Which welder to use

Just sold my Lincoln Tombstone (AC + DC) welder at a real good price using Craigslist. Seems like every time I wanted to join two pieces of metal, the wire feed welder was handier. Total use of tombstone in 20 years was less than 1/2 hour!!

There was one instance when I was trying to braze a broken hunk of cast iron for my portable cement mixer (round indexing thingie that holds the drum in position). My son came by and told me "since it's no an important part why don't I simply just zap it with the stick welder". As stupid as that sounds, it worked and has lasted about 15 years now.

Here's what I own:

Acetylene Oxygen setup

300 amp wire feed welder Miller 250 TIG welder Lincoln Tombstone welder

I'm just a hobbyist and not a good welder. I got the tombstone back in the days when you had to learn how to flip your helmet and do 5 other things at the same time to strike an arc. Naturally (25 years ago) I used the A/O more often. Then (building 300 ft. ± of metal fencing) I got hooked on wire feed and bought a used unit. I bought the TIG so that I could learn and also do aluminum.


Everything else being equal (all my welders are on wheels, easy access, they all take the same plug etc.) how and why do you guys decide for which welder to reach? I'm talking, for example, 8-10 inches of non-structural weld on mild steel. Why would you ever reach for the "stick welder" option and start chipping slag? Are there inherent advantages to stick?

All replies appreciated,

Ivan Vegvary (who still has 15± pounds of old, old electrodes)

Reply to
Ivan Vegvary
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I am not any sort of expert, but I like stick because I know that if the joint looks like it spans both sides, there is fusion.

Reply to

As we all know....... Welding is the melting of metal components together. So what technique you use should be dictated by the application of the finished job. So if you cant afford a breakdown of your joint you have to use the safest welding method. Leaving tig aside for the moment, the safest welding is stick. Why? because you can see and control the size of the molten weld pool. All the wire feed welding ive seen doesnt give you this option for the home/hobby/ welder without xray testing etc, To be sure of the strength you want in your joint you have to do a test piece and then test it to destruction Ie bend it through 180 degrees and it should not break the weld.. thats the only safe way for a home hobby welder to get it right. Tig is also the melting of metal but under an inert gassheild. A much neater and accurate weld than stick, as well as being suited for aluminium stainless titanium etc. Hope this helps.

Reply to
Ted Frater

I go for the wirefeed at work unless I need to use some special rod then I use the tig configured for stick welding.


Reply to

Have you ever used a commercial MIG running say .035 hard wire and CO2-Argon mix?

That is my forte and welder of choice for anything in-position and of steel composition. I've never had any problem watching the molten pool and controlling its size (shrug).

I can easily weld a 3/8 inch butt joint in a single pass. I would want a backing plate for a single pass though. I can turn the same set-up down and do a decent job welding thin stuff too. If I take the time to change the wire (seldom, too lazy), contact tip and feed rollers, then even thinner stuff is possible.

This is the only MIG I have ever used. Never had the chance to play with one of the little ones. Mine is a Millermatic

200 (200 amp @ 60% duty cycle). For most any home shop it can kick some butt .

If Ivan really has a 300 amp MIG, that would be my choice for most common steel work.

I have stick too, mainly for odd-ball metals that I could buy a few special electrodes for and out of position work. I don't have a TIG :(

Reply to
Leon Fisk

I got a Lincoln Square-Wave TIG 300 a couple years ago, and I'll NEVER go BACK to stick. I have had trouble with the fumes, even when I weld outdoors. Well, with TIG, I can weld INDOORS, with just a little ventilation, and have NO problems, because there's no flux smoke. I can also weld things you can't do with stick. Although I'm still a real klutz with it, and still burn holes in things, I can get MUCH more consistent results because I can SEE what I'm doing. Maybe the auto-dark helmet is a major help, too. You can use one of these for stick, of course, but the smoke keeps you from getting close enough to see what you need to see, and you can't see clearly through it all.


Reply to
Jon Elson

I have a similar setup but a bit smaller

Miller Sync 200 Lincoln mig pack 15 (175A fcaw and mig) Oxy/Acet (But my O2 tank is a bit small)

Is it a bench job, is it something other than steel...... TIG

is it outdoors or is the position Wonky FCAW (Portability)

Is it cutting then Oxy

the only time i might use stick is if i had a very thick weld to do and i would use the synchrowave as the power source.

if the job falls theought he cracks > Just sold my Lincoln Tombstone (AC + DC) welder at a real good price using

Reply to

Penetration. The purpose of welding is to create a molten crucible between (usually) two parent metal pieces and the molten electrode. To raise all three above melting point in a controlled crucible, then moving on. As the molten puddle solidifies, it unites the formerly three into one.

That's about as simple as I can put it.

With wirefeed, sometimes it doesn't work as well because a lot of the heat is soaked up by the thicker pieces of parent metal, and a weld that looks pretty is actually just laying on top of the parent metal. With flux core wire, the arc is different, and does actually melt the parent metal. This is why you use standard MIG for thin stuff, and FCAW for thick.

What you want is for the pieces to stay together. You can "Gorilla Weld" a piece like the mixer you mentioned, and it stays. Is that a good weld? Yes. Is it a technically good weld? No.

Weldor skill has something to do with it, too. Stick welding is harder than MIG. Whatever you use, if you end up with a weld that is safe and looks acceptable, that's good. From there, it gets into aesthetics, and from there, it gets into engineering and strength and safety.


Reply to

I have not burned one stick since I got a Millermatic 210 MIG. If I had stuff 3/4" or thicker to weld I'd probably go with stick, but that hasn't happened since I got the MIG.

As others have noted, it's easy to get "pretty" welds with no strength with MIG, but one who is reasonably proficient with stick should have no trouble making good welds with wirefeed.

There's more "art" and control with stick, so one can just start welding and adapt. With MIG, I often do a practice weld on scraps of similar thicknesses to get the machine and my speed set up tits, then have at the job. Total job time is considerably less, with no smoke and no slag.

Someone said you can't see the puddle with MIG. You certainly can if it's running right. You can't make a good weld with any machine if you can't manage the puddle.

For very precise work, particularly small stuff, the TIG is my first choice. Slow, but very controllable and very versatile. As one wag put it, you can about weld dogshit to windowglass with TIG. Autogenous welds (no filler) are easy to do with TIG, and sometimes they look really nice with ample strength for the application.

I use O/A only for brazing, silverbrazing, and welding of thin aluminum sheetmetal.

Reply to
Don Foreman

I have a smallish Miller Thunderbolt stick welder and a Millermatic 250 MIG welder, plus others. I am building a steel beam stairway right now, and on the upper floors of the structure it would be nearly impossible to get the large MIG welder up there, so I carried up my little stick welder. Lots of wind up there, no problem with stick.

Also recently we were erecting some steel I-beams on site. We had to weld

20 feet in the air on 12" I-beams. Easy to just add a length of welding lead to the stick welder and pull the leads up there - very difficult to extend the MIG gun.

I almost always use the MIG welder, though.


Reply to
Grant Erwin

Use to own a tomstone box too.

Sold it about 10 years ago. Mostly because I got real tired of moving that beast. My moves are real estate related, done very well.

I now own...

AC-225C lincoln smaller version of the tomstone...only use 6130, 1/8 and 5/32 rods.

The Mig... Lincoln SP-85. Wire is .030, mixed gas bottle.

The tig is that cheap red harbor freight box, it does okay with 1/8 stick too. The tig part is a little flakey, as its a strike type tig. Might get a real tig one of these days.

All of this is home use....


Reply to

I suppose it's a matter just like so many others in the welding trade: what fits your hand best is the process to use.

To me, stick welding is the basic process, it's what I consider first. I'm comfortable with it, I like the way things happen and I find it's the process that offers the most freedom to approach the job as I wish.


Reply to

I have an O/A set and a cheap wirefeed. Used to have a big AC Only "buzz box" but I sold it, Didn't use it a lot and it took up a lot of space. I got the wire-feed in exchange for some work on a neighbour's Honda GL - have not used it much - much more comfortable with the old stick welder. Or the O/A for light stuff and brazing.

Reply to
clare at snyder.on.ca

Try weldiing on a rusty trailer frame in the rain with a 25mph wind blowing.

I keep stick, MIG and TIG on hand...as each has their uses,


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Airco Squarewave 300 Set up for tig and stick Permanantly parked next to the tig table

Miller Dialarc 250 (stick) permantly under the 5x8 welding table, with 100' eads

Airco (Esab) Squarewave 250 set up for tig and stick (my loaner)

Miller Dialarc 250 HF (tig) (out on loan to a guy building a sand rail)

Dan-Mig 140/200 Mig

Airco PhaseArc 300 (3ph, 300 amp Mig) (on loan to a fabrication co.)

Lincoln Weldpac 100 (truck machine)

Hobart CyberTig 2 700 amp DC Tig/Stick (3ph, currently in storage)

Marquette 115vt buzz box (stick) (utterly shitty machine)

Mostly for home use..kinda sorta


Reply to



Reply to
Fitch R. Williams

Spare tire carrier.

Reply to
David Harmon

On Fri, 16 Nov 2007 23:01:47 -0800, with neither quill nor qualm, David Harmon quickly quoth:


-- After all, it is those who have a deep and real inner life who are best able to deal with the irritating details of outer life. -- Evelyn Underhill

Reply to
Larry Jaques

Stick rules with rusty metal, particularly outdoors. I've found that even black millscale on new HRS can significantly affect the quality of wire welds, GMAW or FCAW. With stick you only need strike an arc once per stick, while wire (at least until entering spray-transfer regime, which smaller machines never do) must strike repeatedly and often though the user may not be aware of it. That nice "bacon frying" sound when a wire welder is set right and running well is the arc repeatedly striking at a consistent rate. Wire works best with clean metal.

Reply to
Don Foreman

I also do not find stick to be particularly slow, as I usuallyspend a lot more time on pre-welding and post-welding activities. (cutting, fitting, grinding, brushing etc)

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