HF Welding hood review

Since Ive gotten into welding rather extensively recently, for
Christmas, all the dogs and cats got together and dragged home pop
bottles, rags,newspapers, cardboard and whatnot and presented me with
a gift certificate for Harbor Freight so I could buy a autodarkening
Damned nice of them!
So I went over and started checking them out. The one that was on sale
at the time was this one:
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While it darkened just fine, the density pot is located inside the
mast and requires you to remove it to adjust the darkness and the
webbing put my eyes way far back away from the glass. The worst
problem was that when bending over in welding position, the short
"forehead" allowed a whole bunch of light to come in from overhead and
all I could see was the reflection of the store lights above me.
Since I weld outside..watching the clouds go by overhead while trying
to run a bead was not in my best interest. Last year I gave away a
nearly new Jackson helmet (big lens) as I had to wear a towel over my
head to prevent reflections that prevented me from seeing what I was
After finding faults of one sort or another with the other models I
tried this one:
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A very high forehead, a tight fit (my nose just about touches the
glass), marvelous view that even allows a bit of peripheral vision to
some degree. Very light, closes off side and overhead light very
The density control is located outside and inside are two adjustment
Sensitivity, high/low. Both would darken on a bic lighter flint, but
in high, if I moved fast, would darken if a reflection off something
bright happened to hit just right. In one case..a passing car. Low
works great, even on very dim strikes. Should be great for low amp
Delay fast/slow
This switch changes the time it takes for the lens to return to clear
after the arch stopped. On slow, after the arc stopped, the lens
remained dark for nealy 1.5 seconds and on fast, only for aprox 3/4
second. I tend to move fast, so the slow postion seemed interminable,
but fast is just about right, ymmv.
I got it home and on Christmas day I ran it through its paces both
with MIG and stick, while welding up some projects I have going on.
Frankly..I dont know how Ive managed to go this long without an
autodarkening helmet. Sweet sweet sweet.
However..its going to be a while to break myself of the habit of
automatically reaching up to swing up the mask after each weld.
It increased my speed in welding up assemblies by at least 25 or more
percent as I can now simply go from weld to weld and not have to futz
around hunting for the joint. Freaking marvelous with wire feeder!!!!!
I played with the density control while running some practice beads
with the MIG, and found a setting that allows me to see my puddle very
very well and my welds now look a hell of a lot better as well as
being good in penetration etc. The suspension allows me to wear my
..ahum..reading glasses..for fine work, which was a concern when I get
the tig stuff up and running, and the suspension has a sweat band
which is a nice added touch. Very comfortable to wear. Very light and
well balanced. Its not front heavy like so many others Ive tried.
For an inexpensive autodarkening mask..this is freaking great! I
asked the manager if the $59 sale price was graven in stone (only had
a $50 gift certificat) and he simply told the cashier to price it as
$49. I see its now on sale on the HF website for $49 as well.
The only issue I can see with this mask, is that the protective cover
slip over the lens is plastic, which is ok..but HF does NOT carry
replacements. Ive not tried any welding shops yet to see if this is a
standard size, as its almost square, rather than your usual rectangle.
So far, I give this hood a Gunners "Thumbs Up!"
Your mileage may vary, and this opinion is worth exactly what you paid
for it
The cats spung the extra $9 for the two year warranty, but I had to
promise them additonal head scratching.
"Gunner, you are the same ridiculous liberal f--k you ever where."
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So its not just me that has that reflection problem. The cats bought me one a couple of years ago and it is still working good for the father in law. He says it works better with the stick welder than the wire feed. Nothing on it has melted so far.
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I have the helmet and don't care for it. I don't weld much and find it annoying. The adjustment bands won't stay put. They keep loosening. As far as the auto-darkening is concerned though it works just fine. As you pointed out though good luck in finding replacement parts.
If I did a lot of welding I would look for a better American brand.
Gunner wrote:
Reply to
On Wed, 29 Dec 2004 11:31:20 GMT, Gunner calmly ranted:
Next time, consider drilling out the top and adding a 5" strip of denim or leather across the top to shut out the light. Screw on from the inside or pop rivet it on sandwiched under a strip of sheetmetal.
I like the idea of the lens being closer to your eyes. Added peripheral vision in a mask is always a Good Thing(tm).
Excellent. I often ask for price breaks with the managers in Medford now if the item isn't on sale. The one guy just handed me the mini- chuck for the HF flexible shaft grinder, a "Foredom" clone when I had so brilliantly misplaced mine during the move up here.
Might I suggest a book I saw on Amazon last weekend which interested me? "Ultimate Sheet Metal Fabrication" by Tim Remus.
Saved for future referral.
I guess that might be a good idea for something as non-repairable as the helmet electronics.
>Gunner > >"Gunner, you are the same ridiculous liberal f--k you ever where." > Scipio
Reply to
Larry Jaques
As best as I can tell, the closest American brand costs $135 more, so I could buy 4 of these for the price of a US made one.. I found that replacement glass covers can be made from ovsized ones with a bit of trimming with a paper cutter (via email)
"Gunner, you are the same ridiculous liberal f--k you ever where." Scipio
Reply to
I found the lens darking to work fine, however the helmets fit and confort leaves a lot to be desired. I feel suffocated in it, and do not like the headgear. I prefer my Miller
Reply to
Huey Conway
I bought one of these. Couldn't find any replacement clear lenses to protect the auto-darkening one, so i ended up buying bigger ones and mounted a couple peices of plastic tubilng ot hold it in place, looks funky.
It was a novelty having an auto-darkining mask so cheep, but the darkness wasn't consistant and the head band wouldn't keep its adjustment :o/ I started out with a light setting, now it's almost maxed, i wonder how long this mask will last. But it's a neat toy :o/
imho if you are welding all day long then get the best mask you can buy, but in my opinion, for the occasional welder, just a simple mask with a flip lens and a ==> GOOD QUALITY HEAD BAND ADJUSTMENT
Reply to
I bought my first auto darken helmet about 20 years ago. They weren't very fast back then and I learned to blink while striking the arc. They also had only one sensor and if you accidentally blocked it the lens went light while you were in the middle of a weld. Where they REALLY come into their own is when you have to wedge your head in under a truck to even see what you're doing. since you are still able to see you can reach up and hold the part in the right place while welding it with the other hand.
Gary H. Lucas
Reply to
Gary H. Lucas
I have the one above as well, and LOVEit.
Sveral time while sitting down for dinner, SWMBO has told me its "OK to take of your helmet hunny" and I'm like.. Helmet? OH yea.. Whoops! (Of course the helmet is in the "Up" position, and I just forgot about it..)
I do a lot of Tig on aluminum welding, and this helmet is SOO much better than the old standard one. With the old one, I often found myself just striking an arc any old place, and dragging the arc over to where I needed it :0
And yes, it is hard to break the "Lift the helmet after the bead is done" trick :)
As far as a disclaimer, I've never tried welding with one of those 'Fancy" (and Expensive) auto darkening helmets, so maybe I'm missing something. To date, I've burned thru 4 pounds of Al filler rod and 1-1/2 tanks of argon and both eyeballs see to work as well as before..
Take Care, James Lerch
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(My telescope construction, Testing, and Coating site)
Press on: nothing in the world can take the place of perseverance. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. Calvin Coolidge
Reply to
James Lerch
After welding with it for a few hours, there is a big nose smudge on teh glass, but it doesnt bother me in the slightest. The mask is very very light and hardly registers.
"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." - John Stewart Mill
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