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Posted: 3/7/2002 4:22:29 AM EDT
I'm thinkin bout gettin a welder. What's the difference between mig and arc welders?(other than stick vs. wire) Are the arc welders at Lowes / Home Depot suitable for light welding?? What features should I look for in a welder?? I'm a COMPLETE newbie, so NOTHING you can tell me would be overkill.
Link Posted: 3/7/2002 4:33:10 AM EDT
Please post details of what you intend to be welding.. I will be happy to reply w/my .02.. have 20+ years experience in the trade. Bravo5-2
Link Posted: 3/7/2002 4:54:26 AM EDT
I have limited experience. Obviously what you want to weld will make a difference. I have a MIG and do all sorts of stuff with it. A MIG is similar to an ARC welder. Differences are the wire feeds automatically with a MIG and you also have the option of using gas to shield the weld. You don't need to use gas when using a MIG. You can simply use flux core wire and essentially get the same result as an arc welder. But, you also have the option of adding the gas and welding stuff like aluminum. MIG is more flexible. Not for all applications, however.
Link Posted: 3/7/2002 5:02:41 AM EDT
Stick is better for really heavy welding (Over 1" thick plate) although you can weld this thick with MIG with multiple passes. Stick is hotter and deeper penetrating at thick depths. Basic rule of thumb... under 1" thick plate - Get a good MIG. Over 1" thick plate - Get a good stick. Both are good to have, and neither is better than the other. MIG is alot faster and easier to do than stick welding. I use both all the time. MIG is more universal, and you can weld thin metal with MIG where you can't with stick. MIG causes less metal distorion and can be a better looking weld. You can MIG steel, then change over to stainless wire and MIG stainless. MIG is the way to go for a light duty shop. Just be sure to get a good welder, not one of those 110v buzz boxes. They do not put out enough current. Get a good Miller welder, with an output of ATLEAST 150 amps+, runs on 220v single phase, and has a big refillable shielding gas bottle. I run straight CO2 most of the time, and for some projects I run a mix of CO2 and nitrogen or argon for a shielding gas. Flux core wire SUCKS. Again I will say DO NOT GET A 110V WELDER, LIKE THE ONES YOU FIND AT LOWES, ETC. They do not have enough power and penetration, and will only frustrate you. They are worthless. If it doesn't run off 220v and put out atleast 150 amps (Stick or MIG) pass it up.
Link Posted: 3/7/2002 5:05:40 AM EDT
Yup The answer is bigger than a breadbasket. Talk to someone who has a clue before spending your money. There are enough different processes that knowing what you are going to weld with it is critical. Course, you could just buy one of each :) Mig is a good general purpose machine for mild steel, medium AL sheet/castings, stainless steel, etc. You would probably want to use a stick for hard surfacing or nickle/cast repairs. While you can weld aluminum with most mig machines, I wouldn't even consider attempting a repair on an AR receiver with anything but tig. Just a couple of examples.
Link Posted: 3/7/2002 5:09:58 AM EDT
Nothing gathers more dust than a weak ARC welder. Talk to someone who has a nice MIG (Miller, Lincoln, etc.)...try their's out, get some instruction. MIG is much easier than ARC, when you're new to welding.
Link Posted: 3/7/2002 5:17:46 AM EDT
gman, I bought a welder at Lowe's a few years back. It is a Campbell Hausfeld Mig-Flux model 105 which is made in Italy (the current inventory at Lowe's is not anymore made in Italy and is blue in color). For home use, I have used it to build a patio, racks, jigs, furniture, so much more. It will weld to 3/16th of an inch but if you know how, you can probably go for up to 1/4th. The best thing about it is that you can just plug it in any 15A outlet in the house. No complains so far. I have gotten already more than 30 times what I paid for it and consider it to be one of my best investments. Very simple to use and highly recommended for DIYers. You can fabricate almost anything, (from stormdoors, barbecue pits, to reactive targets) with a welder, a saw, portable grinder and a drill. I would advise that you buy a portable band saw over a reciprocating saw. Complement it later with a jigsaw for tight cuts. hope this helps.
Link Posted: 3/7/2002 6:24:40 AM EDT
Link Posted: 3/7/2002 6:36:21 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Bravo5-2: Please post details of what you intend to be welding.. I will be happy to reply w/my .02.. have 20+ years experience in the trade. Bravo5-2
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The immediate project is welding #4 (1/2") rebar to fashion a cage. But I'd like to be able to work with up to 1/4" plate for targets, and other projects. Beyong that, general homeowner usefulness. I'm NOT planning on going into the welding business (I'll leave that to teh experts like yourself. [:D] ) Mostly, I'm just tired of not being able to fabricate the gadgets that I need, that for some reason no one seems to make. [BD] I'm suspicious about these 110v. Home Dept "specials." Will they have the firepower to get the job done??
Link Posted: 3/7/2002 6:38:21 AM EDT
No, they won't.
Link Posted: 3/7/2002 6:48:33 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Cincinnatus: No, they won't.
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I spoze that means I'll need to get a single phase 220 outlet put into my garage??? Can that be run of your standard 50A panel????
Link Posted: 3/7/2002 6:56:25 AM EDT
Originally Posted By garandman: Can that be run of your standard 50A panel????
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Depends on how much draw you currently are pulling off it.
Link Posted: 3/7/2002 7:01:50 AM EDT
I have a Hobart 120, runs off 110, I have the gas kit with a 40cf bottle on a cart and the total was about $600. I have used it for everyting from small repairs to back-halfing a 57 Chevy Pro-Streeter with great results. The Chevy used alot of 3/16 brackets and the little thing gets good penetration. I haven't come across a job around the home/garage that it can't do, even welding aluminum. The rig is small, on the cart the whole deal is about 3' tall, 12' wide and 2' long. I have used larger professional mig/tig welders that have a bunch of fancy settings but thats too much, too big for around the home. Just my .02
Link Posted: 3/7/2002 7:08:54 AM EDT
Originally Posted By 1GUNRUNNER:
Originally Posted By garandman: Can that be run of your standard 50A panel????
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Depends on how much draw you currently are pulling off it.
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"Current-ly" eh??? Is that a pun???? [BD][:D] Well, its a 24 x 40 garage with six shop lights. No refrigerators or any constant draw equipment. At the time I'd be welding, prolly only one other machine would be running - like an air compressor (portable) or possibly a dust collector (woodshop type) Does ya think I can still swing it???
Link Posted: 3/7/2002 7:14:07 AM EDT
G-Man, you could've asked me 'bout this. DON'T get any 110 powered welder. Don't get an arc welder. Mig welders are very flexible. That is what I learned on and continue to use. Either Miller (my preference) or Lincoln migs are excellent. BTW, don't weld the rebar in place, you will beee sorrryyy. Use bag ties to tie the rods in place.
Link Posted: 3/7/2002 7:41:25 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/7/2002 7:43:45 AM EDT by Merlin]
G-Man, My .02: I have 2 welders, a Lincoln AC-225 stick welder and a Lincoln SP 175 Plus Mig. I love them both. For heavier duty items, like steel targets or my anvil that I built, I use the stick welder. For sheet metal or most other welding, I use my SP-175, it works like a dream. My brother-in-law has a sod farm. He used to use a Century mig welder. The last time I was over, he had replaced it with a Miller mig unit and offered the Century to me for free. Take that as you please. I often use the Mig on heavy plate to tack weld the pieces in place and then hard weld them with the stick welder. If you want to weld heavy plate, go with a stick. If you want to weld sheet metal or thinner metal, go with Mig. If you want to have portability or do not have access to 220 VAC, go with one of the 110 VAC units, but recognize their limitations. I'd be leary of buying something other than Lincoln or Miller (Note: I know nothing of the C-H quality, but I still stand by that statement). I put 220 VAC in my garage a year before I ever had a welder. If your house circuit breaker panel(s) are located in the garage, you should be able to add another 220 VAC outlet in your garage by just fishing the wire down the stud space to the outlet hole and then hooking up the breaker side to a 220 VAC 2 pole 50 A breaker. Go to Lowe's or Home Depot and get a electrical workbook, if you have any questions or ask an electrician, if you're uncomfortable doing it yourself. Welding, its what's good for you. Merlin
Link Posted: 3/7/2002 7:50:25 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/7/2002 7:51:13 AM EDT by Merlin]
G-Man, To answer the question about features: As noted above, I have 2 welders, both Lincoln. One thing I don't like about the AC-225 is that the current control is not infinitely adjustable like it is on the SP-175 Plus (the "Plus" signifies this feature). This was one of 2 features that I required when I bought my mig unit (the other being compatible with my 5500 watt generator). With the stick welder, it always seemed that the current I wanted was between the settings offered on the welder. You can buy an infinitely adjustable 220 VAC stick welder from Lincoln (I believe the number is AC-225C), but you'll probably have to buy it from a welding store vs. Lowe's or HD; I've never seen them there before. I've never welded with flux wire so cannot comment on using it, but I've always used my mig unit with what's called C-25, a gas mixture of 25% argon and 75% CO2. It leaves the welding looking bright and clean with no cleanup necessary. It also makes it easier to see while you're welding. I hope this helps. Merlin
Link Posted: 3/7/2002 7:58:40 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/7/2002 8:06:58 AM EDT by Steamy_Windows]
I would recommend a mig welder for someone that is just starting out. A good one to get is a Miller Challenger 175 220 volt machine, it's a great little machine, I use one for smaller work. Mig uses a short circuit process, tiny bits of metal are deposited by sparking off the end of the wire as it comes in contact with the work. It is mostly for thinner gauge materials but can be used to join thicker materials with multiple passes. 1/4 inch plate should not present a problem for even the smaller 220 volt machines. I stay with Miller Machines, I always have and always will, to me they are the best. And when the day comes when you want to go Plasma, Hypertherm to me is the best.[url]www.millerwelds.com/main/[/url] You can tell when a mig is adjusted properly by listening for a smooth fast buzzing sound as you weld, once you hear it, you will always know what to listen for. Because mig doesn't have the penetration characteristics of stick welding, (mig process calls it wetting) it is important to clean your joints very thoroughly before welding, I also preheat my joints with a torch to drive out any moisture in the steel before I mig weld. And never try to weld over paint! Stick is for the more experienced welder. I would not recommend a beginning welder attempt welding important joints with either process. It's possible for the beginner to think he has made a good weld, but actually has made a flawed welding joint that could possibly get someone killed. Stay with a welding dealer, when you need help he will be there for you and have any replacement parts that you may need in the future.
Link Posted: 3/7/2002 8:01:27 AM EDT
I learned in high school the basic 3 processes (SMAW or stick, GTAW or TIG and FCAW/MIG). I didn't have the money or electricity to do any of these so I bought an oxy-acetlyene setup (Victor 100). With it, I could weld anything from sheet to 1/4" plate and cut up to 1" plate. I found for 90% of repairs, phosphor bronze brazing is perfectly adequate as it uses much less heat and gas. The only problem is joint prep is greater. Welding is still possible and with my limited TIG experience, I was able to do some impressive sheet metal welding on 18 gauge butt joints. Its portable to extreme and the gas cost is minimal for all but the heaviest welding. Nothing is better for welding bolt handles and general gunsmithing stuff. Its also good for heat treating and the like.
Link Posted: 3/7/2002 8:46:42 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/7/2002 8:52:10 AM EDT by Pangea]
I agree with Steamy_windows about the Miller Challenger. I bought one about 5 months ago and it is great for light welding applications. The 220 power source for my clothes dryer works perfectly even with the extra 50 foot of heavy duty extension cord that I had to make to get it into my garage. (I don't use the dryer plug anymore since I got a gas dryer) I have a wrought iron buisness and use the 175 Challenger every day. When I bought the machine it came with flux core wire and it worked very good. When that ran out I used the bare wire with a shielding gas 75%argon 25%carbon dioxide. I have been welding for 25 years now on anything from dairy farms and fab shops to missle and Space Shuttle programs. If I can help just let me know. Keith_J, there are a few more welding processes now. We use friction stir and variable pulse plasma arc here where I work and there are places that use elecrton beam welding. Friction stir is a solid state welding process that doesn't melt the metal to fuse it. Way kewl!
Link Posted: 3/7/2002 9:17:50 AM EDT
Yes, Pangea, I know about the newer processes but I doubt Garandman will be e-beam welding soon ;)! Friction stir looks to be good for MMC's. Is that where it is being used? BTW, to clear the record, I never tried any exotic welding with gas other than nickel-silver brazing on stainless steels. I tried to braze Ti but that's impossible. On aluminum, I found I could use the lead-free plumbing solder w/o any flux to repair light aluminum. You don't need an oxy-fuel setup, just air-acetylene or MAPP. The trick is to get the solder below the oxide layer where it can wet the aluminum, forming a great bond. You need joint clearance as it doesn't wet like other materials but this solder is much stronger than eutectic Pb-Sn. Its then more like welding as its a matter of puddle control, only you are doing it under an oxide skin.
Link Posted: 3/7/2002 9:23:08 AM EDT
For a first time welder, I highly suggest staying away from anything that is 110v or stick... There is a reason it's called "stick" welding... Not only do you use sticks, but you also have a lot of "sticking" of the rod to the work... I have been through a welding school, and believe me, there is more to welding than just melting steel...With the stick welder, you have very fussy variables like: Rod angle, arc distance, travel speed, temperature of the metal, rust / no rust, welding rod diameter, type of welding rod coating(flux), etc... A MIG welder is very user friendly... .030"-.035" dia. wire will weld anything from thin sheet metal on up... 3 adjustments only...Wire speed, heat, and CFH flow of the shielding gas... Also, remember a big enemy to a nice weld is GRAVITY... Imagine you were trying to push warm runny toothpaste into the gap your trying to weld... Don't try to weld upsidedown or vertical, until you are more experienced with the machine... Move your work, not your welder... Keep the work flat or on a workbench as much as possible, and make yourself comfortable... The extra effort you put into comfort and work position will show up in the quality of your welds... I can also say "Bigger is better"... A larger machine running at 20% of it's capacity, is FAR more efficient and welds nicer than a small machine that is maxxed out... I'd say go with a 220v wire feed welder (MIG) without a doubt... Go with an industry recognized name brand like Miller or Lincoln too... Just try finding tips or parts for the MIG gun on a "no-name" welder... It's definately worth the added expense to get a better welder... You may even want to upgrade with a TIG setup at a later date, and the TIG stuff will NOT work with a junk welder... You would be amazed at how sweet the welds will look after a little practice with a good MIG or TIG welder... There is a ton of good responses in this thread, read all of them... Good luck !!! ART
Link Posted: 3/7/2002 10:08:14 AM EDT
To all who replied - I don't care WHAT Goatboy says about you - You'se guys are the bes'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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