Welding

SteveBX23

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BX23S
May 23, 2021
45
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18
South Jersey
Can someone dumb it down for me?

I understand there are different applications for different metals, size metals, and such. I have never welded nor tried. I am dying to learn how, but not sure where one should or could start. So…

What type/size welder is a good place to start?

What type/gauge metal would be best to learn to work with?

At the end of the day, most of my desire to weld would have to do with modifying my tractor or dump trailer. And knowing welding is a skilled craft, I know it takes a whole lot of time to get “good” at it. I’m not looking for showman quality work, just enough to safely mend two pieces of metal together.

Thanks!
 
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JimmyJazz

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B2601
Aug 8, 2020
589
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Pittsburgh, Pa
I would suggest buying a used stick welder off of craigslist for around $100. The Lincoln "tombstone" welders are very popular and inexpensive. I would try and buy some scrap metal from a scrapyard to practice on. Youtube has plenty of tutorials available. Its harder than it looks based on my experience.
 

bird dogger

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Feb 24, 2019
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For just starting out you're pretty much talking either "mig" or "stick" welders. If you go to Youtube and search: "beginning welding", "Learning to weld", etc. you'll see all kinds of videos on the basics and what each type of machine has over the other.

Like mentioned, the old Lincoln "tombstone" welders can be had for pretty cheap and are great machines.
For just starting out and purely for the ease of learning, I would vote for a small wire feed "mig" welder. You might have to spend a little more up front but it might be much less frustrating while in the beginning of the learning stage. And some of the new inverter based welders can be had for a pretty reasonable price nowadays. They draw much less power, smaller, lighter and more portable.

Watching some of those youtube videos of each type will help you decide which way you'd feel most comfortable starting out with.

The best thing you can do in getting started that most everyone would agree on is to purchase a good auto darkening helmet. The bigger the viewing area means the more you can see of your project and it makes things a whole lot easier.

Edit: For practice metal.....I would suggest going to a machine fabrication shop and see if you can buy some of their scrap cut off pieces. They'd be fairly clean already and you wouldn't have to clean the rust off them. And any size thickness scraps of 1/8", 3/16", 1/4", etc etc. would work great just for "running beads on" to get familiar with your welder and its settings. A variety for learning on is great.

My little mig welder is 140 amps max and does probably 95% of everything needed for me......and at a much less setting than 140 amps. The stick welder only comes out for some heavy duty welding on very thick metal such as framework. It all depends on the size of your future projects.

You will most likely have much more control on welding thinner metal with a wire feed welder than with a stick welder. If you're always planning on heavy duty projects with much thicker metal than the stick welder might be right for you.

An Inverter based welder can do both types and more, depending on how much you'd like to spend.
 
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BruceP

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G5200H
Aug 7, 2016
544
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Richmond, Vermont, USA
There are 100s of Utube videos.... some of them VERY good (others not worth the time)

Also, many local high-shools offer 'adult classes' for basic welding. (couple evening hours a week)

i can tell you I 'learned' in this way then spent a summer welding/rebuilding the mowdeck on my Kubota.
Thin steel (such as on a mowdeck) is NOT an easy thing to weld. It is all too easy to blow holes thru it without the proper technique.
 

jimh406

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Kubota L2501 with R4 tires
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Consider buying an inexpensive 110V MIG Flux Core Welder like the ones sold at Harbor Freight. You can learn the basics with it. Since they are barely over $100, don’t require a 220V outlet and can weld in the wind, they are a very good deal.

MIG process is very simple and fast to learn and fast to weld.
 
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GreensvilleJay

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BX23-S
Apr 2, 2019
2,919
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Greensville,Ontario,Canada
I bought a Lincoln AC-225-S welder in '86, cheaper than having a fabshop weld my precut flatdeck for my F100. Still runs GREAT. It's an AC only machine, so I ONLY use Name brand 7018AC rods... that AC is important !! Have never,ever had a 'bad weld' due to using those rods. Autodark helmut is a GREAT invention. keep rods in a warm DRY place(heat duct in bsmt works well !) CLEAN steel, lots of practice and 7018AC rods. 1/7(3mm) for 'heavy steel',(125A), 3/32 for rider mower deck repairs(40A).
No need for a flux core machine, which do NOT like humid dayze.....they need 'pampering', speed of feed, cleaning,etc. if 'dialed in' they work great on new, clean steel...best for production lines.
For anything 'fancy' or 'tricky', I ask my neighbour as he's certified in all metals and owns a huge fabshop.
 

Henro

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See if the local community college offers adult learning classes in welding.

Low cost and a meaningful experience.

Nothing beats some hands on instruction.

Been there, done that. Recommend it.

Of course you will need to buy a helmet and so on. But you will anyway.
 
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JimmyJazz

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B2601
Aug 8, 2020
589
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Pittsburgh, Pa
Do not do what I did and buy an old Lincoln SAM 400. Its as big as a car and terrifying to use. I saw it on YouTube and found one on craigslist. Before the the proliferation of internet sites life was much simpler for me. The welder is among the most "manly" of my coveted hillbilly possessions. I am still trying to "lay a pretty bead". Its capable of blasting a hole in heavy steel plate. Ungodly smoke, sparks, and noise. Its as close to playing in Led Zeppelin as I can get. Rock on !
 
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xrocketengineer

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BX1880, FEL, Grapple, 36 in. Forks, 48in. MMM, Quick Spade, Ripper
Nov 14, 2020
297
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Merritt Island, Florida
Consider buying an inexpensive 110V MIG Flux Core Welder like the ones sold at Harbor Freight. You can learn the basics with it. Since they are barely over $100, don’t require a 220V outlet and can weld in the wind, they are a very good deal.

MIG process is very simple and fast to learn and fast to weld.
I started with the HF 110V MIG Flux Core Welder and started making strong ( and some ugly welds) very quickly. When we were restoring my friends 69 Camaro, most of the thicker sheet metal like the firewall and floor was all done with my welder and his small Lincoln MIG/Flux convertible in flux mode. Once we started getting into the thinner sheet metal like replacing the roof and patching the fenders an so on, then we switched his to MIG with the Argon/CO2 mix and we used smaller diameter wire.
I had tried several times when I was young to weld with stick and it was most of the time a disaster. I might have welding rods that were for DC current on AC machine or the correct AC rod for the machine but too thick of a rod for the machine and application, the rods were too old and did not work well and all kinds of nonsense including I could get to maintain the proper gap with the stick for continuous welding. With the HF flux machine there is none of that. Keep the wire in plastic sealed bag and you are ready to go, only two setting for current and in most cases the lower one is the one to use unless the weld is not getting enough penetration. The wire feed rate is too low if instead of welding you are blowing holes and too high if you are making big balls of weld and the wire is getting stuck and shorted.
I welded some patches for another friend on his corroded bush hog and when I was ready to upgrade my welder he bought the welder for almost what I paid for it.
 
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SteveBX23

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BX23S
May 23, 2021
45
38
18
South Jersey
Heads spinning, but I’m grasping most of the information, which is great info, thank you. Seeking an evening class at local school never crossed my mind but that’s a good idea. Though I tend to learn best with figuring it out for myself :unsure:

I know YouTube would be the place to go, but I have searched before, and most of the top rated videos were lengthy, beer or whiskey drink worthy so I will find time to watch them. And it’s understandable why, lots of variables and complexity in it.

MIG would be capable of welding what gauge steel? Tractor bucket thickness?

Are all stick welders gas fed?

Id be looking for home application where I wouldnt have to modify any electrical runs to accommodate and higher voltage.
 
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Fordtech86

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L3200
Aug 7, 2018
2,445
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Pineville,LA
Self taught through work, won’t give advise on process 🤣 1/4”-3/8” roughly good for practice. Finding free/cheap scrap pieces is good advice for practice.

But using stick, mig, and tig, tig is hands down my preferred machine. I find much more control with the tig and it was easier learning curve for me then was mig/stick.

Easy for me to say as I don’t have to buy the machine.
 

BruceP

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G5200H
Aug 7, 2016
544
115
43
Richmond, Vermont, USA
MIG would be capable of welding what gauge steel? Tractor bucket thickness?
MIG uses gas (Metal Inert Gas).... Consider "flux core" (FCAW... Flux Core Arc Welding) which does NOT need gas bottles. FCAW is almost like using a calking-gun to weld.

As for "gauge steel"... pretty much EVERY welding process can do any gauge. (with the right equipment) Again, "flux core" can cover any steel you will ever encounter. (just change the welding-wire in the machine and the amps)

If you come across some steel which is slightly too thick for your machine... PREHEATING with a propane torch is often enough so it can be properly welded. (CAST steel should always be preheated)

Are all stick welders gas fed?
I am not aware of ANY stick welding process which uses bottled gas. The sticks themselves provide the flux.

------------------------
For a beginners welder, I would suggest a DC inverter machine. They are DC only, but can do both "Flux Core" and "Stick" by changing polarity WITHOUT GAS. Harbor freight has several sizes of these machines.

DC welding is NOT for Aluminum.
 
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DustyRusty

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BX23S
Nov 8, 2015
1,039
411
83
North East
No matter what type of welder you finally decide on, the most important thing to buy is a good quality self darkening hood and leather welders gloves. You might also want to invest in a leather welders apron for safety. Good leather work shoes are a must, to keep any welding splash from falling into your shoes. Welding equipment can be upgraded as you get more proficient, but the aforementioned items will be used long after your first welder is retired. Don't skimp on quality only to have to buy it a second time.
 
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aaluck

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L4400HST, Bush Hog 276, RDTH60, Speeco PHD, etc
Oct 9, 2019
519
315
63
Snowdoun, AL
Like you I have always wanted to weld. Things breaking, wanting to make something out of metal, etc. I went with a cheap used Mig off eBay for about $100/shipped, the same one they sell a HF and started practicing. It takes a lot of patients and a steady, smooth hand. My welds are far from pretty and probably would make a professional throw up, but they hold like a single piece of metal.

I learned through Youtube videos. You need to watch a bunch of them as you pick up on things they all agree on, which seem to be indicative of a proper way.

My next project is to 'patch' my Bush Hog deck in a couple of spots. The previous owner was not very good at keeping it clean so a bit of rust through in some spots--I'm not the best either in all fairness.
 

Tughill Tom

Active member

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B3200
Dec 23, 2013
493
156
43
Turin, NY
Can someone dumb it down for me?

I understand there are different applications for different metals, size metals, and such. I have never welded nor tried. I am dying to learn how, but not sure where one should or could start. So…

What type/size welder is a good place to start?

What type/gauge metal would be best to learn to work with?

At the end of the day, most of my desire to weld would have to do with modifying my tractor or dump trailer. And knowing welding is a skilled craft, I know it takes a whole lot of time to get “good” at it. I’m not looking for showman quality work, just enough to safely mend two pieces of metal together.

Thanks!
I worked in a large production shop way back in the last century and learned from a guy with 30 years’ experience. It cost me a couple of lunches but I learned. 1st thing, get a decent machine to start, one that will Mig, Gas , flux wire and possibly Alum.. 2nd get good safety gear, Auto Darkening helmet, good gloves. 3rd a GOOD Grinder, the key to nice weld is clean, clean. 4th is practice, practice and its tuff these days to find material the to start out with.

As others have said take course at Vo. Tech. or C.C and some welding supply shops run some classes.

Good luck and take your time.
 
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Henro

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B2910, BX2200, KX41-2V mini Ex.
May 24, 2019
2,372
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113
North of Pittsburgh PA
Do not do what I did and buy an old Lincoln SAM 400. Its as big as a car and terrifying to use. I saw it on YouTube and found one on craigslist. Before the the proliferation of internet sites life was much simpler for me. The welder is among the most "manly" of my coveted hillbilly possessions. I am still trying to "lay a pretty bead". Its capable of blasting a hole in heavy steel plate. Ungodly smoke, sparks, and noise. Its as close to playing in Led Zeppelin as I can get. Rock on !
I will just add, that although I have TIG capability, and use it with great results, that stick welding also work really well, and is my preferred method most of the time, since I do not need to worry about gas...

That being said, at work we had wire feed welders that worked well too. But for home use, I like my TIG/Stick option, and never missed the wire feed which I do not have anyway.

I have come to believe that whatever you use it comes down to practice, and great results will follow. ESPECIALLY if you have some guidance by a mentor that knows what he is doing.
 

PoTreeBoy

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L35 Ford 3930
Mar 24, 2020
631
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WestTn/NoMs
I'm aboard with Tughill Tom. Just a couple of things:
The new, cheapey flux boxes don't have the DC circuitry that flux-core wire is designed for.
Consider a dual-voltage machine. There's only so much heat you can get out of a 110 outlet, but sometimes it's all you have/need.
 

jyoutz

Active member

Equipment
MX6000 HST open station. JD4100 for sale
Jan 14, 2019
217
85
28
Edgewood, New Mexico
Can someone dumb it down for me?

I understand there are different applications for different metals, size metals, and such. I have never welded nor tried. I am dying to learn how, but not sure where one should or could start. So…

What type/size welder is a good place to start?

What type/gauge metal would be best to learn to work with?

At the end of the day, most of my desire to weld would have to do with modifying my tractor or dump trailer. And knowing welding is a skilled craft, I know it takes a whole lot of time to get “good” at it. I’m not looking for showman quality work, just enough to safely mend two pieces of metal together.

Thanks!
Take a weekend or evening class at a community college and learn more before buying anything.
 
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Henro

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B2910, BX2200, KX41-2V mini Ex.
May 24, 2019
2,372
787
113
North of Pittsburgh PA
...I learned. 1st thing, get a decent machine to start... 2nd get good safety gear, Auto Darkening helmet, good gloves. 3rd a GOOD Grinder...
GREAT advice!

I was thinking about when I was a kid and the neighbor's older brother bought a cheap stick welder, and it never worked as striking an arc was impossible, and it turned us all off immediately...took me 30 plus years to recover from that experience...

Then I bought a GOOD welder... :) and basically did what Tughill advises. In my case I went with a TIG/Stick combo though...have used wire feed in the past, but find TIG/Stick works well for me.