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Thread: What is a good mig welder for a beginner?? Any tips on welding?

  1. #1

    Default What is a good mig welder for a beginner?? Any tips on welding?

    I am wanting to start learning how to do patch panels and replacement panels for rust repair.
    What is a good mig welder for a beginner???
    And what are some good tips for a beginner as far as mig welding goes???

  2. #2
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    Check out the video that is available from this site.
    http://www.autobodystore.com/videos1.htm

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1320StreetKing
    I am wanting to start learning how to do patch panels and replacement panels for rust repair.
    What is a good mig welder for a beginner???
    And what are some good tips for a beginner as far as mig welding goes???
    Like most other tools the quality of the welder is pretty much equal to the price you pay. We have some good Firepower systems on this site but you can also purchase welders for less money if your budget is tight.


  4. #4
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    I've been very happy with my hobart 135. runs on a 30amp 110 line. I've used it to weld 20ga sheet metal up through 3/16" without a problem. sheilding gas is a must if you want decent welds. Don't use the flux core wire for delicate body work!!

  5. #5
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    I have heard stories saying that even experienced welders have problems with cheap MIG equipment.

    My own humble take is what I did - take some lessons at a local vo-tech or high school if at all possible and buy a decent machine - Hobart, Miller, Lincoln and Thermodynamics are all good quality machines - the last three more for production environments in terms of stoutness and materials used.

    I bought a Miller 175, because it will do more than I ever anticipate needing in a MIG.

    The cost of classes is minor, and if you had to buy the metal and materials, you actually come out ahead taking the classes, plus you get to use all the kewl machinery in the shop too! It was a great experience.

    I actually had to wait about 1.5 years after the last class to start a rotisserie project, and after a couple of passes, it all came back.
    Last edited by Brad-Man; 10-11-2006 at 10:30 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Have You Tried " Shotgun Wire ? "

    Quote Originally Posted by jedrph
    I've been very happy with my hobart 135. runs on a 30amp 110 line. I've used it to weld 20ga sheet metal up through 3/16" without a problem. sheilding gas is a must if you want decent welds. Don't use the flux core wire for delicate body work!!
    Hi Jedrph

    I have the same mig welding mach. Brand new and haven't had a chance to use it YET.

    However, I can across this wire recomm. by many guys. Its great for butting panels together and runs really very nice ~ used with argon of course.

    Here's the name of it: TWENTY GAUAGE its has a shotgun on the label.
    .030 dia. cored welding wire.
    No Burn Through On Thin Sheet Metal.

    Mft. by: J.W. HARRIS

    You can look it up on; GOOGLE.COM

    Take care
    GOD BLESS

    Schooner :cool:

  7. #7

    Default

    I'd say the best mig welder for a beginner is probably also the best mig welder for an experienced person. I bought a Millermatic 175 in January 2006, I had never welded before that. I don't have anything to compare it to, but the Miller seems to weld quite nicely. I'm very much a beginning weldor, but here's my two cents:

    -for sheet metal, you want a rig with shielding gas. No flux core stuff.
    -get a machine with either continuously variable adjustments, or at least more than just 3-4 discrete settings for voltage and wire speed. This will help you "dial it in".
    -buy the biggest tank you are willing to haul around. The cost to refill is very little difference even when the volume is drastically larger.
    -spend the bucks on a good auto-darkening helmet.

    from one beginner to another:

    -the fitting of the pieces together is more important than the welding itself. In terms of time spent, my panels seem to require 85% fitting and 15% welding. Even on supposedly ready-to-install panels. I don't think "ready-to-install" panels actually exist.
    -Learning to set your welder correctly is imperative. Here's one thing I did that really helped me learn what does what- "over-set" each variable to witness what it does. In other words, let's say you're welding sheetmetal and the recommended settings are voltage 30 and wire speed of 35. Instead, use voltage of 60 and wire speed of 35 (ON A PRACTICE PANEL! ). You'll see what too much voltage looks like. Do voltage 30 and wire speed 70, now you know what too much wire speed looks like. Try it with the ground cable barely in contact, try it on dirty metal. Explore all the variables. This sounds silly but it really helped me.
    -Don't even try to weld to sheetmetal that has been compromised by rust. I've learned the hard way that welding to rusted metal, even very short lengths of it, is NOT WORTH IT! Cut ALL the rust out.
    -get. enough. light. Whatever it takes. My left hand holds the business end of the gun, while at the same time holding a fluorescent shop light. My right hand does the trigger work. This puts the light right over my work.
    -don't put any part of your body under your work. Slag hurts a lot when it drops on you:eek: . That stuff stays hot for a long time!
    Hope this helps.
    -Doug

  8. #8
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    The 175 class are very nice and will easily weld sheet metal and on up to 3/8+ if you know what you are doing. I have had a Lincoln SP170t for 10 or so years and it has went thru a lot of wire, does an excellent job. The newer version is the 175T. The T is for tapped, meaning that you have heat range settings (5) and not the infinate type. Beginners are better off with the tapped versions as there is less to learn and play with. I personally don't like welding with flux core wire on sheet metal, I get a much nicer weld using 75-25 gas mix. Also, on the feed door (the one you open to put in new wire roll) there is usually a placard that list the wire speed, heat range, wire size and metal thickness. These are usually very close to where you need to start your settings. I just bought a miller 210 from weldersdirect.com as they had the best price and it was shipped from the closest miller warehouse.

  9. #9
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    I don't do this for a living but..... it depends on what you can afford. For mig stuff I manage with a HH 135 which is good for 1/4 supposedly if you are damned good, 3/16 for us mere mortals and 1/8 if you aren't so good. Those bigger units are nice but at a price. For myself I use the 135 for body stuff and light sheet stuff and my Lincoln Tombstone AC DC 225 for most else. I like the ability to just switch sticks for whatever little thing I am welding rather than changing a roll and tips ect. This isn't to say that it welds the heavy stuff better than the big nice migs just that you can do the same stuff for a lot less coin with a small mig and basic arc welder. That can help you out considerably if you aren't fat in the wallet and want to spread your purchases over time. Whatever you do make sure you get an auto darkening helment. The difference is like an F-16 compared to a Biplane. I have a good old HF $60 special which is fine but I must say it isn't so hot with the mig as the arc so you might consider a name brand for the better clarity if you are just learning. They are starting to be on sale a lot these days. Stay away from the HF chinese stuff and wire feed only unless you are desperate, broke and a good welder. They just aren't worth it with the internet deals offering free shiipping no sales tax on Lincolns and Hobarts.

  10. #10
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    I have a preference for blue machines

  11. #11
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    All I can add to this, since it's been on the money, is my experience w/ what I have.

    Long ago, for fairly cheap (under $200) my father picked up a Shumacher welder. It didn't have the gas option on it, which is imperative. After a bit of research, it turns out the actual manufacturer is Telwin, as there are only several out there to start w/, and some are rebranded.

    In any case, the bottom line was that it was a comparatively inexpensive initual purchase...but, then you factor in the cost of an Argon/CO2 tank, the regulator, gas, and liner (in my case for the gas), and it goes up just as much on a cheap welder.

    Mine has the 2 toggle switches, giving you the 4 heat settings total...wire speed is infinitely adjustable.

    In my opinion, there is something to be said for really getting to know what you can do w/ these limited variables. As you come to realize what you are doing, you figure out how to compensate for variables in your "technique", that the otherwise limited machine doesn't allow you to adjust otherwise. I'll qualify this as saying, I've not had the pleasure to deal w/ any high dollar machine...but at the same time, I've eventually become pleased w/ the results I've been "forced" to learn and achieve w/ my base model machine.

    Basically, you're controlling a short circuit...I know when I started out, I thought the whole process would be insurmountable, as initial attempts were far less than desirable. BUT, eventually, I (as you, or anyone else that sticks w/ it for a bit) developed a feel for just exactly what variables as wire speed, stick out, angle, proximity to worspace, etc. do...and more importantly, how to compensate for changes in the workpiece as you come upon them on the fly.

    Inevitably, you come to something thinner or crusty, a burn through, a slightly contaminated area...in any case, the bottom line is, you practice, and learn how to get the result you're after, by listening and knowing what to do...and that only comes from trying it out a bit, no matter what you use. You can never just rely on pulling the trigger blind, and hoping for the best...rather, try playing w/ the parameters available for YOU on WHATEVER you use, gas flow included...it's what YOU use that makes it work, not always the generalized starting point.

    Check out MartinSR's Basics of this in the archives...The short version of that, is that there is no substitute for cleanliness (properly cleaned metal, and a clean nozzle w/ an initial dip of anti-spatter spray burned off...will get you started right)...add to that, if you snip the ball of weld off the end, prior to each attempt (plug or tack), you reduce the initial heat output needed to overcome the onset of the melting of the metal...you get in and out quicker.

    Play w/, and in fact destroy a bunch of test coupons before you get into something real (and try to find a way to take the tests seriously) and you'll be on your way.

    For a basic approach to sound MIG welding, it's nothing too magical, so don't get too psyched out about it...after all, they are all basically the same, so if it's not working out for you, you just have to figure out what it is that YOU are doing wrong on the outset (and again, only playing w/ it will yield what you can do to compensate for the "in-between" settings on the machine).

    As far as Auto-Darkening lenses, they're inexpensive enough nowadays, and offer such a benefit, that they'll surely make a noticeable difference in your work, by enabling you to SEE your work. Prior to my acquiring one, I used an 8 or so comfort shade, and lit the area w/ a halogen light right on my workspace (this provided enough illumination to see where I was headed before I started, yet w/ hood down)...of course, some areas limit light, and it gets hot...but also remember, there was a day, that plenty learned to become proficient in what they did using older technology...I say, why fight it now when you have one less thing to worry about (being able to see what you are doing is a real benefit to those that don't have the backlog of time to develop the innate feel).

  12. #12
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    FWIW check out this site for some of the best in welding info. They don't bite too bad either.
    http://www.hobartwelders.com/mboard/

    Its hobart but they discuss all types and makes. Their opinions about Chinese welders are about as bad as it gets. Don't forget to watch the sales on Hobarts from HF though. They do have some decent deals and the free shipping and no sales tax deals are a big plus. You don't seem to see any Millers for sale which is too bad but there are Lincolns and HH's aplenty.

  13. #13
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    Default happy with my Lincoln SP-170T

    I've been totally happy with my Lincoln SP-170 T for about 8 years. I've gone through about a dozen 10-pound rolls of wire with it to weld all kinds of things without a problem. I bought an extra gun/cable assembly that allows me to switch over to .045" flux cored stuff when I need to make brackets out of heavy 3/8" plate (if you grind bevels and weld it from both sides). For patch panels or thinner sheet metal, I like to use ESAB Easy-Grind .023" wire with Argon/CO2 mix. For most other stuff, I use normal .023" or .030" wire with Argon/CO2. I only like the flux cored stuff for really heavy plate or for welding outdoors on a windy day in an emergency.

    It needs a 220 Volt outlet. It's definitely worth the extra dough to get a 220V machine even if you have to spend some time adding another circuit in your garage for it. If you buy a 110V machine, you will probably always be kicking yourself for not spending a little more so you could get the bigger machine. A 110V machine isn't really big enough to make strong welds on things like 1/4" to 3/8" steel. So far, the SP-170 T has worked great for everything I've ever had to weld.

    I learned how to weld on an Astro 130 amp machine imported from Italy. With 1/8" steel, it could just barely get the job done. With more power, you get better penetration and stronger, nicer looking welds.

    Besides power, you want to look at how steady the wire feeds out. If it feeds out choppy, you'll get butt-ugly welds.

    Tom

  14. #14
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    Default What is a good mig welder for a beginner?? Any tips on welding?


    AlexeiVT, that was about the best post I've read on any site in a long time, especially:

    "Play w/, and in fact destroy a bunch of test coupons before you get into something real (and try to find a way to take the tests seriously) and you'll be on your way."

    Truer words were never spoken about welding - especially taking the tests seriously. If you can do that your welds will eventually be as good as they get.

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