There are several kinds of "arc welders" The most common is an AC
stick welder - also called a "buzz box".
Then there are DC stick welders. Or AC /DC stick welders.
Then there are wire feed welders - known as MIG (metal inert gas)
welders, and TIG welders (tungsten Inert Gas) - also known as Heliarc.
The TIG is really an electric torch.
What you are looking at is most likely a "buzz box".
That's a small, very inexpensive import welder. Maybe good for learning and
hobby work (like porch railings, etc), but given the choice I'd keep looking. I
have a similar one and it's not a lot of fun to use. Wouldn't pay more than $75
max for it.
If you don't know what the available types of welders are, you aren't
ready to buy one. You need to educate yourself a bit more...and
asking here is one way to do that of course, but getting training in a
class, reading some books, and doing some web searches are even better
ways. I know this is true, because I'm interested in the same
question myself, and have been working on it using those methods in my
spare time for a few months now (except the "take a class" one...don't
seem to be any around here at the moment).
Another responder listed the most common types available in the
electric welder class, but don't forget OAW (Oxy-Acetylene Welding).
It has some advantages over the electric types, as well as
disadvantages, but it's worth considering depending on your needs.
Having a torch around can be useful for cutting, heat treating,
bending, annealing, pre-heating, and playing noisy practical jokes on
unsuspecting victims...things you can't do very easily with any
electric welder. A OAW torch is also portable (i.e. no need for a
power source to plug it in). Most shops I've seen have one, even if
they also have TIG, MIG or other types around.
The various methods of welding (not all of which require a torch at
all...such as the thermite welding they use on railroad tracks on the
D.C. Metro system) all have their uses, and limitations. Buying one
without knowing ahead of time what you are going to use it for is like
buying a wrench without knowing the intended use. You could end up
with a nice ratcheting box wrench and actually need a pipe wrench.
My limited (so far) understanding says that it breaks down sort of
like this in the electric arena (happy to hear corrections from those
who know more if I've got any of this wrong):
Arc/stick welders: good for easy welding on steel, even fairly thick
steel, without requiring a huge amount of skill in most cases. Not so
good on thin (sheet) metal, or where a pretty bead is needed (you get
breaks where you have to stop to change welding rods). The sheilding
comes from flux, which you either dip the welding rod (which is also
the electrode) into, or have pre-coated on the rods, and this flux
will leave a glassy slag on the work which will have to be chipped off
afterwards. Not very useful for welding stainless, copper, aluminum,
etc., but they tend to be the cheapest form of electric welder.
MIG or "wire feed" welders: good for easy welding on steel, or, with
the right wire and gas combination, other metals, such as aluminum.
Used for things like welding exhaust systems, body work and light
structural stuff (up to about 1/4" thick). They are fairly easy to
use, and can come with a variety of capabilities, depending on price.
They start at prices about the same as a good arc welder, and go up
from there. Can be used with or without gas, depending on what you
are doing and what sort of wire you are using. With gas, rather than
flux-cored wire, you don't get slag, so cleanup is not required,
except for appearance. Probably the most common welders for auto work
or light fabrication and for hobbyists.
TIG welders: expensive, tricky to master (have to coordinate both
hands and one foot, all doing different things at the same time), and
the most capable of all. Can weld almost anything that can be welded,
including steel, aluminum, stainless steel, and copper. The arc
provides the heat, with the current controlled by a foot pedal, and
fill metal is added with the other hand, same as with OAW. The
electrode is not consumed by the weld (unless you screw up ;-). Some
fancy TIG welders are programmable so that current is varried exactly
as needed for startup, shutdown, and welding for the material being
worked on so you get a predictable weld every time...with a skilled
welder. The precise heat control can allow welding of very thin work
without as much heat distortion as you will get with stick or MIG or
That's what I remember from my reading anyway. So far I've been
concentrating on OAW myself, with the electric stuff left for "some
day". OAW seems to be the most flexible system to start with, and the
skills developed will come in handy if I ever try TIG welding
(coordinating torch hand and filler rod hand while watching and
controlling the melt puddle to form a good penetrating weld). It's
also probably the cheapest way to start...though you can buy expensive
torches if you want to (like the Henrob/Dillon II). I figure that a
OAW setup will always be useful for something, even if I end up
getting a MIG or TIG later, so I started there. YMMV.
Good luck! Whatever you do, learn and practice the safety rules for
whatever you get. This stuff can kill you if you are unlucky and
careless, and will hurt you in lesser ways in a hearbeat if you don't
do it just right. Proper training, however you do it, is a wise move.
Half the stuff I've found so far never would have occured to me on my
own...(like all arc welders putting out strong UV, the vapors from
some metals and fluxes being toxic, and being sure to stand in the
right place when you first crack the valve on a high pressure tank of
O2...all seems obvious enough *now*, but it wasn't until I read about
-- Mike B.
To reply via e-mail, remove the 'foolie.' from the address.
I'm getting sick of all the SPAM...
Given what I've paid for "real" welders, I'd be hard pressed to pay
even half that. I bought a good Emerson 180 amp unit for $30 several
years ago - and it is still being used at my brother's automotive shop
when he needs a stick welder. The fan motor needed to be cleaned and
lubed, and the "buzzing" had vibrated a connection loose inside -
which simply required tightening a nut. It is a multi-tap type, not
I also have a 230 Craftsman infinitely adjustable that cost me less
than the asking price for the Speedway 100. And I'm talking Canadian
I recommend that you begin with a MIG welder, preferably with gas
shielding and solid wire.
At the same time, remember that you will usually need to cut the metal
to fit prior to welding. Fitting takes most of the time. The welding
time is comparatively short.
A metal-cutting blade in a sawzall or an abrasive cutoff saw are
preferable to a torch.
I wanted to say "forget that little box of crap and buy a used Lincoln AC225
for $50" to the OP, but having looked for cheap welders locally I know it isn't
always possible. I have yet to find a 230V buzzbox around here that was worth
buying at the asking price. Seems like everyone else gets them by the pound at
farm auctions and the like.
Speedway is the "house" brand for Homier. They do a travelling truckload
tool sale and they sell REALLY cheap tools. Although they do have a few
decent deals they make Harbor Freight look like Snap-On in most cases.
The only stick welder they currently list on their site is a 100 amp unit
that requires 220V and their current price is only $39.99 so I wouldn't pay
more than half that for a used one and you still probably won't have much of
a welder but for $20 it would be worth playing around with.
If it is that one, don't forget that it requires 220V so you'll have to be
sure you have that available. A dryer outlet is usually the best option for
a welder that small but they're not normally in the most convenient
To see if it's the same welder visit their site at:
Click on any of the "icons" on the main page and you'll see a search window
near the top. Enter 01433 and you should get the welder. If not, search
for "welder" and you'll get that one plus a flux-core wirefeed unit and a
few welding accessories.
"Even if you are on the right track, you'll
get run over if you just sit there."
- Will Rogers (1879-1935).
For a good stick welder, I have one for sale. It goes from 25amp all the way
to 235 amp. It is very quiet and only has approx. 6 hrs of use on it. It has
been covered and kept very clean since new. I am asking only $200.00
Canadian for it.It is a 220 volt system as well and operates on a 40 amp
input. I could email some pictures to you if you are interested. I am in
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada but will ship whereever you are at you cost.
It does not take up alot of room and is on a rolling frame as well.
Invest some money in classes instead of equipment. You could lose enough on
buying equipment you know absolutely nothing about to pay for the classes,
and your personal protective equipment. Go to the library and read books on
the subject. Go to welding supply houses and pick up brochures on machines,
and start reading up and learning the terms.
At the classes, you will be exposed to various types of welders and welding,
and you will be able to make a much more informed choice when you are ready
to buy a welder. Welding machines are as plentiful as leaves on trees. But
they can be a large PITA if you buy one not suited to your application, or
that you can't keep running because it a cheap POS or you can't get parts
because it is obsolete, or made on Mars. Wait until you know EXACTLY what
you want, then shop price. Lots of good "buzz boxes" out there that can be
had for $50, and lots of crap that you would be just wasting money on. You
need to know how to tell the difference.
If you are interested in welding, start at "GO" and go for it. Take every
step, and don't miss putting every brick in your learning wall. That way,
you will end up with a solid wall. Start at the beginning and take one
step at a time.
But then again, there is something to be said about just getting a machine
and some rod and a hood and gettin' after it. It just takes longer to learn
and costs more in the end. Money that you could have spent on additional
Steve, who has welded for 30 years now.
On Fri, 03 Sep 2004 04:32:58 GMT, "Keith Marshall"
That is the most insightful description of Homier I've ever read.
--== EAT RIGHT...KEEP FIT...DIE ANYWAY ==--
A machine tool dealer offered me a big old Lincoln 300amp single phase
welder yesterday. Gray, round top..about the size of a Big washing
machine. Tig with two different bottles. One argon, couldnt see the
other. On a wheeled cart, and had the proper foot peddle and stick
welding stinger and ground clamps.
It was behind a number of big machines so I couldnt get up close, but
looked pretty good from a moderate distance. They went to an inverter
machine and stuck this in the corner. Shrug.
He wants $500 and or take it out in trade/finders fees etc.
Any idea of what it is and is it worth that much money?
"In my humble opinion, the petty carping levied against Bush by
the Democrats proves again, it is better to have your eye plucked
out by an eagle than to be nibbled to death by ducks." - Norman
I like the "Procedure Handbook of Arc Welding Design and Practice" from
the Lincoln Electric company. Good stuff in it and they want you to
have it so badly, they practically give it away. (or used to)
Mike Bartman wrote: