Buying a Welder

Discussion in 'Shop Talk' started by Yldrosie, Dec 22, 2006.

  1. Yldrosie

    Yldrosie Well-Known Member

    Jan 28, 2006
    My DH wants to learn to weld. I am looking at an electric welder for him for Christmas. Don't know enough about them to ask intelligent questions. What should I know to buy one. Brands, horsepower, just what to look for, for a beginner. Want something that will be ok as he gets the hang of it tho. Any ideas? Thank you in advance.
  2. Country Doc

    Country Doc Well-Known Member

    Oct 26, 2005
    You will need to give more info. How much to spend? Mainly what does he want to make. Is it a light use trial toy ? You may want to get him to pick it out. I wouldn't think of letting my wife make the pick for me. The selection is too personal and too many options.

  3. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    May 9, 2002
    Why not get him a welder he can use for life? Lots of people start off with a Lincoln 225 AC welder. They're great stick welders and always have a use. If your budget alows it buy a Linclon AC/DC welder. Of course you could "add" to the present by simply giving him the green light to go shopping for one. It's half the fun in my book.
  4. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

    May 12, 2002
    In beautiful downtown Sticks, near Belleview, Fl.
    Most defiantly choose a welder that has both AC and DC options, such is necessary for the full range of abilities to flourish. AC (only) welders have a magnetic currant that makes welding very difficult to learn. DC welders eliminate such, DC welders does not feature such.

    I am assuming you are seeking an ARC welder, the use of a electrode (rod) to make such work. About $375.00 or so. For an AC/DC unit.

    There are also MIG welders, they emit a shield gas to prevent oxygens presence. Or they are equipped with a shield gas within the wire core they emit. Dependant on the size and orientations of the unit.

    The third method is a TIG welder, it emits a shield gas that collects to the weld area, tegrinial gas (hope the spell check catches this one), the shield gases stay in the area via a 'collective orientation'. Again to prevent oxygens presence. This is for metal that will burn.

    Welding with a torch is incorrectly called welding, it is actually 'brazing', the two 'parent metals' are place where they are need to be, heated to the point that they glow, then a brass rod is brought in, it melts on contact with the parent metals. When cool it is a weak but secure connection.

    There is about 7 more chapters to welding but that was not the question, PM me for further info if needed.
  5. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

    Dec 28, 2002
    East TN

    Go to this site and check the forums, plenty of info and helpful welder folk. Northrn Hydraulics always has good deals on Hobart welders. I would suggest a simple mig outfit. Your shop wiring will possibly dictate what he can plug in and go with. they make pretty good inexpensive 110V mig welders that he can start with. I would only go with one that uses gas shielding which allows you to use flux cored and gas shielded wire.
  6. farminghandyman

    farminghandyman Well-Known Member Supporter

    Mar 4, 2005
    moonpups, there is torch welding and brazing (hard soldering),

    torch welding is where you melt the metal with the oxygen and acetylene torch, (propane will not work to weld with), and then add a steel filler rod, or depending on the lap or and or the joint just melt the base metal together, it is much like tig welding but with gas,

    brazing is when a different metal is used to solder bond the other two pieces to gether either bronze or silver or even a lead tin allow (soft solder),, you use a flux that is compatible with the soldering material,

    a lot depends on what your husband wants to weld,

    a wire feed (120 volt) is great for light weight material 1/4 and under, yes you can weld up to 3/8 if necessary, but that is nearing the limit IMO (they will weld auto body steel with some practice)

    the bigger wire feeds that run off of 240 volt, will weld most any thing that one in a home shop will come across,

    the small wire feeds use (no gas) and use a flux core wire, the more expensive ones use GAS, usually CO or a CO mix for steel
    the gas welders make a nicer looking weld

    buy a name brand unit, Hobart or miller, Lincoln, (I personally would stay away from import stuff like harbor freight or if it is store branded,) if this what your looking at because some time you will need a new liner and tips for the gun, and rollers for the feed,

    the stick welder, (as said) would suggest the better units with the AC DC option,

    the AC unit puts the heat at 50% rod 50% base metal,
    the DC unit shifts it to 33% to 66%, and the polarity will determine what is getting more heat,

    some rods will not hardly work on AC,

    the RODS or electrodes, are many and are made different for different strengths of steel and properties of weld, and usually the rods that weld on DC are rods that provide a superior weld,

    to get in to rod numbers, (types and uses) there are to many for that here,

    the normal 250 amp AC DC shop welder will weld 1/8 to 1/2+ easily.

    normally these stick welders will last next to for ever, you may some in 20 years replace a cable or a electrode holder but any brand will do, there not necessary brand specific, I loaned my first AC welder to my son in-law, it was only 35 years old, I put a new set of cables and holder on it and gave him a use hood, (the mask that has the dark glass in it).

    FLUX, you have seen this word a number of time in this post, it is a chemical that is use and in steel welding with wire or electrode (the coating on the electrodes is flux)

    what flux does it produces a gas when burnt that protects the molten puddle of steel from becoming contaminated from the air,

    on the higher priced wire feed a gas is use and that shields the weld,
    on the lower cost welders it uses a flux core wire that when the flux burns it makes a shield for the weld,
    both have there place, not that one is inferior to the other, but industry usually uses the gas,

    if that is what your leaning to is a larger MIG, or wire feed welder, that is gas shield, the gas cylinder is separate, and you either buy or lease from a welding gas supplier,
    the gas is an option on the smaller units normally.

    I would recommend either the wire feed or the AC DC welder, if most is light stuff the wire feed will be a nice unit, if he wants to build more structural stuff I would go for the stick welder, (the AC DC 250 unit).


    the TIG is not for learning on (IMO) and is usually a very high price welder that has many features, that are not necessary for one learning ( a good tig unit is in the $2500 range), it is usually used on specialty steel and aluminum, (tungsten Inert Gas) it produces an arc and melts the base material and you add a filler rod, the tungsten does not melt away very fast, the gas shields the weld,
    (yes I want one for christmas too, and a big plasma cutter too)


    there are also gas engine driven welders that can usually double over as generators if necessary, they are stick welders normally in the DC, the nice thing is you don't need to be by electricity when using one,


    just a suggestion,

    as a person who uses tools a lot, Unless he had dropped a lot of hints of what and type of welder he wants,
    you may just want to take hubby along on the shopping trip, as to some men buying them tools is a very personal thing, and when spending that amount of money, you may be wise to let him in on it, so neither of you are disappointed, or give him card with a note saying it is ok to buy it,
    (know I would want input on the welder I am buying or getting).


    one other suggestion may be classes at a night school or some form of adult education, may be best, there he would learn how to weld and then get some experience on a number of different welders, and then he may know what he does want, and features to look for and the whys and how there used.
  7. Gideon

    Gideon Well-Known Member

    Sep 14, 2005
    Why not give him a gift certificate to the local tech school for a welding class. He can learn exactly how to use them properly. Then, buy him one that fits your needs. I have two "buzz boxes", a wire feed, and a portable. Love the portable for repairing my junk on the jobs but the wire feed is super for light jobs such as sheet metal but heavy enough for steel repairs also. Later you may like to get him a gas welding/cutting outfit. I use Propane instead of Acetalene and it works great for about 1/4 the price. Just change the tip and hook up to the tank.
  8. Yldrosie

    Yldrosie Well-Known Member

    Jan 28, 2006
    Thanks guys! I have been doing research, and have learned lots. I am now ready to start welding, er, brazing, myself. I knew I could depend on you.
  9. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

    Jun 20, 2003
    I started soldering with a copper chunk on the end of a split Iron Bar. Never did learn to use map gas on copper pipe.

    I do not gas weld, but many times I have seen my uncle or dad work with a piece of baling wire. Welding rod was expensive, you know.

    Brass is not as strong as steel, but a good brazing job is hard to beat. I broke the blade off Dad's favorite flounder-gutting knife & caught less than the normal amount of hell for it. Next time I saw it I understood. He had simply brazed the blade back together. It was still holding when he died.

    By the way; Merry Xmas to you all.
  10. Old Vet

    Old Vet In Remembrance

    Oct 14, 2006
    Welding with gas is easy. You just melt the peaches togeather and fill it with a metal rod. Brasing is easier, You heat the metal and apply bronze to the metal and melt it in.
    Welding with a welder is not that hard if you remember that you are melting the metal and keep the rod in the right place. It doesn't take a lot of learning to keep it from becoming a problem. DC welding is easier because you can control the tempiture of the piece that is welding.
    I taught welding in high school to the farmers around where I lived. Maby if you takled to the Agri teacher in the high school they might do the same thing.
  11. suburbanite

    suburbanite Well-Known Member

    Jul 27, 2006
    N. Calif./was USDA 9b before global warming
    I don't know much about welding, except for some safety issues--

    Make sure you get the right kind of face-shield to match the kind of welder it is, to protect both from any metal spalling and from the wavelengths of light that may be emitted by the welding arc.

    Some kinds of welding may also require respiratory protection because of vaporized metal. You'll have to read up on this to determine what metals have this risk, and which kind of protection is appropriate.

    Metals with known toxicities include lead (duh!), mercury (duh!), chrome, cobalt, and *especially* beryllium. In fact, if anything mentions beryllium anywhere in the list of metals or contents, run don't walk away from welding it. (here's just one of many scholarly articles on that topic--

    I also have reason to suspect a link between inhaled vaporized metals exposure and a rare auto-immune problem called Chronic Immune Demyelinating Neuropathy (CIDP) (reference that is marginally readable:, but this is based on anecdotal evidence.

    Point being, make sure to budget for good safety gear and do some research to find out what gear your DH's project requires.

    Welding opens up a whole world of possible projects and fixes--its worthwhile for your DH to take up--he just has to be safe about it.
  12. Runners

    Runners A real Quack!

    Nov 6, 2003
    Near Callands, Virginia
    I got my start on a Lincoln ArcWeld 225 about 40 years ago. Since I was the one that got poison ivy in the summer, Dad said I was more use home, fixing stuff than baling hay - when I had a break-out.

    Nice, inexpensive stick welders, like everyone said - but a DC option is pretty handy for overhead work.

    Since then, I burned up a Lincoln 85, 120volt, El-cheapo wire welder. When it finally went on sale, I bought a Hobart 140 (120 volt, wire welder), and love it! If I was welding lots of farm implement stuff (again), I'd get another stick welder & build another forge (preheating cast).

    I like the Hobart 140 because I can plug it into a standard 120 volt outlet, it's just light enough to pick up and carry, takes a 10lb spool of wire, and can use flux core (good outdoors in the wind) or gas (for those that scrutinize every little bead). I've taken this handy little welder just about everywhere and it's been the QUICKEST way to fix something in a hurry. of all, when I loaned it to "Joe", even though he forgot everything about welding, he was able to learn how to wire weld in a few minutes, fix his trailer and didn't break the welder! His first time ever with a wire welder, and his beads looked pretty darn good, despite his tremors/shakes.

    My brother called me up a couple of weeks ago, all excited about his new welder - yup, he bought the same thing, a Hobart 140 for his farm... But, he'll never give up his Lincoln AC/DC stick welder.