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Andrew Boatman 12-27-2004 10:57 AM

In searching the archives I did not find a lot on welders. What do you all use and recomend? Planning for light usage around the shop. Putting together some display type things.
Looked at the Miller/Hobart 135 units. The Lincoln is available at Lowes too.

Steve Stadelman 12-27-2004 11:33 AM

Well, what's kind of crazy is that if you buy a 120v wire welder, You need to spend 7-800 dollars to make it what you want to use. If you go ahead and spend $1100-$1200 on a nice Miller 210 or something like that you will have a serious tool that will last 20 years.

If you are just going to get a stick welder go ahead and buy something that runs on 240v so you can get things done.

I have both 120 and 240v wire welders and while the 120 is viable for field work, for anything else it is really just annoying.

Dave Bross 12-27-2004 11:33 AM

The old red Lincoln "jukebox" welder is probably one of the best general light duty stick welders for the money. You really don't need DC, just AC, and that makes it much more economical. They're not what they used to be (aluminum windings instead of copper...I think?) but still very good. You won't be using it at anywhere near its maximum capacity. Best bet is if you can find an older unit or better yet an older unit of any brand that has a crank wheel on top for infinite adjustment of heat.

I don't know how much you know about stick welding but I would suggest using 7014 or 7018 rods. Much easier to weld with and stronger than the traditional 6011 or 6013. Use a rod at least one size under 1/8" (can't remember the actual size)for most of what you'll probably be doing, and even smaller for your display work. If you need more weld area, multiple passes actually anneal the passes before them, and the tiny stuff will weld better with the smaller rods.

Get yourself a chop saw. You'll be ready to conquer the world, or at least weld it together on a small scale. I haven't cut anything with a torch since I gave up the scrap metal business. The torch cuts have to be ground after cutting, hence one advantage of the chop saw. Not to mention the expense and hassle of having available bottled oxy/acetylene or propane. One pass and done with the chop saw. Mitering (angles)capabilities with the chop saw too. I won't even go into all my non-OSHA approved behaviors with the chop saw, but let's just say it has amazing versatility on a number of fronts. Eye protection mandatory. If the chop saw wheel blows apart from some marginal operator behavior or just from a flaw (it happens)you'll be glad your eyes were covered.

Pete VanderLaan 12-27-2004 11:42 AM

I still have my miller thunderbolt that I bought in 1969 for 75 bucks. I have had to replace the cables. Do not bother will a 115 volt welder unless you are punishing cows.

Alexander Adams 12-27-2004 11:42 AM

I wouldn't buy a welder from a Big Box Store. Nobody at Lowes or Home Depot will be able to answer future tech questions (if you can even find a sales person) and chances are they will never have the best prices on consumables, gloves, goop to keep the nozzle clean, and other related items. Even if you have to spend a few bucks more at a Welding Supply Store, the purchase will be worth it and in some cases will let you test drive the machines. They will have an easier time getting machines repaired and back into service than the dunces at Lowes. Develope a relationship with a welding supply store and you will be rewarded.

I wouldn't spend a lot on a the least expensive mig welder because for just a little more money you should be able to find a lightly used, higher amped unit at a Welding Supply Store, Ebay or Pawn Shop. As more and more people "Crack Out" or venture further into debt, Pawn Shops and Used Tool Stores will be brimming with treasures. Make sure that you wont be stuck with a flux core only situation or you might as well buy a stick welder.

The only thing I wouldn't suggest buying at a Welding Supply Store are the 90/45 degree magnets. Buy those at Harbor Freight when they are on sale for $2. Do, however, spring for the expensive 90 degree clamps at the Welding Supplier if you need them. The Chinese only seem to make crappy 87 and 93 degree clamps for $10 and they aren't any help at all.


Steve Stadelman 12-27-2004 11:45 AM

87 and 93 degree, that's pretty funny!

Pete VanderLaan 12-27-2004 11:45 AM

The chinese clamps are only useful for throwing at the cows once the've been cornered. Otherwise Vise Grip name brand only.

Rick Sherbert 12-27-2004 11:48 AM

Dudley Giberson told me when I was learning, "The first thing you need to know to be a glassblower is how to weld" And he taught us.

I bought my first stick welder for $100 at a flea market. The old Lincoln tombstone served me well. I now have a Miller MIG (don't know the model # off hand) that I bought new for about $1200. It's always ready to go and a beginner (my studio assistant) can produce passable welds with only an hour's practice. The Miller has paid for itself over the years.

It's like blowpipes, everyone has their favorite. But most of what I see now on pro trucks is Miller.

Make friends at your local welding supply shop, mine occasionally has deals or used equipment.

Steve Stadelman 12-27-2004 11:57 AM

It sound like you probably have a Miller really close to my 210 Rick. Like I said earlier, it just pays to buy a good one upfront, even if it seems expensive upfront, over the long term it will be so worth it.

R. Scott Johnson 12-27-2004 11:59 AM

Don't forget that every good shop needs and wants a plasma cutter. Chopsaws are fine for straight cuts but the plasma cutter is pure heaven!

Steve Stadelman 12-27-2004 12:59 PM

I use the crap out of my plasma cutter but for someone putting a shop together it is really about 95% want 5% need.

I would just buy a good name brand 240v wire feed to start with. Dave Bross is right about the stick welding stuff but he obviously knows how to weld with one. It is really alot of time and energy to learn how to correctly weld stick although it is a lot cheaper on the outlay.

When I was looking for my whole suite of equipment the used stuff was just as expensive as new and e-bay was more expensive than my local welding supplier.

Ben Rosenfield 12-27-2004 01:06 PM

Lots of old timers recommend something like this Hobart. It does AC and DC stick for greater versatility. Plus you can upgrade it to use the DC side for TIG welding later on. That model can be had new at places like Tractor Supply for less than $400.

Alexander Adams 12-27-2004 02:10 PM

Steve, have you seen the circle cutting rig for the Hypertherm Plasma Cutters? If you find yourself needing to cut out verious sized holes, it's well worth it.


Glenn Randle 12-27-2004 03:50 PM

I picked up an auto darkening helmet at Harbor Frt for $40 a few weeks ago. Haven't welded with it yet but it passed the 100 watt light bulb test. I'm sure my welding will be much easier with it, flipping the old one up & down was a hassle.

PS Too bad we aren't all neighbors. We could all share tools and drink beer together. It seems like I've collected almost every tool you could want and most of them have a very thick layer of dust between uses. Pete, I wish your tractor wasn't 2000 miles away, my driveway is almost a 4x4 only road. And I'd change everyone's motor oil for free! I'd probably get in trouble for teaching everybody's kids to cuss, spit, and smoke!


Steve Stadelman 12-27-2004 04:01 PM

Sorry Glen, I just cannot trust Harbor Freight for anything safety related, I don't put anything under thier chainfall hoists, I won't buy one of their welding helmets.

Glenn Randle 12-27-2004 04:04 PM

It's obvious that the Chinese don't even know how to make good condoms yet!

Steve Stadelman 12-27-2004 04:09 PM

Alex, I have seen those but don't need one yet. Glen, spitting and cussing are O.K. but the smoking is right out.

Donovan Brooke 12-27-2004 06:26 PM

...along the same vein
Well, I'm in need of a metal chop saw as well as something that would cut "ends" off of potentially delicate glass (vessels and such).

This may be another futile attempt at trying to kill two birds with one stone (to try and save some $), but is there a saw out there that I could use for both metal and glass? (changing blades of course)

...or will I just need to bit the bullet?


Steve Stadelman 12-27-2004 06:40 PM

Sorry Dude, get out a musket ball, this is gonna hurt.

Jeff Hoover 12-27-2004 06:41 PM

Re: ...along the same vein

Originally posted by Donovan Brooke
Well, I'm in need of a metal chop saw as well as something that would cut "ends" off of potentially delicate glass (vessels and such).

This may be another futile attempt at trying to kill two birds with one stone (to try and save some $), but is there a saw out there that I could use for both metal and glass? (changing blades of course)

...or will I just need to bit the bullet?


I just got a tile saw. It's water lubricated and has a diamond blade. I'll be trying it out soon on glass and can let you know how it does. I don't expect it's OK for metal, but it's not bad ($129)

Glenn Randle 12-27-2004 06:46 PM

You can cut glass up to about 1" thick with a tile saw, the little table saw style ones are about $60 at Lowes or HD. I think I paid about $150 for my import metal chop saw from Northern back in 92' , it's been a good one. Harbor Frt sells them for $59 but I wouldn't buy one unless there's a Hbr Ftr store nearby, it might be junk.
I don't think it would be wothwhile trying to cut glass and metal with the same tool. You could do it if your life depended on it, or for a million bucks, or for a dog-double-dare.
There are band saw blades for glass and also blades for metal but you wouldn't chop angle iron on the type of band saw that would work well with glass.

Buy a chop saw for the metal then build a glass saw. You can do anything with a chop saw, a welder, and a pile of metal.....well almost anything.

Richard Huntrods 12-27-2004 11:45 PM

Yee-Haw! Got me a big-ol' Lincoln-Bubba 240V wire welder (it's got a big ol' Nascar sticker on the side) a year ago when I started out. It was on sale at Crappy Tire for $650, and has the fittings for gas.

It was recommended by a welder buddy of Randy's, and has turned out to be just great. I built everything I needed out of it (furnace, annealer, glory hole add-ons, etc) - after learning to weld, of course.


p.s. One thing I learned the hard way... don't weld in shorts. The arc can cause some serious sunburn! (I never did get burned by spatter or anything - just the nasty sunburn).

Douglas Terry 12-27-2004 11:57 PM

I bought my Lincoln 220 volt tombstone type welder in 1968. I have no idea of how many hundred pounds of welding rod it has used but many. It cost $119 from the Alden's catalog and it still works as good today as it did then.

When your ship comes in, a good plasma cutter is a wonderful thing to have and a decent wire feed welder is very nice, but you can build anything you can imagine with a decent new or used 220 volt stick welder. Doug Terry

[quote]Originally posted by Dave Bross
[b]The old red Lincoln "jukebox" welder is probably one of the best general light duty stick welders for the money. You really don't need DC, just AC, and that makes it much more economical. They're not what they used to be (aluminum windings instead of

TC Robertson 12-28-2004 01:25 AM

I have to admit only owning a welder for a short time. I have worked on and built studios for 25 years, and it was always a loaner or the school's. The one I currently "borrow" is a Miller thunderbolt, oldy but a goody. The guy it belongs to recieved several hundred $ in lampshades so it may be a permanent loan.
I got a little Sears wire rig and the gas setup was missing, that flux core wire sucks! I imagine it will be good for thin sheet.

Oh, I did get one those Harbor Fright self darkeners, done several thousand (we used rebar in our product) welds with no problem. Once an assistant let it fill with H2O, still fine after it dried out. A little foggy for a while.

I swear welders have been $75 used for eternity, seems to be a very common price.

The welders sunburn is a real concern, and it may cause wrinkles.

Later, TC :D

Dave Bross 12-28-2004 12:05 PM

Amen Doug!

Using a wire welder is just like putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, so quite good for first timers.

If you want to try a stick welder, be sure to try with the rod numbers I mentioned above (7014 or 7018). Those rods are referred to as "drag rods" in that you don't have to be precise in holding your arc length. You can actually just drag them along and wiggle them side to side a bit . If you can get the arc struck you will produce something resembling a weld on your first try. Most encouraging.

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