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Posted: 4/23/2011 7:18:29 PM EDT
I am looking for a cheap cheap welder for some odd tasks I am looking to do on a personal level. Fabricating a basic brush guard for example

I am also a complete noob when it comes to welding, and I found this at harbor freight. However, I wasn't sure if it was a waste of money.

http://www.harborfreight.com/120-amp-arc-welder-98870.html
Link Posted: 4/23/2011 7:22:08 PM EDT
Welders will tell you it's a crappy welder, and it is.  That does not mean that you can not stick metal together with one.  Thousands a folks have used them for all sorts of projects.  
Link Posted: 4/23/2011 7:29:40 PM EDT
It won't penetrate well enough to make a decent brush guard. Look for one of these on craigslist.

Link Posted: 4/23/2011 7:31:41 PM EDT
I've used harbor freight, and yeah, its cheap, but it also works.

That said, if you have a 240v outlet at your disposal, get a 240v welder

ETA:  Perhaps I should read the page before posting, I see that it can be run off a 240 circuit.  For learning to weld/welding random crap on the cheap, nothin wrong with harbor freight.  There are forums out there dedicated to getting the most out of em, look em up.
Link Posted: 4/23/2011 7:31:59 PM EDT
Quoted:
It won't penetrate well enough to make a decent brush guard. Look for one of these on craigslist.

http://www.interschola.com/template/itemimages/10000s/10582/lincoln010.jpg



+1
Dime a dozen


Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile
Link Posted: 4/23/2011 7:34:21 PM EDT
Quoted:
Quoted:
It won't penetrate well enough to make a decent brush guard. Look for one of these on craigslist.

http://www.interschola.com/template/itemimages/10000s/10582/lincoln010.jpg



+1
Dime a dozen


Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile


Two questions, what is special about that particular model? Like I said, total noob

and what is a decent price/what is too high
Link Posted: 4/23/2011 7:37:34 PM EDT



Quoted:


It won't penetrate well enough to make a decent brush guard. Look for one of these on craigslist.



http://www.interschola.com/template/itemimages/10000s/10582/lincoln010.jpg


This.  And stay away from any wire feed which doesn't use shielding gas.  While they seem neat, the welds suck in strength.



Just remember, the quality of your welds is dependent on the quality of the materials.  Using SMAW with 7014 rods and proper joint preparation will make strong, flat welds and minimal splatter.  No need for gas, just keep the rods dry (7014 is a low hydrogen).
 
Link Posted: 4/23/2011 7:39:45 PM EDT
As a noob, heed this advice.  DO NOT WELD GALVANIZED METAL WITHOUT A RESPIRATOR AND GOOD VENTILATION!
Link Posted: 4/23/2011 7:40:21 PM EDT
Quoted:
Quoted:
Quoted:
It won't penetrate well enough to make a decent brush guard. Look for one of these on craigslist.

http://www.interschola.com/template/itemimages/10000s/10582/lincoln010.jpg



+1
Dime a dozen


Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile


Two questions, what is special about that particular model? Like I said, total noob

and what is a decent price/what is too high


For thick metal you will want to arc weld. Brush guard to me is a cosmetic item, mig would be ok but a beginners welds will most likely fail. Mine do. If you are replacing your bumper with something that will absorb impact you will want to avoid a MIG. They call those welders in the link Tombstones and are not too expensive.
Link Posted: 4/23/2011 7:40:25 PM EDT



Quoted:



Quoted:


Quoted:

It won't penetrate well enough to make a decent brush guard. Look for one of these on craigslist.



http://www.interschola.com/template/itemimages/10000s/10582/lincoln010.jpg






+1

Dime a dozen





Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile




Two questions, what is special about that particular model? Like I said, total noob



and what is a decent price/what is too high


Used?  Under $200.  What is great?  225 amperes.  Decent duty cycle.  The HF 120 amp model has a 3 on, 20 off or something like that.  Meaning you can get at most, 3 minutes of welding with a 20 minute cool down.  Otherwise, the unit will shut down or catch fire/self destruct.
 
Link Posted: 4/23/2011 7:40:31 PM EDT
Quoted:
Quoted:
It won't penetrate well enough to make a decent brush guard. Look for one of these on craigslist.

http://www.interschola.com/template/itemimages/10000s/10582/lincoln010.jpg



+1
Dime a dozen


Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile

I agree.
By far and away a better choice at any price, for almost any application. Choose the correct rod, play around with it on some scrap stock to get the setting just right and weld away.
.


Link Posted: 4/23/2011 7:41:42 PM EDT



Quoted:


As a noob, heed this advice.  DO NOT WELD GALVANIZED METAL WITHOUT A RESPIRATOR AND GOOD VENTILATION!


Fume fever is a bitch.  



 
Link Posted: 4/23/2011 7:43:50 PM EDT
The one you posted is a decent entry-level welder.  I have one; I taught myself to weld with it.  It's okay for welding an exhaust system, but nothing heavier.  If you try to put together a brush guard, you will be disappointed.
Link Posted: 4/23/2011 7:49:56 PM EDT
Preciate' it guys. Thanks
Link Posted: 4/23/2011 7:53:54 PM EDT
Welding isn't easy.  I took a summer class for fun while I was in college and making proper welds doesn't happen over night.  All  I wanted to do was to make a BBQ grill out of a keg and man did I fuck that up.
Link Posted: 4/23/2011 7:54:27 PM EDT
Ive got one, it works fine for what I do. If you don't plan on making your living off of the thing, it's perfect.
Link Posted: 4/23/2011 7:56:33 PM EDT
Quoted:
Welding isn't easy.  I took a summer class for fun while I was in college and making proper welds doesn't happen over night.  All  I wanted to do was to make a BBQ grill out of a keg and man did I fuck that up.




Link Posted: 4/23/2011 8:03:06 PM EDT



Quoted:





Quoted:


Quoted:


Quoted:

It won't penetrate well enough to make a decent brush guard. Look for one of these on craigslist.



http://www.interschola.com/template/itemimages/10000s/10582/lincoln010.jpg






+1

Dime a dozen





Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile




Two questions, what is special about that particular model? Like I said, total noob



and what is a decent price/what is too high


Used?  Under $200.  What is great?  225 amperes.  Decent duty cycle.  The HF 120 amp model has a 3 on, 20 off or something like that.  Meaning you can get at most, 3 minutes of welding with a 20 minute cool down.  Otherwise, the unit will shut down or catch fire/self destruct.





 


most important bit of info.  do not ignore.



 
Link Posted: 4/23/2011 8:26:18 PM EDT
Quoted:
Quoted:
Quoted:
It won't penetrate well enough to make a decent brush guard. Look for one of these on craigslist.

http://www.interschola.com/template/itemimages/10000s/10582/lincoln010.jpg



+1
Dime a dozen


Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile


Two questions, what is special about that particular model? Like I said, total noob

and what is a decent price/what is too high


Millions of them were sold and the model hardly changed over time, so they can be found cheap. They've been abused and neglected on farms for decades and still work. This is a testament to their durability. They can accomplish real work, so it's not like you're going to outgrow it's usefulness as soon as you learn to lay a bead. It's the welder that many many people started out on. It can handle a wide variety of materials and thicknesses by changing the rod and dialing it up or down.

A used Lincoln AC buzz box is, in general, The Answer when someone wants to try welding or fabbing metal. If you find one that has DC capability as well, that's worth paying extra for. In a DC arc the current stays in the same direction the entire time, so the magnetic fields stay in the same direction. This makes it easier to strike and maintain an arc, and throws less spatter. To be affordable they're usually half-wave rectified, so you're power limited in DC mode. This means that if you want to weld heavy stuff and need deeper penetration you would have to revert to AC mode.

Depending on condition I've seen them as low as $80 with a box of rod included. It doesn't matter if the housing is all beat to fuck. If it burns rod it's as good as new.

The only thing you really need to look over besides having them burn a rod for you is to inspect all of the cables closely for checking and cracking. The arc emits a lot of UV, and these types of welders are usually not well taken care of, so the cables are suspect. If the cable insulation is cracked up, then keep looking.

The UV I was speaking of will give you an arc-burn. It's like sun burn. You can't have exposed skin when doing anything more than a few tack welds. You don't want to look at the arcs without protection either.

You're going to need a right-angle grinder to smooth out all the mess you make and find out all the places that your weld didn't penetrate.


It's a dirty PITA, but being able to make things our of metal is worth it. I bet there's a bunch of decent instructional videos on youtube.

Link Posted: 4/23/2011 8:34:27 PM EDT
Fix a wheel barrel? Sure.

Brush guard? Hell no.

ETA.....Millermatic 175 FTW on projects like you describe. Real welders are blue.
Link Posted: 4/23/2011 8:36:40 PM EDT
If you are a "total noob", I suggest you go hang out with someone who DOES weld, and have them show you the ropes.

You could also go take some sort of class or quick training at your local welding supplier. You are NOT obligated to buy anything.
Link Posted: 4/23/2011 8:38:07 PM EDT
Quoted:
Quoted:
Quoted:
Quoted:
It won't penetrate well enough to make a decent brush guard. Look for one of these on craigslist.

http://www.interschola.com/template/itemimages/10000s/10582/lincoln010.jpg



+1
Dime a dozen


Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile


Two questions, what is special about that particular model? Like I said, total noob

and what is a decent price/what is too high


Millions of them were sold and the model hardly changed over time, so they can be found cheap. They've been abused and neglected on farms for decades and still work. This is a testament to their durability. They can accomplish real work, so it's not like you're going to outgrow it's usefulness as soon as you learn to lay a bead. It's the welder that many many people started out on. It can handle a wide variety of materials and thicknesses by changing the rod and dialing it up or down.

A used Lincoln AC buzz box is, in general, The Answer when someone wants to try welding or fabbing metal. If you find one that has DC capability as well, that's worth paying extra for. In a DC arc the current stays in the same direction the entire time, so the magnetic fields stay in the same direction. This makes it easier to strike and maintain an arc, and throws less spatter. To be affordable they're usually half-wave rectified, so you're power limited in DC mode. This means that if you want to weld heavy stuff and need deeper penetration you would have to revert to AC mode.

Depending on condition I've seen them as low as $80 with a box of rod included. It doesn't matter if the housing is all beat to fuck. If it burns rod it's as good as new.

The only thing you really need to look over besides having them burn a rod for you is to inspect all of the cables closely for checking and cracking. The arc emits a lot of UV, and these types of welders are usually not well taken care of, so the cables are suspect. If the cable insulation is cracked up, then keep looking.

The UV I was speaking of will give you an arc-burn. It's like sun burn. You can't have exposed skin when doing anything more than a few tack welds. You don't want to look at the arcs without protection either.

You're going to need a right-angle grinder to smooth out all the mess you make and find out all the places that your weld didn't penetrate.


It's a dirty PITA, but being able to make things our of metal is worth it. I bet there's a bunch of decent instructional videos on youtube.



Appreciate the write up

And I appreciate the input from the other posters as well.
Link Posted: 4/23/2011 8:50:36 PM EDT
Quoted:
Fix a wheel barrel? Sure.

Brush guard? Hell no.

ETA.....Millermatic 175 FTW on projects like you describe. Real welders are blue.


I couldn't agree more.  However a noob probly isn't going to drop a few grand to set up right until he's a little more proficient.  OP if you can afford it the Millermatic 175 is probly the easiest starter welder that will do what the average home welder needs.  With a little luck you might score a used one a little cheaper.
Link Posted: 4/23/2011 8:56:34 PM EDT



Quoted:



Quoted:


Quoted:

It won't penetrate well enough to make a decent brush guard. Look for one of these on craigslist.



http://www.interschola.com/template/itemimages/10000s/10582/lincoln010.jpg






+1

Dime a dozen





Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile




Two questions, what is special about that particular model? Like I said, total noob



and what is a decent price/what is too high
it's a Lincoln 225.... affectionately known as the Lincoln Buzz Box.   Many many people learned on those machines and they are still in use.  They go for about $280-$300 new, most every big box and many smaller hardware stores have them.  Bunches of replacement parts and people that know how to fix them are around, so buying a used one shouldn't be much of a worry...if it works and is clean under $200...if it doesn't work, offer them $25-$50 and get it repaired.






mm





 
Link Posted: 4/23/2011 9:06:08 PM EDT
Quoted:

snip

For thick metal you will want to arc weld. Brush guard to me is a cosmetic item, mig would be ok but a beginners welds will most likely fail. Mine do. If you are replacing your bumper with something that will absorb impact you will want to avoid a MIG. They call those welders in the link Tombstones and are not too expensive.


My bumper/hitch i welded with a miller 250 is holding. The hitches, goosnecks, trailers and everything else it's welded seem to hold.

Op i'd look for something like a miller,hobart or lincoln in the 175+ range (220v) with gas unless you find a deal on a bigger one. Should work great for home projects. Then find some scrap and start practicing.
Oh when you are sitting around drinking and decide to weld ,wear a shirt unless you like sunburn.
Link Posted: 4/23/2011 9:15:57 PM EDT
I have yet to see a decent welded bead come from a Harbor Freight welder.  

I do see a lot of clueless guys splatter globs of melted metal and call it a weld and say it ain't the equipment it's the man behind it.  Ya, I can weld
Link Posted: 4/23/2011 9:21:21 PM EDT



Quoted:


I have yet to see a decent welded bead come from a Harbor Freight welder.  



I do see a lot of clueless guys splatter globs of melted metal and call it a weld and say it ain't the equipment it's the man behind it.  Ya, I can weld


I've done it.  Little micro bead with the skinny and short rods they supply.  Not just a bead but decent penetration on a 1/8" butt joint with square end prep.  It was even pretty.  But it was 2" long and the welder shut down shortly after that.  And that was at the maximum amperage.  It holds an arc, makes a tiny puddle but just has no guts.



 
Link Posted: 4/23/2011 9:46:00 PM EDT
Quoted:

Quoted:
It won't penetrate well enough to make a decent brush guard. Look for one of these on craigslist.

http://www.interschola.com/template/itemimages/10000s/10582/lincoln010.jpg

This.  And stay away from any wire feed which doesn't use shielding gas.  While they seem neat, the welds suck in strength.

Just remember, the quality of your welds is dependent on the quality of the materials.  Using SMAW with 7014 rods and proper joint preparation will make strong, flat welds and minimal splatter.  No need for gas, just keep the rods dry (7014 is a low hydrogen).


 

I wouldn't bet on the weld strength being sucky.  

I have yet to have a weld break, including but not limited to being repeatedly shot with 50BMG API & AP. Welded up several things on a trailer, built a CETME bending jig, lathe steady rest, lathe chuck pinion, welded up a new transmission tunnel in a car, built swinging targets and a stand and lots of other things, using a flux-core welder.

On another note the buzz box by Lincoln is a nice welder, I bought one for $300 225 AC/DC-/DC+ used a little bit and then sold 7 years later for $300, I gave 150lbs of rod for everything under the sun with it.  I see the same model sell for around $650 new today. Look in local craigslist for used welders, don't buy a used welding helmet, your safety is your number one concern.  When you do get a welding helmet go for the auto-darkening you will never regret it.

Link Posted: 4/23/2011 9:47:00 PM EDT
Everything from harbor freight works, I think the real questions is how long will it work for.
Link Posted: 4/24/2011 4:49:33 AM EDT
You really can't go wrong with a Miller Bobcat either. It is capable of providing power for just about any type of welding you want to do, is portable and will serve as a generator in a pinch. If you decide welding ain't for you, there will be no trouble selling it on craigslist. Or you can do like me and make friends with people that own expensive machines...

Posted Via AR15.Com Mobile
Link Posted: 5/3/2011 2:00:06 PM EDT
tag. Been keeping my eyes open on craigslist. We used lincolns in high school.
Link Posted: 5/3/2011 2:33:05 PM EDT
I'm not a welder. I do own a Harbor freight 110 mini-mig. Mine is the dual flux/gas model. I've only used the flux core wire.

I have had non-welders use a stick welder on some things and they didn't last.

I can stick two pieces of metal together with no problem at all, up to 1/4 inch. Sheet metal takes a little skill. The min-mig is very easy to use, even a noob.

The unit you pictured is a bit cheaper than my unit.
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