View Full Version : Mig Tig Or Stick

Liger Zero
05-02-2009, 08:44 PM
I have an opportunity to learn one or the other but not all three.

Which one of the three will allow me to weld on "precision" sheetmetal, think .025 to .090... small parts, mostly right-angle joints. Mostly CRS, occasional aluminum.

Other requirement, I'm limited to 110v at the moment and I'm trying to spend less than $1,000 on equipment.

05-02-2009, 10:05 PM
Stick is ruled out because you are only doing sheet metal.

Eiher Mig or Tig can do mild steel sheet metal.

Mig can do aluminum, but requires a spool gun (more $$$$).

Mig is the easiest to learn.

A 110V Mig like the Hobart 140 could get you started on carbon steel for about $450 (the gas bottle is not included with the welder -- you have to pay extra for the bottle).

Tig can also do aluminum, very well.

Tig machines are not cheap (plus you will need at least one bottle of gas). Tig welding is slow. IMHO, Tig welding takes more skill and experience than either MIG or stick. The upside is that is Tig can produce very high quality welds, with minimal contamination and minimal distortion. Tig is perhaps most commonly used to fabricate stainless steel food processing equipment and piping.

You didn't mention Oxy, but an oxy rig can weld sheet metal, particularly right angle joints. Butt joints on sheet metal are a little tougher and prone to warping because Oxy generates a lot of heat, but it can be done. Gas is expensive these days, though.

To sum things up, I'd suggest a Hobart 140 for carbon steel sheet metal. In fact, I'm saving up for a HH140 myself, mainly for automotive sheet metal that is too thin for my stick welder.

If "precision" is more important, and if you have the patience and aptitude to learn the skill, then Tig gets the nod.

Liger Zero
05-04-2009, 07:24 AM
I have an oxyfuel rig, but some of the projects I want to take on specify "MIG or TIG weld ONLY" so I have to upgrade my skill.

Got a fellow here who is willing to teach me a few things in exchange for drywall help.

05-04-2009, 08:12 AM
If you can weld with an oxy acct set then you can weld with TIG. Its the same except you have an electric torch with a foot operated pedal for amperage! If you get a DC machine your limited to steel only. If you get a AC/DC machine you can weld steel and aluminum, magnesium. Argon would be the shielding gas required.

05-04-2009, 10:15 AM
Well, I can weld OK with oxy, but not so much with Tig. Tig requires much more precise control of the torch -- too close and the electrode is pulled into the metal and grounds out, too far and the arc goes out, or at least it does when you are using a not-so-great tig machine (I learned to tig using a ordinary DC welder connected to a Tig torch -- no foot pedals or other fancy aids). Then, too, I was attempting to Tig stainless to food-grade standards, which are not very forgiving.

Tigging thin metal at low amps takes a certain amount of natural talent -- good eyesight, good depth perception, and good hand-to-eye coordination. Some people pick it up quickly. I wasn't one of them.

Liger has a modest budget and is limited to 110V. There are a few cheap 110V Tig units out there. Horror Fright has one for $250 (bottle and regulator not included). Something like that might actually work for Liger's needs, since he is only doing thin stuff. But, you know that, if Liger sticks with it, he will eventually want to upgrade to a "real" Tig machine and they aren't cheap, and they don't run on 110V.

I don't know exactly what application Liger has in mind. In general, because Tig is slower and requires a more skilled operator, it is only used when there is a real need (i.e., food grade stainless). If the specs permit Mig, then certainly Mig would be faster and easier, and the 110V Migs can do decent work for not a lot of money.

Let us know what you decide, Liger, and how it works out.

Liger Zero
05-04-2009, 05:21 PM
Of all the processes I've learned over the years, the most "fun" I've ever had was learning to bend and otherwise torment sheetmetal into shape.

I have a small Horrible Fright 3-in-1 Crease-Tear-Mutilate rig and a beat up very tired old Chicago press-brake (new toy)... I put them right to work.

Friend of mine threw me some actual paying work for the presses, he sends me the blanks and I torment them into shape... and I noticed most need to be sent back for welding but the print says MIG OR TIG ONLY not oxy. I'm not talking complex joints... sealing corners and tacking tabs into place.

I can do that already with a torch, I just need to learn MIG and practice-practice-practice then eventually I'll be able to offer it as a service... Eventually. :)

05-04-2009, 08:36 PM
I know its OT, but how big is the Chicago press brake?

Im just getting my feet wet with TIG this quarter in college. It is defiantly more challenging then the other processes.

05-04-2009, 09:31 PM
Well, look at it this way, if you learn TIG, everything else should be easy right?? I use a Miller Maxstar 150 dc TIG/stick machine. I run it 220 but it works fine on 110. Very low current draw and 100% duty cycle too so you don't need a monster circuit like a transformer welder..weighs maybe 15 lbs to boot. Try finding a cheap MIG with 100% duty cycle. Ah, duty cycle. the dirty secret of cheapo welders! If I had to do over, I would definitely pop for the high frequency start option. I scored mine new in case with regulator, stinger etc on evil bay for $850
If you want to weld aluminum, you need Ac/dc Tig machine (AC for alum) as someone mentioned. That will likely put you out of $1K budget unless you can get luck on EB or CL
Nice part about the tig is unless you plan on doing heavy duty amounts of welding, you can do it indoors (garage or basement) without fumigating the whole house. I crack the windo wells in my shop cause it does produce SOMe smoke and odor from oils burning off. Nothing at all against the MIG machines by the way, for long runs and where you need to lay down lots of material, I thing they're the way to go but for small precise work, the TIG can't be beat. Oh yeah and don't forget you'll need a grinder to prepare and dress the tungsten electrodes. Many grades are radioactive - thoriated -so you should be careful not to breathe the dust:eek: I dress mine at work to avoid contaminating the house.

05-04-2009, 10:33 PM

I switched to ceriated tungstens. They work well with a broad range of metals and AC/DC etc. I can sharpen them quickly with a Dremel tool and diamond wheel while turning the tungsten in my lathe at low speed, and no worries about radioactivity.

HerbD :)

Liger Zero
05-05-2009, 07:12 AM
I know its OT, but how big is the Chicago press brake?

Im just getting my feet wet with TIG this quarter in college. It is defiantly more challenging then the other processes.

20 ton and it's all mechanical. It's about the size of the washer and dryer put together, runs off of 110, has a crude "digital" back-gauge and it came with a isofukton of tooling.... some of which IS NOT ruined. Whatta you expect for $500? :D

Top and bottom beds are in fair condition, it's not clapped out but it could use a good bed-regrind and a mechanical rebuild. On my list of things to do. It's runnable in this condition and it aside from the tooling issue it produces very good bends.

Wanted mechanical simply because it's easier to maintain.

I think for the time being I'm going with MIG. TIG looks to be too much too soon.

Thanks for the advice though!