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 Post subject: Welding for dummies
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 3:05 am 
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I have been wanting to learn to weld for a very very long time. I like to fab things up and without welding skills these ideas just cant happen. I am moving from La-La-Land/Neverland back to good ol Pittsburgh PA. I will have a house and all finally!!! Its going to be another two months or so but the welding is something to look forward to. So, onto my question...I am looking into welding supplies for home use. I cant seem to find anything like that. The welding kits I have find are in the thousands of dollars. Is that what they all run? Any good books or online tutorials for a total beginner? Thanks, and much appreciated
Sam


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 Post subject: Re: Welding for dummies
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:39 am 
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Sam
All depends on what you want to weld
From experience though a small what they call home use welder is basically OK for welding very thin metal and general playing around. To weld say 1/4 inch you need heavier models which are generally 220 amp and cost in the 1000 plus range.
But just starting out and learning you could buy a used cheap one and start playing. Check out Community Colleges that are local, most all have some good classes that will teach you the basics pretty cheap
If BugginKJ sneaks in here he can fill you in even more :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Welding for dummies
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 9:20 am 
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In the last year, I too got the welding itch. :frankie: I picked up a smaller Lincoln 120 amp wire welder for $300 on Craigslist. :pepper: It is rated to weld 1/4" steel on 120vac, though I probably wouldn't go more than 3/16" thick. If you want to go with thicker stock, I found a lot of Lincoln stick welders (220vac) for around $200 with leads. For a hood, I picked up an auto darkening one at Northern tool for $45 on sale.

Bottom line, don't be in too big a hurry and you can find a good deal on used welders.

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 Post subject: Re: Welding for dummies
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 9:51 am 
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I got a Hobart MIG set (also works with flux-core) that runs on 120v/20A and will do up to 1/4" (albeit a little slowly). They seem to be the only big player in the market that has that capability. Agreed on Northern Tool. They have periodic sales with single-item coupons that are right up your alley. You can call or sign up on their website to get the mailings. I got all my basic clamps, gloves, angle braces from them also (as they're not a high-stress item and are a good place to save some bucks). Check your local area for an airgas or similar welding supply place. They usually have consumables for decent (not the best) prices but are typically stocked with everything you would need for basic work other than the welding unit itself.

Pittsburgh has a fairly active arts community from what I remember when I lived there. I found a community arts center near me that teaches 6 week classes on various arts disciplines, one of them being "metal sculpture" SO, I learned how to braze with a propane torch as well :) That's probably your best bet for some hobbyist-level instruction (i.e. not a 2 year course at the local tech school).

Dan

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 Post subject: Re: Welding for dummies
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:01 am 
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dgeist wrote:
I got a Hobart MIG set (also works with flux-core) that runs on 120v/20A and will do up to 1/4"
Dan



I have the same set up with my Lincoln. Using flux core till I find a deal on a co2 bottle. And I got the gauges with the welder! The only thing I wish was different, and I think it is the same on the Hobarts of that size too, is wire speed is 4 or 5 settings and not infinite variable. I think with both brands, you need to get to a 190 amp 220 vac unit for that and there is a big price jump.

My only other advice is to buy a name brand like Lincoln, Miller, or Hobart. Otherwise getting parts to support/ maintain your machine becomes near impossible.

My :2cents:

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 Post subject: Re: Welding for dummies
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:40 am 
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a few years back extreme 4x4 did a few shows on basic fab it might be something to look at also

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With enough fabbing, time & $, it's certainly possible.
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 Post subject: Re: Welding for dummies
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 3:29 pm 
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dgeist wrote:
I got a Hobart MIG set (also works with flux-core) that runs on 120v/20A and will do up to 1/4" (albeit a little slowly). They seem to be the only big player in the market that has that capability. Agreed on Northern Tool. They have periodic sales with single-item That's probably your best bet for some hobbyist-level instruction (i.e. not a 2 year course at the local tech school).

Dan

Have one of the cheaper Mig ( 650-700 range Eastwoods) with gas out in the garage
You can weld 1/4 if it doesn't have to hold much, but if thats what you're going after you need a larger welder
And the courses I was talking about were the 8-12 week one or two nights a week :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Welding for dummies
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 3:30 pm 
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woodtick wrote:
dgeist wrote:
I got a Hobart MIG set (also works with flux-core) that runs on 120v/20A and will do up to 1/4"
Dan



I have the same set up with my Lincoln. Using flux core till I find a deal on a co2 bottle. And I got the gauges with the welder! The only thing I wish was different, and I think it is the same on the Hobarts of that size too, is wire speed is 4 or 5 settings and not infinite variable. I think with both brands, you need to get to a 190 amp 220 vac unit for that and there is a big price jump.

My only other advice is to buy a name brand like Lincoln, Miller, or Hobart. Otherwise getting parts to support/ maintain your machine becomes near impossible.


My :2cents:


yes!

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 Post subject: Re: Welding for dummies
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:07 pm 
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this is what i have been welding with over at my buddys place and it works great

http://compare.ebay.com/like/330855848674?_lwgsi=y&ltyp=AllFixedPriceItemTypes&var=sbar

220 with gas hook up i plan on getting one just like it for myself

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With enough fabbing, time & $, it's certainly possible.
That being said, it's like boinkin' your sister...just because you can, doesn't mean you should.


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 Post subject: Re: Welding for dummies
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 9:09 pm 
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Check out your local welding supply shop is your best bet, not Harbor Freight, TSC or a big box store. The smaller 115 MIG machines are ok for very light duty welding such as automotive sheet metal, I could care less if the manufacture says you can weld up to 1/4" with it. I would stay away from the flux core welders, the weld quality leaves much to be desired and don't lay well even when cranked up. Once you learn weld structure along with how a weld should look, you will realize quickly that those smaller machines just don't cut it for up to 1/4". Welding shops some times do sponsor classes, if your local welding shop does not offer a class my best suggestion would be a local community college or tech/voc school. Some schools also get discounts at local welding supply shops. As far as a welder goes, 220 MIG welders are the only way to go in my opinion, even for home use. They are heavy duty, can weld anything when set up properly and once you learn how to weld and weld correctly, nothing else will do. Miller is my baby and I love their machines. I have used many manufactures and am just impressed with their quality and range of machines you can get from them. Ask a different welder that welds for a living and he may give you a different answer. It's sorta like the Chevy/Ford debate. Also with the modern 220 MIG welders you can buy the attachments/gases to weld all metals and when taken care of properly will last you a lifetime. Again check with you local welding shop because in some areas buying the different gases can be troublesome if you don't have a commercial license. Yes a major investment but also a one time buy. A 220 buzz box is also a great first buy to learn welding and a good quality stick welder is much cheaper than a MIG welder. A buzz box also can weld various metals with the proper rods and machine adjustments. Once you learn stick welding, everything else just falls into place. Also when you go to a tech or community school for welding you will first learn on a buzz box then go to MIG unless you take a MIG specific class but most will require stick knowledge.
My :2cents: with over 20 some years welding experience in a couple different industries. Good luck with it.


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 Post subject: Re: Welding for dummies
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 10:24 am 
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tommudd wrote:
Have one of the cheaper Mig ( 650-700 range Eastwoods) with gas out in the garage
You can weld 1/4 if it doesn't have to hold much, but if thats what you're going after you need a larger welder
And the courses I was talking about were the 8-12 week one or two nights a week :wink:


It sounds like the 8-12 week jobbies you speak of would be perfect, but I couldn't find any around here. Alas, my local economy has more artists (and people buying art) than people that actually want to know how to weld. Thus, the "sculpture" class did okay. The instructor also does iron pours up in the mountains in a club consisting mostly of firemen (for good reason). Crazy sons-of-guns those guys.

As for "doesn't have to hold that much", I was under the impression that welds that hold less significantly than the metal they join are called "faulty" and were not subjected to the BFH test after cooling. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Welding for dummies
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 9:35 pm 
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There is a big difference too in the quality of the Lincoln's that you buy at HD/Lowes/northern tool compared to a welding supplier. The power mig models are much better quality, but the easy mig/pro mig models are still good for starters. I definitely wouldn't waste your money on anything that isn't the big three- miller, hobart and lincoln. My hobart handler 140 is a great machine at $500 and imo worth every last penny. Yes, does penetrate 1/4" just fine with flux core wire. An even better choice, one that I wish i made would be the hobart handler 210 mvp, it plugs into 120 and 230 volt plugs and cost $850. The resale value on the big three brand welders is fairly high so don't be afraid to buy a new one, they all seem to have good warranties.
Consumables and other equipment are where a lot your money will go. There are some great suppliers on ebay at good prices. I use htp wire sold buy usa weld, its pretty good quality. Abrasives, hmabrasives on ebay sells good stuff and ships very fast. You will find that there is actually a big difference in quality in abrasives between the cheap stuff and expensive stuff, i think H&M is a good quality to price ratio.
There are never enough clamps im your shop, don't be agraid of the harbor freight ones, they work well.
Weldfabulous on ebay has also served me well.
Grinders. I bought four harbor freight $12 grinders and got one nice Dewalt 10 amp grinder, all four HF grinders have died/caught fire/been smashed by me a maul, the Dewalt still works perfectly and removes material 5x faster.
If you do get a 120 volt machine i recommend a 140 amp, thats the biggest there is for a standard 20amp household outlet, a dedicated outlet will work best. If you must use an extension cord, get a proper 10 gauge cord.

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Last edited by At The Helm on Mon Jan 28, 2013 9:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Welding for dummies
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 9:42 pm 
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Lots to learn on youtube too.
Weldingtipsandtricks- awesome videos packed with info mostly for mig and tig processes
Chucke2009 - not overly informative but i like his videos, he does a lot arc welding but uses all processes, mostly farm and ranch applications.
Steve Blyle
Kevin Caron

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 Post subject: Re: Welding for dummies
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 6:02 am 
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I was in the same boat; wanted to learn to weld to make my own stuff. I kept an eye on Craigslist, ebay and the local pawnshops. I found a used Hobart Handler 130 flux core/ MIG at a pawnshop about a year ago for $289. I read, read, and read some more, watched videos online, and asked tips and tricks from people I know who weld. So far I've only used .030 flux core. I went through a good bit of scrap steel just for practice. I bought a mask, and slag hammer/brush, and a cheap grinder from Tractor Supply. I picked up some gloves, pliers, and a regulator, for when I finally get a tank for shielding gas, from Harbor Freight. So far I've tackled a few projects; a solar panel rack for my combo motorcycle trailer/camper, welded a tongue jack onto the trailer/camper, a cross bar in my roof rack on my Liberty for holding gas cans securely. I made a cargo carrier type thing that inserts into my receiver hitch that comes up to just above the bottom of the swing gate. I also made a highway peg mount for my friend's Harley Sportster. A year ago I couldn't weld, now I can. I'm by no means great at it, but I am decent, it takes practice. Keep an eye out for a deal. I would recommend sticking with one of "The big three" as well. Jump in there and give it a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed. It's a great feeling to be able to say "I made that!" Above all be safe. Wear protective gear. Insulated leather gloves, a good mask, heavy weight long sleeved shirt, hearing protection, safety glasses when grinding, and common sense. Also, NEVER use brake cleaner to clean parts to be welded; it can create phosgene gas. It is highly toxic, it can be fatal in even very small amounts.

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 Post subject: Re: Welding for dummies
PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 2:51 am 
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Lots of great information here! Thanks all. I will be referencing everyone's suggestions along my way to figuring this all out :)
When I looked into classes out here in LA area they were all those two year tech programs for people going into this as a career. I think Pittsburgh will have more vo-tech classes and things in the community colleges. The art sculpture idea is pretty different. I am very into the arts as well, so may not be a bad idea even in addition to other classes. Ill be checking craigslist as well!


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 Post subject: Re: Welding for dummies
PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:16 am 
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Never, never, never, never used brake parts cleaner or electrical parts cleaner on parts to be welded. With the heat they can have a chemical reaction and turn into phosgene gas which can kill you.

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 Post subject: Re: Welding for dummies
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 12:48 am 
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Lots of really good advice here. Hobart is a good machine for the price. Be patient. You get what you pay for. I went back and forth for almost a year before I pulled the trigger on a new lincoln TIG. Lincoln has a major distribution center outside of cleveland so they generally do free shipping to western pa, maybe the rest of us too, I'm not sure. Buy as big as you can afford, but there are also good used deals that pop up. Older machines will be bigger an heavier, but a good welder doesn't really wear out.

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 Post subject: Re: Welding for dummies
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2013 4:50 am 
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I live in Washington just south of Pittsburgh. I know a lot of the vo-tech schools around here do evening adult classes for various trades. A friend of mine took a stick welding class a couple of years ago just to build his own armor and such. I can ask him what the cost was if your curious.

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 Post subject: Re: Welding for dummies
PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 4:33 pm 
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I'm in the first year of a 2 year program for welding, and i recommend on getting a stick welding machine first because once you get stick welding down the other ones are alot easier to approach, also if you go a non SMAW (stick) approach i think that even though it may be harder and i dont no if it costs more but i assume so i would go with tig (GTAW) instead of mig (GMAW) and yes im using the proper names for the welding processes to make myself look smarter.


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 Post subject: Re: Welding for dummies
PostPosted: Sat Apr 13, 2013 9:57 pm 
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coin wrote:
I'm in the first year of a 2 year program for welding, and i recommend on getting a stick welding machine first because once you get stick welding down the other ones are alot easier to approach, also if you go a non SMAW (stick) approach i think that even though it may be harder and i dont no if it costs more but i assume so i would go with tig (GTAW) instead of mig (GMAW) and yes im using the proper names for the welding processes to make myself look smarter.


Yes get an old Lincoln Tombstone AC/DC machine and start there

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