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which welder?

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  • which welder?

    I have hit a couple of spots in projects lately when I think that it would be nice to have a welder. I don't want oxyacetylene and I have been told that wire welders have to be used just about every day or that the wire corrodes and won't feed. That leaves a stick welder. I'm thinking about a Sears 115 V 100 amp model. I doubt that I will ever need to weld anything more that about 3/16. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

  • #2
    I have one of the little Lincoln Weldpak 100 (110volt) mig welders. It sits there in my dusty wood/metal shop (aka garage) for months, or even a yr or so between uses and I've noticed no problem with the wire feed.
    I did go ahead and get the optional kit to add the inert gas which uses a solid wire. I found that a better process (neater, easier, etc.) than just using the flux core wire.
    I think for the occasional user, proficiency comes more easily with wire feed, especially if the stick welder is AC only. But of course each must assess his own situation. Good luck whichever way you go.
    Lynn (Huntsville, AL)


    • #3
      I think the best welder for HSM is MIG with inert gas option. It's affordable and versatile. You'll find that stick welding imparts too much heat when welding something small or sheet metal, and the flux leaves a mess that you have to chip and cleanup. If you have the budget, go for a small TIG. You can do some amazing work with it.



      • #4
        Hey Micheal,

        If you aren't going to weld over 3/16 then don't even think of buying a stick. They aren't that good for thin metals. A good 110 mig with the inert gas is a great buy for sheet metal and thin stuff. The flux core is good for welding the thick metals but your machine has to put the heat out for it.

        A set of torches can do anything. They used to weld all pressure pipe with torches. You have to know the techniques but it can be done. I have a mig here and my wire has rusted up and the core as well. Kind of annoying but my garage is very humide.

        In my opinion the mig is easier to learn. Very versatile and can weld Aluminum with a little effort.

        If you want more info email me



        • #5
          Unless you already know how to weld with stick, get a MIG. Previous mention of use on thinner sections also holds true.
          I have a MIG, with Argon/CO-2 mix for mild steel. You can get a can of wire lube and a swab to clamp on wire to clean & lube. Mine sits for months in unheated garage with no problems.
          I also have Oxy-acet, ang prabably use it as much as the MIG. Would love to have a TIG.
          Jim H.


          • #6
            If you are going to weld 3/8 be sure the machine will be able to produce at least 27 amps. Moisture can have a bearing on rusting the wire so make sure your place is dry. Gas welding is too exspencive that is why they no longer use it as much as they used to. My father who died at 85 in 1992 used the gas in the 20's for pipes but you can weld so much faster and cheaper with the electric.


            • #7
              I have a Miller Thunderbolt 225 "Buzz box" that you can have. I have replaced it with a Miller wire feed. WALT WARREN


              • #8
                Secrets to sucessful GMAW (mig welding)

                Buy a gas FLOW regulator. These have a ball bearing that will rise and display the flow rate in a enclosed glass or plastic tube.

                Get a better cable and gun assembly. I prefer the Bernard guns myself. Use a hose clamp to secure the gas nozzle (tight!) Use spatter release frequently and clean the nozzle out with a small blade screw driver when spatter builds up. We got about two 35 lb. spools of .035" copper coated wire to each nozzle and tip this way (1 week per machine)

                Argon is very expensive and straight Carbon Dioxide works just as well. Any porosity problems in the weld stem from restricted gas flow (wrong nozzle) or insuficient gas flow. If the flow meter is used the CO2 is extremely cheap and quite effective.

                A 150A unit can handle most metal fab jobs but may require multiple passes for heavier sections.

                A 300A Unit can weld anything.

                The light portable units do not have very good wire feeders. If you can afford one get a self contained 150A+ unit that uses 35l/ Spools. You should rarely need to change the liners if you put a wire wiper on the wire before it enters the cable. We found the nozzles that have a slighly reduced tip vs. body diameter best for the CO2. Extra nozzle liners and tips are a good idea. The tip needs to be changed once the exit hole elongates too much (judgement call).

                Some welders prefer the argon/co2 mix, it is way too much money and over rated. If you are that worried about the weld quality it should be TIG welded.


                • #9
                  I have a Hobart 120 mig and it sit all winter and works fine in the spring, get a mig that you can hook up with gas


                  • #10
                    I agree with thrud on getting the best machine you can afford. If however you are only interested in welding once in a while and only up to 3/16, get a 110 lincoln. Forget the flux core unless there is a problem with your gas being blown away. Flux core is messy! As for gas I was supprised to hear him say that the Argon/CO2 mix was expensive as compared to the straight CO2, as there isn't much difference here. We use a 110 lincoln in our shop for 24 gage and alittle thicker, then we use a miller 200. GMAW (MIG) is the easiest to use, and the welds on mild steel can be cleaned quickly if needed. Most units come with a regulator which can not be adjusted - and usually puts out more gas than you need. You can wait on the flow meter if you need to, but it is a good idea to start with one. GTAW (TIG) is the best and if you had a AC/DC machine (mine is a thunderbolt) you can get an air cooled torch and scratch start your way to very nice joints as well as stick welding the heavy stuff.

                    Aluminum is usually GWAW welded with a spool gun as the wire is soft and tends to bind in the liner, even the teflon coated ones. We just purchased a new miller 300 with the spool gun thrown in for free - work out the best deal you can as in everything else in life.

                    Get different lenses for your helmit, shade 10, 11, 12 and see which one is the most comfortable.

                    Now that everybody has given their opinion, go down to your local welding store, where they are more than happy to assist you in parting with your money, get the welder of your choise, and melt away to your hearts content.


                    • #11

                      The mix is way more expensive here. The flow meter (actual flow regulator) is the way to conserve your gas and makes good economic sense but they do cost from $200-400 compared to the cheap units included with the welders.


                      • #12
                        I have a Miller tig & Stick. It is a great machine. I use the tig for welding Mauser bolt handles. The stick for any thing else like making trailer to haul my tractor, log splitters, etc. However I wish I had bought a mig instead as they are much easier to use.

                        Paul G.
                        Paul G.


                        • #13
                          You should be able to add a wire feeder on - talk to Miller (it is easier if it is a TIG).



                          • #14

                            There is only one bad thing about mig welding. It doesn't like rust. I know you aren't supposed to weld rust, but when that piece of 24 guage has some surface rust, or some fender. You just can't get ride of all of the rust. Something to think about. I would still go with the mig or the torches. The mig is the easyest, but it will take some practice. Learning how to set it up and metal prep is 70% of the battle. The other 30% is metal warping. Ah the joys of welding. Take a course. That would help maybe.



                            • #15
                              Hi Thrud.

                              Your exactly right and I dearly wish I could do that but as of the time I bought this machine there was no add on for it. I am not sure of the reason why. But I will inquire about it again.

                              Paul G.
                              Paul G.