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Thread: Calling All welders out there. Yup I know we are woodworkers but I have a need..

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada

    Calling All welders out there. Yup I know we are woodworkers but I have a need..

    There have been a number of times when i have wished for a welder. I have only had experience of arc welding and that was not great. Recently a friend of mine welded a frame together for me with a Mig welder and I saw one at a Woodworking show earlier in the year.

    My question is ...How does one select one of these tools. I like to buy a tool once. I dont intend to weld the trans Canada Pipeline with it or the local farmers buldozer. But some tubing and sheet metal to make a jig or bench etc.

    I have looked and studied the specs of so many I am trully confused. Can a sensible pragmatic welder post some comments to provide the trade offs of the various features. I see welders at HF for one price then look at a Lincoln and wow double or triple more for what appears to be the same current rating.

    Also can one really get away without the gas.

    Thanks to anyone who posts a reply.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Indianola, Ia about 12 miles south of Des Moines
    I assume that you are talking about wire welders. Amp rating is one thing to look at but also look at the duty cycle. This is the time that you can weld continusely and not over heat the unit. Some may be rated at 50% and others at 80% or somewhere inbetween. You don't need gas, but then you need a flux core wire. This is ok but the welds do not have as good of an appearance as using solid wire with gas.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    gas is good, name brands are good, if you intend to weld stuff thicker than 1/8" or aluminum 220v is good.
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Reno NV
    I'm not a welder, but my Brother in Law gave me a wire fed welder.

    It works fine for doing small things. I've used it several times to do silly things.

    From what I've read, Someday I'd like to get a Oxy/Acetylene gas system.

    Probably somebody more expert in these will have better advice, but I'd stay away from little cheapy wire fed ones.
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    lutefisk capitol, USA
    Miller first, then Lincoln. Century as last resort. Stay away from store branded or off brands. Duty cycle is how many minutes you can weld at maximum setting. 20% = 2 minutes out of 10. Been welding as a trade for over 30 years, PM if you wish more in depth.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    I have a Canox Sparkler, which is (I think) made by Miller. It is a 120vac model and runs just fine from a 15a breaker. I use ArgoShield which is a blend of Argon and CO2 (what ratio I don't know). I've tried the flux core wire and it made me say bad words...but the gas and wire works like a dream. Although it is a light duty welder I've made some pretty heavy duty stuff with it and I've found that for a homeowner it is a very good unit. Price??? I don't know...I bought mine lightly used about eleven or twelve years ago and paid about $300 for it then. I also bought my own fuel tank and I just exchange it at the local gas supply depot when I run out.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Tokyo Japan
    Rob, as you are in Canada, I think that you will find Hobart a lot more common. Hobart is owned by Miller. The wand, or gun on my Hobart is actually a "Miller" unit.

    I have a Hobart Handler 175, this has since been replaced by the Hobart Handler 187.

    I've used the heck out of mine, and it has been a great machine.

    Get a wire feed welder with the ability to use gas and be a MIG welder, welding with gas on a modern wire feed welder is easy, and you get good welds.

    Yes it runs on a 230V set up, but the 120V welders are really, really light duty.

    I paid around $700 for mine 6 or 7 years ago, I imagine they are nearer to $800 now, but worth every penny in my opinion.

    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Monroe, MI
    I'd recommend the Hobart line as well. I have the Handler 180 which I believe was the successor to Stu's 175 and has now been replaced by a 187. My brother has the next size down which is a 110V unit. Both of us are very happy with them for hobby use. With mine I've been able to make a number of modifications on my tractor and implements which involved welding some pretty thick material. A few time's I've had to make multiple passes, but I've never wished I'd bought bigger. There is a welding supply co-op that has a line of private-branded equipment under the name Weldmark. They are the Hobart welders.

    I've never tried without the gas and probably never will unless I need to weld outside in the wind. I'm not even sure if I have any of the gas-less wire.

    Like woodworking, there are a number of other accessories you need:
    - A decent helmet. I'm very happy with my electronic helmet from Harbor Freight.
    - Clamps. I mostly use either those magnetic triangles or the vise-grips with big c-shaped jaws. Again Harbor Freight is a good source.
    - An angle grinder or three with grinding discs, flap wheels, and wire wheels.
    - A way or two to cut material like a 4x6 bandsaw, portable bandsaw, cutoff saw, plasma cutter, etc.
    - Marking and measuring tools.
    - Tools for bending tubing and other metal shapes.
    - A welding table. Don't want to be welding on a wooden worktable. My table has a 3/8" top which some would consider light duty. For an assembly table for woodworking, I just set a sheet of hardboard on top.
    - A source of materials. Buying them at a hardware store or home center is extremely expensive. The best source is a good scrap yard. Next best is a local steel supplier. Unfortunately I haven't found a good scrap yard, but there's a supplier near me that operates out of his barn who has excellent prices due to his low overhead. There's another place about 1/2 hour away that is the retail division of a major steel supplier. Their regular prices are higher, but they carry a lot of "drops" which are what we all call cutoffs. Those are sold by the pound and are a pretty good bargain for DIY type projects. I also keep an eye out elsewhere--for example I've bought a stack of metal railing components that were just 1-1/4" square tube for a couple bucks a piece.
    Last edited by Matt Meiser; 10-20-2008 at 11:40 AM.

  9. #9
    I would suggest a Refurb unit from I have had my Hobart 180 from there for about 4 years without issues. I think the 140 model would work for your needs. It appears they are currently out of stock. I have the auto-darkening helmet from harbor freight. Too bad steel is out of my price range for small projects. My welder has sat in the garage for a while except for a railing repair at my parents. Don't forget to check local welding suppliers for shielding gas rental prices. Gloves, grinder, helmet, jacket and a good welding table are other costs that can add up.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Thank you everyone that replied to this post. You all sure have given me a load of food for thought. Never considered adding up all the accessories. Wont be the first time I have done this. Usually this is what causes the acquisition to be put on hold. Sometimes it is better to have leaped and then worry about the rest. But in this case I really appreciate the advice.

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