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Thread: Choosing right welder for beginner?

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    LHBA Member Nick's Avatar
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    Choosing right welder for beginner?

    After all the talk last week about modifications to my tele-handler (via some sort of welding procedure) and also all of the tools that I see guys making by welding stuff up, I finally just said to myself - just do it. Learn how to weld. So once again, this dang forum is going to cost me valuable sit on my a#! time and I'll probably have to skip some TV. Dang forum.... That being said, I've spent the last couple days researching and reading about welding procedures and am going to teach myself how to weld. I know it will take a lot of practice before becoming even slightly proficient. Looks like the smartest and most versatile method for me would be a stick welder. I'd be interested to hear all you pros weigh in on what brands/equipment/tools you would recommend. Not planning on turning it into a profession or anything, just would like to be able to do the small repairs and maybe some light fabrication (like build an ATV trailer). I'm not going to put another electrical circuit in my house and don't have 220 running to the garage. I do have a 5k honda generator that I haul out to the land when I need electricity. Thoughts?

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    Sounds like you're on the right track. I was going to suggest a stick welder, I think that's the best way to learn. Trade that Honda generator in for a welder/generator. If you go electric, the old Lincoln tombstone welders are great but I doubt your generator will run it. I had an ancient miller stick welder that I loved. I used to just yank out the dryer breaker and wire my stick welder to it and pop it back in the panel when I needed to weld something.

    Also used to have a welder generator like this (but older) that I found on craigslist for $600 and it worked great. http://www.northerntool.com/shop/too...4916_200434916

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    LHBA Member loghousenut's Avatar
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    Allen is right on if you can find a welder/generator for a good price. Problem is that the right price usually means it doesn't always start right up like a Honda. Shal we work on your mechanicing skills or your welding skills.

    Allen is also right on about the Tombstone welder being the cheapest way to learn how to really weld. You can get the kind of penetration with a $100, 40 year old, Lincoln that won't happen with a 110v wirefeed welder. If you was my nephew, you'd be looking for the right deal on a cheap old welder and find a way to get 220v to wherever you are going to weld. Outside is fine and it doesn't have to be pretty. I went out to take a photo of my welding shop but decided it would be a bad influence on you. I have a 50 year old Lincoln that I bought for $50 some 20 years ago. I mounted it to an old hand truck and cobbled up a long cord for it that lays on the ground. I can plug it in to a bootlegged dryer plug on the ugly trailer or out by the pumphouse. When it is at the pumphouse, I have to turn off the well pump due to not enough power to run both at the same time. It gets the job done and has been in the weather for 20 years without a hitch.

    If you go this route, pick up a Harbor Freight auto darkening hood when they are on coupon for $39. pick the welding store you like and buy 5 lbs of 7014 rod and another 5 lbs of 6013. Keep the rod dry (mine is behind the woodstove ,and no, She doesn't like it).

    Play around on Youtube and get your hands dirty. You will learn more by welding than you will by watching.

    That's the cheap way to do it. You'll need a grinder and other things but you'll figure it out.


    Maybe a glove or two also.
    Every time I have strayed from the teachings of Skip Ellsworth it has cost me money.

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    LHBA Member Nick's Avatar
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    My buddy keeps yelling at me to get a MIG setup and use flux core but everything I read about beginners disagrees with him.

    Sent from my XT1585 using Tapatalk

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    Me and LHN only disagree on one thing. Spend $100-$150 on a decent auto darken hood. I've used hoods from harbor freight, none of them darkened fast enough. It's barely noticeable but it can damage your eyes. I have a Hobart hood and it has adjustable shade, sensitivity and delay. Your eyes are worth the extra money spent.

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    LHBA Member loghousenut's Avatar
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    30 years ago I had a boss who was gonna spend the weekend welding up a hopper to hold powdered cement. He conscripted a couple of the guys to help but he ran out of welding hoods.

    He took a pair of safety goggles and taped a dark lens for a welding hood to the goggles. Made it most of the way through the first day before the blistering became an important factor in his weekend.

    It was a couple of days before his wife took him to the ER.

    I love my HF hood but I love Allen and his wisdom more.

    Sent from my LG-H631 using Tapatalk
    Every time I have strayed from the teachings of Skip Ellsworth it has cost me money.

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    Not as important as a good hood, but pants and leather boots are good too unless you just enjoy pain. You'll burn up your tennis shoes, socks, toes and legs without. I was sporting shorts and tall, lace up leather boots one day while using a drill press. It was set up on high speed but I was only drilling a few 1/2 inch holes thru some steel tube. When I drilled that last hole, the tip of the bit was cherry red and went thru both sides of the steel tube like a hot knife thru butter. A marble size ball of molten liquid steel fell right down in my boot. I got my boot off by the time I was numb. A day or two later my 3rd degree burn was infected, foot and ankle swelled like a balloon and couldn't walk on it. Doctor used a scalpel to sluff it off clean again which was equally painful.

    And if you want to know what burned eyes feels like, rub some sand in them and hit yourself in the head real hard with something. I used an HF hood for a day of heavy welding one time and went home with a splitting headache (one of the worst and only headaches I've ever had). Upgrade that hood LHN, you'll be glad you did. I like to have an extra around in case someone wants to watch.

    And another thing... Often I only use one glove but two is great starting out to learn stick welding. You can use your extra hand to help control the rod. Learning to start and control the stick and lead is the trickiest part. Drag and then push when the arc starts.
    Last edited by allen84; 02-14-2017 at 06:48 PM.

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    LHBA Member Mountain Lion's Avatar
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    Choosing right welder for beginner?

    I used an oxyacetylene torch a bunch as a teen. Seemed simple enough. Haven't done any welding since. Also thinking of getting welding capacity. Being that I will be off-grid, would you experts still recommend electric over gas?


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    Last edited by Mountain Lion; 02-15-2017 at 09:11 AM.

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    LHBA Member rreidnauer's Avatar
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    Just stay away from cheap welders like Harbor Fright, Crapsman, and such. They are so temperamental that you'll learn nothing while fighting the drifting results coming from the low duty-cycle junk welders.
    All my bad forum habits I learned from LHN

    Rod Reidnauer
    Class of Apr. 9-10, 2005
    Thinking outside the vinyl sided box

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    LHBA Member Nick's Avatar
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    Now I'm even more uncertain. Yesterday I went down to Miller Electric (headquartered about 30 minutes from me) and talked with the guys in the store. They're actually recommending MIG for what I want to do and have some real nice units ($$). They sell all of the different types so I don't think they we're trying to steer me in any direction due to money. The unit they we're recommending was the Millermatic 211. They said to just use flux core wire to avoid the need for gas and to get deeper penetration. Looking at ratings, it does come out on the top of most review sites I've seen. Not sure what to do.

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