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

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    lower Michigan
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    23,053

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    My advice is buy the most expensive mig welder you can afford. Getting a machine (any machine) that does more than your immediate needs is never a bad investment. Based on many years of using welders from cheap to top of the line has taught me to avoid 110V welders (unless you don't have access to 220V in your shop/garage). I have had several professional welders tell me that the 220V mig welders have a more stable arc than the 110V machines. And just because it's rated for less welding thickness doesn't mean it will weld sheet better than a more expensive welder that will weld double the thickness of metal. I tried a Miller Cricket and I really disliked the machine. At the time I had a Century 160 220v welder and there was no comparison between the two. The Century mig welder (rebranded as Solar, Snap On etc) beat that little Miller hands down for welding sheet metal.

    I recently picked up a Millermatic 211 inverter mig welder that will do way more than I'll ever need out of it. I don't build things using 1/4" or 3/8" steel but the welder will weld that thickness of metal, just not on an industrial scale of welding 8 hours steady all day long. A buddy of mine has a Millermatic 200 that is a large machine, transformer type, not inverter technology. That machine weighs 230 lbs an is rated at a 60% duty cycle at 200 amps. If you're welding heavy stuff that would be a good choice of welder.

    My personal experience with Lincoln mig welders was I preferred Miller. Hobarts are rated high with people who actually own them. Miller and Hobart are now owned by the same company - ITW. Same company that owns DeVilbiss.

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Inglewood, CA
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    I've had a Miller 211 for the past 2 years and love it. Before that I had a Hobart Handler 180. I don't think you can go wrong with either (especially for a home shop) but the Miller is the better machine. It has way more bell and whistles. I can't image what you can't do automotive wise with either. I have never used a 220 machine to its full capabilities. You will never weld a continuous bead on a car due to not wanting to cause warpage so I don't think duty cycle will ever be an issue. Just more reason to let the metal cool. The most you will be welding on a typical car would be 3/16 thick frame. Maybe 1/4 for beefier engine mounts.

    You are right about the Hobart owned by Miller. My Hobart came with a Miller gun.

  3. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Boring Oregon
    Posts
    1,887

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    I use a Milermatic Auto set 140. It is a good welder for sheet metal, at least, I think so. Not that I am a professional by any stretch.

  4. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
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    456

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    Quote Originally Posted by bam55 View Post
    I've had a Miller 211 for the past 2 years and love it. Before that I had a Hobart Handler 180. I don't think you can go wrong with either (especially for a home shop) but the Miller is the better machine. It has way more bell and whistles. I can't image what you can't do automotive wise with either. I have never used a 220 machine to its full capabilities. You will never weld a continuous bead on a car due to not wanting to cause warpage so I don't think duty cycle will ever be an issue...
    I have one of the Miller Inverter 211 machines, plumbed my garage with a few different 220V outlets (same circuit) so I could have 220V anywhere in the garage without some kind of extension cord.

    I've yet to use that machine with anything but the 110V plug as I've only used it for sheet metal and like Bam said you don't want to move too fast on sheetmetal anyways.

  5. #20

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    I had welded once or twice in the style I consider "junkyard welding". Heck, nobody even told me I needed to clean it before or after welding back then. I welded a roll cage for a bomber car with a old miller stick welder that looked like a juke box. Terrible looking welds but after the driver wiped the car out an hour into the season, I can say my welds were strong enough. That was 20 years ago or so.

    I finally bought a welder a month or two ago to weld body panels on my current project after I found some heinous bondo body work. I spent the absolute least I could as I was only going to weld 1 patch panel. I ended up fixing 3-4 big spots that were really messed up and I've been welding other things.

    I ended up buying the 90 amp Harbor Freight welder. I am good enough after 10 hours or so of using it that I can butt weld 18 gauge steel, patch holes in sheet metal, and ect. I'm not saying my welds are pretty by any means but I've got grinders.

    You are going to get good at welding or good at grinding. I'd make sure you have a good grinder and all the attachments too.

    I wish I had bought one that had a shielding option as I have a half dozen CO2 tanks, regulators, and other gas equipment sitting in my brewing room. I think my welds would have been much better but with the amount of usage I am happy with mine even though it is among the worse/cheapest on the market. I will probably pick up a better quality one in the future and sell my cheap one for most of the $90 I paid for it.

    I can't imagine trying to learn to weld without an autodimming mask.

  6. #21
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    olympia,wa
    Posts
    800

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    Quote Originally Posted by RealFloopyGuy View Post
    I had welded once or twice in the style I consider "junkyard welding". Heck, nobody even told me I needed to clean it before or after welding back then. I welded a roll cage for a bomber car with a old miller stick welder that looked like a juke box. Terrible looking welds but after the driver wiped the car out an hour into the season, I can say my welds were strong enough. That was 20 years ago or so.

    I finally bought a welder a month or two ago to weld body panels on my current project after I found some heinous bondo body work. I spent the absolute least I could as I was only going to weld 1 patch panel. I ended up fixing 3-4 big spots that were really messed up and I've been welding other things.

    I ended up buying the 90 amp Harbor Freight welder. I am good enough after 10 hours or so of using it that I can butt weld 18 gauge steel, patch holes in sheet metal, and ect. I'm not saying my welds are pretty by any means but I've got grinders.

    You are going to get good at welding or good at grinding. I'd make sure you have a good grinder and all the attachments too.

    I wish I had bought one that had a shielding option as I have a half dozen CO2 tanks, regulators, and other gas equipment sitting in my brewing room. I think my welds would have been much better but with the amount of usage I am happy with mine even though it is among the worse/cheapest on the market. I will probably pick up a better quality one in the future and sell my cheap one for most of the $90 I paid for it.

    I can't imagine trying to learn to weld without an autodimming mask.
    you really should look into getting a gas shielded welder. your weld quality will be much improved. many times you can pick them up used, and that saves a ton of money. just be sure to test it before you pay for a used welder. if you can make that hf welder work ok, you'll be amazed what you can do with a quality welder.
    b marler

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