Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 19

Thread: What Welder to get?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Posts
    127
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default What Welder to get?

    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

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Colorado Springs
    Posts
    3,712
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: What Welder to get?

    Quote Originally Posted by kreeve View Post
    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 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.
    Last edited by rstehle; 03-29-2017 at 05:48 PM.

  3. Thanks kreeve thanked for this post
  4. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Shelby Township MI
    Posts
    274
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: What Welder to get?

    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.

  5. Thanks kreeve thanked for this post
  6. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Omaha, NE
    Posts
    2,029
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: What Welder to get?

    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...der-68886.html
    Doug

    Having Fun with Wire Frames and Lights.

    www.wireframedlites.com
    Custom Hand Made In USA

    FaceBook:
    http://www.facebook.com/wireframedlites

    Phillips Family Display
    http://www.facebook.com/phillipsfamilydisplay

  7. Thanks kreeve thanked for this post
  8. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Mooresville, NC
    Posts
    7,552
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: What Welder to get?

    Okay... IF, you are just going to do wire frames, this Lincoln is a good one...
    http://www.northerntool.com/shop/too...4915_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/too...5531_200405531
    James Family Christmas - 1600 channels of SS Renard channels
    Website - http://jamesfamilychristmas.com/ <<broken
    Facebook - James Family Christmas


  9. Thanks kreeve thanked for this post
  10. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Shelby Township MI
    Posts
    274
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: What Welder to get?

    And, just a side note, aluminum welding is an art form, IMO. Not as forgiving as steel.

  11. Thanks kreeve thanked for this post
    Likes AuburnLights, Dougp liked this post
  12. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Somers point nj
    Posts
    424
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: What Welder to get?

    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.

  13. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Milwaukee
    Posts
    2,225
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: What Welder to get?

    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:


    It went on to become Serena's disco ball halloween costume.


    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.

  14. Thanks kreeve thanked for this post
  15. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    San Antonio, TX
    Posts
    79
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: What Welder to get?

    Quote Originally Posted by kreeve View Post
    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-1...5a-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

  16. Thanks kreeve thanked for this post
  17. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    New Jersey, USA
    Posts
    499
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: What Welder to get?

    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.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •