Welder Recommendation?

I'm looking to purchase a welder for home projects. The maximum weld
material will probably be 3x4 angle steel (iron?) for trailers. Possibly
something a bit thicker, but not much. Arc vs. Mig? Your assistance is
Reply to
Jack King
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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
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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.
Reply to
Grant Erwin
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 $$.
I think a reasonable cost-sensitive plan is to start with MIG and add a stick welder later if you outrun the MIG's capacity, which isn't hard to do. The MIG will still be useful for autobody, building up worn-down tools, working outdoors on an extension cord or at someone else's house, etc. If the MIG has a gas kit it's less offensive indoors, but flux-core is better out in the wind.
OTOH if the wiring isn't an issue an AC stick machine will weld thicker metal for less investment. I have trouble striking an arc with a small buzz box and would get at least 125A capacity; 225A is common and plenty for most home use.
Don't expect to learn welding from a book or video. They help but a pro can show you how to recognize and correct whatever mistakes you make. The nuclear-certified instructor at night school easily welded 3/16" steel in one pass with my cheap little 75A Century MIG. That doesn't mean I'd recommend such a small welder as your only one, I already had a stick welder and bought the little one to fix old cars. At my low skill level gas shielding is necessary for thin sheet metal.
Jim Wilkins
Reply to
Jim Wilkins
If you are talking low end $$ (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 practice.
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 K> Gentlemen:
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