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Technical Wanting to learn to weld

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Jeremy W, Feb 21, 2017.

  1. Jeremy W
    Joined: Dec 3, 2016
    Posts: 51

    Jeremy W

    I am wanting to learn to weld, so that my boys can learn with me. I want to give them some trade skills that they can take out into the world with them. We are going to build a car for them to drive together but we have a very limited budget. So I expect that welding is going to be needed. That brings me to my question. What kind of welder would you recommend for a small home garage? I have couple people who are willing to teach us.
    tetanusshot likes this.
  2. Flathead Dave
    Joined: Mar 21, 2014
    Posts: 2,611

    Flathead Dave
    from So. Cal.

    Nothing expensive. Don't listen to the tool snobs. Harbor Freight has a 120v 90amp flux core welder for around a $100. Good for a beginner. Learn to do beads with it and then graduate to larger amp welders. Learn gas welding and brazing.

    Sent from my SM-G930T using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  3. No on flux core, any machine that is set up for a gas bottle is far superior. Don't cheap out when it comes to welding equipment, a basic Lincoln MIG setup can be had for under $1000.00 brand new, my next door neighbor just bought one and it's good for up to 3/16" plate with C25 gas and .045" wire. If you plan on doing chassis work then 220v inlet is a must and that can bump the price up a tad. You won't achieve good results with a junk machine no matter how many hours you waste practicing with it.
  4. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 13,092

    from oregon

    You buy a cheap welder and you'll spend more time fucking with it than welding.
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  5. 117harv
    Joined: Nov 12, 2009
    Posts: 6,594


    My name is Harv, Im a tool snob...

    Lots of great threads here on this subject, the search function will give you hours of reading.
    Vic Wilkie, candy53, TheFish and 2 others like this.
  6. deucemac
    Joined: Aug 31, 2008
    Posts: 1,022


    When I went shopping for a light duty welder, I asked a fellow instructor that taught welding at the prison I taught auto mechanics at. He recommended the Lincoln 135SP. A 110 unit that could be used with Flux core or gas bottle. He had 6 of them going 6 1/2 hours a day operated by inmates that could break an anvil with a rubber mallet. He had them for several years and hundreds of students and try as they might nobody was able to break one! I bought one on a deal at SEMA that year and love it. I do lots of welding outside where a gas envelope is impossible to use. The Flux core welds aren't as pretty but can be touched up easily. My youngest son learned to weld with it and later moved on to my Miller tig machine. Given the choice again, I would jump at the chance to buy another Lincoln 110 unit. They have to be good if inmates can't hurt them!
    cptmoney likes this.
  7. Bandit Billy
    Joined: Sep 16, 2014
    Posts: 6,086

    Bandit Billy

    No to flux core
    No to 110 V
    No to anything running off a skinny extension cord
    TIG over MIG
    Clean surfaces
    Good ground
    If you are welding up yard art, who cares. If you are welding up a frame that you and your loved ones will risk their lives riding on, spend a few more dollars, learn the trade and do it right. BlueOne knows what he is talking about, listen to him.
  8. D.N.D.
    Joined: Aug 15, 2012
    Posts: 1,385

    Member Emeritus

    I'am with Billy above buy a TIG and take a nite school class and learn the right way to use it, then you can weld any material

    Like they say your family will be riding on your welds, don't corners

    You will not regret buying a TIG, then you can teach your boys the right way to weld

    I took a nite class in 63' one of the best things I ever did for building my 37' gasser, and stuff after that too

    Gammz likes this.
  9. tfeverfred
    Joined: Nov 11, 2006
    Posts: 15,796


    Take a good nite course and go from there.
  10. chevyfordman
    Joined: Oct 4, 2008
    Posts: 805


    Get on YouTube and listen to Jody on Welding tips and tricks; you will be a good welder in no time and he goes over different welders.
    TheFish likes this.
  11. choptop40
    Joined: Dec 23, 2009
    Posts: 3,546


    Lincoln makes nice welders , lowes or homedepot stocks em...robust , reliable , I welded my 49 dodge frame work , sheet metal , my fence get the picture wishes...
  12. I bought a used Hobart Handler that was able to do flux core and gas shielded. Despite all of the naysayers, you can do sheet metal with fluxcore with .035 wire. The problem with flux wire is that it spatters and you will get more bead boogers, period. That said, I would not use flux core for anything more than that, I would want higher amperage than that for thicker metal or at least shielding gas. I made a T-bucket frame with the very same machine, and the guy I bought it from built his using the very same machine, last I heard he was still alive and I have had the Hobart for 12 years now and gave it to my son. My son did his very first welding on the floorboards of the '58 and he stitch welded them in just fine using .035 flux wire. It took a while, but he did it first try, and that work stood up just fine. If you prep your welding surfaces, you will be okay, clean metal loves a good weld. I went to welding school and could weld overhead when I left, it helped me, but don't be intimidated.

    My personal advice is to get a rig that will do both flux and gas, but if you aren't sure you are ever going to do anything structural, maybe the HF flux rig is all you need. As for the car and given your experience level, whatever you get, save up enough money to buy something that drives and really only needs cosmetics, your wife will thank you for it later.
    Zombiefink likes this.
  13. I have used a Lincoln 125sp (MIG) for many years and I can use gas or flux. This machine can accept the large spools of wire vs some cheaper units that can only use small spools. This is a feature I would look for as the larger spools are cheaper in the long run. I could buy a new 140 amp unit today for what I put into the 125 several years ago, so the price of welders has come down. If you are just learning buy a brand with some recognition like Hobart, Lincoln, Miller, or Eastwood. A quality machine will last a long time and if you are like me you will not be using your machine every week. So 5 years from now when you have run out the warranty, but only have 200 hours on the machine it will still perform like it should. My first project was a welding cart from junkyard scrap and old lawn mower wheels. Learning is just practice so keep at it and you will see improvements. As for TIG welders, wait until you perfect the MIG. TIG is the most difficult to learn IMO, so why start there? Don't worry about how heavy gauge of metal you can weld or any of that "your life may depend on your welding" stuff. I know my limitations, and I weld what I can and leave the rest to professionals. I have no need for high amperage welders and the high price that comes with it. I do this stuff as a hobby, not a job.
  14. tikiwagon13
    Joined: Feb 23, 2011
    Posts: 371


    1. What do you want to weld?
    2. Where do you want to weld? Do you have 220V? or just 110?
    If you are just doing body and only have 110V, buy a decent 110V MIG welder, gas, don't bother with flux wire. If you want to do anything thicker than body panels and don't have 220V, don't. ESPECIALLY if you are learning.
    Don't bother with a TIG until you gain experience and have the ability.
    Take a course, community college night class, then have your buddy give you pointers.
    I always find it funny though, when I was working in road racing in the '90's all the formula cars from the UK were brazed, yup brass filler on every joint.
  15. Timbo405
    Joined: Jul 26, 2015
    Posts: 87


    I a tool snob. when it comes to tools, guns and doctors - get the best you can afford.
    I weld TIG and SMAW to AWS specs - weld a lot of rotor wing and turbine fixed wing stuff. - been doing it a loooong time and I still aint worth a crap. TIG takes hours/months of burning rod to get half ass decent - then you try Aluminum and throw what u learned on steel out the window - and the older you get - your vision starts to suck so you let the kids do it!...have Lincoln equip in my shop and have a Millermatic auto-set at the house - (uhm - it makes life seriously easy with that feature) I opted for the 220 machine at home for the amperage advantage and more duty cycle - ( never hit it) MIG weld can be self taught - Always go non flux core wire/75-25 bottle on car stuff - cleaner -quality welds -safer for you in the long run since its you and your family's butts in the seats! MIG is by far, the most versatile and simplest to learn. DO IT! Learn the trade not just the tricks - there's a ton of "Welders" out there whose work looks like a duck pooped on the metal - don't be that guy! LOL
    oldwagonlover likes this.
  16. Why not take the class first? Learn on their equipment . . . see if you like it . . . try different machines and techniques, etc.? Talk to your instructor about your goals, budget and needs. It is easy to say you want to do something, but if you have limited/no experience, then it is hard to even take advice - as you have no personal context to work from.

    I used to gas and stick weld when I was young - fast forward 30 years and I wanted to build a frame for my 34 and do other such structurally important work (my safety depends on my skills). Also, I wanted welds that looked really nice -- not MIG welds (which can look pretty nice, but no comparison to TIG).

    So, I saved my money and bought a Miller TIG welder - a 200 amp suitcase welder. I also bought a water-cooler and water-cooled torch. Given that I wanted to weld in tight places, having the much smaller water cooled torch was a good decision - I only use my air-cooled torch when I drag my welder over to help somebody at their house.

    I taught myself to TIG weld (but already had skills, fitment and knowledge from the past). I also read and watched videos from the Pros. Like anything else - it takes good equipment, good setup and practice, practice, practice. If you learn TIG, you'll be glad you did.

    I did a family project last summer with my 16 year old nephew - we took on a project to build a brush grabber for a BobCat (extensive design/engineering work and welding). Even with a 200 amp machine, I could tackle the welding of a lot of 3/8" plate - just did a bit of pre-heating with a torch. He designed all the steel brackets in 3D CAD (with some help), I did all the welding (though he learned a bunch on some scrap pieces).

    Kids can really learn a LOT if they have good mentors - and they learn much faster than we do!

    The37Kid, Reddog09374 and catdad49 like this.
  17. Jeremy W
    Joined: Dec 3, 2016
    Posts: 51

    Jeremy W

    Good questions. Right now I want to be able to do body panels. I don't see myself doing frames. But I can see the possibly of things like brackets and such. At the moment the garage has 110 but I have the ability to pull a 220 circuit out there.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  18. mrbeetle
    Joined: Jan 30, 2017
    Posts: 9


    I was in the same boat: wanted to get more involved in more serious projects. I'm lucky enough to have an Eastwood store nearby, they offer classes. The beginner MIG class had us use a 110V machine and the 220V side by side. There is a difference, but I could only afford a 110V gas at the time. Don't regret it one bit, but most of my work has been exhaust systems and sheet metal, including rocker panels on a unibody car.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    czuch likes this.
  19. ol-nobull
    Joined: Oct 16, 2013
    Posts: 1,359


    Hi. Definitely a TIG or MIG is what you need. Welds cleaner & neater & can do body panels without blowing holes in them.
    With that said all I have is an old Lincoln 225 cracker box stick welder. Great for repairing lawnmowers, trailers & crap like that and that is what I bought this one for back in 1971.
    Quick lesson on using a cracker box stick welder - If the rod sticks turn up the amperage, if it burns a hole turn down the amperage. That was my first lesson back in the early 60's. Definitely old school.
    Good luck. Welding can be a fun thing if you get good equipment that is correct for what you will use it for. TIG or MIG & the right gas & wire & you can weld ANYTHING metal.
  20. LongT
    Joined: May 11, 2005
    Posts: 935


    I bought a Miller 211, 110/220 volt, MIG. Miller currently has a rebate of $100 on it and if you buy more Miller equipment at the same time the rebate goes up depending how much you buy. I bought mine at CyberWeld.
    flyn schlosser likes this.
  21. Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Joined: Apr 20, 2008
    Posts: 3,978

    Hot Rods Ta Hell

    Your friend's that are going to teach you; go to their place and take the first few lessons with their gear to see how it is and view some of their work.

    What's your budget? $500? $1000? $1500?

    If you think you'll eventually be welding heavier plate, brackets, chassis work, etc., go with a larger 220v if you can afford it. It's easier to turn down a big unit than 'push' an undersized one. Make sure the unit has the tack weld feauture for sheet metal bodywork tacking.
    Don't cheap out on the unit or the wire you use. Buy a unit that will last a lifetime. Stick with a bottle unit and name brand such as Miller or Lincoln as parts availability/replacement will never be an issue.
    Consider a lightly used unit or a demo/floor model from your local supplier.
    30 years ago, I bought a lightly used Millermatic 35 for $300 from a small machine shop. Bought a tall bottle and it's served me well. Only has needed tips and a couple of liners.
    Also, practice, practice, practice.
  22. i.rant
    Joined: Nov 23, 2009
    Posts: 2,708

    from Illinois
    1. 1940 Ford

    I took a class at the local JC and I recommend you doing the same. My class included textbook work which I found more than interesting and added to the whole experience for me. Whichever welder you decide to buy don't cheap out on a helmet,you can't weld what you can't see. Practice,practice and practice some more and your efforts will be rewarded.
  23. I'm not a tool snob. I build things all day long for a living, that includes welding. I could care less about brand names or bragging rights, all I care about is getting the job done.

    You don't need to pay for and go to welding lessons. These are the two best welding teachers on YouTube:


    and "ChuckE2009"

    If you delve into these channels for hours, buy a welder and practice it is a far superior education than welding classes on the weekends, which I did as well.


    You want to weld; the best way is to buy a machine that you can actually learn to weld with in a reasonable time and that will produce good strong welds. That would be a MIG (gas shielded wire fed).

    If you just want to do sheet metal a 110 volt is Fine. If you want to get into thicker material, like car frames, you'll need a 220. Everyone's house has 220 volt and an electrician can wire you an outlet.

    My garage is nearly completely full of Harbor Freight, including their flux core wire fed welder for messing around, but I would go a step up for a welder, and it doesn't have to break the bank.

    I got an old "Solar" brand 220 mig welder from a closing body shop for $250 including bottles. It's awsome. I got a TIG from Eastwood. It's awesome. I have a DC stick from Eastwood. It's awesome. If I hadn't run into this Solar, I would have bought this mig, on sale now $100's off:


    It comes with a spool gun, so you can weld aluminum as well (most migs will not come with this spool gun, and it will nearly cost you the price of this welder to get one for a $600 Lincoln mig equivalent to this welder)

    You will have to go to your local welding supplier and buy/rent gas bottles no matter what welder you buy. You can stock up on other gear as well from Eastwood or the welding supplier.



    I swear by ALL of Eastwood's products. The entire company is for us weekend Car Freaks. Just about everything you will need. Lot's of instructional videos. Check out their sight.

    I build stuff like this for a living:

    Which ended up being this:


    My 10 year old daughter is a natural born artist. She helps me with my heap and bikes


    I am also teaching her to mig weld, and she's able to fab on her own because it's user friendly.


    If you have money to burn, and like to brag about tools go ahead and buy a Miller (just don't think for sure you can tell anyone you are buying a tool made in America, because you probably aren't)

    But YOUR welding projects will have been made in America.
    slimcat7m3, cptmoney and 38caddy like this.
  24. LostBoy
    Joined: Mar 16, 2016
    Posts: 217


    Nice Beemur! Kudos to you, I can't even get my 5 year old boy to sit in the garage with me for 10 minutes. When I was that age you couldn't get me out of the garage. My father hated it but my grandfather encouraged it.

    As far as welders go, my homedepot Lincoln Mig welds better on 110v than my snap-on muscle mig does. Not necessarily stronger, but much smoother.

    Also, has some really good YouTube videos.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    clunker likes this.
  25. Things to think about in doing body panels is what level of metalworking skills do you have or want to have? It is one thing to just tack on metal panels, put in floorpans, etc.. It is another thing to butt-weld quarter panels, chop-tops and butt-weld them back together, etc.. If you're doing high-quality metal panel work (and have the skills) - then you'll be hammer welding and working with the welded areas -- in this case a TIG is highly desirable as the welds will not be as brittle as MIG, you'll have a smaller heat zone and better control over the amount of heat and filler material you end up having to work. (You can hammer weld them if they are done correctly). These are things to learn about in your class - such that you can be sure that you're spending your money on the right type of equipment for the job.

    With that said, there are undoubtedly more guys using MIG for panels than TIG . . . easier to learn, faster and more 'production' oriented than TIG. TIG tends to be used by guys who really do high quality metal finishing type work.

    Check this out:

  26. Jeremy W
    Joined: Dec 3, 2016
    Posts: 51

    Jeremy W

    I don't expect to be chopping tops or doing crazy custom work. I want to be able to fix rusted spots, new floorboards and such. The normal stuff to restoring an old car to a decent restored state, not show quality but Saturday at Big Boys level.

    Sent from my iPhone using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    clunker likes this.
  27. Arominus
    Joined: Feb 2, 2011
    Posts: 356


    Ill second the "get a good helmet" part, i bought a nice jackson auto-dim (executive V htls) about 15 years ago when i was welding frames for commercial air conditioners. I left that line of work pretty quick, but the helmet has been fantastic when i step back in to welding for projects. The auto dim is good for beginners as you can setup your gun and parts without lifting your helmet and you don't forget to flip it back down, which means no accidents. Make sure you wear a respirator when you weld too, the fumes are nasty and you don't want to breathe them. One of the 3m jobs with the pink filters is fine for this.

    We use one of the new Miller MultiMatic 215's on 220v w/ c25. The neat thing about this one is that it will do 110v/220v with a cord swap and with a tig torch it will do some TIG (lift start only, no high frequency, aka NO ALUMINUM). It will also do SMAW. Pretty versatile and its been easy to use. There is an ESAB thats a bit cheaper also that does multi process. If you want pure MIG, you have lots of great options too. I would still get a machine that will do 110/220v for the little bit of extra money, that way the machine can step up if you end up needing it.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2017
    clunker likes this.
  28. ^^^^^^^Yep. When you are just learning an auto dimming helmet helps you concentrate on welding. You can always learn to flip a helmet later.
  29. x 3 on the auto darkening helmet, so much more beneficial to you the welder as your head will be automatically in position to see how your welds are doing.
  30. tikiwagon13
    Joined: Feb 23, 2011
    Posts: 371


    Honestly, a 220 machine is the way to go, check Craigslist and the local used market. You'll get much more use out of a 220 machine.

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