Welder

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  • Al Schober
    Afourian MVP
    • Jul 2009
    • 2031

    Welder

    I've been thinking of buying a welder, and don't know enough about them to make an intelligent selection. I'd like the capability to weld mild steel (not necessarily stainless) up to perhaps 1/8". I've been looking at the small MIG welders with the thought of using shielded wire. My thought (I could be wrong) is that dealing with the gas bottle would be a hassle? Any other features I should get/don't need? Max/min current, AC/DC?
    For brazing, I've been using goggles with a #5 lens - seems OK. For welding, do I need a full face shield (seems like a good idea)? How effective are the auto-darkening shields?
    Harbor Freight welders any good? I've been told to avoid them for certain products like vaccines and parachutes, but some of their products are decent and good for their price.
    Besides, I think we need a new topic to kick around - things are slow on the BB.
  • lat 64
    Afourian MVP
    • Oct 2008
    • 1994

    #2
    I bet you'd have a lot of fun starting off with a stick welder off of craig's list.

    Do this:

    Take a community college class in welding. It's just too damn easy to practice mistakes until you give up trying. The instructor will be the source of recommendations then and it will simply be a fun winter thing.

    I'm a terrible welder 'cause I don't learnt it no good.
    sigpic Whiskeyjack a '68 Columbia 36 rebuilt A-4 with 2:1

    "Since when is napping doing nothing?"

    Comment

    • Hymodyne
      • Feb 2013
      • 393

      #3
      I picked a Hobart product to rebuild a car. I started on frame repair, learning on larger, flat surfaces and moved on to a thinner gauge wire, door panel fixes and more detailed work. I've done small stick welding projects and using a mig with a tank is far more forgiving and offers better welds on mild steel for a non-professional. A tank can last for years, based on how you use it.

      auto darkening masks are great, don't skimp on the gloves.

      James

      Comment

      • marthur
        Afourian MVP
        • Dec 2004
        • 844

        #4
        I have a Lincoln MIG set up. I use the shielded wire and gas. Have welded all sorts of projects including stainless.

        The welder I bought runs on 120 v, so I can plug it in anywhere. It will weld up to 5/16 I believe. It is SUPER handy. I lent it to my brother and he liked it so much he bought his own. Now his stick welder sits unused unless we need to weld something thicker than 1/8

        Lincoln or Hobart, I recommend you buy the quality brand. Parts, service and supplies are much easier to obtain. Duty cycle and build quality is much higher.
        Mike

        Comment

        • tenders
          Afourian MVP
          • May 2007
          • 1452

          #5
          Please go on. Welding is a black art I’ve never understood much about.

          Comment

          • lat 64
            Afourian MVP
            • Oct 2008
            • 1994

            #6
            Originally posted by tenders View Post
            Please go on. Welding is a black art I’ve never understood much about.
            My point exactly. See post #2.
            The answer to "what welder should I buy?" is; What kind of welding are you doing?
            Not satisfactory I know, but I don't think there's a nutshell big enough for the subject.

            It is fun to stick metal together so I would say enjoy the learning.

            A note:
            Cover all your skin against UV rays from the arc. Welders(humans) always have a sunburn at the opening of their shirt collar. Not good.
            Also, wear boots, not shoes. Sparks fly every where and get into places you cant imagine!
            A piece of red-hot slag will burn a hole right through your sock and half way through the skin of you foot before you can say....
            sigpic Whiskeyjack a '68 Columbia 36 rebuilt A-4 with 2:1

            "Since when is napping doing nothing?"

            Comment

            • GregH
              Afourian MVP
              • Jun 2015
              • 598

              #7
              Originally posted by lat 64 View Post
              My point exactly. See post #2.
              The answer to "what welder should I buy?" is; What kind of welding are you doing?
              Not satisfactory I know, but I don't think there's a nutshell big enough for the subject.
              Kind of reminds me when customers come talk to me and say .. "I want to add solar to my boat today."

              .. ahhh.. ok.. step 1...

              Greg
              1975 Alberg 30
              sigpic

              Comment

              • Al Schober
                Afourian MVP
                • Jul 2009
                • 2031

                #8
                Like the suggestion of 'take a course' - will contact my local CC tomorrow.
                Know about boots vs shoes - used to work in a foundry. Leg covering went OVER and outside the boots - keep the molten metal OUT of your footwear!
                One summer job was an aluminum foundry in Chatham, NJ. We'd work evenings only - come in at 3 at start the furnaces. Then we'd clean up and straighten the castings from the night before. One job were were working was the copy frames for the Besseler copy cameras - for some reason, they wanted the frames flat. We were using an age hardening alloy, and after a certain time (not long) you'd break them before you flattened them. Then we'd start up the sand mull and mix the mold sand for the night's castings. Neat process - pattern board needed repair, we'd fix it. Prepare upper and lower drags. Last thing of the night was the pour - took two of us to lift one of the crucibles. Pour into (vs. over) the mold. Leave everything, shut down, go home. Oh yeah, HUGE fans blowing through the shop to try and keep us cool.

                Comment

                • joe_db
                  Afourian MVP
                  • May 2009
                  • 4535

                  #9
                  Be careful with your eyes! Gas welding goggles are not even CLOSE to dark enough for arc welding.
                  Joe Della Barba
                  Coquina
                  C&C 35 MK I
                  Maryland USA

                  Comment

                  • wristwister
                    Senior Member
                    • Nov 2013
                    • 167

                    #10
                    I'll throw something in from left field ... a good ol' oxyacetylene torch. Here's why:

                    To do good quality welds that look good and can be trusted using stick/MIG/whatever takes a lot of practice. If you plan to do a lot of welding and are willing to invest the time and effort to get good enough to consistently make trustworthy welds, great, go for it, get a good quality welder.

                    But ... if like me welding is just a very occasional thing but you want those welds to be good, this is where the oxyacetylene comes in. For ugly welds that I'm not depending on for safety, great, I torch that baby up, grind it down bit, and I'm good. But for welds that have to be trustworthy and/or pretty, I use my torch to tack weld everything in place, then I bring it to a real welder to lay down the final beads.

                    Other advantages of a torch welder:

                    - You can anneal metal with it for bending and shaping

                    - You can heat treat metal to make it harder or softer by annealing then changing how you quench it

                    - You can cut metal with the cutting torch head

                    - You can braze or solder

                    Can't do any of these with that stick/MIG welder, and with a little practice you might actually get good at laying down a proper bead!
                    "A ship in the harbor is safe ... but that's not what ships are built for.

                    Comment

                    • rickandlee
                      Senior Member
                      • Nov 2016
                      • 47

                      #11
                      I vote GMAW, You say 1/8" now but once you get going...well. Go with a gas tank, you will save a lot of money plus you can change mixtures for different metals. If you want to change from flux to gas you have to change the liner. Make sure the machine will handle the 11# rolls. If you have an electric dryer you have 240 volts with an adapter and extension cord. Auto darkening shield the best thing since humm... the blue pill for a welding friend of mine. If you wear reading glasses wear um. My welding had gone down hill the past few years then I realized I couldn't see. Community College is great because you come out with a tool box or something else you built. Keep it cool or you will be at Warp factor 8 in no time.

                      My projects this year: mast tabernacle, prototype in mild steel then see if I can still weld stainless. Big project, 10,000# GVWR trailer for the S2 I can save $5K over the best estimate I've had. Just wished I hadn't sold the crane. Oh well there are timbers and come a-longs. Have fun, one of the best purchases of all my tools.

                      Comment

                      • MLW
                        Senior Member
                        • Feb 2017
                        • 10

                        #12
                        Best money I spent was a high end auto darkening hood that let me see my work and really focus on learning rather than flicking my head and bracing my body. Expensive but well spent, particularly for TIG.

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