Author Topic: Teaching yourself to weld  (Read 31366 times)

nelson96

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #30 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.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #31 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?


nelson96

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #32 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.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #33 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)?

nelson96

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #34 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).

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« Last Edit: October 27, 2013, 05:56:31 PM by nelson96 »

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #35 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.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #36 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.

nelson96

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #37 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.

nelson96

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #38 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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« Last Edit: October 30, 2013, 06:29:53 PM by nelson96 »

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #39 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.....

Offline RitaRose1945

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #40 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.

Offline ncjeeper

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #41 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.

nelson96

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #42 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.

Offline oktheniknow

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #43 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.

Offline ncjeeper

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #44 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.

Offline 4bull

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #45 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

Offline NWPilgrim

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #46 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.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #47 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!

nelson96

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #48 on: January 22, 2014, 08:04:18 AM »
I knew you could do it.  Now show us pics of what you build.

Offline oktheniknow

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #49 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.

Offline gundog

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #50 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.

Offline ncjeeper

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #51 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.

Offline Chandlerpackrat

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #52 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...

Offline ncjeeper

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #53 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.
 

nelson96

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #54 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

Offline ncjeeper

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #55 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.

nelson96

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #56 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.

Offline ncjeeper

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #57 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.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Teaching yourself to weld
« Reply #58 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.