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Old 03-09-2011, 08:18 AM   #1
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Default Good beginner welder?

What is a good welder to start off with. I have very limited experience with MIG and ghetto stick welding, but not much. I'd like to stay under $700 if at all possible. I see a few Lincolns that look pretty good in the $500-$600 range, the 140 series MIG for one is on my list of possibilities. I'd mostly be doing exhaust tubing, maybe a roll cage and other automotive uses. Nothing over maybe 1/4'' thick. What are my options? I guess I'm stuck with Mig since TIG is a bit more costly, and not as easy as MIG.
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Old 03-09-2011, 08:44 AM   #2
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I'm probably going to run counter to what everyone else says but I bought the cheapest 220V welder that I could find at HF. I used the money I saved to buy a cheap plasma cutter and all the other equipment you need (grinders, bottles, etc). I've owned it for years and used it yesterday to do some seam welding on the Miata. I started a webpage on the equipment I bought and why I got the cheapest one possible. You can view it below:

http://www.lightweightmiata.com/projects/welding/

The bottom line is that if you determine you really want to weld just sell your cheap equipment and buy something else. After owning this one for 5 years I'm pretty sure I can get at least 85% of my money back off craigslist if I wanted to sell it.
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Old 03-09-2011, 09:09 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmcelwee View Post
I'm probably going to run counter to what everyone else says but I bought the cheapest 220V welder that I could find at HF. I used the money I saved to buy a cheap plasma cutter and all the other equipment you need (grinders, bottles, etc). I've owned it for years and used it yesterday to do some seam welding on the Miata. I started a webpage on the equipment I bought and why I got the cheapest one possible. You can view it below:

http://www.lightweightmiata.com/projects/welding/

The bottom line is that if you determine you really want to weld just sell your cheap equipment and buy something else. After owning this one for 5 years I'm pretty sure I can get at least 85% of my money back off craigslist if I wanted to sell it.
Got a part number or link to it on HF. I'm not scared to buy HF stuff most of the time. I've been quite surprised by a lot of their "junk" that had held up for many years longer than it should have or than I thought it would. I'd like to avoid a 220 model, but I understand why it's good to have. I'd have to run a 220 line out to my shed and that is a bit of trouble, since it's about 50' from the box. Could be done, just avoiding it if at all possible. My welding will all be light duty, probably never more than sheet metal or exhaust tubing. Maybe the occasional heavier duty metal from one of my tractors.

n/m, now that I open the link I see numbers. Thanks.
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Old 03-09-2011, 09:45 AM   #4
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This past summer I bought a 180A 220V Lincoln and it's great, much better than my dad's 90A 120V. I was on the fence about the running another line for 220 thing but you can always make an adapter for stove / dryer outlets. I do this at the cottage where the laundry corner is near a window so my 25' extension cord reaches.

The 220V machines are much more heavy duty and aren't working anywhere near as hard to step up the amperage, I never have heat / dc issues.

I had no issues building this little hand crank boat launcher / dry dock dealie. It holds > 1000lbs and fits in a pickup bed.
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Old 03-09-2011, 11:06 AM   #5
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I just picked up this guy:
http://www.harborfreight.com/welding...der-66787.html

And I couldn't be happier. Welds quite well for what I paid for it. No Hi-Freq start on the tig, but thats no biggie since I'm just trying to learn. I'll be picking up my argon bottle next week and then I'll see how well it holds up to some serious **** :P.
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Old 03-09-2011, 07:14 PM   #6
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I'm actually still leaning towards the Lincoln 140, or even the $275 Lincoln Handy Mig. Neither will really do the thick stuff I might require for tractor repairs, but both will do the light duty work like exhausts, and being as the Handy Mig is only $275-$300, even if I outgrow it quickly, I can always sell it and upgrade. It will at least allow me to do metal up to 1/8" thick, shielded or unshielded flux.

But then again, I'm really tempted to just save up a bit more and get the 180T which costs ~$700, and will weld up to 1/2'' material. I'll just have to discuss it with myself a bit more. I don't typically like to cheap out on purchases already costing hundreds of dollars.
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Old 03-09-2011, 08:04 PM   #7
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Whatever you buy, get something with gas if you go mig.
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Old 03-09-2011, 08:15 PM   #8
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But then again, I'm really tempted to just save up a bit more and get the 180T which costs ~$700, and will weld up to 1/2'' material. I'll just have to discuss it with myself a bit more. I don't typically like to cheap out on purchases already costing hundreds of dollars.
My 180 was just under $600 (regular $800) and came with an assortment of crap, gas setup and a bunch of wire, deals are out there.
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Old 03-09-2011, 08:19 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by NA6C-Guy View Post
But then again, I'm really tempted to just save up a bit more and get the 180T which costs ~$700, and will weld up to 1/2'' material.
I'm assuming the 180T is a HF mig (I have a 151T or was it 150T?). Anyway, I've welded trailer hitches and stuff with it. Definitely enough to do thick stuff.

I actually just finished welding the 2nd phase of my seam welding project. I still cannot weld worth a damn (very inconsistent). I don't think buying a $4500 mig would help me at all. It is kind of like golf clubs. Tiger Woods can go to the pawn shop and buy a $20 set and kick the **** out of me and my $2500 set. Welding is a skill and you can only get better with practice. Five years later and I still suck (I only weld 3-4 times a year).

My seam welding project if you were interested:

http://www.lightweightmiata.com/v8/seam/


Last edited by rmcelwee; 03-09-2011 at 09:05 PM.
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Old 03-09-2011, 11:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmcelwee View Post
I'm assuming the 180T is a HF mig (I have a 151T or was it 150T?). Anyway, I've welded trailer hitches and stuff with it. Definitely enough to do thick stuff.

I actually just finished welding the 2nd phase of my seam welding project. I still cannot weld worth a damn (very inconsistent). I don't think buying a $4500 mig would help me at all. It is kind of like golf clubs. Tiger Woods can go to the pawn shop and buy a $20 set and kick the **** out of me and my $2500 set. Welding is a skill and you can only get better with practice. Five years later and I still suck (I only weld 3-4 times a year).

My seam welding project if you were interested:

http://www.lightweightmiata.com/v8/seam/

The 180T is a Lincoln Electric welder.
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Old 03-10-2011, 03:37 AM   #11
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Miller all the way. For something like 400 or 500 bucks you can get a nice 140 brand new.
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Old 03-10-2011, 05:14 AM   #12
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Miller all the way. For something like 400 or 500 bucks you can get a nice 140 brand new.
Everything I see shows the Miller 140 at $625-$800. Thats priced with the 180T Lincoln, which has better technical specs.
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Old 03-10-2011, 10:04 AM   #13
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This Hobart Handler 210 with spool gun is a lot of welder for the money:
http://www.northerntool.com/shop/too...ci_sku=9816461

It's more than $700 though.
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Old 03-13-2011, 05:01 PM   #14
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I would recommend a good name brand like a Lincoln or Miller. Some people have good luck with the cheaper welders, some don't. I've ran my Lincoln 120v mig hard. Well over the duty cycle rating on the highest heat setting for the last 8 or 9 years and it just keeps on singing without a hiccup. One of the few things I ever bought that I was completely satisfied with. Not a complaint at all.
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Old 03-13-2011, 07:06 PM   #15
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I would recommend a good name brand like a Lincoln or Miller. Some people have good luck with the cheaper welders, some don't. I've ran my Lincoln 120v mig hard. Well over the duty cycle rating on the highest heat setting for the last 8 or 9 years and it just keeps on singing without a hiccup. One of the few things I ever bought that I was completely satisfied with. Not a complaint at all.
Sounds like the same relationship I have with my miller.

OP, I have a miller, but its actually rebranded as something like weldmark. All of the parts inside say miller and so does the gun. I spent 400 bucks shipped on it barely used.

Honestly you cant go wrong with either lincoln or miller, some are just a fanboy for one or the other. What I can say is that i've loved every miller i've welded with and actually used a lincoln not long ago that I really didn't like. I just couldn't seem to lay a good bead with it. It must have had something wrong with it. I'm no pro though so take that for what its worth.
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Old 03-15-2011, 11:50 PM   #16
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Yet another project completed with my piece of crap $160 mig welder. I'll do some artwork tomorrow with the cheap plasma cutter I bought with the money I saved by not buying a Lincoln or Miller.




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Old 03-19-2011, 01:58 PM   #17
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One thing to keep in mind on welders is parts availability.

I've owned my Lincoln MIG (SP100) since 1987 and I can still go to any welding store and get parts for it. You won't find that on off-brand rigs... and the Lincoln hasn't NEEDED a part other than normal consumables in that 24 years.

If you're up for a challenge, look for an older TIG... I paid $650 for my Miller Synchrowave 300 off EBay, came with a new water cooled torch/cover. TIG is a little harder (though if you've ever gas welded it's not bad), but the welds you get are worth the effort.
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Old 03-19-2011, 09:00 PM   #18
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I broke one of the white switches (far right on the picture above) on my mig. I called HF and ordered 3 of them. Total was $4 shipped.

I wouldn't mind trying TIG but I can't see myself spending the extra money to get another machine. My father bought an upgraded version of my machine from HF and even that seemed too expensive for me. I guess I am just too tight with my money.
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Old 03-21-2011, 12:46 AM   #19
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I recently bought a reconditioned Northern Industrial 135 amp MIG. ~$250. 110 volt and advertised as able to do aluminum (haven't tried that yet). Used it for the first time this weekend to make a WI pump bracket from 1/8" mild steel stock. Layed down some beeds on scrap and then got on with my project. Worked like a champ. Uses Lincoln parts.

Keep in mind, last time I welded was in high school shop class with a stick welder and a Herman Munster steel facemask (couldn't see a thing). I think the pop culture reference should give you some idea how long ago that was!

Link:

http://www.northerntool.com/shop/too...1247_200441247

Last edited by hornetball; 03-21-2011 at 03:38 PM.
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Old 03-21-2011, 03:57 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmcelwee View Post
I broke one of the white switches (far right on the picture above) on my mig. I called HF and ordered 3 of them. Total was $4 shipped.
Try it 20 years from now though. None of my friends who bought cheap welders around when I bought mine still have them. Every one of them has upgraded to a name brand welder. Just sayin....
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