Newbe SMAW welder advice please

Hi guys & girls

I'm looking to buy a "buzzbox" & have never stick welded before. I will be using it mainly for stuff that my 110A (240V) MIG won't handle. The project I'm looking at doing will involve welding 4mm thick hot rolled angle iron, lap, butt & T joints.

I know nothing about what sort of amperage, machine or diameter of rods I'll require, so any advice is much appreciated. (A beginners guide would be fantastic too)

I'm based in the UK (please don't let this stop you giving me advice) and have had a very brief look in Draper & Machine Mart catalogues. Are any of these worth having? I get a nice discount for Draper :)

This isn't going to be used much BTW so I can't justify mega bucks on it.

I have used MIG, O/A & a smidge of TIG. MIG being my main use.

Many thanks.

Keep up the good work on here, I love reading this forum

*goes back to lurking*
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You want a machine that can deliver DC. For more penetration in the workpiece, use DCEP. For less penetration (which you may well need here) you can try DCEN. Either way get the smallest electrodes you can find. 4mm is very thin for SMAW unless you are quite skilled. I can't imagine a 110V MIG that can't handle that thickness!


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Grant Erwin

Small stick welders are something that does not translate going across the pond. But here goes: Since you have MIG, your main use for stick is heavy stock. Your MIG should be good for 3/16" (4 mm) in a single pass, any stick welder should be for 1/4" (6mm) and up. In a stick welder, this means an honest 120 amps and up.

We have a lot of el cheapo "100 amp/120 volt" welders. I put them in quotes since they just don't work that well. They are limited to under 2 kw input. In the US, you need to go to a 240 volt welder to get the amperage you need. That gets you a welder with 200+ amps output (something on the order of 5kw input)

DC is certainly nice but not worth a lot of extra money for the average hobbyist welder. You can do most of the standard home hobbyist projects and repairs with 6011, 6013, and 7018 rod, all run fine on AC.

Balders wrote:

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Thanks for that Roy.

Most of the stick work's going to be 3-4mm onto 3-4mm, box and angle.

I wouldn't be happy using the MIG. It only seems to give decent pen at around 2mm. It's an old machine & I question its max output.

When I made an engine support bar from 3mm plate and 2mm box it was quite tough going for it. That was using .8mm wire, CO2, not so good using Argoshield Universal (75% Ar/24% CO2/2% O2) It's great for bodywork though & it is staying

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You could try grinding a bevel (not a knife edge, though) on the flat of the angle iron then lay on a tapering fillet (almost like cladding it together). Just an idea...


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Was pondering a DC inverter last night. That way I could do scratch start TIG. After I've restored my VW I'm going to (hopefully) modify a commercially available 4-1 stainless header to make it equal length. Subaru Impreza in a '78 VW Bus so nothing 'off the shelf' will fit.

My budget certainly won't stretch to a HF start DC inverters are around £170 new for a 110A, is this worth considering? Would that be enough power for my requirements?

Thanks for the replies so far chaps :)

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Got pix of that bus?

Not to stray too far OT, but I once put a Ford 2.8L V-6 in a 71 VW van, interesting project. I lived in Utah and worked at a ski resort high in the mtns. Folks weren't accustomed to being passed on a steep hill by a VW bus, beep, beep...


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You say you've use MIG quite a bit, the MIG unit you have won't cut 4mm, and that's what you need.

So, why don't you get a new MIG gun? You could keep your older one for jobs you're accustomed to, and pull out the new machine whenever you need to weld

2mm or more. Since you already know how to MIG, you could jump right in! A light duty MIG welder should be able to lay a 4mm bead in one pass, and it won't cost you too much either!

Sound like an idea?


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I wouldn't be happy using the MIG. It only seems to give decent pen at

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Google "hydroforming", you'll see some cool stuff. A lot of times it's easier to just build something instead of modifying..


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Grin factor 10+ eh? ;) The Scooby's a great conversion & looks at home in the back. Makes motorway (highway, 70mph) cruising so effortless. I don't know if I get dirty looks or pure shock when I pass modern stuff on steep hills. Have you got any photos?

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is the engine bay

Then on approx page 5 of the "Subaru Power" are: "My conversion so far" "My conversion PT II" through to "Part IV"

The rad part is under "Kooling" "Show us your rads (busses)"

Did all the fabrication, wiring (but of a mare) myself. I have a desk job which is nothing to do with welding, wiring or fabrication. It's just a hobby for me.

Back on topic... Thanks for the pointers guys :)

I bought a 160A 240V buzz box (for the time being) on Friday afternoon &

2kg of 2mm 6013. Once I've got the arc started I was loving it. Dead easy when the rod's hot, isn't it?!

I ran a 'ploughed field' on some 2mm stock plate. Then progressed onto 3mm or so box section onto 4mm box. I was suprised how neat it looked & with full pen on the 3mm :D

I was kneeling down on slightly damp ground and got a tingle when I changed a rod. Eeeek, gloves on all the time now!

I think I'm going to be buying some 3.2mm rod shortly.

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Thanks for the encouragement guys :) I did have a bash with the 6013 on some old angle that's been in the garden since before I moved in (10+ years, rose arbour). I was impressed, burnt right into the rust/paint after cleaning a starting point and left a reasonable weld com paired to MIG. I was also impressed by the lack of splatter made. I could almost chill out doing this. That's one reason I liked O/A at college, nice and quiet (except for pops!) - unlike MIG.

Just gotta lick starting the rod. Easy when it's hot.

Will try and get some 6011, I think the 6013 is ideal for what I require. I'm making a carport (4 x 5m) using box for the uprights, angle for the horizontals & steel cladding for the roof. If I can swing from it and it stays that'd be enough.

When I come to braze a small area on my van: roof section joins front A posts, entire roof is coming off and a donor one's going on (eeeekkkkk)..... Can you get brazing rods for arc, like you can get brazing wire for MIG? Or will I have to go carbon arc/OA and filler rod? (O/A set up would cost me dear) OG factory is brazed so I won't be able to weld here.

Any advice is much appreciated as I don't know any welders.

Loving what I read on here. You've all been very helpful to me without you even knowing ;) I lurk most days.

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You can get a carbon arc torch for the welder you have. Looks like this:

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have one, use it occasionally, do not recommend it for thin material. The 'flame' is great for cheap heating, provides plenty of heat for brazing castings and such but the flame is too broad to work well on sheet metal.

If you have to go with a stick welder, you can get some 1/16" (1.6mm)

6013, dial the welder down to perhaps 30 amps, and go to it.

Balders wrote:

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Thanks again Roy.

I've been told that you can not weld a previously brazed area. Is this not correct?

VW brazed the front section of the roof to the A posts. I wondered if carbon arc might be a cheap way of brazing two 1" or so sections.

I'll prolly just get a couple of bottles of Oxy for my little Bernz-o-matic for it now. (Damn expensive over here compaired to you guys, approx 17USD a bottle!)

My trusty MIG is all I'll be using for the bodywork. Might get a couple of Carbon rods for shrinking stretched panels though. Worth a try.

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Welding over a brazed area is a no. Steel melts around 3000F, the brazing material around 800F to 1100F. When you hit the brazed area with the mig/stick, the original brazing material boils off in a cloud of smoke. Ruins the brazed joint from the heat, ruins the weld with contamination.

For just a small joint, you might want to try the carbon arc. It will be messy.

For the prices you are quot> >

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