Author Topic: Beginning welding  (Read 702 times)

Offline fritz_monroe

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Beginning welding
« on: August 27, 2019, 07:23:01 PM »
So I've been interested in learning to weld for several years.  So I'm to the point where it's time to start learning some additional skills.  I have a need to learn welding, so that's where I'm starting.

But now comes the confusion.  Mig, tig, oxy-acetelene.  What type of welding should I start with?  I will likely start at the local community college, but they have "beginners mig", "beginners Tig" and "Beginners oxy-acetelene" classes available.

I'm not going to do welding as a career.  So what type of welding is most versatile and useful for the homesteader that just has the occasional need to fix a tool, or build something?

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Beginning welding
« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2019, 10:40:11 PM »
I think most agree that stick has the lowest cost of entry in terms of equipment and is the most versatile, but it's more difficult to learn than MIG.  TIG is the hardest to master and the most expensive.

Offline atl

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Re: Beginning welding
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2019, 07:45:20 AM »
Welding is definitely a very useful skill to have. It is one of those skills you need to practice to get good at but once you have it you have it forever. Equipment can get expensive but often times you can pick up a decent welder at a pawn shop or any of the usual suspects online. ( I bought a nice Miller suit case welder on ebay for a significant discount a few years ago).

Mig (wire welding) is the easiest to master and very versatile. The Bobcat is entirely built with wire welders, both robotic and by people. Your instructor will be able to point you in the right direction for equipment. One of the downsides is you will either have to run flux cored wire which in my opinion is not a very nice looking weld or you will need a tank of CO for regular wire.

Stick welding has the lowest cost to enter the field and you will have plenty of range to weld thick metal. Stick welding is the hardest of the disiplines to master but if you can stick weld the rest comes pretty easy. Welding thinner metals can be more difficult.

Oxy-acetelene is good for light metals such as sheet metal or brazing but I have found little practical use for it as it is not a very strong weld. (disclaimer: used in the right applications brazing can be useful) It does teach you about puddle control and heat. It is not a very far leap from this to Tig.

Tig welding is good for many things. Especially thin metals. It is used heavily in the food and beverage industry for sanitary welds on thin wall tubing. It can also weld aluminum but that is a whole other skill set and not all Tig welders can weld aluminum.

With all that said I would research welders first to see how much the cost will be for equipment to help making an informed decision. My opinion would be MIG. If you have any more questions I will try to help.

One more thing. How is your eyesight? Good vision (seeing up close) is critical. You can put cheater lenses in your hood, but I find bifocals hard to use. 

Offline Stwood

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Re: Beginning welding
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2019, 09:45:35 AM »
I recommend getting a torch setup first. Learn to cut and braze.
Then move to a welder. I've always stick welded. Bought my Lincoln in 72 or so and still use it. And the trk shops I worked in, we always welded and fabricated a lot.

I've never went with wire welding here at home, always wanted to for thin metals, but hasn't been a necessity.

Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Beginning welding
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2019, 06:51:12 PM »
So I've done a little research and the gist of things is that MIG is the easiest to learn.  It's a bit more expensive than some others.  It's also great for steel, stainless and aluminum, the main things that I'd want to weld.

So that's what I'm probably going to look at learning, MIG welding.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Beginning welding
« Reply #5 on: August 28, 2019, 08:31:44 PM »
( I bought a nice Miller suit case welder on ebay for a significant discount a few years ago).

Is that the one that does MIG, TIG, and stick?

Offline atl

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Re: Beginning welding
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2019, 07:07:27 AM »
The one I found was a Miller 185 that will do Stick and Tig DC. That means it will not do aluminum as you have to reverse the polarity to weld aluminum. It is also 110 or 220 capable just by plugging in an adapter. The 110 option is good up to about 90 amps beyond that the duty cycle starts getting shorter and it overheats. That being said we use the crap out of it in an industrial setting just because it is so easy to drag around the plant.

They do have a series out now that runs wire. It is considerably heavier that the 160 to 185 series Maxstar. We have one of them set up for wire only but it only gets used when we have a big project going on.   

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: Beginning welding
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2019, 08:14:33 AM »
Yeah, that 13 lb Maxstar 161 is an intriguing little machine. 

I bought the Millermatic 211 a few years back to learn Mig with, it was a great machine for that, but I found I don't really have the room in my garage for the welding cart and cylinder and moving all that to the backyard to do flux core was a pain.  I just gave that whole setup to my dad to learn on, since he's got a huge shop space to work with.  Now I'm looking at my options for a smaller more portable setup, but I kind of hate to lose the Mig capability since I know I can produce halfway decent welds with that process.  Honestly, I wish now I'd bought the Multimatic 200 instead of the Mig only Millermatic 211 but it got crapped on on another thread by a guy flogging a machine that is now defunct.  Apparently lots of pros really love that little 200.

Offline CarbideAndIron

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Re: Beginning welding
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2019, 09:49:19 AM »
A flux/MIG is a great place to start, and super versatile. Either a Lincoln or Miller 140 (I think $580), or even the Titanium 140 ($400 Harbor Freight brand) are great welders for up to like 3/16" thick stuff. My buddy even did some 1/4" with his Lincoln 140. For the price those are hard to beat. You can find any of those used for a great price too.