i use a lincoln ac/dc buzz box for home shop work . its been
a good,easy powerfull machine to use .the dc is good on thinner stuff..
but i know a 220 v mig is pretty much the cadilac nowa days . i got a
115v lincoln mig for thin stuff. i like lincoln welders. lucas
I recently purchased a Lincoln SP-180T, and I have to say I'm completely
impressed with it. It is a wirefeed welder, very easy to use, fits on a cheap
Harbor Freight MIG cart (unlike a Hobart Handler) and the gun uses common Tweco
parts. It is physically a small welder, easy to store and move. Like all MIG
welders, you have to know what you're doing a little, but that basically means
you have to run it hot enough. This welder takes 220 power and has a 30% duty
cycle at full rated current. If your angle is 3/16" it can do a full penetration
weld in one pass. If the angle is thicker then you'd have to do multiple passes
to get a 100% weld.
If you want a stick welder, I like and often recommend the Miller Thunderbolt
AC/DC. I've had two of 'em, and only sold the first one because my buddy begged
me. I like the ones from a few years ago, the ones with the detachable leads.
They store easier. If you do get a buzzbox stick welder, find a way to put it on
wheels. I made a cage for mine so it's easy to lift and roll around.
A small MIG can operate from household 120VAC 20A outlets. You may
need to add a 240V outlet for a stick welder everywhere you plan to
use it. A larger 240V MIG can do just about anything if you can
justify the $$.
I think a reasonable cost-sensitive plan is to start with MIG and add
a stick welder later if you outrun the MIG's capacity, which isn't
hard to do. The MIG will still be useful for autobody, building up
worn-down tools, working outdoors on an extension cord or at someone
else's house, etc. If the MIG has a gas kit it's less offensive
indoors, but flux-core is better out in the wind.
OTOH if the wiring isn't an issue an AC stick machine will weld
thicker metal for less investment. I have trouble striking an arc with
a small buzz box and would get at least 125A capacity; 225A is common
and plenty for most home use.
Don't expect to learn welding from a book or video. They help but a
pro can show you how to recognize and correct whatever mistakes you
make. The nuclear-certified instructor at night school easily welded
3/16" steel in one pass with my cheap little 75A Century MIG. That
doesn't mean I'd recommend such a small welder as your only one, I
already had a stick welder and bought the little one to fix old cars.
At my low skill level gas shielding is necessary for thin sheet
If you are talking low end $$ (less than $300 or so) your choices are a
120 volt mig with flux core wire or a buzzbox for stick. For the $700
and up range, a 240 volt wire feed is very nice.
A 120 volt wire feed with flux core welds 1/8" just fine, 3/16" with
good prep, anything over that is multipass. 120 volt input is a plus,
portable is a plus. Most of these can be converted to gas with a $100
kit. Learning to use it is fairly easy.
180 or 225 amp stick welder (buzzbox) will weld much heavier stock, 3/8"
in one pass is easy with decent prep. The DC option is a plus if you
have a choice. Plus side of these is that there are a lot of different
rods to choose from: high strength rods, nickel rods for cast iron, hard
surfacing rods, high fill rods, etc etc. Down side is the need for a 240
volt circuit. Don't even think about a 120 volt stick welder, they are
just terrible to use. Learning cure is a bit longer than wire feed but
we usually get passable, hobbist level welds after a couple hours of
If your target material is 3"x4" x 1/4" or 3/8" angle, you will need the
stick welder. The 120 volt wire feed won't cut it.
My local craigslist.com has a constant stream of 225 amp buzz box
welders for anywhere from $50 to $150. I've paid as little as $5 for
one, but it was missing cables, stinger, helmet and had a broken
amperage adjustment nut.
Jack King wrote:
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