Welding Advice for a Beginner

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by dbg326, Mar 22, 2013.

  1. dbg326

    dbg326 Been here awhile

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    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?
    #1
  2. DustyRags

    DustyRags Idiot

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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 :(
    #2
  3. kirkster70

    kirkster70 moto junkie

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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.
    #3
  4. victor441

    victor441 Long timer

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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...)
    #4
  5. PoundSand

    PoundSand Long timer

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    why not gas?
    #5
  6. the_gr8t_waldo

    the_gr8t_waldo Long timer

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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.
    #6
  7. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

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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 :brow
    #7
  8. Drilldogger

    Drilldogger Been here awhile

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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.
    #8
  9. Nailhead

    Nailhead Free at last!

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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... :baldy
    #9
  10. Nailhead

    Nailhead Free at last!

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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:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    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.
    #10
  11. I GS 1

    I GS 1 I 90S I

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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.
    #11
  12. Benesesso

    Benesesso Long timer

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    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.
    #12
  13. sailah

    sailah Lampin' it

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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
    #13
  14. vtwin

    vtwin Air cooled runnin' mon

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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.

    [​IMG]


    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.:lol3


    [​IMG]

    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.
    #14
  15. Stan_R80/7

    Stan_R80/7 Beastly Gnarly

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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.
    #15
  16. Half Fast

    Half Fast Gnarly lurker

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  17. smilin'Ed

    smilin'Ed Ed

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    220 V machine, I've got a Miller 210 - very popular, try to find a used one.
    Miller has plug and play spool guns while Lincoln's need a module to be installed in order to plug a spool gun into them. (this may have changed in the last few years, but its what convinced me to get the Miller.)

    Cylinder rental up here in Canada costs me about $80 bucks a year, per cylinder. (I rent 3 large for O2, Acet and Argoshield; and own one small one for Argon)

    TIG machine and Plasma cutter also run on 220V. Some 110V machines seem to be good, I've just never liked them when tried. There's also the duty cycle thing on these smaller machines.

    If you really want the newest and greatest, get one of the new switching, multi input, multi process suitcase machines.
    http://www.millerwelds.com/products/multiprocess/

    Buy the best you can afford, get some info / instruction, practice, never stop learning, get comfortable before you strike the arc.

    If you buy a good used machine and it turns out you dont like welding, you can probably get your investment back.
    #17
  18. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    your MIG is a constant volt DC welder ... your arc length determines volts ... a spool gun constantly adjusts wire feed speed to deliver constant volt to puddle.

    normally to weld aluminum with TIG .. AC output with high frequency controlled with a foot pedal or hand controls with argon.

    a common problem with MIG ... it's easy to get a great looking bead, but lacks proper penetration.

    most 110v welders are typically 10% duty cycle ... performance can fall off quickly... this is why most folks are recommending 220v welders.

    don't discount old Miller or Lincoln DC stick welders that come up on Craigslist for dirt cheap. just make sure it's 220v single phase. an old oxy/acetylene torch is worth having around too...
    #18
  19. Benesesso

    Benesesso Long timer

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    +1, except that MIG machines are constant voltage (CV), not constant current (CC). The arc length/wire feed speed determines the current.

    Arc welders are CC.
    #19
  20. Stan_R80/7

    Stan_R80/7 Beastly Gnarly

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    MIG has its limitations for welding aluminum. But, that's how most aluminum is welded. The key is getting everything setup. Upgrading to a 220V from 120V is more of the same for MIG. From my understanding, TIG (which is basically all 220V+) would probably work better for most of my small hobby type projects.

    Yes, MIG is DC only. Voltage determines the amount of energy (heat) and wire feed the current. When I practice welding 1/8" aluminum plate the voltage is maxed out and the wire speed is at 80% of maximum. Blowing through 1/8" aluminum is more typical than not enough penetration.

    The high wire speed is where a spool gun comes in handy. Of course, there is still the stick-out and welding speed. I found 'hot and fast' to be true in my limited experience welding aluminum. With the fast weld speed needed, a lot of weld length can be put down before the limited duty cycle is reached. I have not reached the duty cycle on my small (hobby) welding projects.

    I could say that in hindsite I should have bought the 120/220V Mig welder (Hobart 201 MVP or Miller 211 MVP). But, the 140 cost 1/2 as much and did what I needed at the time. YMMV.
    #20