Moderators: Random Orbital Bob, nev, CHJ, Noel, Charley

By Deadeye

Would like to learn basic welding skills to augment my workshop pottering.
What's most sensible for someone that just wants to tack a few bits of iron together for jigs etc?
One day course, or second hand kit, decent mask/gauintlets/apron and Youtube (and strong belief in my own immortality)?
And is second hand kit ok? or does it fail over time?

User avatar
By MikeG.
MIG is what experienced welders call "point and shoot" welding, or "weekend welding". It is extremely easy, and extremely effective. It's just a little easier if someone experienced helps you set it up in the first place, and shows you the absolute basics. The same weekend that I did my first ever welding I made a canopy for my 4x4 which lasted 6 years in Africa before the car was rolled. Don't let anyone tell you that working with mild steel is in any way complicated. Stick welding, TIG them for later (the latter if you want to do stainless or aluminium).
By sunnybob
Do any schools or colleges do evening classes near you?

I did a welding evening class and it was extremely useful for home and my work at that time.
Admittedly, I have just realised that was in 1973 :shock: , possibly things have changed a bit :roll: (hammer) (hammer)

I have only just given away my arc welder kit (weighed more than two airline suitcases) would have loved to try mig and tig but the need never arose.
By powertools
The type of welding you want to do makes a massive difference on the type of equipment you need and the learning curve you will have to go through.
As to your question about how long second hand kit will last it would be simpler to tell you how long is a length of string.
By Deadeye
Thanks everyone!

I suppose I want to use scraps of mild steel to augment jigs etc., make brackets and so on.
Point and shoot sounds good.
Unfortunately all the vening classe shere are "accounting", "English as a second language", "Parenting" etc. Nothing on woodwork or welding!
By Hlsmith
I would visit the might welding forum if I where you
Look I have a stick machine as it requires the least consumables and upkeep but it would struggle to weld very thin material but if u only want brackets and jigs not a problem
Plenty of pics on the internet of welds to compare to your own welds and what to do to correct it
User avatar
By Lons
I also have an old SIP stick welder, used very rarely but like many tools a godsend when you need it.
Occasional use means a few minutes practice needed to get it going again but not too difficult. I've welded many different things from just minor repairs to a full trailer chassis. As said not so easy on thin materials but you can get a brazing attachment though only tried mine once and couldn't do it! #-o

Consumables are cheap and last a long time if kept dry.
By TFrench
I mainly use mig and it's pretty easy. Watch some of weldmongers videos on YouTube, they're very helpful in showing what you should be trying to achieve in the puddle. It's definitely improved my self taught welding! I've found stick not too bad but I have quite a bit of experience with mig.

Sent from my SM-G950F using Tapatalk
User avatar
By Ttrees
Don't know much atall about welders, I've only been using a large arc welder for about 4 years the odd time, so I will give my 2cents on the arc welder only.
I've just bought a wee 50 euros Parkside arc welder only the other day, its pretty much the size of a car battery with leads, space is valuable in my workshop, hence a want for a welder of some sort.
Can't say its any good yet, but I won't need it for big jobs, as I have a 16amp required 250 amp one at the folks.
I need a welder here for some tablesaw restoration work, some machine bases, aswell as some smaller toolmaking things at the moment.

A good non critical thing to get started might be something like shelving or machine bases of some sort, get some 50x50x5 angle iron and some suitably sized pipe or box section and have at it. :D
The thing with welding is you can always add the metal back again, so it might take you a while melting away your work or grinding it back, but you know you will get there for sure, and when welding anything in the home shop, it will be welded all over with juicy welds, and not cheaply tacked like what you see in industry, so everything always turns out way over built.

Looked at some used machines online to compare for what's a better deal, and they are very very cheap,
like 30 quid used for a 170 amp arc welder, the rod clamps and earth clamps less than a fiver in the local agri shop, black glass 2 quid, (I put a sodabottle thin plastic screen over it, to stop it getting scratched) about a tenner for a box of 3.2mm rods that will see you through a good few projects.
The 170 amp ones look good value, are 13amp, have a variable crank adjustment, rather than a low/high pretend winder switch, probably can weld your common 4 or 5mm steel with patience, have a cooling fan and the 3.2mm rods are cheaper than thinner ones.
It says that 2.5 is the max for my new machine, max 100 amps, restically 80.... hoping this is not over exaggerated claims like with all tools you get.
If I had the space, I would have went the secondhand route.

Clothing wise I find the angle grinding to be worse, and I would love if I got around to making an leather apron.
An auld hat.
Some earmuffs.
Get two pairs of safety glasses for good measure! and wear a pair all the time throughout the session till metal is cold, because the slag pops the weld off whilst cooling.
and keep those boots tight :D

Tool wise
I use a small bench grinder, some long masonry nails for making picks for slag, and the grinder amongst other things to keep those picks sharp, keep the mouth shut and watch your teeth because those steel nails will recoil like a bullet!
Little poundshop cross pein hammer.
Wire brush.
One absolutely essential tool, actually tools is a pair of 4.5 " angle grinders.
Source the cheapest 1mm thin cutting discs you can find, if you get thicker cutting discs than that, you will pollute yourself with dust, while it's also a lot harder work for the grinder to do.
The grinding discs you can get some mileage on them, you wouldn't search the internet for them, but compared to the ultra consumable thin cutting discs, is ok to grumpily pay 2 or 3 bob for them locally.
The automotive store is the best value for the 1mm thin discs singularly, as there are no pound shops with 5 packs close.
Don't go to the likes of homebase for these things, you will pay 6 or 7 times the cost of discs in these large home/diy outfits.

To sum it up
What supply have you got?
Have you got space for a larger one?
What work are you doing?

Good luck
Last edited by Ttrees on 29 May 2019, 15:38, edited 1 time in total.
By Deadeye
Thanks everyone - som e excellent advice.

Space also at a premium, and I'll be an occasional bodger not a full-blown fabricator.
I've got 16A in the garage.
I've got bench and angle grinders, ear defenders and safety glasses.

Need to get better footwear, apron, gauntlets and a proper mask.

I think, for confidence, I might try to find a one day course and travel to it.
By Hlsmith
16 amp is only really needed for bigger stuff
A good inverter welderwill run 3.2 mm rods on a 13 amp plug
One other thing to note is stick has no upper limit for thickness it can weld you just keep layering the welds on but this doesn't work with mig
Depending on your budget I would recommend something like this for stick ... ro-arc175/

Will happily run 3.2 mm rods on 13 amps and can be used as a basic tight if you buy the accessories if you want to go smaller

Something like this if you want to go mig ... -i-mig180/

Or if buget is more generous this machine will cover mig Tig and arc ... ZUQAvD_BwE

I recommend r tech to deal with hence the first recommendations there customer service is amazing and if you order over the phone they sometimes throw some goodies in with the order
User avatar
By Eric The Viking
16A is VERY useful actually.

It's not that you need it continuously, but the arc isn't continuous (which is why you get that nice frying sound when it's right). The trouble with 13A is the fuse in the plug: it's a resistance, and lowers the current when you strike the arc. And current = heating capability. Once you have a weld pool it's not so important, but the initial tack welds are starting with the metal cold, and little shielding gas.

I replaced the 13A plug on my very old Sip MIG 130 Autoplus set with a 16A one, so it comes straight from the 16A outlet, and the weld quality and ease of use improved noticeably.

Years ago, when we had a fire-escape/veranda fitted at the back of our old place, bits needed to be stick-welded to assemble everything. The fabricator went straight to the cooker socket in the kitchen and wedged the bared wires of his stick welder's mains cable into the "13A" socket (with matches), so it got the maximum possible current.

I'm sure you can get by without 16A (my welder was used for years with a 13A plug, before I got it), but it certainly does help.
User avatar
By Ttrees
I never use gloves, and I don't like those flipdown masks either.
I find that holding the shield style mask counteracts the weight of the electrode gun on the other hand and gives me better control.
I hope more folks comment, as it is interesting.
If you really want a course, watch Steve Bleile's videos, he will show you the ropes for sure.
I could only find his videos with subtitles on youtube.
User avatar
By Lazurus
I got into Mig welding last year and it is extremely versatile, you can also do arc and scratch Tig with the same unit if you wish. You will need shielding gas unless you go for flux cored wires which is very messy and less effective. Shielding gas around £30 a refill - I went for an R-Tech 180 amp inverter welder, excellent unit for home use and the back up service from R-Tech is second to none. A auto darkening mask is a must for ease of use and can be had fairly cheaply off Fleabay. Certainly a great addition to the workshop, small compact enough power to weld up to 6mm plate off 13 amp plug - Easy to use and set up. Currently been making flowers out of used horseshoes. Simple and very popular. Local fabrication companies will often let you rummage in the scrap skip for a few beer tokens into their bun fund.