So you want to be a welder?

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Postby Scott Hightower » Mon Feb 21, 2011 12:41 pm

Go for a 220volt machine. Every home has the capability. Your electrician can pair up two 110volt breakers to get 220volt. You can even do it yourself and by the double breaker at Lowes or Home Depot. They sell the outlet plugs as well in the dryer section.

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Re: So you want to be a welder?

Postby working on it » Sat Nov 23, 2013 6:45 pm

I know that this thread, really informative, but in itself confusing as such, is at least 2.5 years old, but for some reason I have overlooked it for at least 2 of those years....Sitting here all day, reliving and rethinking my build, instead of working on it (my unheated garage is still calling me to come out and play), I have decided that I should finally get a welder for my own use. Remember my self-intro to the forum: "I'm a bolt-together kind of shade-tree mechanic" or such; that's because I never had the opportunity nor need to weld. I either found away around it, found a ready-made part, or was able to "drill-cut-saw-bend-bolt" a functional substitute in my car modification endeavors of past years. Or I could have a friend help me with the welding (my 2 attempts were burn-throughs, on expensive parts, and so maligned that I made no third attempt). So I made it through 40 years without welding, myself. (As for wood-working, no welding required, I still used the same "drill-cut-saw-bend-bolt" procedure; I promise in the future not to try welding any wood).Therefore, after much thought, I want to buy a basic welder to make some improvements/mods to my trailer, and perhaps later to build another from scratch (only if I get proficient, "if"). My old friend, who is 100 miles away, has always been my recourse for the welding that had to be done...just too far, and an imposition to ask for help anymore; I need to become self-reliant in this field myself. OK, background done, here's the question> considering the range of material thickness, and the range of penetration needed for trailer construction (TD's and TTT's), what ONE machine would you guys (both experts and beginners please chime in!) recommend for: (a.) very sporadic use-duty cycle not important, (b.) 18 ga to 1/4" thick max. steel, (c.) both new and used steel (semi-dirty), (d.) best overall functionality for a beginner. Flux core looks easiest, Gas shielded might be a hassle with gas and wire usage problems (seems always to need new tips, In My Observations), or stick welding (which one to use, and how to store?). I haven't seen anyone use stick in 10 years, always MIG or Flux. My limitations: voltage (110v preferred, but 220v is available) cost (under $200 if possible, but talk me into something more, if you can), availability of supplies (Tractor Supply is 8 miles away, HD and Lowes 10). I asked my friend, but he always replied 220v Millers or Lincolns $500 and up....Having the opinions of more current forum members would help me some to choose, knowing more about you as users and builders. Thanks....
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Re: So you want to be a welder?

Postby MtnDon » Sat Nov 23, 2013 8:06 pm

This is one of those things where you will get a whole variety of opinions.

My main opinion is you can not buy a welder for the low ball price you quoted. Or you can, but when it breaks down nobody will want to even try to repair it. I would stick to Miller, Lincoln or Hobart. Miller & Hobart are the only ones made in the USA. As far as I know Lincoln are built overseas but they do stand behind their products.

Personal preference for me is a wire feed MIG. They do have some limitations such as not being too useful outdoors as the wind blows the shielding gas away. You can always change the wire to flux core (and switch polarity) with a MIG, but a plain wire feed (flux core) can not use gas unless it can be fitted with a gas kit. The cheapest MIG I would buy is a Hobart Handler 125, but the 140 offers the ability to weld thicker metals. Both operate on 120 VAC. They are best on a dedicated 20 amp supply line. The Hobart specs say max 3/16 on the Handler 125 and 1/4 on the Handler 140. That is with flux core wire, not gas. Flux core wire runs hotter than gas shielded wire and can handle thicker metal with good penetration on a single pass. If going MIG you need a gas cylinder; nothing smaller than a 40 cu ft, IMO and 60 is better as it means fewer trips to the welding store. The gas is an extra consumable but the flux core wire costs more too. FWIW, I use .035 flux core, .030 and .024 solid wire depending on what is being welded and where.

I believe Miller makes the best welders with Lincoln most likely as good but both brands do cost more than Hobart.

Stick welders are offer more capacity for the buck. You can sometimes find a used Lincoln box at great prices. They are less complicated than a wire feed welder. But I love a MIG, no slag to chip, nice clean welds after you practice.

Practice is the key. Maybe a course at a community college or a hour or so with supervision from a very good welder. Sometimes it is simpler and quicker to catch what the student welder is doing wrong with a coach present. Welding can be learned on your own though. Practice with different thicknesses is important. Being able to cut trials apart with a toothed saw (bandsaw or hacksaw, not an abrasive cut off wheel) can be instructive to learning about penetration.

My 2 cents.

There is a steel supplier near me who cuts and sells small pieces of many sizes. They also sell "drops", small pieces that are sort of waste. It is sold by the pound and great stuff to practice on. Cheaper steel can be had at another place that only sells by the 20 foot length, though they will cut, but you need to but the whole stick.
Last edited by MtnDon on Sat Nov 23, 2013 11:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: So you want to be a welder?

Postby MtnDon » Sat Nov 23, 2013 8:45 pm

The Hobart 125 at Tractor Supply* comes with the gas solenoid valve, just add a regulator and gas bottle. That is about as good a price as I've seen. 20% duty cycle which is typical under a thou or two. I try to have some work cut and ground to get started (when/if grinding is needed), then weld for a little. Then measure cut and grind some more. Weld some more and so on.

I mention Hobart as I own two. They have served me well and I would not hesitate to buy one again.

* The MIG ready version and not the EZ version. For the $20 extra you get MIG ready and two separate controls, not a single knob for both volts and wire speed. Amazon usually sells them too and if you have Prime shipping may be free.
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Re: So you want to be a welder?

Postby working on it » Sat Nov 23, 2013 11:05 pm

Thanks for responding. I've tried welding, using a Miller MIG, but had the setting wrong and burnt thru an expensive header tube. Then, I did it again. Probably not wise to try as a first or second effort, but I thought I had seen enough to try it (wrong!). Shoulda tried it on armorplate first. Though I haven't tried it since, I thought that the MIG was a safer rig to use, since the electrode was cold until the trigger on the feed was pulled (good for tight places). The exposed, hot, "sticks" of the arc welder are an accident waiting to happen in my hands ("a man has to know his limitations"-from a Dirty Harry movie). So, I think that you're right in proposing the Hobart 125 as a starter for me (at my age, probably my first and only welder). Sure wish it was a little cheaper though...my wife has an alarm in her head; it goes off if I spend $201 or more at any one time (can't say that it works when she spends though). Checked Craigslist a few minutes ago: some people obviously value their stuff more than I'm willing to pay (especially when accompanied by the phrase "used once", which I have heard before). Now, I'll search for any Black Friday deals (if any)on this welder. My wife just bought me last years' "promised" tools, a Milwaukee drill/impact driver set, so I might have to pull rank on her (as if).
  • 2013 HHRv,"squareback/simple" TTT, semi-offroad? 4x8, 2000+ lbs travel weight
  • featuring:
    • 3500 lb Dexter axle,
    • 27x8.5-14LT tires,
    • LED lighting,
    • A/C & heat,Optima AGM battery,
    • extended-run 2500w generator,
    • Coleman dual-fuel stove & lantern
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Re: So you want to be a welder?

Postby Dale M. » Sun Nov 24, 2013 10:45 am

I personally chose a Hobart Handler 140 (120 Volt) because I perceived it would do everything I wanted (weld up to 1/4 inch materials)... It's been a really good machine and I have never had a problem with it, the choice at this level was because it did come with gas kit along with its flux core capabilities, and I have gone to C25 gas mix and am loving it. At the time about a 1-1/2 years ago it was on sale for $449 at Tractor Supply..... Today's price?... Still $499 ( be sure to get model 500550, 5 heat range) .... IF I had to do it over I think I would get a 220 volt machine maybe the the Hobart handler 190 because its a hotter machine (amperage wise) and you have more capabilities and heat ranges to play with.... Maybe even the 210 MPV (120-240 volt adaptable) ... The reason for going BIG, "size limitations"... You can always dial the heat down for small work... But once machine maxes out and you don't have enough heat, the fusion bond becomes questionable and your only solution with smaller machine is multiple pass at weld...

http://www.tractorsupply.com/en/store/search/welders

Why Hobart, because its made in America and seems to have better price than Miller (Hobart's parent company) and Lincoln...

Hobart also has a good welding forum for problem solving and just showing off your work....

http://www.hobartwelders.com/weldtalk/f ... re-Welders

Also when considering a welder also consider spending some more dollars on accessories, I was not a believer for quite a long time because of cost, but a Auto Darkening Hood is real advantage over standard hood, believe cost is justifiable once you begin using one, get some good welding gloves and consider a decent welding jacket, not real necessity but a convenience, IF you get a jacket, leather is preferred, but for light casual use cotton is great... Get dark color, found a nice green jacket and realized in first 10 minutes of use it reflected light into back side of hood... Luckily I did not get it dirty and welding suppler took it back on trade for a BLACK jacket....

IF you wan to learn the process I suggest you go to youtube and look at this fellows videos... Yes there are a lot of how to's on you tube and many are not really welders that are making videos, but this guy is excellent and knows his stuff...

http://www.youtube.com/user/weldingtipsandtricks/videos

His web site:

http://www.weldingtipsandtricks.com/

Here is what my rig ended up as, did not particularly like ready made carts (wheels way to small) and besides its tradition the your first welding project is cart for welder.... Upgrade to cart has been tool box that sits in lower shelf that holds a few tools (wire cutters and gloves and ...) also spare roll of flux core and roll of solid wire... Always have spare roll of wire handy because you will run out at worse times...

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Re: So you want to be a welder?

Postby bdosborn » Sun Nov 24, 2013 11:22 am

Dale M. wrote: Here is what my rig ended up as, did not particularly like ready made carts (wheels way to small) and besides its tradition the your first welding project is cart for welder....


I did the same thing, only with a blue one:

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I should used bigger castors though, PITA to roll around the garage....

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Re: So you want to be a welder?

Postby working on it » Sun Nov 24, 2013 12:14 pm

How often do you guys use your welders? I can't see using mine very much; just for trailer mods on the current one, modding/repairing my idle car-hauler, and perhaps the second trailer I wish to build. Probably not very much, at least until I retire. Just experimenting until I get OK at it. I still will use/trust bolts mostly, as that's what I'm used to! So would the Hobart 125 be good enough? or at least cost effective for me now (with 220v also available, should I plan on a stick welder for heavy metal later)? I'll admit that I've been looking at both the Jobsmart 125 at Tractor Supply and the Northern Industrial 125 at Northern Tool lately...as a learning tool, and though probably not as durable as a Hobart, might be good enough at the price for tinkering. And the warranty is only 90 days at TSC, longer-at a price-at NT, not too good, instead of the 5/3/1 Hobart warranty. (Wait! I think that might convince the wife!) I think I'm leaning towards the H125. Only one question more: at 3/16" max thickness per pass (with flux core), can a second or third pass improve the penetration to use on 3/8"steel? I will probably never weld thicker than that (3/16" is as thick as I normally "drill-cut-saw-bend-bolt" presently)?
hobart 125 mig ready.jpg
hobart 125 mig ready.jpg (16.95 KiB) Viewed 2462 times
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northern 125.jpg
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  • 2013 HHRv,"squareback/simple" TTT, semi-offroad? 4x8, 2000+ lbs travel weight
  • featuring:
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    • LED lighting,
    • A/C & heat,Optima AGM battery,
    • extended-run 2500w generator,
    • Coleman dual-fuel stove & lantern
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Re: So you want to be a welder?

Postby MtnDon » Sun Nov 24, 2013 2:37 pm

working on it wrote:How often do you guys use your welders?


My first welder was bought to allow me to make bumpers, a tire carrier and various skid armor for a Jeep XJ. It paid for itself with that project; similar to buying a welder to make a trailer frame. Use after that has been sporadic with maybe a year going by with no use. But it has been super handy for repairing a couple of chairs, repairing a property gate a tree fell on and then a couple years later making a new gate when another windstorm blew another tree onto the gate. At home in the last month I made two frames for new gates for the side yard parking area; 1x1 steel tube with metal roofing panels screwed on; matches the home roof. Made HD hinges for the new steel posts. Better then any wood framed gates, better than store bought as they are a weird size. I have made repairs to the utility box trailer (31 years old and counting) a few times. Some garden tool repairs come to mind; saved buying a new hoe and a new rake. Made a steel tube teeter totter for the kids. Jeep top "luggage" rack. Repaired cracks in wheelbarrow tray. And there is lots of small stuff I can't recall off hand.


Re: accessories. Welding helmet. Absolutely buy a auto darken model! With a variable darkness is nice. I have one 15 years old and love every minute I have used it. Change the front protective cover when it gets cruddy. Test it with a "sparker" before every session.

Gloves are a must and a jacket or something is necessary to cover the arms. Electric welding w/o gloves and arm cover will give you sunburn. There is lots of UV in the electric arc. Bad sunburn if the project is big enough.

Other accessories for me include a chop saw or a bandsaw for cutting. Chip hammer for flux core wire. A couple of grinders; I like two as sometimes I like the nicely worn in curve on the old grinding disk, sometimes I want a more squared edge. That's probably just me.

Spare wire on hand is very good to have. The spool is hidden in the machine and often I am surprised when it runs out. I could check more often but don't.

A personal luxury is owning two C25 cylinders. That way I can get one refilled when I'm going past or near the welding store on some other errand rather than be forced to make a special run.
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Re: So you want to be a welder?

Postby MtnDon » Sun Nov 24, 2013 2:49 pm

So would the Hobart 125 be good enough?


Quality is equal to their 140, IMO. So yes, okay for hobby welding.

If you find you need to weld something thicker you need to bevel grind both materials to be welded. Then weld in the bottom of the vee. Then work up the vee with another bead; a side to side, back and forth pattern allows filling in a second pass depending on thickness. I find that for my welding I seldom ever use 3/16" steel, let alone anything heavier, but that will vary from person to person. Mostly I find myself using 18, 16, 14 or 11 gauge mostly.

Link to gauge # = inches

I think the last 3/16" I used was the original jeeps bumpers. Man they were heavy. Generation 2 were 1/8" (11 ga) and served just as well though I did get a few small slight dents.
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Re: So you want to be a welder?

Postby working on it » Sun Nov 24, 2013 3:22 pm

MtnDon- Thanks again. I've already started my "campaign" to get the Hobart for Christmas. Gloves I have, extra clothes (jackets, shirts, etc with sleeves) that are expendable, grinders, saws also. I do need the shades though. My friend welds without any gear (I have to look away), and still sees better than me. I also will get the chop saw (my hand held cuts are wobbly). As for the gas cylinders: what should I start with (size), or should I start with flux core until I'm better? I knew the bevel trick, but sometimes it isn't possible to get to both surfaces. Use a plug weld then? (if the drill will reach) If 3/8" thick isn't feasible to weld properly with this equipment, then I have to "double-up" two 3/16" plates by bolting! I'm sure to have many more questions later, hopefully soon (don't want to wait for Christmas). And probably trailer related as well.
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  • featuring:
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Re: So you want to be a welder?

Postby MtnDon » Sun Nov 24, 2013 4:20 pm

Size your tank according to your welding time. The normal flow rate is 20 cubic feet per hour. That's "arc on" time. You can get away with a little less flow and stretch the tank out a bit. Tanks can be rented or owned. When you own the tank you have the choice of doing an exchange. Waiting for the refill on your own tank involves two trips to the store; not worth it, IMO. The exchange can go on forever. Most dealers will allow you to upgrade from a smaller cylinder to a bigger one; you pay the difference in tank cost, plus gas. I'd check for that. Too big a cylinder is too heavy to be comfortably moved. I manage with my two 40 cu ft. If I'm on the ball I already have the refilled cylinder when the other runs dry. That's smaller than the one pictured by Dale and looks about like what Bruce has.

Big wheels are better than small. I rebuilt my cart and made a trike form with wheels; two fixed position, one caster, 4 inch. Works good on concrete even with some welding debris on the floor.

I have used plug weld for many things. Start the arc on the backing or bottom plate in the center of the hole and work outwards until the hole is filled. Great for welding a rod or pipe/tube inside another if well fitted.
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Re: So you want to be a welder?

Postby eamarquardt » Sun Nov 24, 2013 5:04 pm

I think that once you buy a machine that you'll find a multitude of projects that will allow you to recoup your money over time. Not to mention that you can increase your skill set (rewarding) and have fun at the same time.

You might consider a used machine. Some of the older machines are bulletproof. Just coils, basic rectifiers, and heavy duty switches that last virtually forever. Many of the modern machines have electronic controls (circuit boards) that, at some later time, may not be available due to the continuous changing design of the machines.

If yer patient you can usually find a good deal on a good machine. I almost got a beautiful Miller Dial-arc HF for $500 (300 amp commercial service TIG machine) with everything but a bottle for $500. Just a few minutes too late!

Here are some "likely suspects" in your area.

http://dallas.craigslist.org/dal/tls/4089380114.html

http://dallas.craigslist.org/dal/tls/4122385402.html

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Air-Products-MI ... 0909468784

When I buy a tool that I think will "get by", I usually end up with two. The one I purchased first, and the one I should have purchased to begin with. Keep in mind my motto is "overkill in moderation". You can always postpone your purchase a bit and save up some extra money by smoking less, drinking less Jack and beer, saving on contraceptive costs by abstaining, foregoing that new tattoo, eating peanut butter and jelly versus McDonalds, dumping one or more mistresses, and any number of other techniques.

Just my random drug induced thoughts.

Cheers,

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Re: So you want to be a welder?

Postby Shadow Catcher » Sun Nov 24, 2013 6:52 pm

Fair warning, unless you know how to weld, do NOT try welding anything critical that will kill you or some one else!
Most of my working career was involved in nondestructive testing and most of that involved welds on everything from the space shuttle to massive welds on generator housings, nuclear plants to refineries.
If you want to weld take a class, flux core FCAW and MIG are easiest to learn to do well.
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Re: So you want to be a welder?

Postby working on it » Sun Nov 24, 2013 7:15 pm

Shadow Catcher wrote:Fair warning, unless you know how to weld, do NOT try welding anything critical that will kill you or some one else!
Most of my working career was involved in nondestructive testing and most of that involved welds on everything from the space shuttle to massive welds on generator housings, nuclear plants to refineries.
If you want to weld take a class, flux core FCAW and MIG are easiest to learn to do well.

I have always believed in overbuilding everything; if one is good, two is better, and so on. That's part of the reason I wish to weld at home; firstly-to supplement attachment points on some equipment, and secondly-to weld bracing on other parts. Some things about both my TTT and my car-hauler bother me (I'm itching to strengthen both; welding seems the best way). I'll test my welds (probably make simulacrums of each part, and test to destruction), before I attempt each actual repair of any sensitive component. It'll be a long time before I try to scratch weld a trailer together. I don't have the time to attend classes, at least none that I found a few years (10) ago, when I first wanted to do this; maybe I can find something now that may be local and timely (my 120 mile commute, and 12-16 hour days interfere). And Gus, I've already given up all my vices and pursuits, and still don't have the money for some of those welders (I've been "burnt" on used cars and equipment before; trust no one).
  • 2013 HHRv,"squareback/simple" TTT, semi-offroad? 4x8, 2000+ lbs travel weight
  • featuring:
    • 3500 lb Dexter axle,
    • 27x8.5-14LT tires,
    • LED lighting,
    • A/C & heat,Optima AGM battery,
    • extended-run 2500w generator,
    • Coleman dual-fuel stove & lantern
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  • 148599148106
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