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Need help buying my first welding machine
March 2, 2017
9:19 am
Caleb Hale
Registered User
Forum Posts: 4
Member Since:
February 22, 2017
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So I’ve never welded before, but just about everything I want to do requires some kind of welding to either complete the job or just make it easier to accomplish. I’ve done some reading and have a little bit of understanding of MIG vs stick, but I still want to ask what you all think would be the best option for me.

My focus is on bladesmithing, so I will be doing mostly small stuff like welding a 1/2″ rod to bar stock that I’ll be forging, or welding 1/4″ layers of steel together in preparation to forge weld. I don’t plan on doing anything serious like welding tubing to plate or building large structures, but would like to be able to do that if needed.

Anyway, I’m looking in the $300-$400 range, and these are my choices so far. Keep in mind I don’t have a dedicated 220V outlet right now, so would have to run an extension cord from my laundry room whenever I wanted to weld, which wouldn’t be too often, but it is an extra hassle I really don’t want to deal with unless it just makes the most sense to go with a 220V.

Lincoln Century 80GL Flux Cored Wire Feed 70 amps 115V AC…../100596737

Lincoln Eletric Handy MIG Welder 115V 35-88 amps…../100596739

Lincoln Century Arc 120 Stick Welder 10-90 amps 120V

Lincoln Electric AC-225S 230V 40-225 amps Stick Welder (Tombstone)…../100041326

Also, I’m not set on Lincoln brand if you have any better recommendations.

March 3, 2017
2:47 am
Lyn Cane
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NWBA Member
Forum Posts: 4
Member Since:
June 17, 2010
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I would advise you to find or make a friend who will help you learn to strike an arc.  Spend a little time playing with a stick machine and a mig machine. Another possibility is going to a welding supply, some have a demo area on the back dock where you can try a machine. Remember that the person at Home Depot, Sears, Harbor Freight, Lowes , Costco, etc. that is trying to sell you the welding machine was selling bath tubs and commodes, and bungee cords last week.  Buying a machine from someone who is knowledgeable of  and  capable of servicing the machine is a plus. Same with buying a machine from  Craig’s List or other internet outlets, some equipment is obsolete and no repair parts are available.

If your shop area will require the use of an extension cord to power your welder, figure out the maximum length of cord required and see what size (gauge) of cord you will need. A welding machine will only perform as well as the power it is supplied with. The little 110  MIG machines I have used were very sensitive to the amount  power they were being supplied with. I installed a new trunk floor in a 64 T Bird with a little 110 Lincoln with shielding gas and.023 solid wire and it performed great. I used a 110v Hobart Handler to do some repairs to some grocery carts and it was a total failure. Our power supply required use of 50 ft. of extension cord (12 gauge) and we lost to much power in the extension cord.  Same machine plugged direct into receptacle worked fine. My advice would be to go with 220v in a Mig machine.  I have never found a 110 stick machine to be usable for anything but a door stop. If you choose to go with a stick machine go for 220v and check to see that your breaker and circuitry are heavy enough to carry the demand of any machine you choose. 

If you go to Mig,  BUY ONE THAT HAS A GAS VALVE !   Shelf shielding (gasless wire)  is not something a novice should be tortured with. It splatters, extremely smoky, and that is the good part about it. With a gas valve you will be able to run solid wire  and flux core wire.  Solid wire will let you do body metal, exhaust tube, tacking the corners and handles on billets, up to about 1/4″ material all depending on your skill level, weld joint preparation and the size of machine you purchase. Solid wire has a variety of shielding gas mixtures depending on what you want to accomplish.  Flux core wire contains a powder flux but it requires a gas shield such as CO2 or a mix gas. Co2 is the cheapest but it doesn’t work with the solid wire. Shelf shielding wire (gasless wire) is not designed to have a shielding gas used with it.

. If your budget is limited I would go with a 220v  stick machine and stay away from the low dollar Mig machines.  Mig welding is sensitive to contaminates but you can take a stick machine and 6011 rod and down hand weld thru paint, oil, grease, rust, dirt and cow poop,  in a monsoon rain, just ask any farmer or millwright.  Mig welding may be a little easier to learn because you pull a trigger  to start the arc verses the scratch or peck method of striking an arc using an electrode. 

 If you are looking at a used machine visit a weld machine technician (not salesman) and see what parts are available and costs. Mother boards are not cheap and drive wheels and motors on some wire feeders are no longer available.  Don’t buy a Mig without a gas valve!  If you do set up with Mig, beware of “garage sale” gas bottles. Some bottles are leased and not privately owned. The widow selling her husbands bottles may not no this and the guy that stole a bottle from the job  hopes you won’t know the difference. You can end up with a bottle that no gas company will fill. Have the seller meet you at the weld supply with the bottle and they will tell you if it is  private or leased.  Paint rings are not reliable to judge ownership of a bottle.  I hope this hasn’t confused you and I’m sure there will be others add too or cast doubt on what I have shared. Enjoy learning a new skill .  I’ve been 54 years in the welding trade, 34 years I was self employed running a field service truck specializing in heavy equipment repair and fabrication.   Lyn

March 3, 2017
7:21 am
Caleb Hale
Registered User
Forum Posts: 4
Member Since:
February 22, 2017
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Excellent information Lyn, thanks a lot!

I really, really don’t want to have to deal with extra bottles of anything. I think I’ll first check out my 220 outlet to make sure I can run that Lincoln 220V stick welder. If I use an extension cord, it would probably need to be 50ft. I also thought about just having a 220V outlet installed in my garage. That shouldn’t cost too much since my work area is right next to the breaker box.

The 220V stick was my first choice since I’ve been around stick welders and I”m at least a little bit familiar with them, I’ve just never used one myself. I like the idea of not having to clean all the surfaces before I weld something.

Now I just need to find someone to show me the ropes.

…aww who am I kidding, I’m going to try to do it myself as soon as I get the machine into my garage. I like to learn the hard way most of the time, by screwing up until I get it right.

March 12, 2017
9:37 pm
Morgan A. Kirk
Registered User

NWBA Member
Forum Posts: 110
Member Since:
December 27, 2014
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Speaking from experience, once you know how to weld well with stick, you can do MIG just as well, although the settings for wire-feed can be more of a hassle to get used to.

My Youtube channel: Cave of Skarzs

Just having some fun messing around with whatever I have a mind to do.

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