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kreeve
03-29-2017, 03:50 PM
I would like to start building some wire frame props for my christmas light show. From examples I see, welding is a good skill to have.
If I were to invest in a welder for hobby work mainly tac welding of wire frames or aluminum bar/channel, What should I know, or look at in a welder?


All ideas, cautions, and brands/types appreciated/

Kevin

rstehle
03-29-2017, 05:40 PM
I would like to start building some wire frame props for my christmas light show. From examples I see, welding is a good skill to have.
If I were to invest in a welder for hobby work mainly tac welding of wire frames or aluminum bar/channel, What should I know, or look at in a welder?


All ideas, cautions, and brands/types appreciated/

Kevin

IMO most of your welding will be on steel. DO NOT buy a flux wire welder from HF, they are a POS. At a minimum you need a MIG welder, TIG is even better and more versatile (easily welds Aluminum also). Eastwood (http://www.eastwood.com/welders.html) has a private label line of welders that is very competitively priced and they work great. Keep an eye out, Eastwood puts their welders on sale occasionally and you can save big bucks. I started out with the HF POS, but when I started welding on car panels, I quickly moved up to an Eastwood. Very happy with it, and I have used it a lot. MIG welding is quite easy to learn, TIG takes a bit more practice. Buy a GOOD Auto-Darkening welding helmet. The more you can see while you are welding, the better job you will do.

akareaper
03-29-2017, 06:59 PM
I use a HF stick welder on my farm, 90amp, used it to make my mini tree frames, I have no issues with it at all. Mine was like 150 bucks. Use it to fix all kinds of crap. Not often, but enough to say its decent for what I do. But yes, you can spend some coin and get a better welder if you choose. Plus one on a GOOD auto darkening welding helmet. Oh, arm sleeves and good gloves too.

Dougp
03-29-2017, 09:25 PM
I use this one every day with gas and regular wire, no flux to build wireframes with no problems. Been going for over a year now.

http://www.harborfreight.com/welding/mig-flux-welders/180-amp-dc-240-volt-migflux-cored-welder-68886.html

Wayne J
03-29-2017, 09:52 PM
Okay... IF, you are just going to do wire frames, this Lincoln is a good one...
http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200434915_200434915

IF, you may get into other things, then I would get this one as it can be used as a Flux core welder and it also has the gas conversion kit so you can use Argon/CO2 and MIG wire for really nice welds. It is also ready to accept a spool gun for aluminum welding!
http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200405531_200405531

akareaper
03-29-2017, 10:33 PM
And, just a side note, aluminum welding is an art form, IMO. Not as forgiving as steel.

Dkelly0802
03-29-2017, 11:20 PM
I have a lincoln 125 that I bought at Home Depot like 4 years ago. It came with a gas regulator but I rarely use gas. I think it cost me like $375 but has never given me a problem. I read a lot about the Eastwood welders as I do some auto restoration and they always get good reviews. There is an art to all welding so just get a mid budget machine and practice practice practice.

Wolfie
03-30-2017, 11:19 AM
First and foremost, I AM NOT A WELDER. I only have very little experience. But that experience is very much related to the OP's desire. Wireframes.

I agree, the HF welder is crap. But its very very cheap crap that will work for at least part of what the OP is wanting to do. There are several tutorials on converting it from AC to DC and I plan on doing so this summer which appears to improve its performance considerably for minimal additional cost. However, out of the box it does work and can work for your needs, at least on the wireframe aspect. And it can do so on a very small budget. I used it to make this last year:
http://cdn.ipernity.com/200/18/26/44541826.c8e10afe.500.jpg (http://www.ipernity.com/doc/wolfie/44541826)

It went on to become Serena's disco ball halloween costume.
http://cdn.ipernity.com/200/51/68/43525168.a128bfa3.500.jpg (http://www.ipernity.com/doc/wolfie/43525168)

You are NOT going to weld aluminum with it. You are NOT going to weld structural steel with it. It will weld wire of most gauges we will likely be using for wireframes in our projects. It will weld thin mild steel (1/8" rated but I have done thicker though not pretty). It is NOT the best welder by any stretch of the imagination. It is the cheapest though :) Under a hundred clams and you can be making blinky stuff. And it runs on standard 115v. Many of the other welders folks above recommended require 230v. So if you don't have that in your garage/work area, then you are going to either have to stick with smaller cheaper 115v welders or you are gonna need to run a 230v circuit for the welder.

If, and I repeat IF you can afford a better welder, then I would. The HF flux welder spits like a major league pitcher, mainly because its flux but also because its AC. DC conversions do seem to help with that according to everything I can see/read. I will likely find out this summer when I convert mine. At the time, I wasn't expecting to use it much after the disco ball project. I mostly considered it a cost of making the costume and mostly as a consumable and basically a throw away. However I have found it handy to have and used it for tweaking and fixing other odd projects around the house. Had I known I would end up kinda liking welding and have any further use of it, I probably would have opted for one of the Eastwoods. I am not sorry I got the HF cheapie flux welder. IIRC, I think I got it for around $80 on sale with a coupon and considered it a disposable tool. It got the job done, it did more than I asked of it and welded stuff bigger than its rated for. I still have it and will still use it.

Welding wire was, well, how can I say this. Um. A PITA. Never having welded before, took no lessons, and had no tutor or mentor made it a challenge. There is so little room for error before you burn the wire and thats a hard lesson to learn too. Welding flat stock and hardware was a piece of cake compared to thin wire. So prepare yourself for some initial frustrations getting your first wireframes done. Consider them practice pieces. And, if you know a welder, see if you can pick his(her) brain or get a mentor. Wish I had one.

nailhead_ford
03-31-2017, 07:28 PM
I would like to start building some wire frame props for my christmas light show. From examples I see, welding is a good skill to have.
If I were to invest in a welder for hobby work mainly tac welding of wire frames or aluminum bar/channel, What should I know, or look at in a welder?


All ideas, cautions, and brands/types appreciated/

Kevin

For a hobbyist welder I would look at the Eastwoods. A great, reliable product at a reasonable price. A lot of professional welders say they lay a bead as well as a Miller, but I don't know if I would go that far. I would also recommend a 110VAC 135A to 140 A mig with what you are describing your intended use and quantity of use.

Don't take the easy way out and use flux core. It is messy, and I think it is more difficult to tack if you are a beginner.

Eastwood looks to be having a sale right now. Sign up for their email distro (which they will bomb you on) you can get free shipping as well. I have had a lincoln 110 mig and it welded great. I have welded with a Hobart as well and it performed just as nice. Those are both about the same price point about $500, I wold lean towards a Lincoln cause the reliability with those welders are solid. Both the Lincoln and the Hobart are almost twice as much more than the Eastwood for the same amperage and they definitely are not twice the welder.

I currently own an Eastwood 175 and that machine lays a great bead. It also comes with a spool where you can weld aluminium (which I have yet to do).

http://www.eastwood.com/mig-welder-110vac-135a-output.html

Get your bottle from cyber weld. they ship to your house (must be there to sign though). They are the cheapest thing around. You can get a 60lb bottle filled with Ar/CO2 for less than $200. They also have 40lb and 20lb bottles for cheap too.

http://store.cyberweld.com/migaccessories1.html

frederic
04-01-2017, 12:04 AM
If all you'll ever do is wireframes, almost any wire welder will do the trick and many of them are quite cheap.

If you might weld something other than wireframes, you might want to invest in a tool capable of doing other jobs with a duty cycle that's not totally annoying.

Duty cycle is expressed in weld/cool times. Cheap welders might have something ridiculous like 10 seconds weld, 90 seconds cool. Name brands often can do 50/50 all the way to 100/0 because they have cooling systems including massive heat sinks, thicker transformer cores, thicker transformer wires, cooling fans, and so on. Duty cycles are based on the amperage consumed which means for a given welder, welding smaller material will usually give you a better cycle time than welding thicker material. Like I said, for wireframes this may not really be an issue but after making all your wireframe snowman you decide to fix your snowplow, riding mower, truck frame, or build a steel plant hanger for your wife, having something a little better might be a worthwhile investment.

Another thing to consider is buying a used name-brand welder with more capability than a cheapie, minimalist new welder. Some welding stores take trade-ins on higher end, more expensive equipment and maybe there's a deal to be had. It's at least worth looking into.

And if you're really, really, really cheap, and you have two car batteries, a set of jumper cables, and a box of welding sticks laying around, you can do wireframes with that. Sure it's not as pro as turning dials and setting your current more precisely but I built my cousin two wireframe snowmen doing exactly that. It's a trick I learned a long time ago when I was really into 4x4'ing and someone in the group broke a suspension member on a bad landing. This is how we were able to get that truck moving again so it could drive out of the woods for a wrecker to tow it the rest of the way home. The problem was no wrecker was coming into the woods to tow out a three-wheeled truck. Ugly but it worked.

I have a Lincoln 125T (120V) set up for flux-core wire welding which I use more often than the others because it's 120V and convenient since no gas in involved. Mig balls everywhere though.

I have a Lincoln 225T (240V) set up for MIG welding with argon, which I use when the welds need to be pretty and/or the material is thicker.

And I have two plasma cutters, one HF with a built-in air compressor that's long been discontinued (and great for cutting tin foil) and I have a Miller Spectrum 375 that's fed argon and cuts steel to 1/2" like warm butter but it will sever 7/8" steel just fine though it's slow and rather ugly. Still better than a sawzall though!

Hope that helps you out.

THurrle
04-01-2017, 08:22 AM
I have the same welder that Doug P has only it is an older one. I have been using it for 6 years now and never reached duty cycle. Can't go wron gfor a hobby welder. Doug uses his probably 50 times more than I do now.

RogerH
04-01-2017, 06:47 PM
I have one of those cheap HF welders. Yes it does spit some. But for under $100 it's a reasonable deal. I've found one of the important things to be aware of is you need to use a 20 amp circuit. Not that it will blow a breaker on a 15 amp outlet, the voltage drop on the line will have a big impact on your welds. I prefer to run it off my 3500 watt generator. A huge difference without the input voltage dropping.

Merlenemiranda
04-20-2017, 01:16 AM
First and foremost, I AM NOT A WELDER. I only have very little experience. But that experience is very much related to the OP's desire. Wireframes.

I agree, the HF welder is crap. But its very very cheap crap that will work for at least part of what the OP is wanting to do. There are several tutorials on converting it from AC to DC and I plan on doing so this summer which appears to improve its performance considerably for minimal additional cost. However, out of the box it does work and can work for your needs, at least on the wireframe aspect. And it can do so on a very small budget. I used it to make this last year:
http://cdn.ipernity.com/200/18/26/44541826.c8e10afe.500.jpg (http://www.ipernity.com/doc/wolfie/44541826)

It went on to become Serena's disco ball halloween costume.
http://cdn.ipernity.com/200/51/68/43525168.a128bfa3.500.jpg (http://www.ipernity.com/doc/wolfie/43525168)

You are NOT going to weld aluminum with it. You are NOT going to weld structural steel with it. It will weld wire of most gauges we will likely be using for wireframes in our projects. It will weld thin mild steel (1/8" rated but I have done thicker though not pretty). It is NOT the best welder by any stretch of the imagination. It is the cheapest though :) Under a hundred clams and you can be making blinky stuff. And it runs on standard 115v. Many of the other welders folks above recommended require 230v. So if you don't have that in your garage/work area, then you are going to either have to stick with smaller cheaper 115v welders or you are gonna need to run a 230v circuit for the welder.

If, and I repeat IF you can afford a better welder, then I would. The HF flux welder spits like a major league pitcher, mainly because its flux but also because its AC. DC conversions do seem to help with that according to everything I can see/read. I will likely find out this summer when I convert mine. At the time, I wasn't expecting to use it much after the disco ball project. I mostly considered it a cost of making the costume and mostly as a consumable and basically a throw away. However I have found it handy to have and used it for tweaking and fixing other odd projects around the house. Had I known I would end up kinda liking welding and have any further use of it, I probably would have opted for one of the Eastwoods. I am not sorry I got the HF cheapie flux welder. IIRC, I think I got it for around $80 on sale with a coupon and considered it a disposable tool. It got the job done, it did more than I asked of it and welded stuff bigger than its rated for. I still have it and will still use it.

Welding wire was, well, how can I say this. Um. A PITA. Never having welded before, took no lessons, and had no tutor or mentor made it a challenge. There is so little room for error before you burn the wire and thats a hard lesson to learn too. Welding flat stock and hardware was a piece of cake compared to thin wire. So prepare yourself for some initial frustrations getting your first wireframes done. Consider them practice pieces. And, if you know a welder, see if you can pick his(her) brain or get a mentor. Wish I had one.

Eastwood is a good option. Before that, what I think is you need to be good at welding. If you are hobbyist definitely you need to know the basic welding. Go with the vast and vivid google. Youtube is my best teacher but when it comes to the practical session it lacks. I have experience. I started welding with the help of youtube, I surfed for the welding videos, tips, safety measures while doing the welding from there. It is really helpful for small welding works but when it comes to professional it lacks. Mainly because it is difficult to clear our doubts. So, the better option is to go for regular courses. There are many welding programs are available like 4 days tool and die courses (http://www.weldtechtraining.com/welding-courses/customized-welding-courses/gtaw-tig/g-t-w-tig-tool-die-welding/?start=05/23/2017&end=05/26/2017). Better you choose such welding programs or night classes and get trained in it.

elaress
05-14-2018, 02:33 AM
Miller, Hobart and Lincoln make portable welders with that much auxillary power in a few models of each brand. Some won't have all the welding capabilities for TIG or MIG but those that cost a bit more will. That is what they were built for to supply more auxillary power at job sites yet also be able to put out more on 220V auxillary for emergencies. Step up to some of their larger models too with small diesel engines and they are very fuel efficient compared to gas models and some of the air cooled models can be bought OEM to run on propane. Some don't understand everyone can not afford all the toys they want.The gasoline engine on any of the 10 kW welder generators runs at 3,600 rpm when electricity is being consumed or welding is being done. Adding load to the generator would be sensed by the governor and the throttle would be opened more - the speed would vary little. Also, the rotating mass of a 10kW size rotor and its 20 hp engine will allow very little droop in rpm when a large load is added. I think you have little to worry about here. Do not use the automatic idle feature when making electricity.
I have a Lincoln Ranger 8 welder (https://mechanicguides.com/best-cheap-welders-money/) which I originally bought using your logic: weld, power my shop and provide emergency power. However, I have since learned that the Lincoln is a pretty good welder, and a very noisy and inefficient generator (although it makes power just fine). I have now purchased Onan diesel generators for the power needs, and the welder is reserved for just welding and powering the grinder. The smaller diesel burns 0.25 gallons per hour, while the welder burns a bit more than 1 gallon per hour. That adds up over 200 hours per year. Yesterday on Youtube saw a bunch of videos on a similar topic,check out this one, I hope it helps you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLk26GACZ48

sittro
03-12-2019, 12:33 AM
Thanks for all the advice in this thread. I'm not sure I can clear enough space in my garage to weld without catching stuff on fire. What kind of welder would you recommend for welding wireframes in the back yard?

THurrle
03-12-2019, 09:28 AM
If you are going to do tig I would get this one. Does mig, tig and stick. I had great luck with the Vulcan. 1 year risk free money back guarantee. Can't go wrong trying it. They will stand behind the risk free. https://www.harborfreight.com/protig-200-industrial-welder-with-120240-volt-input-63619.html

rstehle
03-12-2019, 11:00 AM
I would still opt for the Eastwood MIG Welder...........

kev
03-12-2019, 11:32 AM
Bought this one from Home Depot. My understanding is that this brand is owned by Lincoln. Don't know if that makes it any better. But it only weighs 17 pounds and runs off 120vac. I was able to weld some thin wall square tubing to repair a gate. i also made some brackets and guides for a barn door for my shed. Ihad never welded before. I bought the auto darkening helmet from Harbor Freight.
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Century-90-Amp-FC90-Flux-Core-Wire-Feed-Welder-and-Gun-120V-K3493-1/302139495

sittro
07-12-2019, 05:15 PM
Thanks for all the advice. Can I weld in my garage? I have a metal work table, but it is in the corner right up against the walls (exposed studs). How much space around the part should I have for MIG?