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Old 03-22-2013, 09:19 AM   #1
dbg326 OP
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Welding Advice for a Beginner

Hey guys, I've taken a look through a couple of the welding threads here, and didn't feel like hijacking them to ask my own questions. I'm looking into picking up welding this coming summer, but really have nothing to go off of. I've gotten to the point where I want to start fabricating some, and a welder is something that I really would like to have in the arsenal.

Chances are, I won't be able to take a class, as my summer is already looking quite full, but more learning as I go (obviously not planning on welding anything that would be a life or death issue to start off with)

That being said, what are your recommendations, starting off at least for welding mostly mild steel? Arc, TIG, MIG?
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Old 03-22-2013, 10:30 AM   #2
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Following this. I'm in the same boat- learned gas welding back in highschool, but haven't touched it since then. And only 110 in the house, so it'll be small arc at best :(
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Old 03-22-2013, 10:59 AM   #3
kirkster70
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My recommendation would be a red or blue 140 series MIG.

It won't break the bank and can do most things you want.
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Old 03-22-2013, 12:21 PM   #4
victor441
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I bought a Miller Mig years ago as recommended above and taught myself to weld, has worked great for auto and MC fabrication, also making gates, tools, fixtures, etc....FWIW a small 230V MIG machine can be run OK from a dryer outlet if you make an adapter/extension cord, have done this at three places I've lived in the meantime without problems (but read the welder manual first and make sure you use the correct wire gauge, wire length is not excessive, the breaker is big enough, etc...)
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Old 03-22-2013, 03:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DustyRags View Post
Following this. I'm in the same boat- learned gas welding back in highschool, but haven't touched it since then. And only 110 in the house, so it'll be small arc at best :(
why not gas?
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Old 03-22-2013, 04:03 PM   #6
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i have had the same stick welder for 20years now. welded a lot of stuff for the house,hobbies, including two railings that i've just installed. for aircraft projects i've had a gas set up...but the rental on the tanks was crippling if not fully enguaged in a project. i have no experence with mig n tig.so no real wonder that i don't recomend them.
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Old 03-22-2013, 04:08 PM   #7
JimVonBaden
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I taught myself to do crappy, but effective, welds from a 110Volt Harbor Freight Flux Core welder. It does OK with better wire.

Were I to get serious abouyt welding I would go with Mig, easier and better from my understanding.

Jim
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Old 03-22-2013, 04:57 PM   #8
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Mig welding is by far the easiest to learn on your own. I have a mig that can be plugged into any household outlet. Before Dad retired we used it to weld up awning frames for restaurant patio awnings. So I figure it will do anything I ever need to do around the house.
Practice on whatever scraps you can find, and do it over and over until you're ready to do a real weld.

And make sure you've got a grinder around so you can redo the welds that didn't turn out.
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Old 03-23-2013, 03:34 AM   #9
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I just taught myself to wire-feed weld last summer. Obviously, this means I'm no expert, but that might be advantageous in this case because how I did it is still fresh in my mind:

First, I cut some small pieces of 3/16 sheet, read the manual for initial voltage, wire speed, and gas flow settings, and then set about running beads on various pieces of steel until I obtained something that looked like welding as welders do it (hint: move the torch side to side as you run the bead-- not stationary like I did initially, and use your free hand to steady & guide the end of the torch).

Next, take your new-found bead-running skill & do some butt & angle welds. Fool around with the voltage & wire speed while your doing so to get an idea of their effect on a weld.

Search the web for some video tutorials on welding now that your appetite is whetted-- I found a web site run by an experienced welder with a huge variety of tutorials (and useful information), but I'll be damned if I remember how to find it again. Pay particular attention on how to avoid warpage when welding.

Next, practice what you've learned.

And don't forget to turn your fucking GAS VALVE off in your rush to go get a celebratory beer at the local pub...
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Old 03-23-2013, 03:42 AM   #10
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This practice piece is a bumper for my S10: I couldn't find one in a wrecking yard & I had to have one quickly, so I made one:






The plate you see welded on the top of the bumper is why I mentioned becoming familiar with warpage-avoidance methods: I got carried away welding it & it warped.

Good luck & have fun.
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Old 03-23-2013, 04:21 AM   #11
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As well as playing around till you can avoid warpage, it's important to cut through some of your welds to check if you are getting adequate penetration. You can sometimes put down a lot of decent looking metal with no strength to it.
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Old 03-23-2013, 05:08 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by I GS 1 View Post
As well as playing around till you can avoid warpage, it's important to cut through some of your welds to check if you are getting adequate penetration. You can sometimes put down a lot of decent looking metal with no strength to it.
Good point. Biggest problems with MIG are inadequate fusion and penetration. Low power machines can cause penetration problems (lack of welding deep enough), while an inexperienced welder can run into inadequate/lack of fusion (weld metal does not fuse with the base metal), usually on one side. You MUST make sure the arc melts both sides!

MIG can also have problems outdoors in the wind. I was lightly involved with the development of flux-core welding at Linde way back in ~1966, and many guys feel that if you have to resort to it you are better off arc welding the joint. It does penetrate deeper than MIG and can be used in the wind, but arc welding is usually cheaper. Just learn the art of striking an arc.

Also, small MIG machines use small reels of wire, and it costs a bunch more per foot than buying the big reels that bigger machines use.
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Old 03-23-2013, 06:28 AM   #13
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I personally only use tig but I'm not sure thats what I would recommend for your needs.

What I would recommend is putting in an ad on craigslist for wanting welding lessons. For a case of beer I'm sure there are plenty of guys out there who would be willing to jump start your learning process.

Watch videos and practice. Don't forget to budget for a decent helmet. And try and buy a 220v machine it's worth the wiring
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Old 03-23-2013, 07:40 AM   #14
vtwin
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This is a timely thread. I was thinking of taking up some light welding. Mostly to weld sheet metal for my rotted Willys truck. I had a friend use this to do some welding.




He did some tack welds for me and made it look easy. He's says he's marginal at best, but looked good to me. I have trouble soldering, so what do I know.




Some day I'd like to fill in the beads. My floors are rotted, so I'll need new panels installed. My friend lives pretty far away, so working at home, I'd get more done in the day.
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Old 03-23-2013, 07:51 AM   #15
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From everything I have read, learning MIG is the easiest because the machine takes care of the wire feed and voltage (or the instructions tell the settings). Robots can MIG weld. I found welding steel pretty straight forward with ~ 1/2 hour practice. Aluminum took more practice to figure out how fast to move the gun to prevent blow through and get good penetration.

I bought a MIG Hobart Handler 140 a couple years ago, runs on 120V, is supposed to used a 20 amp breaker but have never tripped the 15A breaker. Welding 1/8" steel using CO2 and tack welding works pretty well. The CO2 is from 22 oz paintball bottles and because it is a liquid the bottles last ~ 1-1/2 hours of trigger time. I also decided it was time to do some aluminum welding, so got a tank of argon (swapped a N2 tank I had), got a plastic liner, 0.030" wire, 0.045" tips and did some practicing. Welding aluminum is more challenging without a spool gun.

Most advise a newbie to get a red (Lincoln) or blue (Miller) because there are plenty of self-help manuals and DVD's for these machines. The Hobart is a home shop Miller and uses all Miller components. Mig welding is called the 'hot glue' of welding. Having done some gas welding, I understand the name but some practice (i.e. skill) is still needed. I found that gas welding puts much more heat into the parts than MIG. Being a good MIG welder has a lot to do with how to set up the machine for welding. If you have a project that only involves one thickness with one material, some practice on similar scrap will help dial in the settings and make for a successful project.

FWIW, I am now looking into buying a 230V MIG welder. The 230V allows using a spool gun for aluminum and thicker welds. But for sheet metal and thin steel the HH 140 works as well as a larger machine costing 2x more. For many projects a 120V MIG welder will do the job. Also, if you have never arc welded before (MIG, TIG, Stick) then UV protection and a good welding helmet are needed. Also, read up on home shop safety, fire extinguishers, and get a metal welding table. Eventually, I plan to get a 230V TIG welder.
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