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Home/hobby welding

  1. #1
    Burns retinas nhbubba's Avatar
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    Home/hobby welding


    Are the cheap, inverter flux core/wire feed welders as bad as they say they are?
    Most info I can find says start with stick. Says get a "tombstone" for cheap 2nd hand, ~$100-150. Start there.
    I'm not seeing those things at those prices, even in AC only. They are nearly $500 new. Which seems obscene for tech older than my father.

    Harbor Freight sells an inverter DC wire-feed welder (I guess it is only flux-core) that is currently priced at $220 new. Word has it you can get it for <$200 regularly. Small capacity. Short duty cycle. Spec says it tops out at 3/16ths but plenty of people say it'll do 1/4" especially if you take two passes.

    For a "home-gamer" how bad an idea are these things. I realize I won't pass a unit like that down to my grand-kids. But honestly.. who cares.

    Why are "old timer" types so anti flux core wire feed? I see it called "hot glue for metal" on the intertoobes.

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  2. #2
    Lifer gixxer72's Avatar
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    Re: Home/hobby welding

    Quote Originally Posted by nhbubba View Post
    Are the cheap, inverter flux core/wire feed welders as bad as they say they are?
    Most info I can find says start with stick. Says get a "tombstone" for cheap 2nd hand, ~$100-150. Start there.
    I'm not seeing those things at those prices, even in AC only. They are nearly $500 new. Which seems obscene for tech older than my father.

    Harbor Freight sells an inverter DC wire-feed welder (I guess it is only flux-core) that is currently priced at $220 new. Word has it you can get it for <$200 regularly. Small capacity. Short duty cycle. Spec says it tops out at 3/16ths but plenty of people say it'll do 1/4" especially if you take two passes.

    For a "home-gamer" how bad an idea are these things. I realize I won't pass a unit like that down to my grand-kids. But honestly.. who cares.

    Why are "old timer" types so anti flux core wire feed? I see it called "hot glue for metal" on the intertoobes.
    This should be interesting. Lincoln and Miller make the best machines, but will be more of an investment than a throw away HF unit. People have shit loads of varying opinions when it comes to welding. My experience is the vast majority of them canít pass or barely pass a 1G weld test. Iím sure youíll find something affordable for whatever it is youíre trying to weld ( you didnít specify but Iím assuming fairly thick steel if youíre looking for 1/4Ē fillets).

    Flux core is great and easier to learn with as opposed to solid wire. We run 045 solid wire primarily to cut down on smoke.

    You should be able to get a Lincoln weld-pak suitable for home use for $500 +/-.

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    Last edited by gixxer72; 05-10-20 at 01:09 PM.

  3. #3
    Angry Gumball RandyO's Avatar
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    Re: Home/hobby welding

    how much electricity does a welder draw ? I don't have residential service, instead, I have a demand meter, so not only do I pay for the amount of electricty, I pay a surcharge for the rate of use

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  4. #4
    Burns retinas nhbubba's Avatar
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    Re: Home/hobby welding

    Mostly I want to be able to tack the front sprocket onto every motorcycle that sets wheel in my garage.

    Seriously though. First serious job would be putting stake holders on the little garden trailer I have so I can pile more than 3 bits of brush in the thing at a time.
    After that probably dumb things like a stand for my drill press. Repairing/beefing up cheap lawn tractor implements.
    Stuff like that.


    I forgot to mention the other appeal of these units is they run on 110VAC. I don't have 220VAC in my garage and it would be expensive to run it. (Otherwise I'd probably already have an old-school stick welder.)

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  5. #5
    Backwoods lobster boy number9's Avatar
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    Re: Home/hobby welding

    I have an old Hobart Handler 150 that I got on Craigslist a few years ago. It does everything you'd want and runs on 110V. I'd scour Craigslist/Facebook Marketplace and see what shows up.

    Isn't TrickyMike the resident welding expert?

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  6. #6
    Burns retinas nhbubba's Avatar
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    Re: Home/hobby welding

    I've been through FB marketplace a couple times. Not seeing much that is interesting. Everything seems to be expensive pro stuff, 220V, or people asking retail for this same HF junk.

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  7. #7
    Don't bother me! R7's Avatar
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    Re: Home/hobby welding

    I have a 110 volt Lincoln mig welder, itís universal and you can either use flux core, or solid core with argon gas. Iíve never used the gas, and if I recall i can run .028 and .030 flux core wire. It was great for doing the cab corners and rocker panels on my old truck. I also made engine mount pads with it when I put a 396 big block in a chevy s10. They take practice and trial and error to get a decent weld.
    As with anything harbor freight, Iíd buy with a 1 time use intention and it goes in the trash after that.

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  8. #8
    Lifer obsolete's Avatar
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    Re: Home/hobby welding

    Quote Originally Posted by R7 View Post
    I have a 110 volt Lincoln mig welder, it’s universal and you can either use flux core, or solid core with argon gas. I’ve never used the gas, and if I recall i can run .028 and .030 flux core wire. It was great for doing the cab corners and rocker panels on my old truck. I also made engine mount pads with it when I put a 396 big block in a chevy s10. They take practice and trial and error to get a decent weld.
    As with anything harbor freight, I’d buy with a 1 time use intention and it goes in the trash after that.
    I have the same one with the gas set up. I made some skid plating type stuff with it for my XJ and it all held up to some good hits. I probably wouldn't trust my life to a weld on anything thick from it (or my welding ability) but for small jobs and odd shit that pops up, it's great.

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  9. #9
    TWINS! xrocket21's Avatar
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    Re: Home/hobby welding

    Get the cheapest lincoln

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  10. #10
    Lifer jasnmar's Avatar
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    Re: Home/hobby welding

    MIG is kinda hot glue for steel. For the home gamer one of those machines isn't turrible.

    I'd try to get into something that's at least capable of gas, even if I didn't plan on using it.
    We have and eastwood TIG at the shop that's actually been better than I expected. I'm looking strongly at something like https://www.eastwood.com/mig-welder-...RoCEhUQAvD_BwE just so that I have something at home.

    I get that many welders say start with the stick machine. For someone with specific needs I would disagree. They say that somewhat because MIG is so easy that if you start there you'll likely never learn the other things (but if you start with stick you'll want to spend time learning other things).

    If you need to do aluminum you are better off starting with a TIG / Stick machine than spending the money on a MIG. If you just need to do carbon steel, budget MIGs can work.

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  11. #11
    Burns retinas nhbubba's Avatar
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    Re: Home/hobby welding

    How about a cheap MIG/flux unit for steel to start and for "most" things. Then a fancy TIG machine later for aluminum & bigger stuff when/if it comes to it.

    My experience dirtying TIG tips makes me want to pass. Especially for now.
    Plus the need for 220. And gas. And.. And..

    Can you really stick weld aluminum? Internet says you can, but you don't actually want to. Just find a buddy with access to a TIG machine and hand him some beer.

    That Eastwood unit looks about what I had in mind. Seems like all of these units are vaguely copies of each other. One thing I like about the HF unit over that is the wire drive unit is cast, not plastic. That's been called out on a couple reviews I've seen.

    Wire-feed that can do MIG seems like a reasonable thing to shoot for. Will keep that in mind.

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    Last edited by nhbubba; 05-11-20 at 08:31 AM.

  12. #12
    Lifer loudbeard's Avatar
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    Re: Home/hobby welding

    I agree with getting a MIG welder, I just disagree with the point of going flux core. The flux core spatters a lot more, byproduct is a yellowish dust that gets all over everything. Just run shielding gas, it's not expensive or complicated and it welds much cleaner.

    The Hobart Handler 140 is a great place to start for a 120V welder. Pretty much any 120V welder is going to limit you to 1/4" mild steel maximum, for most that's plenty.

    I have the "big" HF welder at work, Chicago Electric 170. It does the job for the little bit of welding that I need to do here. I have a Miller 211 MVP at home, it's awesome, it's also about $1,500.

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  13. #13
    Member tucktuvak's Avatar
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    Re: Home/hobby welding

    https://youtu.be/KLj7ehAp-zA

    I bought that harbor freight inverter welder. I've been using it to patch up a super rusty E30 that I bought, and it works pretty well. The flux core spatter really isn't that bad, obviously it's not TIG or MIG but once you hit it with the wire wheel or flap disc it looks pretty good. I've been welding 22 gauge sheet metal, which is way too thin to do a full line without burning through, but it works fine for tacking around. I also bought it because it was 120V and cheap ($160 on sale). I know a lot of people say harbor freight sucks but so far I've been really happy with the welder, haven't had any sort of reliability problems etc. It's a super small and convenient welder, like the size of a large toaster and very light. Also flux core is great for outdoor welding!

    Here's a pic of a panel I welded in and then ground down. Not perfect but it will work once I seal it up!
    Home/hobby welding-61022515628__6ab317be-9a4c-4ff9-9e83-2463f1c8e3cb

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  14. #14
    Backwoods lobster boy number9's Avatar
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    Re: Home/hobby welding

    Now that I have a garage, I have my welder (Hobart 140 MIG) back. Are there specific projects that are suited for beginners and will help me practice the important weld types?

    I suppose I can go out and find a bunch of strap and randomly stick it together, but I think I'll be better off if I have a specific project or plan to work towards. Maybe I could start by building a shelf for the garage...

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  15. #15
    Lifer
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    Re: Home/hobby welding

    Ive got the eastwood 110v mig. It works great. I was able to repair my wrangler frame using it at home. I have a bigger mig at work and you cant really compare the two on big jobs but for small stuff i prefer the 110v just cause its so much easier to move around.

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  16. #16
    Lifer loudbeard's Avatar
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    Re: Home/hobby welding

    Yes, scrap pieces of steel to start with. Google "Types of welds" and look at the different ones. Butt, Lap, Corner, T, Edge are the basic ones. Butt welds are the weakest. For your shelf you'll probably be using mostly corner and lap welds. That said, I wouldn't build a shelf, that would be a gross waste of material. Look up plans for a fabrication table, there's a worthy endeavor.

    Also, have a look at Welding Tips and Tricks, the dude is seriously awesome. I bought my Miller 211, watched his videos, and started sticking metal together. He taught me the basics of everything I know about welding.

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  17. #17
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    Re: Home/hobby welding

    Quote Originally Posted by number9 View Post
    Now that I have a garage, I have my welder (Hobart 140 MIG) back. Are there specific projects that are suited for beginners and will help me practice the important weld types?

    I suppose I can go out and find a bunch of strap and randomly stick it together, but I think I'll be better off if I have a specific project or plan to work towards. Maybe I could start by building a shelf for the garage...
    a lot of peoples "first project" is a welding table, or a cart for your Welder/bottle. Pretty basic square tubing build.

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