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New to welding, which to chose

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New to welding, which to chose

Unread postAuthor: homedepotpro » Mon Apr 21, 2008 10:42 pm

Im thinking about venturing into the field of welding. I want to build a mini bike and I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn a new craft. My question is what form of welding is best for me. I have looked into arc welding and it seems relatively inexpensive but quite technical. Im a junior in high school and Im not exactly loaded, just looking for some basic stuff. some experienced advice would be greatly welcomed. I am more than willing to practice and learn as long as i can stay on a budget
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Unread postAuthor: jrrdw » Tue Apr 22, 2008 12:00 am

Your going to need about $350.00/$400.00 dollars for a Wire Feed Arc Welder to get set up. A Mig is going to cost you around $500.00/$600.00 to get set up. A cheap Arc Welder from the hardware store will cost you around $150.00/$200.00 to get set up.

I went with the Wire Feed Arc Welder, first thing I built was a cart for it and the supplies. All and all, it's versitile and worth the money. It paid it's self off, and now I'm ahead of the investment.
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Unread postAuthor: willarddaniels » Tue Apr 22, 2008 12:09 am

My first welder I purchased was a mig because I had the money and it is the one I wanted. If I were in your position, I would get as cheap as one as I could find of just about any type (except oxygen/acetylene) and play around with it. Then, after you have learned more and know what you want to do with it, get the one you want... like after graduation.
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Unread postAuthor: Killjoy » Wed Apr 23, 2008 12:20 am

My first welder was also MIG, and I got it when I was 12. However, I got it used from this pro welder who was moving and he gave me a bunch of stuff for free (welding helmet, cart, gloves, brush, etc), so I only paid $400 for the welder and a $50 annual rental for the tank. Probably the best $400 dollars I ever spent, And I use it at least once a week.
I also got an oxy/acetylene torch set up about a year ago which was another great investment.

I like MIG because its generally low maintenance and easy to learn. But check the classifieds or ads for welders, maybe you'll get lucky like I did and get a good deal.
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Unread postAuthor: biggsauce » Wed Apr 23, 2008 12:35 am

I agree, any wire fed machine is very easy to start on. I tried playing with my dad's Lincoln cracker box welder, but never had much success. When Katrina passed through and my dad was working a lot of overtime (works for the phone company) he spoiled himself with some of the overtime money and bout a Miller 210 dual input wire welder. VERY easy to use, I picked it up in an afternoon. I'm still trying to justify spending the money for a bottle and a spool gun for it though... But this probably isn't what you're looking for right now.

Save up, check the classifieds, and look for something quality. If you want something that will lay down a bead, and is relatively cheap, I would go look at Harbor Freight. True, Harbor Freight products are... well lets just say they don't have the Crastsman lifetime guarantee. But, a buddy of mine bought one and was able to lay down some right pretty beads. For what you probably will be doing, (thin wall square tube, round tube, angle etc) it will most likely work.

Practice, look online for some literature on welding, get an angle grinder, and theres no reason you shouldn't be able to put together a nice mini bike at the least. Practice practice practice... :)
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Unread postAuthor: homedepotpro » Wed Apr 23, 2008 12:45 am

thank you guys, I've been leaning towards a stick welder, just because of the simplicity of it. I like that inexpensiveness of the consumables, which will allow much practice for me. plus most of my welding, i assume, will just be small beads, not huge 6 foot long ones. the wire fed machines seem nice but they seem like a machine used by for the lack of a better word "intense" welders. storage space is also at a premium. My tools are already cluttering up the garage. Is a wire fed welder just one of those things that is just vastly better and not considerable more costly, i mean do i need one?
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Unread postAuthor: biggsauce » Wed Apr 23, 2008 12:54 am

Nah, you can go far with a stick welder. It take a little more skill, but it sounds like you're determined, so go for the stick welder.

There are plenty of wire fed welders out there though if space is a concern.

the wire fed machines seem nice but they seem like a machine used by for the lack of a better word "intense" welders.


To be honest, the most "intense" welding is done by stick welding. At our shop, we service pumps, engines, etc. for the plants and rigs and our welder used 2 large stick welders.

Since you're not afraid of a challenge, go for the stick. You can do some fairly detailed beads and then crank up your power, slap in a big stick and you can do some fairly heavy duty stuff.

Best of luck
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Unread postAuthor: willarddaniels » Wed Apr 23, 2008 12:58 am

I would suggest getting a wire fed welder... eventually.
I have seen amazing work done with a stick welder and they are easy to use, cheap, etc. Space is really not a consideration for welding until you add gasses to it. You can still use a mig welder without gasses, so it takes up the same amount of space as a stick welder.
Bottom line: start with a stick.
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Unread postAuthor: SpudMonster » Wed Apr 23, 2008 1:34 am

Don't doubt Wire-feed. It's got some pretty heavy-duty applications (Shipbuilding anyone?)
But I agree with willard, if space is a concern, get familiar with stick first. Does your local community college offer any welding classes? I highly recommend that you look into it.
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Unread postAuthor: Blitz » Wed Apr 23, 2008 1:40 am

I second the college classes. It helped me big-time, and I knew NOTHING about welding before walking in.
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Unread postAuthor: CS » Wed Apr 23, 2008 3:16 am

Wow, there is a lot to cover. Let me bullet my first few points...

-Well if money is too large of a issue, purchasing a welding machine right now may be unreasonable.

-Not to mention, not a lot of people have "it" - the talent to weld that is. For example in a HS class of 25 you may find 2 or 3 kids that can produce quality welds. Might try and find someones machine you can take for a spin to see if you really like it.

-I received excellent marks in all welding processes, and positions. And I'd never think of buying a welding machine for my personal use. Your gonna be spending a easy $500 right out the gate. You got to be quite the handyman justify that amount of money.

From the sounds of it you have three options:
-Arc (Stick)
-Flux-Core
-GMAW (MIG)

Both arc, and flux-core use solid, rather then gaseous, flux. Personally I can tell, and hate, solid based fluxes.

Arc
+ Cheap
- Hard and expensive to make change for material thickness
- Hard to accurately control
In producing a quality weld your welding position is a HUGE dictator. I had huge success using both the TIG and MIG machines, and that stemmed from my ability to get into a comfortable, and solid welding position. You simply can't do that with a stick. As your rod is consumed you must change your position constantly.

From there you have the two wire feed options: flux-core and MIG.

Wire feed has the advantage of being simplistic. Its flux is contained within the wire versus refilling a CO2 bottle. However the largest problem with flux-core machines is there general lack of good penetration. So in attempt to get better pen your going to get a larger profile weld.

In the mix of things I would only advise buying a MIG machine, but given your circumstances I wouldn't advise buying a machine at all.
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Unread postAuthor: BigGrib » Wed Apr 23, 2008 3:32 am

best bet i think in your case just to start learning you should get a mig/wirefeed welder. they are inexpensive and are a great learning tool to get heat and penetration and bead work down. you can get a cheapo that can use flux core wire or can hook up a argon or co2/argon which is less expensive and provides the same protection as pure argon. get a welding helmet from harbor frieght for 20 bucks, you could probably even get the welder there but i have before and they are really cheap, best bet get one at an ace or something. anyway homedepotpro thats my 2 cents and i think you'd be happy with the setup.
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Unread postAuthor: TwitchTheAussie » Wed Apr 23, 2008 4:35 am

Easiest to learn is MIG by far. I've learned that with practise MIG is easiest to use but fairly expensive to replace the argon cylinder. Though I've got a stick I use for just toying around. Like above said it takes some skill. I've practised a lot to get where I am.

What I've learned is while MIG is easiest n probably best, costwise its a bit iffy. Stick takes some getting used to and a certain level of skill. I'd say start with a MIG.
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Unread postAuthor: ghostman01 » Wed Apr 23, 2008 4:56 am

ive got a mig and im only 15 and do a really good quality weld, im half way through building my self a go kart, i started it when i was like 12 or so and still havent finished. personally i must say most of the kids in my tec and welding class envy me because ive had the practice at home and i manage to get A 's for welding and every thing else, so since your still a junior which i believe in the states is yr 9 i think mig was far the easiest for me but thats just me, you could be the opposite, i dont like the arc welder because of the sounds of electricity sparking scares me !! lol the mig is so much quieter and i use it with out gas because i have one that doesnt need gas but can still take it if i want to put different wire in it. its perfect for me, but arc doesnt work well with thinner metals, only thick stuff, unless you can get a lower power one ?? i think this means, it all depends on what your going to weld :P
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Unread postAuthor: iisthemuffin » Mon May 12, 2008 9:29 pm

in my engineering class we have a MIG and a TIG...i believe TIG would be the stick welder...you basically have a torch and a stick of copper wire...and the MIG is the wire fed...i personally prefer the wire fed...in my opinion its easier to make a quick weld...and over all requires less skill to use...also very low maitenance...if i were to buy one i would for sure buy a MIG
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