Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Belleville, Illinois
Thanked 22 Times in 17 Posts
Re: welder info wanted
For a novice welder, my standard advice is to buy a good machine from a welding supply store where they will spend some time with you showing how to set up and use your new machine. Leave the off-brand machines from big box stores to the guys who already have considerable experience.
MIG is probably your best compromise of versatility and price. You can do a lot with one of the 120-volt machines like the Miller 135. In steel you can weld very thick steel by making multiple passes. It's slow, but effective.
TIG will weld anything MIG will, and a LOT more, but a good TIG machine is mighty pricey. TIG is very good at the little odd jobs, because you have control over the amount of heat, the placement of heat, and the amount and placement of filler. Because of that, you can weld darn near anything.
For cheap and handy, don't count out oxy-acetalyene. You can do very good welds in steel, cut steel easily, and also heat, bend and forge thngs. Once you can gas weld you have a very sound foundation for learning the other techniques.
For cheap and good welds, a plain old stick welder is hard to beat. Medium to thick steel is it's home court, and you can weld cast iron and stainless, although with limitations. You can often pick up a used Lincoln 225 AC/DC for a hundred bucks. And I don't think they ever go bad.