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Arc or Mig welding, very confusing!

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lastminute

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I want to do a spot of welding, total beginner...Mig looks the easiest, also confusing is "Inverter"...Flux cored, so any tips/guidance etc. will be most welcome.

Gerry
 

TheTiddles

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What are you wanting to weld? Simple question, kinda important!

Welcome on board

Aidan
 

lastminute

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Hi Aidan...I want to alter the size of a metal garden gate plus various smaller jobs!
Generally I use nuts n bolts when joining metals and have wanted a welder for some time, just not sure which type would suit.
Tried the Arc type long time ago... didn't take to it... the Mig looks like it might suit me!

Gerry
 

Ttrees

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I suggest a used arc welder for steel plate like for what it sounds like you're wanting to do...something like anything past 3 or 4mm steel.
Although it could be a tubular gate of light gauge 2mm steel for all I know.
Not un-doable for an ark, but for sheet metal like van repairs, not suitable.
Steve Bleile videos are regarded as the best.

Depending on your supply might make a difference to your choice.

I suggest around the 180 amp models which look like they have a cooling fan.
I can't clarify on this

I have Lidl's cheapest one that has a thermal cut out,
and a 240 amp which needs 16 amp.

I see the 180 amp models all the time for around 50 that might need a tiny bit of panel beating back to a square shape and paint to spruce up.

New glass for the shield is about 2 quid, a new electrode holder or clamp costs less than a fiver at the co-op, where one might be going anyway to buy the cheapest welding rods at around a tenner for a pack.
A bench grinder to sharpen a pack of long masonry nails that you might get
in the co-op.
A 4" angle grinder, discs, and a wee tack hammer is all you need to be setup.

Tom
 

Oddbod70

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as Aiden says it depends what you want to weld. I mainly do thicker stuff (over 2mm) for which arc is well suited. My arc welder can also do tig, which is for the thinner stuff. I found arc quite easy, but tig needed three hands! At least for me! I got there in the end but it took a while.

whatever you go for keep practising. It takes a while to “click”, but it will....eventually. There is a excellent migweldersforum whics is great for advice.
 

cammy9r

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Hi, If you go the mig route you will find it much easier than arc. However arc is far more useful as it has its own gas shielding (flux around the rod) and lots of choices of rods/flux for different situations. I always found arc to be tricky.
I do mig tig and oxy/acetylene welding, arc if required.
The mig is definitely the easiest but still not as simple as pulling the trigger. As for machines, there are loads out there to suit all budgets and they will all stick metal together. Pop over to this forum MIG Welding Forum
As for jargon, inverter is the type of gubbins inside the machine that gets the electrons flowing. They work really well and are a lot lighter and smaller than the transformer version like for like. Flux core is the wire used when there is no shielding gas available. It is also good for outdoor welding as it makes its own shielding environment on arc.
If you go with the mig and want gas there are 3 ways I know to get it, you choose the cheapest for yourself. Disposable bottles, hobby bottles which are rent free with a deposit on them and rented bottles from one of the bigger suppliers. At home i use the hobbyweld rent free option as i need both pure argon for tig and argon mix for mig. Just remembered the 4th option 'pub gas' co2 is used by many hobby mig welders.
Tig welding is another option. A dc tig will weld many different metals and allow brazing of many too. You will need a dc/ac tig if you ever wander down the aluminium welding path.
With whatever you choose dont go less than 150amps if you plan on going 4-5mm thick.
Edit: many 130-150A might claim to be able to do 6mm. even 5mm can be a push for them in one pass. On thicker steel a 'v' is cut into the edge and a root weld placed followed by a cap weld. I have done 8mm with a 150A using 4 passes so it can be done.
 
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hawkeyefxr

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Like to add my little bit here,
Mig is by far the easiest to use, it will do just about any metal work job you need for use at home..
Tig welding is for me very satisfying, you get the finish of half circles that look very neat.
Arc (stick) welding takes some getting used to as beginners find the rod sticks as they have not learnt 'how to'.
All welding gives you a sense of achievement, you have joined to pieces of metal together for good.
Thickness does not mean much to me as i had years of plate welding, up to 4in (100mm) thick but 3/4 and 1inch were the norm along with stainless, Ali, Copper. All of that was positional as well as we made furnaces for melting steel that weighed up to 25 tons.
I still like welding to this day.
Always wear as darker shield as you can. If you do Ali tig welding be careful of extreme sun burn.
 

TheTiddles

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Like to add my little bit here,
Mig is by far the easiest to use, it will do just about any metal work job you need for use at home..
Tig welding is for me very satisfying, you get the finish of half circles that look very neat.
Arc (stick) welding takes some getting used to as beginners find the rod sticks as they have not learnt 'how to'.
All welding gives you a sense of achievement, you have joined to pieces of metal together for good.
Thickness does not mean much to me as i had years of plate welding, up to 4in (100mm) thick but 3/4 and 1inch were the norm along with stainless, Ali, Copper. All of that was positional as well as we made furnaces for melting steel that weighed up to 25 tons.
I still like welding to this day.
Always wear as darker shield as you can. If you do Ali tig welding be careful of extreme sun burn.
Good advice, I burned the logo on my t-shirt onto my chest once

Aidan
 

Ttrees

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what are the masonry nails for?
Long picks are good if you want to strengthen or tidy the edge of a weld.
Its very important that one does not try to weld on top of any slag whatsoever.
This can be after one grinds away a bad weld or do something awkward, or tidy up for show surfaces to make an invisible joint.
You could go fancy and make a handle for one nail, and have it sharper than
the other 7 or 8 you might do at one time, for hitting with the wee hammer.

Close your mouth and wear glasses (as you should be wearing under your shield/mask!)
Hot slag can go anywhere.
Hitting masonry nails against steel will often ricochet and could break your front teeth.

Nothing else will give you that audible grit sound like a pick.
Yes we should be all as good as Steve, but you don't need to be good at welding to do an absolutely great job and what you'd build would pretty much always be stronger than something you could buy for the same application.
If in doubt then layer another bead or two on, as long as you follow that no.1 rule.

There must be no slag whatsoever, if you make a balls of it, then you take the grinder to it and go over everywhere with the nail.
Be ruthless, electrodes are cheap, so grind away until you have no sign of porosity.
A molten bead won't sit onto a surface if you have any.
If you have a hole in the weld, then you must grind into/around it to make an area that the bead will sit on, and not just sit on the walls of the hole

At worst case scenario, think of the weld as a 1/4" stick of warm blue tack ,
Attempt one single jab with moderate pressure into a crevice.
It likely won't penetrate into the hole and get caught up on the walls instead.
Then you have a pocket which is not acceptable.

Grind away until you have a nice wide gully with a clean bottom to lay a new bead ON, and not IN.

P.s Sorry about the terrible blue tack analogy
 

heimlaga

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Cheap migs tend to be good at making people believe that they lack talent for welding.
Good migs aren't cheap.

I have tested mig weding a few times and found it a lot more difficult tan it looks. I stick weld a lot and it took a bit of effort to learn but once learned it is a very versatile technique.
Secondhand DC stick welders of good quality can be had for very little money. For the last 10 years I have used a 200 ampere Unitor rectifyer. Probably made in the 60-ies but as it was an absolute top of the line professional welder in it's days is is still very good by today's standards. Secondhand AC stick welders are even cheaper but that is because they are useless.
The greatest advantage of stick weldng is that it can be done outdoors even in windy weather.
 

bourbon

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If it's thin I use my mig. If it's Thick I'll use either my Aldi arc cheapy buzz box or the Guardsman inverter arc. My welding isn't pretty by a long way, But it does stick two bits of metal together! Remember to budget for an Auto darkening mask, Made my life a lot easier when I got one. Leather gauntlets, and long sleeved non flammable jacket, chipping hammer (life is too short to water about grinding nails! they are only about a fiver) and a fire extinguisher is a good idea as well. Then Practice, Practice Practice
 

Jake

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Kind of in between, flux cored wire. Generally regarded as the worst of both worlds.
 

Jackbequick

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Full of advice and tips on all things welding for beginner. My vote would be a 180 amp R-Tech tig running Argosheld or Hobbyweld gas.
To give an idea, a boilermaker who recently did some work for me used and an ancient 180A gas-less MIG. You may be aware that boilermakers especially having been approved with X-Ray are the cream of welders.Getting the current spot-on is a great part of good welding however penetration and width of weld are what gives the strength.

MIG users more so than stick welders use one (gloved) hand to support the other. Looking at how the molten metal is running and not rushing ahead is crucial.

A well fitting helmet (maybe electronic) can cut out one of the nuisance aspects of welding.

Try not to inhale the fumes.

Stick welding definitely has its place and it is not a poor welding method whether in ac or dc. That same (tradesman) welder of whom I spoke , has had a lifetime of expertise on pipelines etc.

For stick welding he uses a unit about the size of two fists. That took me aback...really?...what cycling?...'continuous' he said......wow!!

My portable stick welder is driven (ac/dc ) by a Fordson tractor engine!

Lumpy welds are likely to be weak. My suggestion is as one comment said...practice, practice,practice (each day) on the channel in a piece of angle iron....to relax, steady hand, control breathing to 'normal'. Look for examples of excellent welding and listen to 'how'...and by the way the welding 'sound' tells how well you are going....or perhaps do a welding course at Tech...there may be a short term course...or pay a welder to teach you.
 

Stu_2

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Did a limited amount of stick years ago. I was welding a boat trailer one day when a big lump of spatter landed on the tongue of my trainer (I know! I was young and foolish), leading to my first and only breakdancing performance… 😊

+1 for the MIG welding Forum. Great resource. I see they're still partnered with/sponsored by Weldequip, who gave a good service when I bought stuff from them.

A recurring theme when I was searching for advice on buying a MIG was to make sure it had a decent wire feed, otherwise I might struggle as a novice, and to make sure it had a standard Euro torch, as spares and consumables are cheap and readily available. The thing I’d add is if possible try and get something that doesn’t have a fixed earth lead. It’s a pain in the a***, and you might find you’re moving the welder around with annoying frequency on bigger jobs, and a real problem if you need to weld anything such as brackets at or above head height!

I’m no expert, but did do a fair amount of welding after buying the MIG, and found the following useful:
  • Auto-darkening helmet. You can also get magnifying lenses, which is great if your eyes no longer work like they used to.
  • MIG gauntlet for non-torch hand, and a thinner TIG glove for your torch hand will give a better feel for controlling the torch.
  • Using Tip Dip, and keeping the shroud nice and clean.
  • Flap discs (essential).
  • If fabricating from scratch, a second grinder is useful. Continuously switching between cutting discs and flap discs gets annoying, quite quickly.
  • If you’re in a small workshop, you might want to consider a couple of welding blankets. My workshop is tight on space, with stuff stored under the benches and in racking, and generally cluttered. If a bit a of spatter finds its way into a place you can’t see, you don’t want your workshop catching fire half an hour after you’ve finished and gone indoors for a brew!
Have fun.
 

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