How to begin??

All
I have never welded before, but I would like to start. Rather than collecting a bunch of technology that I'll likely replace, what would you
recommend? I'm thinking of going straight for the plasma welder/cutter - something light for the home garage. My first inclination was to simply go with a small set of portable torches. However, I would like to do a fair amount of body work, and I understand the torches will burn through light gauge steel in today's cars. But I would also like to do some cutting. Since I already have a good air compressor, I am thinking I can get the plasma welder/cutter and it should do fine for me, as opposed to torches and a MIG welder. That way I don't have to deal with O/A tanks. Any thoughts?
--
Dana

"There's an old saying in Tennessee-I know it's in Texas, probably in
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Dana Rohleder wrote:

Rod: Absolutely go with the plasma welder/cutter! Rod Ryker... It is reasoning and faith that bind truth.
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Dana, Pay no attention to this bs--there is no such combination machine. The writer was just being unhelpful.
Your question is common here and it doesn't take much to provide a sensible answer: Don't buy anything yet, a rank beginner cannot know enough to make purchase decisions. Further, even if you did make the 'right' purchase decision, there are critical safety issues and certain basic skills that are not possible/efficient to get from trial -and-error or library books. Therefore, you should take an evening course at your local community college or hire a local weldor to give you a set of basic lessons. With this under your belt, you have enough knowledge to make reasonable purchase decisions. Buy now and you're at greater risk of misdirecting your money.
Careful though, welding can be addictive.
Ciao, David Todtman

you
go
light
Since
MIG
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if your really itching to buying something to start with...get a cheap buzzbox (possibly second hand).
you can spend hours welding away and making things out of moderatly thick metal.you will experience first hand the effects of metal contraction and warping. a buzzbox can withstand abuse, consumables are dirt cheap and no gas to fill. it will demonstrate the importance of a decent duty cycle (why didnt the salesman explain this to me?).
it will also introduce you slowly to the hazards of arc flash, fire risk, noxious fumes,spatter,contact with hot metal...and the demonic angle grinder. hopefully you will avoid serious injury.
after a short period of time you will have better idea what you will buy next (torch, MIG,TIG...) and what features you are expecting.
Sam

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As someone who has recently been learning to weld for home projects, I second Sam's advice. I don't know nearly as much as these other folks, so take my advice with a grain of salt ... but it is hard to beat the relatively low price / high value of a 220v buzz box. (Do NOT get a 110v buzz box -- that would be a machine you would likely replace quickly ... I speak from experience!) Even after you acquire other skills / machines, a basic arc welder will continue to be useful for any number of things. With an AC/DC machine, you can also add limited TIG capabilities, and with a ReadyWelder spoolgun, you can even run MIG.
There are a good many used machines lying around ... I bought the machine I'm using now, which I really, really like, for all of $25. I had to put another $25 and some elbow grease into making leads and cleaning it up, but boy oh boy does it weld.
It sounds like one of the things driving your thinking about what to buy is the ability to cut ... but how much of what will you be cutting? In my limited experience, a hand-held angle grinder with a 1/16" abrasive disk will do a lot of cutting. I think the analogy might be something like this: A hacksaw is like a handsaw -- you can build a whole house just with a handsaw and hammer, but it will take a while. An angle grinder is like a skilsaw (7-1/4 circular saw) -- you can build a house with it, and move along pretty fast; it does take some practice to keep the cuts from being rather rough. (But unlike the circular saw, you can put grinding wheels or flap wheels on the angle grinder to do some finer shaping of the metal.) A plasma cutter or O/A cutting torch would be like ... well, I think the analogy begins to break down. In any case, for my uses, a plasma cutter is way, way down on the list of wants.
HTH!
low snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Sam) wrote in message

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All,
I am not at all unfamiliar with welding, coming from 15 years in the brewing industry where welding was everywhere, as well as 30 years hanging around auto garages while they repaired my rusted heaps. I definitely want to take some courses, and I understand the need to get exposure to different types of technology. But usually when I adopt a new hobby, I start with "starter" stuff - the technology used when others started out gaining experience - then buying new technology as I became more experienced. A pattern like torches - MIG - TIG - Plasma. I just want to start with the best technology this time - I don't want to repeat history. It would be one thing if there were a huge difference in price, but in the research I've been doing, it appears plasma is the best technology out there. I don't have a lot of years left to learn Oxy/Ac then MIG then plasma - just want to do it right the first time and invest in the best all-around technology from the start. Thanks in advance for your suggestions.
Dana

Since
MIG
can't
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I understand what you are saying, but I think the problem is that all the welding processes have their place. I am planning on using a little hand held propane torch to do some silver soldering of some stainless rod today. This week I used a stick welder to weld a cast iron part back together. Mig beats TIG for speed. Tig is very versatile and can make beutiful welds. Plasma cutter works well on thin stuff, but I don't know how well it would do for cutting nuts off bolts and not damaging the threads. Oxy cutting torch will do that as well as cut things thicker than a plasma torch can do.
I don't have any experience with plasma welding, but expect that if I had access to every type of welding equipment, I would not use plasma most of the time.
Dan
hobby, I start with "starter"

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You can use oxy acetylene torch to weld todays thin auto body metals without burning through. Would have to use small torch tip. Oxy fuel torches are handy for heating metals for bending and shrinking besides braising, soldering, welding and cutting. The problem with oxy acetylene torch on todays unibody cars is it isn't an approved process because of larger heat affected zone than using MIG which is approved. Each welding process is better for some things than another process would be with some over lap.
For welding body metal a small MIG welder and Plasma cutter is all that is really needed. But later you decide to weld heavier metals for maybe a trailer or bumper for a jeep and your small welder is too small. The small welder is still handy for it's portability.
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Boreal wrote:

Rod: You can easily plasma cut with a plasma welding machine, some here do not know what they are talking about hence - unhelpful. Plasma welding machines came out in 1964 which is long before plasma cutters. Indeed, I had a 1972 ION Arc welding machine MFG. by Air Products years ago and the manual described the cutting technique in detail. So yes, a plasma welding machine can also be used to cut.
Rod Ryker... It is reasoning and faith that bind truth.
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The latest and greatest is fine, but dont underestimate older equipment.
I have been collecting some old torches which are extremely handy. They run on fuelgas & air. oxygen would probably melt the tips, they're not made for it. National still makes them, but most people have abandoned this type of torch and they are pretty hard to find.
But, they get a lot hotter than your run of the mill Bernz-O-Matic, great for brazing, excellent flame control, and you wont have to mess with oxygen bottles all the time.
Oxy/Propane & TIG are your best bet. If I had to choose between the two I'd take the torch, but stay away from Acetylene unless you really need it. Propane is much cheaper and burns almost as hot.

brewing
take
"starter"
technology
years
you
go
light
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There are torches that run on compressed air and propane? If it works nearly as well as oxy/acetylene I may be interested. Is this similar to MAPP gas cylinders for use with Bernz-O-Matic torches?
--
Dana

"Lefty" < snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net> wrote in message
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I have found them in my recent searches, but it doesn't look like you can cut steel with them. If you can cut bolts and up to 1/4" steel with them, I would get one, but my impression is that you can't.
Dana

a
through
thoughts?
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If you gotta cut, then you gotta cut. But you know - if you heat up a piece of railroad track bright orange you can tie it in knots without too much effort.
You could just heat it up real hot and twist it off like a limp hotdog.

I
than
do
torches
probably
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I'd say you have two choices at this point; you can either figure out just what it is you want to do and buy the tools to do it with or you can buy all the possible tools that you might need and then think up something to do.
In addition to the major tools, you'll find that there's an enormous number of small tools needed to support them.. Again, knowing what you're intending will assist greatly with decisions here.
"Plasma", for most people, is a process restricted to cutting. It's probably the best process for cutting thin stock in the small shop, a friend of mine recently bought a Hypertherm that'll cut 3/4" nicely, seems it was around $1200. You can get machines with less capacity for less money, I recommend Hypertherm for both their excellent machines and service.
Figure out a couple of projects you'd like to do and what materials you're thinking of, decide what kind of money you're willing to invest and let us know, it'll be much easier to give advice then.
Oh, and don't pay any attention to Rod, he's the deranged stepchild of the group.. mostly harmless, just don't let him get a grip on your leg- it's very revolting...
John
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JohnM wrote:

Rod: :S You sir are sadly mistaken. I am not part of your family. For you have the bloodline of canine. And it is you that is obviously humping our legs. Lay down dog.
Rod Ryker... It is reasoning and faith that bind truth.
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that
...and
plasma,
What this world needs is one machine that does stick, MIG, TIG, plasma welding, laser welding, plasma cutting, grinding, polishing, punching, shearing, bending, laser cutouts, CAD/CAM, and drilling.
And, if it is not asking too much, could it have a beer dispenser?
Steve
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Here it is: the Russian multiplaz plasma device
http://www.multiplaz.com/about.php
it welds it, cuts it heats,it solders,shears,laser welds, AND it runs on Vodka! (website quote: ....either regular water (to cut materials) or 40 percent solution of any spirit can be used as working liquid for Multiplaz-2500)
so it meets your booze requirement too.
Sam
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Panasonic Industrial makes a combination plasma cutter and mig welder which is very expensive. Could buy plasma cutter and mig welder for about same price. I'm too lazy to to find link right now.
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gas/tig/mig are all very different.
for small fab work i prefer my tig unit. for faster work with steel only i prefer my dc only mig.

Since
MIG
can't
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