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Beginner Welding for nOOBs

CDA 455 II

ANFAQUE2
Joined
May 19, 2020
Member Number
25
Messages
3,852
Loc
No Country For Old Men
Baseline:
1) Never welded a day in my life
2) Never took electrical shop in Jr/senior HS :frown:
3) Would like to learn welding
4) Would like to buy my 1st welding set up
5) Would like to not kill myself trying :laughing: :eek:


Questions:
What's the proper way to get started on this venture?
What would be a good starter set up; equipment-wise?
Would researching/reading be enough to get started?
Would taking an occupation technology education class be worth it (welding class for adults)?


My goals:
1) Repair body work due cancer/rust
2) Modify simple shit on my rigs
3) Emergency repair on the trail
4) Build simple shit.
5) To not die from this venture


Opinions/suggestions/comments are welcome and encouraged. :beer:
 
As above. Practice and get your metal as clean as you can. Do cut tests while practicing.

I started with a HF stick welder and while it worked, it was a pain in the ass. I "upgraded" to a HF wire fed(MIG) and cheap auto dark helmet. Worked better but fried my eyes more than once. I haven't touched an auto dark helmet in 25 years:eek:

I upgraded from HF wire fed to Miller Passport(~180amp and 110V/220V) with gas. The quality machine helped with my welding. ~25 years later, I'm still using the Passport on sheet metal and axles.
 
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I found myself in a similar situation so I paid to take a welding class at a trade school. It was worth the money but not necessary. As posted above, get a 120V mig unit, I like my Hobart 140 and hear Lincoln makes a good 110/120v machine and go for it. Remember CLEAN SURFACES WELD BEAUTIFULLY, rust, dirt and scale won’t weld for shit. Flap disc or steel wheel on a grinder.



Flux core is easy to work with, just remember to switch polarity if you go to solid wire (DCEP vs DCEN).

get some scrap and practice running beads. I bought a cutoff C-channel end from the yard and have taught the welding Merit Badge to Scouts.

Biggest piece of advice is that an auto-darkening helmet is the best thing you can buy starting out. It is way easier than flipping down a lid and hoping you’re still holding the lead in the right spot.
 
You need better friends and ought to buy a tombstone to learn. However, if all you're looking to do is draw, but a $100 HF special. Fuck up some scrap, then skip strait to a 220v machine when you become confident.
 
Outside of a couple times messing around I just started welding a few years ago. I don't think a class is necessary but I never took one, so who knows what I am missing.

My pointers pretty much are the same as everyone else.

-Buy a cheap MIG welder (I got a used Hobart 110v and it works great).
-Don't get the cheapest auto-darkening ebay helmet possible, the first one I got was ~$20 bucks and after getting burned once I upgraded to a $50 helmet. Definitely worth it.
-Clean metal welds infinitely better than dirty shit.
-Practice A LOT. I can be a pretty slow learner so it took me a bit to understand how to create a puddle, how wire speed and power affect that puddle. Also start with metal flat/horizontal to the ground. When trying to weld vertical or upside down it gets more difficult to learn.

Last thing - some of your welds will look like complete shit while you are learning. Don't be afraid to grind them down and lay another bead on it. Or just grind them and put some paint on to make them look good. God only knows how many times I've had to do that.........
 
Last thing - some of your welds will look like complete shit while you are learning. Don't be afraid to grind them down and lay another bead on it. Or just grind them and put some paint on to make them look good. God only knows how many times I've had to do that.........

Good tip; thanks. :beer:



One of THEE endearing pleasures from the old place were when guys got hammered for complete shit welds on their builds while bragging how awesome they were. :lmao:

The more they denied it, the funnier the thread/evening went! :laughing:

Oh; on a Saturday night with a 900+ members.... :laughing: :smokin:
 
But they owned a high dollar grinder so it all worked out in the end.


Good tip; thanks. :beer:



One of THEE endearing pleasures from the old place were when guys got hammered for complete shit welds on their builds while bragging how awesome they were. :lmao:

The more they denied it, the funnier the thread/evening went! :laughing:

Oh; on a Saturday night with a 900+ members.... :laughing: :smokin:
 
I didn't have any training or otherwise, just bought a Miller 215 and went to town. Welding is not hard to learn, it's hard to learn to make pretty welds and perfectly structural rated welds, but sticking non-critical metal together? Pft, no problem for any ape with MIG.
 
My piece of advice would be to cut, polish and etch some of your test welds to see if you're getting proper penetration. A weld can look good but not have any penetration when you're starting out.

Buy as big of a welder as you can afford. I'd skip 120v and go right to 240v. A good 240v welder can weld 20ga as good as any 120v.
 
The one thing missing from this scenario is how much can you afford to spend? If you are thinking $300-500 all-in to start, then you probably are going down the route of a tombstone welder or a very cheap 110 MIG running flux core wire. If you can afford to spend in the neighborhood of $1000-1200, then you are looking at a decent used MIG (possibly 220V), gas cylinder, decent auto-darkening helmet, gloves and necessities like a 4.5" grinder or two if you don't already have them. Although there are a lot of people recommending stick, MIG is easier to learn and will do everything you want to do. The benefit to stick is that it makes things like TIG easier, but you don't need to start with stick to be good at MIG.

If you can swing the slightly higher budget, you can get something that will be a name brand machine (Miller, Lincoln, Hobart) that will perform well and will likely hold value a lot longer than an HF Chinese MIG. My first welder was a Millermatic 251 which I bought used for $1000. It was in really good condition, and learning on that was a lot easier than trying to fight with a basic machine. Some folks will argue that starting with less than optimal equipment will make you "better" somehow but I'm a firm believer having good equipment certainly won't hurt your development and if you decide it's not for you the resale value is higher. I would bet that I could sell my welder tomorrow for at least what I paid for it and like a few hundred more, even after getting 10+ years of use.

As far as learning, there's a ton of YouTube videos on all different types of welding that will get you on your way. A VoTech class is certainly not a bad idea, the one thing that YouTube can't readily provide is immediate feedback on your results that you can get from a class. Outside of that, if you have friends who are experienced welders they can likely provide feedback as well. The first time I tried to learn welding was 40 years ago when I was a teenager. I had bought a Millermatic 200 when I was 16-17, but didn't know anyone who could weld, and of course YouTube and auto-darkening helmets didn't exist. I barely managed to glue a couple things together after a lot of trying, but then went off to college. My dad sold the welder and I didn't try again until about 10 years ago and I can tell you the learning process was a world of difference :)

It's a fun think to learn and a valuable skill. I'm far from being an expert, but I enjoy doing it and this year started trying to learn TIG - which is a whole different animal :)
 
I took a night welding class at the local community college when I was just out of high school, i'd say that intro class was 80% retired guys wanting to pick up a new skill so it was really chill. You will not be wasting the time of people trying to get welding certs or something, those would be the more advanced classes. They also had really nice machines so you can learn without the factor of a shitty welder making it harder. You should also learn Gas welding, stick welding, Mig, and Tig along with plasma and cutting torch, with all of the basic safety procedures.


I would pick up a quality 220v mig welder and PPE and call in a freind or acquaintance who you know can weld. Have them bring their helmet and watch you weld, I have brought multiple people from booger welds to structurally sound in about 30 minutes doing this.
 
Baseline:
1) Never welded a day in my life
2) Never took electrical shop in Jr/senior HS :frown:
3) Would like to learn welding
4) Would like to buy my 1st welding set up
5) Would like to not kill myself trying :laughing: :eek:


Questions:
What's the proper way to get started on this venture?
What would be a good starter set up; equipment-wise?
Would researching/reading be enough to get started?
Would taking an occupation technology education class be worth it (welding class for adults)?


My goals:
1) Repair body work due cancer/rust
2) Modify simple shit on my rigs
3) Emergency repair on the trail
4) Build simple shit.
5) To not die from this venture


Opinions/suggestions/comments are welcome and encouraged. :beer:

You're gonna die from welding. :flipoff2:

it's 5,4,3,2, then 1. And you won't die that way:flipoff2:
 
I found myself in a similar situation so I paid to take a welding class at a trade school. It was worth the money but not necessary.
My piece of advice would be to cut, polish and etch some of your test welds to see if you're getting proper penetration. A weld can look good but not have any penetration when you're starting out.
Also, repeat after me. Clean, tight, shiny and bright. That's how your weldment should be before you start welding
When I wanted to start doing more hardcore welding on my jeep way back when, I paid like 120 dollars for a night class at the community college. After the first couple nights, showing technique and whatever, it was basically just show up and stick weld..yes shiny bright metal, take two thick chunks and put them at a 90 with a magnet and lay beads all night til you filled it up, then cut it in half and check for porosity in the welds. weld flat, vertical, upside down, every way possible, but just repetitively. WAY worth the price because i burnt god knows how many rods in the class, way more than 120 dollars worth. But basically just doing it and doing it a lot is the only way. And when you get out of it a while and start again it's a learning curve all over again, to me at least.
 
Lincoln 220 tombstone off c-list, $100-150 all day long. Don't start with sheetmetal work unless you're trying to hurt your own feelings.

This will get you started: https://www.millerwelds.com/-/media/...lines_smaw.pdf

Weldingtipsandtricks channel on youtube to get better.

I wouldn't start with a tombstone again, I did and was MUCH happier when I picked up an Everlast PowerArc STI for $300ish (currently $350: https://www.everlastgenerators.com/p...owerarc-200sti )
DC, 120V or 240V input, much finer control of the power output.
I can turn it down to do sheet metal, or up to do plate steel.

Aaron Z
 
All kidding aside

From what I'm told, you'd want it to sound like bacon cooking. I learned visually from speed of wire not disappear too fast but don't want too much build up or melting fast. Basically keep it as bubbly looking then either circle or u pattern. Move to next.

I started on Miller 170 at the body shop, lots of scrap metal, same size and thickness to begin with. Able to see metal warping when it's too hot.

There's got to be decent irate welder nearby you to learn practice with before buying your equipments.
 
I want to learn to weld as well. If for no other reason than to SAS the Bronco. Everyone around me uses stick, but everyone here suggests MIG.

Pretty sure it's just a matter of buying one and getting to it. :rolleyes:
 
If all you ever want to do is MIG shit together in a clean shop environment in the flat position you can teach yourself.

If you want to work on higher stakes things in less ideal circumstances and have confidence in your welds take a class. You will learn in a semester what it would take a decade to pick up on your own working on hobby projects.

I spent a couple years dicking around with a 120v DC flux core box and while I had no problem building things I was never really good until I took a stick welding class. If you take a class make sure it's stick or tig. Learning stick or tig will make mig welding something you can pick up in an afternoon. Learning mig welding will not do the same for stick and tig though it may make the process a little faster.
 
When I took the class it was mostly stick welding and towards the end we got to run what we wanted, MIG, TIG, or stick. I really wanted to know how to MIG weld, but learning stick helped a lot. You learn to establish and control the puddle which carries over to MIG. You can tell how you or someone else is doing by the sound of the weld and yes it should sound like bacon for MIG and stick. 60hx HF stuff sounds like an old TV turning off. To me anyway. The sound will change if you long arc or short arc it. I spent a couple hundred bucks on the class, but I burned pounds and pounds and pounds of rod. Who know how much stick and a few pieces of filler metal trying TIG. Not to mention the pile of metal I stuck together.

They were running $5k 3 phase Miller units IIRC and were sweet, but overkill for home guys.
 
I learned on a stick machine first. That was all we had left that was operational in my high school metal shop (Lincoln buzz boxes, AC only pieces of shit!) and all we had at home was my dad's Miller Dialarc 250. A/C stick was frustrating as fuck to learn on, especially with shitty damp welding rods, not much good for anything besides teaching you to be patient. DC stick was much less frustrating and a lot cleaner/easier starting out. If all you want to do is stick shit together, just buy a MIG. If you want to learn how to weld, a stick machine or even an oxy/acetelyne outfit will teach you much more about reading and controlling the weld.

I'll second Weldingtipsandtricks on youtube, Jody's videos are really well done. Even if you do jump straight to MIG welding, he's got a great series on the subject including some machine setup tips that made my shitty little 120 machine run a ton better. I don't think I ever made a weld approaching pretty till I watched that guy's videos.
 
Agree with the above!
My .02...
Buy the best name brand used unit you can afford, it can be resold later once you have a preference!
I bought a brandy new Eastwood 175 cuz I thought $500 with a spool gun was a killer deal....
warranted 3 of them due to shit chicom junk inside.

LOVE my millermatic 211
Big glass AUTO dark mask A big +
 
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I signed up for a community college course ($750) and watched a lot of YouTube. Having an instructor show me how to do it helped me better than me just trying to figure it out. Only way to get better is to do it. I liked having the projects to try new things vs a book explaining it. I’ve only done stick (SMAW) and I can tell you the one project I did trying to figure out mig (GMAW) was ugly. They’re totally different. It was said above to make a budget and figure out what you can get with it. I’d say a 220V mig 140-180 amp machine is what you’d want to buy because you’ll grow into it and when you max it out you’ll know what you want. Plus they’re around $600 to start.

Learning what good welds look like, and learning what changes in amperage (and wire speed for mig) is going to take some time to learn. I liked the college class because they provided everything I needed, I had someone to critique my welding, show me new techniques, and I didn’t have to buy supplies and dispose of them. I’ve watched some YouTube videos and hear guys say “yeah not sure what happened there” and I can tell you it’s because they don’t know anything other than “that puddle looks good” so having an instructor is a good piece of money spent in my book. That is if you can swing the time commitment. Buying a welder and letting it sit for months won’t get you better. I probably spent 6 to 8 hours a week in the welding lab.
 
Baseline:
1) Never welded a day in my life
2) Never took electrical shop in Jr/senior HS :frown:
3) Would like to learn welding
4) Would like to buy my 1st welding set up
5) Would like to not kill myself trying :laughing: :eek:


Questions:
What's the proper way to get started on this venture?
What would be a good starter set up; equipment-wise?
Would researching/reading be enough to get started?
Would taking an occupation technology education class be worth it (welding class for adults)?


My goals:
1) Repair body work due cancer/rust
2) Modify simple shit on my rigs
3) Emergency repair on the trail
4) Build simple shit.
5) To not die from this venture


Opinions/suggestions/comments are welcome and encouraged. :beer:

It sounds like a little general purpose MIG welder will fulfill your needs just fine, IMHO. I'm not an expert welder, but I've been welding since high school and worked as a mechanic/welder for years when I was in my 20's and 30's. I've never owned a welder myself, so I did a bunch of research to try to figure out a suitable machine for my home garage use.

I ended up with 180 Amp Lincoln MIG welder. Home Depot sells this exact welder (except it is called the "Weld Pak" 180 instead of "Easy Mig" 180) for $750 locally It is a 220v machine, so I had to add a circuit in the garage. That was easy, but it cost about $40 for the breaker, receptacle and wire. I'm into everything including the new 220v circuit, a cart, and a 40 cf bottle full of gas for about $1050. There are definately cheaper and easier ways to get started welding, but I won't need anything more than this for what I'm doing, and it sounds a lot like what you will be doing.

I think you mentioned that you live in Boise. If you want to come over and try it out, bring beer. I drink Coors Light. I'm near Lake Hazel & Cloverdale.

photo41553.jpg
 
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