the technicalities, remember I don't know how it works yet. Pretty advanced mechanically though so I should pick it up w/ a little practice.

Thanks.

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Old 07-05-2012, 02:39 PM
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I don't think you're going to find a do-all welder that's of good quality for less than $800.

Personally I have a Lincoln Easy MIG 180. It's a great welder for thin to thick-ish welding. I've welded everything from exhaust pipe and sheet metal to roll cage. It's capable to do up to 3/8" metal. Plus, you can get a bottle or use the gasless core wire, but I'm not a fan of that stuff.

You can also get an Aluminum gun addon. I think it's a fantastic all around welder.

Cons, you can't do chromoly, it takes 220v power (Use the dryer outlet).

If you want pretty welds, TIG is the only way to go. Unfortunately a decent TIG is $2k+.
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Old 07-05-2012, 02:54 PM
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If you really want to learn to weld, I would suggest starting out with oxy/acetylene. It is such a slow process, you can actually watch the puddle form and see it move around. It also forces you to learn hand control.

I think it's too easy to put down a decent appearing weld with MIG and not know whether or not you got decent penetration.

Once you learn the basics, step up to a 110V MIG system from Lincoln, Miller, or Hobart. The 110V units don't have the current for welding thick material, but for the projects you listed they would work well. They have the added advantage of being relatively portable. While I much prefer to use shielding gas (true MIG welding) the flux core wire is great for welding outdoors where there will always be a breeze.

If you are doing any sort of arc welding, do yourself a favor and get an auto darkening helmet. It's a lot easier than trying to flip down the helmet while holding the gun in the right place.

Ken
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Old 07-05-2012, 03:41 PM
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I went out and bought a longevity multi-process welder about 2 years ago, having never even seen a TIG welder and knowing nothing about the process. I build custom motorcycles in my spare time, and learning to weld was the next step. I bought a 250a AC/DC TIG/ARC/40a plasma cut machine and I love it. I paid around $1600 for the machine, but you really don't need more than 180a if you're not doing much aluminum. I considered MIG, but in hindsight I'm really glad I got the TIG, I use it all the time for all kinds of projects. Since getting my vette I made a custom exhaust and mounting system, my own, big guy sized harness bar, custom camera mount, aluminum race ramps, custom battery box for my trailer and I beefed up the underside of the trailer because it was flexing, and on and on. I taught myself to weld, 100% from youtube videos and www.weldingtipsandtricks.com. That guy's website is the best and all the info you need is there. It takes a lot of practice but once you got it, you'll love it. Longevity and Everlast both have affordable TIG and MIG machines, but my vote is spend the bucks and get a TIG, you will not regret it. I also taught myself to weld with oxy acetylene but the penetration sucks so you'll be stuck with just really thin stuff and if the part is large forget it unless you want to fool around with pre-heating. It's also very difficult to do in confined spaces. I'm happy with my Longevity, and I use it constantly. I've also read a lot of good stuff about the Everlast machines. Used Millers or Lincolns are good because you can get parts and stuff locally so you can't go wrong if you can find one in your price range. If you have any questions PM me.

If you are going to do aluminum, you need at least a 200a machine.

http://www.longevity-inc.com/product...IG-Welders.php

http://www.everlastgenerators.com/pr...tegory-58.html
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Old 07-05-2012, 03:49 PM
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For home use, I'd suggest an oxy/ace setup. A basic torch set will have cutting and welding tips. Cutting will be steel only (generally not stainless) but welding can be steel, stainless and aluminum (with the right fluxes and fillers). Brazing is also popular.

The best part (IMHO) is the heating ability. I can't count how many times I've encountered some stubborn bolt or seized part that would not budge no matter how many curse words I used. A few minutes of persuasion from the "blue wrench" and they see things my way. As an auto hobbyist, this is the main reason I have a torch set.

MIG/TIG are usually the more preferred welding processes due to speed, flexibility and overall cost, though.
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Old 07-05-2012, 03:56 PM
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Best thing you could do would be to sign up for a welding course at a local community college. then make up your mind what you want to buy
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Old 07-05-2012, 04:00 PM
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I was in the same boat you are about 8 years ago. I too wanted to learn to weld but didn't really know where to start. I took a class at one of the community colleges here in the DFW area. It was the best thing I did. It was a one semester, non credit class that taught you Oxy/acytelene welding and brazing, Stick, MIG and TIG. Got you exposed enough to all the modalities and educated enough to understand how they worked and what they could and could not do. The rest is practice from there.

After that I bought myself a TIG welder because I wanted to do mostly aluminum at the time but also because you can do ANY metal you want, in theory. Mine was 1800 bucks but I did have to wire in a 240v outlet for it.

For 800 bucks you can get yourself a very nice MIG welder and tank. If you want to do aluminum, you can add in a spool gun, just make sure you buy something that's a brand name and not something off brand so you will be able to find parts and stuff for it. Also, if you think at anytime you want to do aluminum, then when you go to get a tank, it will need to be 100% Argon and not the Argon/CO2 75/25 mixture. You will not be able to weld aluminum with a 75/25 tank.

The one thing the gas setup has the other don't is as Dale stated above, not much can fight the "blue wrench". Plus with the Oxy/Acytelene, you can also cut steel as well and that comes in handy sometimes.

Jay

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Old 07-05-2012, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by ErnieN85 View Post
Best thing you could do would be to sign up for a welding course at a local community college. then make up your mind what you want to buy
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Old 07-05-2012, 04:30 PM
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I say a small MIG welder will get the job done for the kinds of things you are talking about. A 150 to 180 amp welder should keep you within your budget. I've always used Lincoln but Miller has a good reputation as well. Both are affordable and parts/supplies are available at Home Depot/Lowe's.
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Old 07-05-2012, 04:33 PM
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I picked up a Lincoln Electric Pro-Mig 135 and it's a starter MIG welder. Watched videos online and got the tank of shielding gas. Put's down nice solid welds. Took practice for sure, but I had a good time. Welded my D rings on the trailer and a number of other projects. Plenty of books out there to build stuff using welding.
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Old 07-05-2012, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by moespeeds View Post
I went out and bought a longevity multi-process welder about 2 years ago, having never even seen a TIG welder and knowing nothing about the process. I build custom motorcycles in my spare time, and learning to weld was the next step. I bought a 250a AC/DC TIG/ARC/40a plasma cut machine and I love it. I paid around $1600 for the machine, but you really don't need more than 180a if you're not doing much aluminum. I considered MIG, but in hindsight I'm really glad I got the TIG, I use it all the time for all kinds of projects. Since getting my vette I made a custom exhaust and mounting system, my own, big guy sized harness bar, custom camera mount, aluminum race ramps, custom battery box for my trailer and I beefed up the underside of the trailer because it was flexing, and on and on. I taught myself to weld, 100% from youtube videos and www.weldingtipsandtricks.com. That guy's website is the best and all the info you need is there. It takes a lot of practice but once you got it, you'll love it. Longevity and Everlast both have affordable TIG and MIG machines, but my vote is spend the bucks and get a TIG, you will not regret it. I also taught myself to weld with oxy acetylene but the penetration sucks so you'll be stuck with just really thin stuff and if the part is large forget it unless you want to fool around with pre-heating. It's also very difficult to do in confined spaces. I'm happy with my Longevity, and I use it constantly. I've also read a lot of good stuff about the Everlast machines. Used Millers or Lincolns are good because you can get parts and stuff locally so you can't go wrong if you can find one in your price range. If you have any questions PM me.

If you are going to do aluminum, you need at least a 200a machine.

http://www.longevity-inc.com/product...IG-Welders.php

http://www.everlastgenerators.com/pr...tegory-58.html
This was me this winter. I have done some arc welding, mig welding and oxy/act gas welding.
I went through the debates with a friend who does a fair amount of welding saying you have to buy Miller or Lincoln if you want a real welder.
I wanted a TIG welder since it can weld almost anything and I had some specific needs for aluminum.
I'm so glad I stuck with the TIG and didn't settle for a "good" MIG welder. I bought the 200DX Everlast and have been very happy with it. It takes awhile to get used to it and aluminum is harder to weld than steel. Steel with a TIG is very easy if you have the basics of welding. Aluminum is a whole different story but with a few hours of scrap metal and practice I can make strong welds and have done a fair amount of fabrication for the Vette. I still wouldn't attempt to weld up my radiator but just about anything else. The aluminum welds aren't always as pretty as some of the stuff you pay for but I did it myself and it is strong.

You should seriously look into the community college welding classes. That is a great route to go. Even if you already have bought a welder I would do that.
The other benefit to having the welder at home is practice and then when you go to class you have a human to ask questions. You might even be able to bring your welder and learn how to use all the features.

The guys at Everlast are really nice and very helpful. I call them occasionally to get tips and advice about things I want to buy and how to do things. They have a decent forum and respond very quick. One of the guys I deal with gave me his cell number and I call when needed.
The best price is directly from their website.
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Old 07-05-2012, 04:58 PM
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I am a self-taught welder and I do structural welding too as a hobbiest. I have made and unfortunately tested 3 rollcages and built trailers too. I have oxy, mig, and tig. IMO welding is not hard to learn. It takes reading the basics then practice, practice, practice to get good. There are tricks to learn but mostly it is practice. For the most general hobby kind of things I would say:
MIG with or without gas (flux is how structural steel is welded on buildings. It is strong) buy Lincoln or Miller ONLY
auto darkening helmet good quality not harbor freight and tool
Quality fluxcore mig wire or standard mig wire like from lincoln
220volt welder. Don't waste your time with 110V. They do work sort of...well no they don't. You can wire your garage for 220V using 2 110 circuits...google it but have a real electrician do it. Adding the gas bottle and regulator will add to your costs. You can always use fluxcore first then us gas later. Without gas is just one less thing to worry about as a newbie. After all once you start welding then you need to buy leather gloves, wire brushes,antispatter spray,cutting tools, tube benders, fishmouthing tools, and suddenly your C5 has a rollcage in it.

****Remember this caution: Do not weld on metal cleaned off with "brake cleaner"
Phosgene gas can be created with some cleaners and a small amount can kill you.
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Old 07-05-2012, 05:29 PM
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Default welders

How can you trust someone that has to hide their face just to do their job?

Seriously, look around for a community college that has a basic intro to welding. the easiest process to learn in Mig, but you will find that you will have weld quality problems, mostly lack of fusion. OK for putting fenders on trailers and such, but for items you you are betting your life on, find someone that knows what they are doing. It takes a lot of hand eye skill to give the weld integrity you need, and just like a book, a weld can't be judged by the cover.

Besides weld quality, there are weld design things to understand, where a weld is and the shape of the weld in a structure matter just as much as weld quality.
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Old 07-05-2012, 07:06 PM
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Old 07-05-2012, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Speed Direct View Post
I say a small MIG welder will get the job done for the kinds of things you are talking about. A 150 to 180 amp welder should keep you within your budget. I've always used Lincoln but Miller has a good reputation as well. Both are affordable and parts/supplies are available at Home Depot/Lowe's.
I picked up a Lincoln Pro-Mig 140 at Lowe's a couple years ago and I pretty much did the self-teaching thing. The welder came with a neat DVD that showed basic techniques. I also got some pointers from a few guys at my shop. There are also some good instructional videos on the Interweb if you do some searching. There are a couple of good welding forums for both Miller and Hobart users but that can work for Lincoln owners too. The Lincoln website has some good instructional stuff too.

A 110v welder really needs a 20 amp circuit to fully use its capabilities. It would be a good idea to have a single dedicated 20A circuit that will be used by only the welder. Most small welders have a short power cord; the 110v units can use a 25' 12-gauge extension cord. If all you have is a standard 15A circuit, don't use any other device plugged into that circuit when welding. You won't get the full power of the welder with extra load on the circuit.

To start, you don't really need a tank of C-25. It can be expensive to buy a tank, and some gas supply places can be picky about the age of a tank. Any new welder should come with a small spool of both types of wire. Keep in mind that when you use C-25, you need shelter from any wind. You don't want the gas to be blown off the work. Flux-core takes some cleanup work, but there will be slightly more penetration with that type of wire.

Small welders will work fine for welding steel up to 3/16 in thickness with proper preparation. You can weld 1/4" steel but you may have to make two or more passes.
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Old 07-05-2012, 08:21 PM
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Just an FYI. I paid 100 bucks for the tank filled with gas. Flux core is fine, but I don't like to do the cleanup splatter. With a little experience with gas, there is little to cleanup.
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Old 07-05-2012, 09:25 PM
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Originally Posted by ErnieN85 View Post
Best thing you could do would be to sign up for a welding course at a local community college. then make up your mind what you want to buy
Bingo, that is what I did about 8 years ago.
I ended up buying a Miller 250 TIG machine afterwards. Any of the welding is not really that difficult, there is more prep time then actual welding time. You have to know which rods to use on what and just practice and practice and just weld junk together. Soon enough you could do a cage or radiator. You can't go cheap though, I bough a suitcase TIG machine about 6 months ago and just used it for the first time, wow looks like a kid welded with it. It is made for field use and they are really not what you want to nice finished welds with. Try craigslist and get a name brand that Miller or Lincoln still sells and should be good.
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Old 07-05-2012, 11:17 PM
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If you plan on taking a welding class, make sure you speak directly to the instructor and find out what percentage of the curriculum will be spent on the process you are going to choose. I called every local school I could find, and none of them had a course that spent any appreciable time on TIG, and the cost was as much as the welder itself. One more positive to
TIG that nobody mentioned, it's absolutely clean. No spatter or sparks.
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Old 07-06-2012, 03:58 AM
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Originally Posted by ErnieN85 View Post
Best thing you could do would be to sign up for a welding course at a local community college. then make up your mind what you want to buy
I did that while I was in grad school. Very good exposure to all different types of welding without spending too much money. Start there to see what you're good at and you really think you wanna drop the coin on the eqpt.
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Old 07-06-2012, 05:20 AM
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The number one thing I can add is that the better you can see your puddle the better the weld will be. One will find that not all welds are right in front of your face with elbows resting on the work bench. Getting into a position as comfortable as possible (not always do-able) and making a practice pass before striking the arc helps a bunch.
FWIW, I use an auto helmet with big lens to mig and an old school non-auto small lens riveted helmet to tig. Everyone recommends auto for everything, but for me the old school helmet seems to work well doing any tig work. Possibly because it almost forces me to get comfortable before stepping on the pedal.
Magnified lenses are available and I recently have been trying a 1.5x with good results.
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