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What would be a good small welder for someone who is just starting out? I don't want to go all in and then find out I just don't have the the knack but I also don't want to buy a pile of junk and get frustrated because of poor equipment.
 

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Don't buy a welder, go take a class. You'll get started on the right foot, get to try a lot of different processes and use different machines. You'll figure out what you like and what you don't and if you decide welding isn't for you you're not stuck with a welder and the education always looks good on a resume.
 

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You didn't say what type of welding you are interested in. I mean, are you wanting to do fabrication or wanting to do repairs around the homestead? Most welders will require a 50A 220V outlet? Do you have one of those available? If not, is it something you can easily add?

Next, watch Craigslist and pick up a cheap Lincoln Tombstone welder. They can usually be had for $150-$175. I found a mint condition 225AC-DC for $175. You can learn a lot by stick welding. Watch as many YouTube videos as you have time. Stick welding is cheap and very capable.

This is what I did and I'm very satisfied. I can do most repairs and have even fabricated some stuff.

The nice thing about the Lincoln Tombstone welders is you can usually resell them for exactly what you paid for them.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
You didn't say what type of welding you are interested in. I mean, are you wanting to do fabrication or wanting to do repairs around the homestead? Most welders will require a 50A 220V outlet? Do you have one of those available? If not, is it something you can easily add?

Next, watch Craigslist and pick up a cheap Lincoln Tombstone welder. They can usually be had for $150-$175. I found a mint condition 225AC-DC for $175. You can learn a lot by stick welding. Watch as many YouTube videos as you have time. Stick welding is cheap and very capable.

This is what I did and I'm very satisfied. I can do most repairs and have even fabricated some stuff.

The nice thing about the Lincoln Tombstone welders is you can usually sell them for exactly what you paid for them.
Thanks, yes, I forgot to mention that. Just light fabrication and things like that for now. Really just want to learn and play, just something I've been interested in for quite awhile.
 

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Thanks, yes, I forgot to mention that. Just light fabrication and things like that for now. Really just want to learn and play, just something I've been interested in for quite awhile.
Way back when I was able I wanted to teach myself also. But having an old wood plank floor in the barn and shop kind of put the stops to the idea.

Good luck - I have always had this insatiable need to learn.
 

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You've already gotten great advice.
As far as having the knack- Anybody can produce strong welds, if they practice. That is the key, not natural ability. Weld, weld, and weld more. The more rod (or wire) that you run, the more that you'll get it. Taking a class is great, in many respects, but even that won't take the place of practice at home. Buy what you can afford- a good welder is money well spent, and you can get your money back out of it- and don't worry about whether you have the ability or not. You will, if you weld, weld, and weld some more.
One more thing- I hear it all the time- "I want to get the stacked dime look". Don't get caught up in that. There are lots of nice, clean, straight welds run, that are weak. Focus on the fundamentals and good penetration, and don't worry so much about a pretty weld. That will come, with practice. A beautiful bead that is stronger than the field around it. The beauty is optional, the strength isn't.
 

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Subscribed to thread.

I’ve seriously considered taking an welding class at the local community college.

They teach all types in the intro class. Going to have to look into it more.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 

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I took an adult class at the local JR college years ago and learned the basics. I still have and use the electric Buzz Box stick welder when I need to weld something. One thing I learned is keep you rods dry. I bought 50lbs box of rod because it was a lot cheaper that way. I used about 3lbs and the rest absorbed so much moisture I had to throw them away. My welder is so old it was from Monkey Wards and it still welds fine.
 

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Way back when I was able I wanted to teach myself also. But having an old wood plank floor in the barn and shop kind of put the stops to the idea.

Good luck - I have always had this insatiable need to learn.
Same here. I do all of my welding outside. I use only flex core wire in my little MIG unit that way I don't have to use shielding gas outside.

Welding outside is not a problem really... just have to limit yourself to when it is not raining. :)
 

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One thing I learned is keep you rods dry. I bought 50lbs box of rod because it was a lot cheaper that way. I used about 3lbs and the rest absorbed so much moisture I had to throw them away. My welder is so old it was from Monkey Wards and it still welds fine.
What was the alloy, 7018? I've never had a problem with 6013 which is my go-to rod of choice. I've had an open box in our dirt basement for many years and they still run fine. 7018 though, you do need to keep dry if possible.
 

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E6013 The outside coating started crumbling so I tossed them now buy 1lb at a time when I need it.
 

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One other piece of advice I will offer. No matter what route you go get yourself an auto darkening helmet. Even a $50 auto darkening helmet from Northerntool.com will make welding easier. Years ago I tried stick welding with my dad's old standard helmet and it was horrible. I was always sticking the rod or starting the bead in the wrong place. It wasn't until later years when I picked up a cheap auto darkening helmet that suddenly stick welding became easy and FUN. And... I could actually SEE what was going on. :)
 

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Same here. I do all of my welding outside. I use only flex core wire in my little MIG unit that way I don't have to use shielding gas outside.

Welding outside is not a problem really... just have to limit yourself to when it is not raining. :)
Pretty dumb of me to not think of doing that. Being this was my first ever barn/garage/shop in my life when we bought this place I just automatically do everything inside.
 

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Don't buy a welder, go take a class. You'll get started on the right foot, get to try a lot of different processes and use different machines. You'll figure out what you like and what you don't and if you decide welding isn't for you you're not stuck with a welder and the education always looks good on a resume.
You've already gotten great advice.
As far as having the knack- Anybody can produce strong welds, if they practice. That is the key, not natural ability. Weld, weld, and weld more. The more rod (or wire) that you run, the more that you'll get it. Taking a class is great, in many respects, but even that won't take the place of practice at home. Buy what you can afford- a good welder is money well spent, and you can get your money back out of it- and don't worry about whether you have the ability or not. You will, if you weld, weld, and weld some more.
One more thing- I hear it all the time- "I want to get the stacked dime look". Don't get caught up in that. There are lots of nice, clean, straight welds run, that are weak. Focus on the fundamentals and good penetration, and don't worry so much about a pretty weld. That will come, with practice. A beautiful bead that is stronger than the field around it. The beauty is optional, the strength isn't.
Both of these are very good suggestions. Taking a class will really help get you started, but even then you need to practice, practice, practice. I took a couple of semesters of night courses in welding at the local community college many moons ago and was becoming a pretty fair welder, then got transferred by my employer and never touched a welder again for at least 20 years.

So when I did take it up again I still retained much from the classes but had to practice a lot just to get back to where I had been. Even now I go so long between using one sometimes that I often have to practice first before actually welding something.

Good luck with it.
 

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You've already gotten great advice.
As far as having the knack- Anybody can produce strong welds, if they practice. That is the key, not natural ability. Weld, weld, and weld more. The more rod (or wire) that you run, the more that you'll get it. Taking a class is great, in many respects, but even that won't take the place of practice at home. Buy what you can afford- a good welder is money well spent, and you can get your money back out of it- and don't worry about whether you have the ability or not. You will, if you weld, weld, and weld some more.
One more thing- I hear it all the time- "I want to get the stacked dime look". Don't get caught up in that. There are lots of nice, clean, straight welds run, that are weak. Focus on the fundamentals and good penetration, and don't worry so much about a pretty weld. That will come, with practice. A beautiful bead that is stronger than the field around it. The beauty is optional, the strength isn't.
Great post.
 

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My father retired as a 42 year welding animal. He tried to teach me and i got it but didnt practice enough to get really profecient. Later, he and i built 3 trailers, 6x12 flatbed single axle and i got pretty good. He showed me auto darkening helmets and it made me even better. Hes my go to still not so much because i get free welding but i get to spend time with him. We even got into some stainless heliarc stuff which is a totally different animal.
 

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What would be a good small welder for someone who is just starting out? I don't want to go all in and then find out I just don't have the the knack but I also don't want to buy a pile of junk and get frustrated because of poor equipment.
okay. You have already gotten very sound advice so I won't add any more. As for welders. Yes. A buzz box is a great addition to any mans fab shop. As for an entry level MIG rig, Hobart has a decent little machine that you can pick up at the tractor supply. I have never had much luck out of a 110v welder but others have. If you can, get a 220v machine. Flux core definitely has its applications and for starting out, it's a great idea. As for TIG machines, Miller makes the best suitcase welder IMO. BUT, we have a couple ESAB rigs that are about $800 complete. While they are a little more limiting than the Miller and I don't prefer them, it's really because of the machine set up instead of the weld quality. The ESAB welds great, and for half the money, you can't beat it. you just have a little more freedom to move around with the Miller. So there you go. Have fun. Oh. And don't give up quickly. It WILL take a LOT of practice to get proficient. But man when you do! YOU open up so many doors for yourself!
 

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Hey Pat I went through this a couple years back. It had been 20 years since I welded and thought about an adult night class but they cancelled them. So I figured it would be a practice and patience sort of retraining.

For a decent entry level you should plan on $600-$1200. A stick is cheaper and probably in the $400-$800 range. Not sure if those prices are accurate anymore but it's a ballpark.

IMO skip anything that is 120v. Get a 240v welder so you know you have some capabilities. If you choose a mig the Miller and Lincoln autoset welders are very nice and I sometimes wish I would have chosen that feature. I've made some ugly welds by forgetting to change the settings or reaching and changing the wrong one.

I think I can lay a decent bead now but it still wouldn't compare the guys on here that weld everyday or multiple times a week. But I'm not concerned about my welds looking pretty but rather they hold up to the task. After all I'm the only one I have to please.

Stick or mig both have pluses and some negatives but both methods make strong welds. It comes down to your preference.

If mig look at getting a power cord extension. Comes in handy depending on where your outlet is at. Allows you extra reach.

If stick maybe look at a small rod oven to keep humidity out of your rods.

What would be the thickest stock you would use? This could help you choose the size you might want.
 

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Don't buy a welder, go take a class. You'll get started on the right foot, get to try a lot of different processes and use different machines. You'll figure out what you like and what you don't and if you decide welding isn't for you you're not stuck with a welder and the education always looks good on a resume.
Agree 100%
 
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