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Recommendations for starting welding

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Fish30114, Mar 12, 2016.

  1. Fish30114

    Fish30114 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 5, 2014
    Hey folks, I am to the point that I would like to be able to weld the odd part here and there. Most of my immediate desires revolve around making some sort of tool or fixture out of steel, so I am looking for advice on what I need to obtain to get started--what type of welding should I start with, and study up on?? I don't have any desires to go one way over another--I'm very open to input about what is the most versatile method/technique. I appreciate any input/advice.

  2. Kevin Powers

    Kevin Powers

    Jul 23, 2015
    Mig is the easiest to learn. I've literally taught grandmas to mig weld like a boss in a few days with no welding experience at all. Seriously not a joke. I teach welding everyday. I recommend a nice good Miller 220/110 wire feed. It will last you your lifetime, can weld up to 3/8" in one pass, can plug in to 110 or 220v without changing any wiring. I also recommend taking a welding class at your local community college. It will be the best 150$ you ever spent. I've been thinking about starting a welding how-to thread, but just haven't gotten around to it.
  3. NickBoyle


    Oct 9, 2015
    I agree with Kevin. Mig is by far the easiest to learn. I'm a welder by trade and tell anyone who asks a question like yours the same answer. In any type of welding it's all about speed and feed. If you wanna get real into things you can get a small stick welder. 110/220 volts. Then you can hook up a Tig rig and have two processes to play with. All depends how much you wanna learn or the types of "stuff" ya wanna build!
  4. RX-79G


    Jun 23, 2006
    I just use a cheap-ass stick welder to tack together billets. It is cheap to acquire, cheap to feed and ugly. It takes some feel to do right, but you can do it from lessons on youtube and practice on scrap. It is too crude to make a nice part for a knife, but can be sufficient to make a jig.
  5. Lieblad


    Jul 24, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2016
  6. Fish30114

    Fish30114 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 5, 2014
    Heck folks, I appreciate the feedback so far--in looking around on the net there is a dizzying array of welders available. Kevin, is the current Miller offering perhaps the 211, sufficient? I plan on welding for example my first project 3/8-1/2 inch plate into a rectangular open ended box--like Nick Wheeler uses to drive home guards--then I want to take a swing at the jig he welded up for removing guards as well.
    I have a couple of 'I wanna try' projects, that I plan on using 1/4" thick mild steel.

    Appreciate the input---oh yeah, is the place to buy one MSC or Enco or Weld.com?
  7. 12345678910


    Jul 13, 2009
    I agree

    Stick is simple, the equipment is cheap, the electrodes are varied and versatile.
    but it takes time and practice to get the skill.

    Mig or wire flux core are pretty simple to do.
    I read welding forums and the Millermatic® 211 MIG Welder is the most widely recommended for beginners.

    I like the auto darkening helmets.
    I tried to learn with an old style fixed shade but I gave up until i had an adjustable shade, auto on helmet.

    In terms of basic learning
    Welding for dummies the book will give you basic info on the different processes

    The books Miller puts out is good for each specific process

    The Wall mountain videos are excellent
    buy them, or get them from your library
    GMAW (MIG) Wire Feed DVD
    Flux Core Arc Welding DVD

    You might want to visit your local welding shops, it's possible they have knowledgeable people and demo equipment.
  8. Drew Riley

    Drew Riley

    Oct 17, 2007
    Hahah! Nice....

    I've been wanting to get a welder for years now, but it seems like something else is always taking priority. I really like the idea of the Lincoln 210MP, though it's a little pricey once you get the bells and whistles for it. Seems like it gives you some options though.
  9. Kevin Powers

    Kevin Powers

    Jul 23, 2015
    Yeah the 211 is a fantastic machine. It will weld the projects you have in mind easily. I have no idea about the pricing online because I get a very good discount through my local Airgas.
    One word about capacities of machines, the mig welder ratings are for single pass welds. The 211 will weld 3/8" in a single pass. That being said you can weld thicker sections together using joint preparation such as bevels and weld basically as thick as you want. Search my old posts and there's another welder discussion that may be beneficial for you.
  10. Fish30114

    Fish30114 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 5, 2014
    Thanks Kevin, I will search for those other threads--is there a place you guys would recommend for looking for used gear?
  11. SunsetFisherman


    Feb 4, 2012
    Miller makes the hobart brand as well, kinda like their lower tier brand welder I have the mig 140 and like it a lot. I would not suggest the super cheapo stuff I've used a couple HF welders theyre pretty terrible. I've leaned a lot on weldingtipsandtricks.com he also has a youtube channel with a lot of very good info.
  12. Wowbagger

    Wowbagger Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 20, 2015
    Not cheep but unbelievably precise and powerful; from welding a beer can to a Nuclear reactor . . . no exaggeration !

    I fell in love. After TIG every thing else is just smoke and noise.



    Ohhhhh Yahhhhhh !

    My welder from the 1980s is over five hundred pounds and that was a fairly small one for the time.
    Now you can buy them that you can carry around with one hand and do more with.

    Go to a real welding supply to buy it FOR SURE !
    FORGET HARBER FREIGHT AND ALL THAT CHEEPY JOE ROUTE. You are going to need back up and that means a real welding store.
    and while you are there have them demo a couple of welders MIG and stick for example as well as TIG
    They will lend you a helmet.

    Once you get the MIG and stick smoke out of your eyes and lungs and start to regain consciousness I think you will see what I mean.
  13. Wowbagger

    Wowbagger Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 20, 2015

    Think hard about where you are going to operate this. Can you have showers of red hot sparks and smoke ? Do you have access to running water ? Do you have a 220 volt outlet ?

    One other thing to visualize : with the TIG imagine pressing a foot pedal and getting hotter / more metal melting . . . letting up on the pedal and having the joint cool before it falls in and makes a hole WHILE YOU ARE WELDING. That is one of the options with TIG.

    and as long as your metal is clean you could TIG weld over your mamma's white carpet and not have sparks and slag falling on it. One weird thing is the smell of ozone after words. Just a hint of it like after a lightening storm. Nicola Tesla would have loved this thing !
    Oh and did I mention easy aluminum welding ? Titanium welding ? All with the big T
  14. NickBoyle


    Oct 9, 2015
    If you go to a welding supply store most of the time they have their models that you can try out. If they're a Miller dealer they'll have all Miller equipment, a Lincoln dealer will be Lincoln stuff. Try a couple different machines, you'll be surprised how different things are. Also agree with sunset fisherman, check out Hobart, they're just as good as their big blue brothers!!
  15. HSC ///

    HSC /// KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 7, 2012
    I say take a class
    I took a 5 hr class on a Saturday with a welder and it was an immense help
    I chose TIG because we have one at my work that's available for me to use
    I was going to take a class at a local community college but I needed to get up an running.
    I made the class worthwhile by taking some steel and getting fixtures made while I was there.
    So I was able to leave with knowledge and 3 fixtures.
    I also got lifetime tech support via phone/text

    Here Is what I was able to do by the end of the class under the instructor's watchful and guidance.
    But when I do it on my own, it's not so pretty, but at least I have a sense of what to do.

    he also said the HF aut dark helmet is just fine, I bought one and it works great.



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