The Survival Podcast Forum

Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics => Homesteading and Self Reliant Living => Topic started by: fritz_monroe on July 05, 2012, 10:18:56 AM

Title: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: fritz_monroe on July 05, 2012, 10:18:56 AM
Over the past year or so, I've had several occasions where it would be nice to know how to weld and have the equipment on hand.  So I've been thinking of getting a welding set up and teaching myself to weld.  But for someone like me with absolutely no exposure to welding, the selection of home welding set ups is kind of daunting.  Arc, Mig, Tig, Flux, Plasma cutters, etc.

Taking a look at past needs, I would think that the majority of my welding would be on things like angle iron to build stuff.  Maybe repairs to things like a lawn mower deck.  But I doubt I'd need to do anything with any specialty metals.  I've never done any welding and until now never really thought I'd have the desire.

So, what type of welding should I look into?  Is anything easier to self teach or more forgiving to the beginner?  I'm sure I'll come up with other questions.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: bartsdad on July 05, 2012, 10:49:51 AM
MIG welding, also called wire feed welding, is the easiest for beginner.
If you are only going to be welding steel, the average guy can easily get by with small 110v unit.
 A mentor would be helpful to get started, but not totally necessary with Youtube.

I can go into more details later after I get home from work.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: 4bull on July 05, 2012, 11:39:22 AM
I learned by watching , and then trying .
so that's the way i taught welding to lots of young guys in the boiler plant.
MiG ,tig ,stick, subark ,
Watching and just seeing how they set there machines will help more than you think.
Clean metal, the right setting, then the weave figure 8 or backing up .
Do small welds first on scrap then break them apart to see how you penetrated .
The more you do the better you get.
Bull
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: ncjeeper on July 05, 2012, 12:12:56 PM
MIG welding, also called wire feed welding, is the easiest for beginner.
If you are only going to be welding steel, the average guy can easily get by with small 110v unit.
 A mentor would be helpful to get started, but not totally necessary with Youtube.
What bart said. Anything thicker then 3/16 and you will need to step up to a 220volt unit. I would start with a mig and either use flux core wire or solid wire shielded by gas. With a mig laying down quality beads is easier but the key is starting with clean prepped surfaces.
As with anything you get what you pay for. I would buy a quality welder not the cheap ones from harbor freight. Hobart, Miller, Century, lincoln are the top brands to go with.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: Oldhomestead on July 05, 2012, 12:37:17 PM
It's probably been 10 years ago now, but I learned to weld through a continuing education class at the local school district. It was two nights a week for a month and they covered everything you could want. And since it was held at the local High School I got to use things I’ll never own myself such as plasma cutters.

After the course I picked up a small 220v stick welder and an oxy/acetylene gas system and I’ve been doing all my own welding since. The stick welder is for projects in the shop and the gas when I need to fix something out in the field like the “portable” chicken coop for the hens.

I don’t remember how much the class was, but it wasn’t expensive and I’ve definitely re-cooped the expense many times over.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: AlanB on July 05, 2012, 04:09:40 PM
Ask around and find someone that does it in your area, then link up with them and trade skills, Folks often come over here and I show them how to weld and walk them through the different processes.

I know if you were close to me I would be happy to sample some of your brew while talking, teaching, showing, welding.

While you can learn from books, video's etc. etc.  I learn a lot easier from a person.

The specific process you will need as others have said, really depends on what and how thick you are welding.

If you can find someone to work with, then do the projects that come up with that person, and see what welder works best.

Good luck, if I can help with more specifics I would be happy too.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: nelson96 on July 05, 2012, 04:46:39 PM
If you can pull a trigger, MIG (wire feed) welding is by far the easiest to learn and do.  Most welders now days have a set-up guide included on the inside panel to help you set everything up correctly.  If you have good eye's, a steady hand, and the ability to judge travel speed, you won't have a problem AT ALL. . . .  That said, the best deal out there is Thermal Arc's Fabricator 211i.  It is dual voltage (110V and 220V) and has a maximum amperage of 210 amps (good for up to 5/16" thick steel).  It offers integrated multi-process capability (MIG, Stick, TIG) and at an affordable price.  They will even give you a free electronic welding hood with the purchase.  I've welded with this machine many times and it has a great arc.

http://victortechnologies.com/Thermal%20Arc%203in1/Fabricator%20211i/product_features.php
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: fritz_monroe on July 05, 2012, 07:49:54 PM
It's probably been 10 years ago now, but I learned to weld through a continuing education class at the local school district. It was two nights a week for a month and they covered everything you could want. And since it was held at the local High School I got to use things I’ll never own myself such as plasma cutters.
I've looked into this, but the continuing education courses at the local community college doesn't have a basic welding course.  They offer some sort of welding certification training, but it's several thousand dollars and I'm not looking to go that far into it.

Thanks for all the suggestions so far. 
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: cohutt on July 05, 2012, 09:14:00 PM
I borrowed a basic mig and screwed up some scrap until I could function half way.  I needed to repair and reinforce a bush hog deck and seem to have learned well enough that my brother in law hasn't managed to fubar the decking again.  ;)

It made me decide I wanted a welder of my own but it would have been too much explaining to mrs C at the time. I may pursue next time I have a project that requires one
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: bartsdad on July 06, 2012, 12:42:57 AM
I will add this , get a quality helmet. A quality ADL (auto darkening lens), even the cheap ones, will make welding easier and protect your eyes.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: GlenDickey on July 06, 2012, 01:41:56 AM
If you are half way handy you will not have any problem teaching yourself to weld. 

I bought this unit and like it; http://www.lowes.com/ProductDisplay?partNumber=256722-1703-K2480-1&langId=-1&storeId=10151&productId=1072945&catalogId=10051&cmRelshp=rel&rel=nofollow&cId=PDIO1

The biggest problem I have encounter is that once you weld something, it's done.  Metal is unforgiving.  I weld 3/16" stuff without any issue on 110V.  An autodarkening hood will makes it much easier too.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: cohutt on July 06, 2012, 06:06:29 AM
the decking repair,  butt-ugly but now done, primed and hopefully BIL proof

(http://i107.photobucket.com/albums/m284/cohutt/BushHog%20Decking/th_8a24e1d7.jpg) (http://i107.photobucket.com/albums/m284/cohutt/BushHog%20Decking/8a24e1d7.jpg)
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: KYdoomer on July 06, 2012, 08:04:29 AM
I'd agree that by far MIG is the easiest.  The problem with home setups is that using the gas is expensive and usually not very feasible.  Then you have to get flux wire which essentially makes it no longer MIG (metal inert gas). But I digress.  The  flux wire is still pretty good.  MIG doesn't really add a whole lot of material it simply melts the existing materials together (adds a little bit as the electrode burns). 

Stick or Arc welding is also pretty easy.  Whereas with MIG you put the electrode in the joint and squeeze the trigger, with Arc you actually have to strike an arc.  This sometimes results in pecking the electrode for a bit until the arc is created.  With MIG you push, with arc you pull.  The good and bad thing about stick is that the sticks need to be changed for different metals/thicknesses etc.

TIG weld is tungsten inert gas.  I've watched tool and die guys weld a heat treated nut to a thin sheet of galv and never warp the part.  It can do amazing things, just don't ask me what - I don't understand it. 

The important parts are substrate prep.  Your metals must fit well and they must be clean of rust and dirt.  You must also ground your welder very well or the arc will be degraded. 

Angles matter.  MIG is a 45/45.  45 degrees to the joint in two axis.  Too much on one piece and not on the other and you won't penetrate both.  Speed is also important.  Its best to turn the welder down as low as you can and go slow at first.  When I would teach newbies and even old hands who thought they were good they'd crank the speed and power up real high.  Sometimes the weld would even look good.  Then i'd cut it, etch it and put it under the microscope and give it back to them - failed. 

Welding can hurt if you do it wrong.  Of course you can hurt yourself very badly but I'm talking about all the minor things.  Spatter into a boot, wire stuck in hand, etc. 

You can teach yourself.  I learned about about age 13 with a stick welder and farm implements.  If I can do it so can you!

J
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: Warpalli on July 06, 2012, 09:24:20 AM
I recently started this exact project, i started with that 100 dollar wirefeed welder from harbor freight, and im slowly teaching myself with Youtube,  I can kind of tack weld, but as for drawing a bead.... mine look like 4 different types of ass lol, but hey it's part of learning lol.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: nelson96 on July 06, 2012, 10:02:49 AM
With wirefeed welding, achieving a good bead profile is generally contingent on just two things (voltage and amps).  The voltage and wire feed speed (amps) must correlate with each other.  Depending on the diameter of the wire, the thickness of the plate and the type of joint, you will need a specific voltage and a correlating wire feed speed (WFS) to match it.

To make it easy, on the panel of most wirefeed welders you will find a chart offering reference numbers that will tell you where to set your dials for the corresponding wire you are using and the thickness of the material.   If your welder has meters, most wire manufacturers will offer data that tells you what you need (ie. volts, amps and/or WFS, electrical stickout) and you can use this data with the meters to set your machine up for a propper weld.

If you are still having problems:  check your polarity (use positive polarity for GMAW, wire with gas), make sure you have a good consistant feed of wire (feeding problems will affect your amperage), if you have a lot of porosity in your weld make sure you have adequate gas coverage. . . .  Gun angle, operators travel speed and electrical stickout can also lend itself to issues, but typically not as much as ALL the previous mentioned.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: nelson96 on July 06, 2012, 11:18:58 AM
Here is some common verbage for wirefeed welding that will help you . . . 

MIG (Metal Inert Gas) . . .  MIG is often the common acronym used for referencing all wirefeed welding whether it is GMAW (Gas Metal Arc Welding, using gas with your wire) or FCAW (Flux Cored Arc Welding, using wire that needs no gas).
WFS (Wire Feed Speed) . . .  This is the speed in which the driverolls control how fast the wire comes out of the end of the gun.  Controlled by the amperage knob on the welder.
ESO (Electrical Stick Out) . . .  This is the length of wire measured between the weld puddle and the end of the contact tip.  Most solid GMAW wires require 3/4" or less.
Reverse Polarity . . .  This is positive polarity (MIG gun hooked to positive and ground hooked to negative).  All GMAW wires require reverse polarity.
Straight Polarity . . .  This is negative polarity (MIG gun hooked to negative and ground hooked to positive).  All FCAW wires require straight polarity.
ER70S-6 . . .  Is the most common solid wire for GMAW use.
E71T-1 . . .  An all-position, flux cored welding wire that requires gas to be used.  Offers high deposition rates and is very easy to operate with very nice bead appearance.
E71T-11 . . .  Is a self-shielding flux cored wire for FCAW use.  Bead appearance and spatter are common to SMAW (stick welding) but very useful outdoors where GMAW can not be used (windy areas).

Common Modes of Transfer. . .

Short Circuit Welding (also known as "Short Arc") . . . This is the most common transfer mode and is typically done using 75% argon and 25% carbon dioxide gas.  This will give you a fairly clean weld (low spatter) and flat bead profile.  Penetration is shallow and wide.
Globular . . .   Typically achieved using 100% carbon dioxide.  This typically offers a spattery weld and undesirable bead profile.  It does offer the best penetration (deep and narrow).  It is also the least expensive since carbon dioxide is relatively cheap.
Spray . . .  Offers no spatter and high deposition rates.  Requires a gas mix offering less than 10% carbon dioxide in the mix (usually a 95% or higher argon content) and much higher voltage than short arc transfer.  Adds a lot of heat in to the plate so faster travel speeds are required.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: JethroBodine on October 23, 2012, 11:39:00 PM
I was in your exact same shoes about 5 years ago. Based on my research / experience, here is my response:

1. MIG is the easiest to learn / become reasonably proficient at.
2. Use Gas shielded rather than flux core. It is easier because you can see better - no smoke from the flux
3. Absolutely get an auto-darkening helmet
4. Go to http://www.mig-welding.co.uk (http://www.mig-welding.co.uk) The site started as a MIG welding site, but has since added tutorials / videos for other types of welding.  Watch the videos and maybe even post pictures of your first attempts at welding on the forums - you will get excellent feedback on how you are doing and what you might want to adjust to improve your welds.

I bought some scrap steel in the thickness I was using for my first major project and watched the videos from the site listed above and practiced on scrap until I could weld some metal and either try to beat it apart with a hammer or saw through the joint to see that I got adequate penetration.

You will learn quicker if you know someone who is a good welder that can teach you, but it is a skill you can learn by practicing on your own with some guidance from a good website like the one I listed above.

My project I bought the welder for was a sliding gate with automatic opener across my driveway (alley entrance).
It is about 30 ft long and 8 ft high and made primarily out of 1/8" thick 3" square tubing for the frame and 1x6 board on board cedar planks. 

I did not know how to weld at all before this project.  I bought my welder (Hobart Handler 140), read the tutorials / videos on the site listed and practiced on scrap until I convinced myself I could weld good enough.

Then I bought the steel for my gate and built it.  The gate turned out great and has been opened / closed pretty much everyday for the past 5 years.


Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: mike77 on October 24, 2012, 12:09:44 AM
I learned to weld a couple of different ways. I started off working at a welding/transmission shop to get the basics. Then a class for my major in college that was just the basics of MIG. Add in a number of books and reading online, then taking a class at the community college. All of it came down to one thing though: practice. As several people have said, get scraps and start sticking them together. Play with the settings on the machine to see what happens. If you can find a local small welding shop, they might be willing to let you watch and learn. Especially if you trade a couple of home brews.
As others have mentioned, MIG (GMAW or FCAW) is the easiest to learn and will probably work best for what you said you expect to weld. That being the case, it is also one of the more limited use methods in regards to the materials you can weld. If I were only allowed one welder, it would be a stick welder. With the right machine and electrodes, you can weld a huge range of materials including cast iron. You can even do some cutting with it. If you can add in an oxy-fuel rig, you increase cutting capabilities, add other options for welding/brazing/soldering and have a high temp source for a number of uses.
Oh, and flux core definitely has a place in home welding. I know a lot of people weld at home in an open garage or the back yard. It can be really hard to control air currents there which will blow away the shielding gas and cause problems with the weld. There are ways around that, but sometimes just putting in the flux core and not worrying about it is the easiest or cheapest.
Good luck and have fun!
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: flippydidit on October 24, 2012, 12:52:45 AM
Since no one has mentioned this, and since you are new to welding I'd like to point out ALL METALS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL.  If you are unfamiliar with zinc-coated metals, commonly known as GALVANIZED, then you need to know they are dangerous to weld on.  I won't go into it here, but you need to research this if you decide that you absolutely have to weld on it.  Here is a link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metal_fume_fever (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metal_fume_fever)

The other posters have given great information.  I just wanted you to be aware before you start practicing on scrap that the "free chain-link fence post" is not a good practice piece.  Unless you want to learn things the hard way.

I agree that if I "only had one welder" it would be a stick welder.  But for learning and starting out, a MIG machine (indoors) is probably the best way to begin.  There literally are thousands of references out there; from videos to books and much more.  If you can find someone local to teach you, I would take that course first.  It doesn't have to be at a college.  It can be the guy at the fabrication shop on a Saturday.

Different techniques are used for different types of welding, and you'll learn these as you go.  Keep up the skill building.  Welding is one of the more useful skills/trades to have (my opinion)!
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: High in the Mountains on October 24, 2012, 09:10:31 AM
Jethro:

"My project I bought the welder for was a sliding gate with automatic opener across my driveway (alley entrance).
It is about 30 ft long and 8 ft high and made primarily out of 1/8" thick 3" square tubing for the frame and 1x6 board on board cedar planks."

I would love to see a picture of this. I have a gate that nearly that big that I might be building. I would like to see what your gate looks like. 

Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: nelson96 on October 24, 2012, 03:56:18 PM
Since no one has mentioned this, and since you are new to welding I'd like to point out ALL METALS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL.  If you are unfamiliar with zinc-coated metals, commonly known as GALVANIZED, then you need to know they are dangerous to weld on.  I won't go into it here, but you need to research this if you decide that you absolutely have to weld on it.  Here is a link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metal_fume_fever (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metal_fume_fever)

Good call . . . .  There are many cheap (roughly $6 - $10) disposable filters you can buy to protect you from the fumes.  Short term exposure will cause a headache and stomach ache, long term exposure can cause all kinds of issues . . .  It is never good to have long term exposure to any welding fumes, but welding on galvanized metal can effect you pretty quickly.

The other posters have given great information.  I just wanted you to be aware before you start practicing on scrap that the "free chain-link fence post" is not a good practice piece.  Unless you want to learn things the hard way.

I agree that if I "only had one welder" it would be a stick welder.  But for learning and starting out, a MIG machine (indoors) is probably the best way to begin.  There literally are thousands of references out there; from videos to books and much more.  If you can find someone local to teach you, I would take that course first.  It doesn't have to be at a college.  It can be the guy at the fabrication shop on a Saturday.

Different techniques are used for different types of welding, and you'll learn these as you go.  Keep up the skill building.  Welding is one of the more useful skills/trades to have (my opinion)!

I'll add again . . . .  Internet pricing averages $1,150 and they have a smaller one (181i) that averages $820 . . .

If you can pull a trigger, MIG (wire feed) welding is by far the easiest to learn and do.  Most welders now days have a set-up guide included on the inside panel to help you set everything up correctly.  If you have good eye's, a steady hand, and the ability to judge travel speed, you won't have a problem AT ALL. . . .  That said, the best deal out there is Thermal Arc's Fabricator 211i.  It is dual voltage (110V and 220V) and has a maximum amperage of 210 amps (good for up to 5/16" thick steel).  It offers integrated multi-process capability (MIG, Stick, TIG) and at an affordable price.  They will even give you a free electronic welding hood with the purchase.  I've welded with this machine many times and it has a great arc.

http://victortechnologies.com/Thermal%20Arc%203in1/Fabricator%20211i/product_features.php
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: JethroBodine on October 27, 2012, 12:54:36 AM
Jethro:

"My project I bought the welder for was a sliding gate with automatic opener across my driveway (alley entrance).
It is about 30 ft long and 8 ft high and made primarily out of 1/8" thick 3" square tubing for the frame and 1x6 board on board cedar planks."

I would love to see a picture of this. I have a gate that nearly that big that I might be building. I would like to see what your gate looks like.

I'll try to take some pictures / details and post them soon.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: FreeLancer on October 25, 2013, 11:31:46 PM
For a guy with zero experience, how far wrong could I go with a Millermatic 212 as a first (and probably only) welder? 

I was originally thinking the 211 would be a better choice, but since I've got 220v in the garage and no need to be portable I've been thinking maybe I should just pay a bit more and to step up a notch to the 212.  Then I find out that Hobart is Miller's (generally well regarded) value line, so now I'm wondering if I should save some money and go with the Hobart Ironman 230.  However, if the Miller 212's Auto-Set feature will be easier to learn with, I'd be willing to pay the extra cost.

I'd appreciate any feedback you can give me.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: nelson96 on October 26, 2013, 03:08:29 AM
For a guy with zero experience, how far wrong could I go with a Millermatic 212 as a first (and probably only) welder? 

I was originally thinking the 211 would be a better choice, but since I've got 220v in the garage and no need to be portable I've been thinking maybe I should just pay a bit more and to step up a notch to the 212.  Then I find out that Hobart is Miller's (generally well regarded) value line, so now I'm wondering if I should save some money and go with the Hobart Ironman 230.  However, if the Miller 212's Auto-Set feature will be easier to learn with, I'd be willing to pay the extra cost.

I'd appreciate any feedback you can give me.

I can't take anything away from the MM212 (if you bought it, you would be happy with it) and would lean more that way than going with the Hobart unit.  That said, I would look hard at comparing Thermal Arc's Fabricator 211i (http://victortechnologies.com/IM_Uploads/doclib_8300_DocLib_7286_Thermal%20Arc%20Fabricator%20211i%20Technical%20Sales%20Brochure_(84-1202)_Feb2013.pdf) to the Millermatic 212.  Depending on what you want to do with it, the 211i has much more to offer and costs less. . . .  Look at their package part number W1004203 (pic below).

(http://i1256.photobucket.com/albums/ii481/Nelson961/f387b5e0-e587-4ab2-b7ab-e8970a657e75_zps32477959.jpg)

If you want more information on either machine and can offer specifics on what you'll be welding, I can help you further.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: RitaRose1945 on October 26, 2013, 09:32:28 AM
I can't speak for specific welders, but I do want to say that practice time is your friend.  It really is an art, and you get better the more you practice.  And when they say to clean your surface well, take it to heart.

I finally got a welder for Christmas one year, and I never got good at it because I couldn't get the space to work on it as much as I needed.  Had to give up the welder when I divorced and moved into an apartment.  Still haven't completely forgiven the ex for that.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: FreeLancer on October 26, 2013, 02:57:02 PM
Hmmm, a new brand to complicate my decision making.....

The price and features look great on the Thermal Arc, but what is the track record on reliability, parts, and service?  Is the quality considered to be on par with Miller?   Seems like everyone advises to stay away from anything that isn't either red, white, or blue, but I have no idea how legitimate that stance is.

Also, how likely is it that I'll use any of the other features, besides MIG, for building basic stuff like racks and carts with mild steel?

Bottom line, I guess, is paying the Miller premium money down the drain?
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: nelson96 on October 26, 2013, 03:46:12 PM
Bottom line, I guess, is paying the Miller premium money down the drain?

That's a personal decision that only you can make.  What I can tell you is that Thermal Arc has been in business since 1979 and is one of many industry leading company's held by St Louis based Victor Technologies.  The Fabricator has the same warranty as that of the big red and blue, except that it also offers a 1 yr replacement on the warranty (versus fixing it).  The components that go in to building machines from all three manufacturers come from the same vendors. 

Stick and TIG capabilities aside, the biggest differences between the two (for MIG) are. . .

That all said, you'll like the Miller machine just fine.


Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: FreeLancer on October 27, 2013, 01:03:52 AM
Well, crap!  I'm going around in circles now.

In the process of looking at nelson's Thermal Arcs and learning about 3-in-1 machines, I stumble upon the Millermatic 200.......which looks like a survivalist welder's wet dream.

(http://ep.yimg.com/ca/I/cyberweld_2272_6842535)


Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: rikkrack on October 27, 2013, 07:22:52 AM
Just found this and some really great information. Wife has been at her job for 15 years and got an anniversary gift. She didn't like anything they were offering, she got me a welder. It is a MIG and I have no idea how, this thread was awesome.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: Cedar on October 27, 2013, 08:48:08 AM
I am not the prettiest welder and I am not a pro buy any means, but I have done a couple projects and they function. I have not welded in at least a decade and probably forgot more than I knew, which was not much.

This is my advice such as it is:
Try it. Do something which you would like to work on and it doesn't matter if it is pretty or not in the end. My first project was on a stick welder and my second was a wire feed. I am very glad to have done them in that order. I learned alot from using stick, and then I learned how much easier it is for a wirefeed. But I think I learned more basics from the stick than I did from the wirefeed.

Find scrap. My projects did not cost me a thing other than things other people did not want. My first project was a 'knight's shield' when I was in school for a project, all found metal. My second project many years later was a goat milking stand. There was a rolled pickup truck with a formerly straight construction rack on it and I asked the owner if I could have the now mangled rack. He gave it to me. I learned to use a torch and cut steel too.

Find a mentor if you can. I was lucky and I had 30 pipefitters at my disposal to pick their brains. 2 took me under their wing when they saw I was serious about learning. But yes, you can teach yourself to weld too.

Wear proper equipment. My foot started itching badly and then I discovered it was not itching, but burning. Molten steel had fallen into my tennis shoe. I still bear the scar.

Don't hurry your project.

Cedar
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: nelson96 on October 27, 2013, 09:05:27 AM
Well, crap!  I'm going around in circles now.

In the process of looking at nelson's Thermal Arcs and learning about 3-in-1 machines, I stumble upon the Millermatic 200.......which looks like a survivalist welder's wet dream.

Just my .02. . . .  Stay away from that one.  Miller specifically built that welder to compete after Thermal Arc came out with the Fabricator 211i.  The Thermal offers more features and costs less.  The only advantage the Miller offers is it weighs less.  I've done several pepsi challenges with the two machines side-by-side and the Thermal won hands down each time.  The Miller couldn't even weld a lot of the time because it was popping breakers on 110V where the Thermal never did.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: FreeLancer on October 27, 2013, 03:41:25 PM
The 211i is looking like a very good choice and I'm honestly leaning that direction.

But since I'm saving so much money over Miller, I'm thinking why not step up to the 252i?  It looks like for $3k there's a kit that includes a tig torch, 200a spool gun, just about everything I'd need to weld anything, right?

Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: nelson96 on October 27, 2013, 04:26:44 PM
But since I'm saving so much money over Miller, I'm thinking why not step up to the 252i?  It looks like for $3k there's a kit that includes a tig torch, 200a spool gun, just about everything I'd need to weld anything, right?

It's a great machine and a little different than the others. . .  It's a digital inverter (80,000 cycles per second).  Includes some extra options too (see advanced features).  Is it more than what you need though?  It's your money, but if you're not going to need what it can offer, is it worth it?

If you do buy the 252i. . .  I'm not a fan of the spool gun that comes with it.  That said, I've made some phenominal welds with it on aluminum, but if I was going to use it a lot to build something (ie an aluminum boat), I would lean toward Miller's 30A spoolgun.  It's a direct connect on the 252i if you buy an adapter or add a resistor between pins J and H.  The resistor is a lot cheaper way to go.  There Tech Dept can offer a wiring diagram if you need one.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: FreeLancer on October 27, 2013, 05:21:18 PM
Is it more than what you need though?  It's your money, but if you're not going to need what it can offer, is it worth it?

That's my problem, I don't know what I really need and what I don't.

So, on the inverter vs. transformer thing, why do you hear guys say to go big and heavy and avoid getting the light weight inverter units?  Is it a longevity thing, is it the remnants of the bitter taste left by earlier (inferior) inverter technology, or are these guys just hung up in the past (ie. 1911 vs Glock)?
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: nelson96 on October 27, 2013, 05:50:01 PM
So, on the inverter vs. transformer thing, why do you hear guys say to go big and heavy and avoid getting the light weight inverter units?  Is it a longevity thing, is it the remnants of the bitter taste left by earlier (inferior) inverter technology, or are these guys just hung up in the past (ie. 1911 vs Glock)?

I of course can't answer for someone else but it probably leans more toward "remnants of the bitter taste left by earlier (inferior) inverter technology".  That technology has come a long way in terms of longevity.  They are now very reliable, offer better arc characteristics, improved options, portability, and huge power savings.  European welders are easily 95% inverter and domestic plasma cutting systems are 100% inverter technology.

Using the power consumption argument. . .  I once saw a comparison between the Fabricator 252i and the Millermatic 252.  The Fabricator had an annual 48% reduction in electrical costs compared to the Millermatic and the Fabricator paid for itself in just 5 years, based on power savings alone (compared to the Miller). 

As I've stated before though, don't let me talk you in to anything.  I know of hundreds of people with Millermatic power sources and they like them a lot.  I just thought I would offer some options.

I'm sorry if my recommendations have got your head spinning but based on your past comments. . .
Quote
"I've got 220v in the garage and no need to be portable"
"a first (and probably only) welder"
"for building basic stuff like racks and carts with mild steel"
. . .  I thought the Fabricator 211i would be the best choice for your price point, giving you room to grow and options to get more use out of it if things change down the road.  It is easily capable of joining two pieces of 3/8" plate with a single pass (230V input power).

.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: FreeLancer on October 27, 2013, 08:38:49 PM
I'm sorry if my recommendations have got your head spinning but based on your past comments. . . . . .  I thought the Fabricator 211i would be the best choice for your price point, giving you room to grow and options to get more use out of it if things change down the road.  It is easily capable of joining two pieces of 3/8" plate with a single pass (230V input power).

No worries, thanks for putting in the time!  It's been a good learning experience for me, and hopefully other welding noobs. 

When I started looking into this, I thought the only viable starter option would be a MIG unit from Miller, Lincoln, or Hobart.  Everyone tends to advise staying away from anything else, but it looks like the Thermal Arc Fabricators are well regarded by those who have actually used them, that the 3in1 implementation isn't a gimmick, and I honestly have moved the 211i to the top of my list.  What could be better than getting a quality machine at a value price that I can learn multiple processes with?

I am not dead-set on blue.  Past a realistic quality point, I'm not much of gear snob, so I don't have any problem going maroon, or whatever color it is.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: FreeLancer on October 30, 2013, 05:44:29 PM
So what's up with shops not wanting to sell me anything but blue or red? 

Despite having Thermal Arc brochures (but no actual machines), one guy said he absolutely would not sell me a 211i, and another strongly advised against one as a first machine.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: nelson96 on October 30, 2013, 06:10:15 PM
So what's up with shops not wanting to sell me anything but blue or red? 

Despite having Thermal Arc brochures (but no actual machines), one guy said he absolutely would not sell me a 211i, and another strongly advised against one as a first machine.

They sell what they are familiar with and have a history with, even if it's wrong.  And they like to move inventory they stock.  As far as not buying one as a "first machine", that makes no sense.  You might ask them why and discover that they don't know as much as they would like you to think they do.

I do recommend buying something locally though.  That way if you have problems you can say "you talked me in to this one, now help me get it running right".  If that means buying blue or red, then buy blue or red.  It does suck when their ignorance and/or stubbornness limits a consumers choice.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: nelson96 on October 30, 2013, 06:22:05 PM
You could always contact the manufacturers local Sales Rep and work with him directly to get your questions answered.  You could probably even schedule demonstration and training time with him on the machine you're interested in. . . .

http://victortechnologies.com/index.php/about-us/sales-reps.html

Rob Averill - San Juan Capistrano, CA

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Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: FreeLancer on November 23, 2013, 12:43:26 PM
Well, for better or worse, I took the path of least resistance and went blue.

Miller has a 10% rebate offer on the cost of the 211 plus $600 worth of accessories, so that's the route I chose.  We'll see how how the learning curve goes.....
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: RitaRose1945 on November 23, 2013, 01:21:03 PM
Well, for better or worse, I took the path of least resistance and went blue.

Miller has a 10% rebate offer on the cost of the 211 plus $600 worth of accessories, so that's the route I chose.  We'll see how how the learning curve goes.....

Be patient with yourself.  It really is an art.  You'll do well with a lot of practice.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: ncjeeper on November 23, 2013, 06:31:09 PM
Well, for better or worse, I took the path of least resistance and went blue.
Cant go wrong with a miller. I love my 210 millermatic.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: nelson96 on November 23, 2013, 07:04:29 PM
Well, for better or worse, I took the path of least resistance and went blue.

Miller has a 10% rebate offer on the cost of the 211 plus $600 worth of accessories, so that's the route I chose.  We'll see how how the learning curve goes.....

The machine is a good choice and you will do just fine.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: oktheniknow on December 16, 2013, 05:42:15 PM
My Dad's giving me his old Craftsman arc welding equipment and helmet. Will try to learn in my spare time by watching videos and reading about. Local community college has a course, but it's rather pricey at $500 a course.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: ncjeeper on December 16, 2013, 06:37:25 PM
My Dad's giving me his old Craftsman arc welding equipment and helmet. Will try to learn in my spare time by watching videos and reading about. Local community college has a course, but it's rather pricey at $500 a course.
That cost should include the "lab" fees. You will be doing alt of welding and using up a bunch of rods and steel. So actually that's a reasonable price when you think about it.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: 4bull on January 01, 2014, 07:04:03 PM
Man , I built boilers for 15 years, and its easer to watch and learn than fight it .
get some help , as for schools well I wouldn't go take a wield test anywhere and tell them you went to school ,real world jobs . The guys just out of school got no respect at all , tell then you just learned at home.. Stringers , back wields, bevels , up hills ,9G , there is so much that you can learn in a short time with a little help . I made wielders out of my helpers in no time , they worked with me then I helped them , if they were lazy then they could just grind there life away and I didn't want them. In the real world there is a wield proceager to read and fallow , Clean , settings , preheat, wield size , filler, cap , inspection. I was always suprized how much water is in the steel ,
run a torch over it and see what comes off , stainless , carbine , 1 1/4 , 2 1/4 ,9 crome ,
the best I can think of is get it clean first , preheat if you can -run the water out , wield up hill ,down hill wielding is bad and will blow your wiled full of bug holes, watch your heat ,you will learn when to hold and wait for the rod or wire to fill in for you , Good luck , Bull
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: NWPilgrim on January 01, 2014, 11:19:31 PM
Great thread, I am starting where Freelancer did.  Planning to get some equipment and give it a try in February.  Thanks for all the great tips.  In the mean time I am going to see what the local availability is  for the ThermalArc that Nelson recommended. And ping some of my farmer friends to see who knows how to weld and might show me how to start.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: FreeLancer on January 22, 2014, 01:35:35 AM
I finally got the 211 fired up today and melted steel for the first time.  Having never touched a welder in my life, that first arc was a bit unnerving, but things went so much better than I was expecting for my first day.

Despite producing a whole lot of butt-ugly beads, I couldn't bust anything apart with a sledge.  With some more practice and youtube, it's looking like teaching myself basic MIG welding is totally doable. 

Much thanks to everyone for the help and encouragement!
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: nelson96 on January 22, 2014, 08:04:18 AM
I knew you could do it.  Now show us pics of what you build.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: oktheniknow on January 22, 2014, 08:19:04 AM
FreeLancer, you are inspiring me.
Got my Dad's old Craftsman arc weld. Looked it up and it dates to 1942! Going to start slow and watch videos, and gather up some clean steel to test with.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: gundog on January 22, 2014, 08:59:23 AM
I've been around the steel fabrication world my whole life, I came up as a shop rat and have done most kinds of fab work, welding, field install there is. I haven't worked in the shop for years but I do like to knock out a project or two every year.
 
Being able to weld and fab stuff is fun.....and can come in handy. Over the years I have built a woodstove for camp.....a stove pipe oven, trailers, tree stands, plows, repaired stuff. It's a handy skill to have any time and one that would be needed in some kind of shtf situation.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: ncjeeper on January 22, 2014, 11:08:34 AM
It should sound like sizzling bacon when you are laying down the right heat and filler in the weld bead.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: Chandlerpackrat on January 25, 2014, 04:31:07 PM
fritz, I'm not sure where you are located, but if your ever near Tyler, Texas , I'll be happy to give you a crash course in welding. I have been teaching my 9 year old son to weld, and he's doing great! Not super pretty yet ,but they hold! So, if your ever in the area send me a pm, and I'll help pass on a skill...
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: ncjeeper on February 18, 2014, 09:56:25 AM
Well I bit the bullet and got myself a tig welder.

http://www.amazon.com/Everlast-Powertig-Micro-Welder-Inverter/dp/B0081BEOD4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392741472&sr=8-1&keywords=everlast+tig+welder

I need to weld aluminum in a better way than using my spoolgun and miller 220v mig.
I haven't tig welded since 1984 in my college welding/metal tech class. Hopefully I will pick it back up fairly quickly.
 
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: nelson96 on February 18, 2014, 09:20:46 PM
I always say, if you can jump on one foot while patting your head and rubbing your tummy and saying the ABC's you'll be just fine.

Don't use pure tungsten (2% works fine but lanthanated works better and a lot of folks are liking the new E3)
Run your AC Frequency at 95hz or more (will keep a point on your tungsten and give better focus on your arc)
If you have clean material run your AC Balance between 10 and 20
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: ncjeeper on February 18, 2014, 09:23:34 PM
^^^^
Thanks. I may shoot you some questions when i get it set up and start playing with it.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: nelson96 on February 18, 2014, 09:34:56 PM
^^^^
Thanks. I may shoot you some questions when i get it set up and start playing with it.

No problem.  I figured you knew the basics so I only added a few pieces of advice. . .  Things have changed just a bit since 1984.  ;)

Don't give up, it's a great skill to know.  Other than the slow travel speed, you'll want to weld everything with TIG after you get it figured out. . . .  It's the hardest welding process to master IMO.

I would start out using DC on mild steel and stainless.  TIG welding aluminum is tougher to get the hang of.  Get a good stainless brush and never touch anything with it other than aluminum.  Clean material also needs brushed before you weld, to break up the oxides that form on the surface.  Those oxides have a higher melting point than the aluminum.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: ncjeeper on February 18, 2014, 11:01:35 PM
Get a good stainless brush and never touch anything with it other than aluminum. 
Got one. :)
Use it when I spool gun weld thin aluminum.
Title: Re: Teaching yourself to weld
Post by: FreeLancer on August 18, 2019, 02:01:58 AM
I finally got the 211 fired up today and melted steel for the first time.  Having never touched a welder in my life, that first arc was a bit unnerving, but things went so much better than I was expecting for my first day.

Despite producing a whole lot of butt-ugly beads, I couldn't bust anything apart with a sledge.  With some more practice and youtube, it's looking like teaching myself basic MIG welding is totally doable. 

Much thanks to everyone for the help and encouragement!

Keeping it real.

I just gifted my complete Millermatic 211 setup (essentially new) to my dad. I just don’t have the space for a MIG setup in a garage already overcrowded with woodworking machines. I tried using it outside and the wind blows the gas away and spoils the welds. Dad’s got a huge shop space and has more projects he can utilize a welder for, plus it’s easy to learn right off the bat.

I think I’ll wind up getting a portable inverter stick welder I can use outside. I know the learning curve is a hell of a lot steeper, but it makes more sense for my situation.