Author Topic: welder  (Read 6715 times)

hoping2retire35

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welder
« on: April 26, 2016, 08:38:10 AM »
looking/thinking about training myself to do welding. coming up with a list of projects I would like to do; gates and fences, custom bike trailers and a small amount of auto body repair to start, found some good books at the library when I go head first but just trying to figure out what is a good welding machine.

there are $200 used units on craigslist and there are the $1200 millers, which do I get?  If I like it I could do this as a side gig or post-FIRE, lots of horse people around me with $$$ so i could make gates and fences for a while until I ran out of clientele.

hankscorpio84

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Re: welder
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2016, 10:18:05 AM »
Welding is a great hobby/side gig to learn about.  It can be frustrating when learning, so you're already doing the right thing by asking questions.  Experienced welders love to talk about how great they are at welding and how their methods/tricks are the best, so take advantage if you have that resource.  I think the best option for a beginner is to buy a 120V MIG welder.  MIG is easy to learn, just use the tables provided to choose the right type of wire and welder settings for the job you plan to do, then pull the trigger and learn.  The 120V plug in allows you to go anywhere you have traditional power outlets (assuming you are in the U.S.).  Lots of other welders require 220V service or a larger, loud, gas guzzling generator for power.  Cheap 120V units can be had for a few hundred bucks, great for starting out and small projects, but once you get the hang of it you will need to upgrade.  Some 120V units like the one linked below have the option of adding shielding gas and a spool gun for doing aluminum as well.  This will allow you to learn steel and aluminum on one unit, then you can upgrade if you see fit. 

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Lincoln-Electric-Weld-Pak-140-HD-Wire-Feed-Welder-K2514-1/100670934?cm_mmc=Shopping%7cTHD%7cG%7c0%7cG-BASE-PLA-D25T-Tools%7c&gclid=CKTHuaTVrMwCFQdbfgodef8JMQ&gclsrc=aw.ds


Almost every brand makes a model like this, so it doesn't have to be a Lincoln.  I recommend sticking with a big name like lincoln or miller because parts and consumables will be more readily available compared to a harbor freight knockoff brand.  I can vouch for the reliability of the Lincoln 140.  I have owned mine for about 7 or 8 years without any problems, and I have put more hours on it than the average hobby welder.  The only reason I would upgrade is to do heavy duty aluminum welding, or if speed becomes a requirement.  For general repairs and learning though, this type of welder will keep you happy for a long time.

kendallf

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Re: welder
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2016, 10:29:56 AM »
Good advice above. I will add, if you have a local community or tech college which offers welding classes, take one.  Learning to weld is mostly about practice, and it's really nice to have the raw material, gas, and cutting tools to do lots of practice pieces.  We had 2" wide strips of 1/4" thick steel, sheet steel/aluminum, and other raw supplies, along with a power shear to cut pieces. 

I took an arc welding class and then a couple of terms of TIG class; TIG requires much more practice than MIG but is much more versatile and better for detail work. 

Jack

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Re: welder
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2016, 10:31:25 AM »
The 120V plug in allows you to go anywhere you have traditional power outlets (assuming you are in the U.S.).  Lots of other welders require 220V service or a larger, loud, gas guzzling generator for power.

This is a good point. I got a Lincoln Electric stick welder for a really good price ($50 or $75, maybe?) quite a while ago, but haven't been able to use it because I haven't gotten around to installing a 220V outlet yet.

lthenderson

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Re: welder
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2016, 11:58:54 AM »
Off the top of my head, the key things to look for when buying a welder are:

1. Types of material you will be welding
2. Thickness of material you will be welding
3. Duty cycle required

MIG is probably the easiest to self learn and get decent results. I would caution you on getting a 120V machine unless you study the duty cycles of them first with what you are planning. Duty cycle is essentially how many minutes out of 10 you can continuously weld before having to let the machine cool down. If it has a 60% duty cycle, you could weld for six minutes and then have to wait four more to allow it to cool down.

Gibbelstein

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Re: welder
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2016, 12:51:50 PM »
Seconding what kendallf said above.  I took a couple of courses at my local CC and it was very helpful.  It is nice to have an actual skilled person to look at your technique or result and say "This area is bad.  It is bad because you did/didn't do XYZ.  Also, try ABC next time." It can really help speed up the learning curve.  (Full disclosure, it was several years ago and without the ability to practice, I have forgotten all of it.  But I definitely felt good about the choice to take the class when I finished.)

Fishindude

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Re: welder
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2016, 01:30:10 PM »
Some sort of introduction to welding class at a community college is a great idea if you have that available. 
Having said that, the average guy with some basic craftsmanship skills can be up and welding in relatively short order with a "buzz box" type stick welder or a simple wire feed welder.  Lincoln, Hobart and Miller put out some good books and instructional manuals that will teach you a lot.  Most welding supply houses are pretty helpful too.

In my view, the most all around useful welder would be a 220V stick welder.
In addition to the hood will need good gloves, a slag hammer, wire brush, angle grinder, soap stone, band saw, sawzall, etc.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: welder
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2016, 02:02:22 PM »
I went out and bought a nice Miller 211 MIG 220V/110V welder with gas (75/25) and a spool of 0.035 wire.

I love that welder!

I did practice quite a bit (used up half a tank practicing and cut my welds on a bandsaw to inspect them)

I then took on my first welding project:





hoping2retire35

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Re: welder
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2016, 02:14:22 PM »
NICE! how long did it take to do that frame?

Spork

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Re: welder
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2016, 03:38:21 PM »
Seconding what kendallf said above.  I took a couple of courses at my local CC and it was very helpful.  It is nice to have an actual skilled person to look at your technique or result and say "This area is bad.  It is bad because you did/didn't do XYZ.  Also, try ABC next time." It can really help speed up the learning curve.  (Full disclosure, it was several years ago and without the ability to practice, I have forgotten all of it.  But I definitely felt good about the choice to take the class when I finished.)

Thirding.

Around here the same school has both credit welding courses (for getting certifications) and "Welding for Farm and Ranch."  I took the latter.  It gives you a broad taste of everything: stick, MIG, TIG, cutting with a torch, cutting with plasma cutter.  You can take it over and over... as it's mostly just practice with a guy that knows what he is doing critiquing your work.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: welder
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2016, 04:49:05 PM »
NICE! how long did it take to do that frame?

Really not very long to weld up the frame.   You can tack weld with a MIG so fast.   Just a few seconds for a nice tack, then after everything is tack welded and has plenty of support, I went back and fully welded the joints, jumping around a lot so I did not overheat and warp any one particular section.  I guess it took a couple of days to tack and then a couple of days to weld, but I did not work 10 hours a day non-stop.

You can put out some amps with the Miller 211.  I used it to weld 1/4" plate to pipe to make the plug in jacks that lift the 4500 pound camper onto the flatbed truck.   The welds on the 0.062 and 0.125 wall thickness rectangular steel tube I used to make the frame look decent, with just a bit of silica on the surface that brushes off (the brown poo in the last pic).

Not that I am pushing the Miller 211, just showing what a newbie can do with a good brand MIG welder.




kendallf

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Re: welder
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2016, 07:24:08 PM »
Ooh, we're sharing welding pics?  :-)

Here's what's possible with a big old Miller TIG, an old tunnel ram intake, and a bunch of aluminum stock:



I also CNC machined the lid, the injector bungs, the throttle body flange, etc.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: welder
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2016, 11:08:42 PM »
Yeah, but TIG welding takes skill.   A monkey can make good MIG welds.

sisto

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Re: welder
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2016, 09:26:56 AM »
This is a great thread. I too have been wanting to learn to weld as a hobby and possibly for a post fire side gig. There are some great tips here.

Roland of Gilead

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Re: welder
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2016, 10:29:46 AM »
If you are going to teach yourself, watch videos on youtube then practice on scrap steel (go get some cheap cutoffs at your local metal dealer...scrap steel is nearly worthless now to them).

Weld a joint then put it in a vise and beat on it with a hammer until it breaks.  Inspect the penetration to make sure you are fusing the welding wire with the base metal on both sides of the weld (if welding together two pieces).   Practice with current (amps) and wire speed (if doing MIG).   The Miller 211 makes this really easy with an autoset feature where you dial in the thickness metal you want to weld and it sets the (mostly) correct wire speed and welding current.

You want to see a heat discoloration on each side of the weld, rather uniform if possible.   This will indicate you are putting the heat into both parts.  In the picture I linked, you can see this discoloration on both sides of the 90 degree angle weld bead.

The following picture is what you don't want to do:


Arktinkerer

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Re: welder
« Reply #15 on: April 28, 2016, 08:54:28 PM »
Have tried cheap stick/wire welders--crap compared to a friends professional setup.  A really good tool makes it way easier.  That said--

If you are doing all sorts of welding you might want to go old school--gas welding.  Oxy/Acetylene can do just about anything if you practice.  While a plasma may cut faster/cheaper you can do the job with a cutting torch.  You can even do most aluminum with a basic setup.  Again, it takes practice but I find it much more intuitive coming from an electronics soldering background.  I love the minimalist setup.

Also, you can do heat treating, brazing, soldering, silver soldering with a simple setup.  Try that with your wire welder.

JLee

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Re: welder
« Reply #16 on: April 28, 2016, 09:12:58 PM »
Ooh, we're sharing welding pics?  :-)

Here's what's possible with a big old Miller TIG, an old tunnel ram intake, and a bunch of aluminum stock:



I also CNC machined the lid, the injector bungs, the throttle body flange, etc.

mmm, TIG.

A buddy of mine welded some stuff for my car a while back (and fixed some messy, messy previous owner work):
Old: http://i.imgur.com/i39zd.jpg
Old: http://i.imgur.com/Kgid9.jpg
New: http://i.imgur.com/je6Ys.jpg
New: http://i.imgur.com/odWAT.jpg



http://i.imgur.com/Vl3DH.jpg

Fishindude

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Re: welder
« Reply #17 on: April 29, 2016, 05:14:01 AM »
Old school oxy / acet welding is a poor suggestion.  Nice to have a torch set around for cutting, heating and maybe a little brazing, but very little welding is done these days with oxy / acet.  It used to be pretty common for thin sheet metal like auto body work, but the wire welders have gotten so good and so affordable, that everyone goes that route.

Taking a class is a great idea where you can get exposed to different methods and different types of equipment to see what you like.

OOBER

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Re: welder
« Reply #18 on: April 30, 2016, 05:13:37 PM »
Depending on what you are making and what is available in your area, there might be an alternative to investing in a welder yourself.

I just discovered a couple of weeks ago a new trend called 'Hackerspace' and there is a shop here in Kansas City that you can buy a membership to at ~$50/mo. Then you get access to a building CHOCK FULL of every tool you can imagine including MIG TIG and stick welders, CNC lasers/routers, 3D printers, Band saws, etc. It would be a good way to stick your toe in the water before you go out and drop a bunch of money on a welder. Think of it like a gym membership but instead of running on a treadmill you get to make cool stuff instead.

I took a tour of the facility close to me last week and took a whole bunch of pictures. You can check it out here: http://www.diymetalfabrication.com/hammerspace-kc-shop-tour/

Your location says Carolina, so I did a quick google search and it looks like there are quite a few shops in that area similar to the one in KC. You might check them out.
https://wiki.hackerspaces.org/North_Carolina




jane x

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Re: welder
« Reply #19 on: May 06, 2016, 02:22:04 PM »
Hey, any of you welders out in Northern Calif?  Or looking to take a trip out west for a fun welding job?  :)

I just posted about how we have 3 wrought iron gates in need of repairs and we're trying to decide if we should repair or replace.  This post got me thinking that it would be cool if dh learned how to weld.  I wonder how much it costs to rent welding equipment....