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  • Getting Started

    Okay. I really need to learn to weld.

    As much as I'd like to go to a welding school or take classes at the local community college, I just can't find the time. I live 25 miles (in brutal traffic) from the nearest college that has a program and taking a week for a welding school that's out of state is problematic.

    What I'm wondering is if I should just go ahead and buy some equipment and just try it. I have some books on the subject, so I can start there. There also seem to be some videos available.

    I have at least a dozen projects swimming around in my head and I keep putting them off, mostly because I'm afraid of hurting myself since I don't know what I'm doing. I also don't know what kind of equipment to get.

    Most of my projects involve heavy duty things: welding chain hooks on my tractor bucket, building drive on ramps that will support a car, adding some stuff to a trailer, and other stuff I can't remember right now. Obviously, I'd practice a lot before I build any things like these.

    I'd also like to be able to weld aluminum. I have a race car and there are all kinds of things I'd like to fabricate out of aluminum for it.

    From everything I've read, MIG sounds like the easiest to learn. But will it be versatile enough? OA seems very versatile, much harder to learn but has the ability to cut as well.

    I have a wee bit of experience forge welding mild steel. I had limited success at that as a horseshoer. But that's a whole other ball of wax.

    So, what equipment should I buy? And is it too dangerous to try to learn welding from books?

    Appreciate any advice.

    Jim

  • #2
    Everyone learns from a book ... to begin with. The biggest advantage of the courses (outside of the variety of machines already paid for) is an instructor right there to tell you how you've buggered up and how to stop it. Out of a book, you have to figure that bit out yourself, which takes time away from actually learning technique. And technique is what it's all about. Not the machine, or the process.

    Mig's supposedly easiest to learn. Stick supposedly best for heavy stuff. Tig supposedly best for Al. And there'll be someone along shortly to dispute every supposedly jsut used.


    The first questions should really be .... what's your goals. and your budget.
    For off topic conversations, discussions, rants, or even a dirty joke or two, click here

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi Jim,

      In the space you envision setting up your welder; do you have 220v outlet on a separate breaker available?...say 50amp? A Hobart Handler 180 or Ironman 210 would seem like a great place to start. I went with a Handler 175 and am self-learning. If you don't mind actually reading the brief manual and practicing with some scrap first I don't think you'll struggle all that long. I purchased a video after I practiced a bit and found it worthless. By the time I looked at it I'd already learned more from cruising the internet, this board, and giving it a go by myself.

      If someone can't turn a wrench, change the oil in their car, or run a circular saw without supervision...they might should check into a class first. A "hands-on" guy intelligent enough to observe the cautions and instructions provided in the manual should be able to proceed safely independently. Not that you wouldn't benefit from instruction ( I know I would) but I feel that now I'd appreciate the instruction I received so much more than if I just went into it blindly.

      My thoughts,

      Clay
      Last edited by Clay Walters; 08-15-2006, 02:37 PM. Reason: omission

      Comment


      • #4
        How about stuff that ain't a welder but what you'll need anyway. First off I like to have a torch. It slices, it dices, it bends, and it preheats. You'll need at least a chop saw if you don't get one of these. Don't let people fool you into thinking a 4.5" grinder with a cut off wheel will do your cutting. Its the most dangerous and slowest cutting method. You will still need a 4.5" grinder with grinding wheel and wire wheel. You will want a helmet unless you get a welder that comes with a good one which will only be with a higher end machine. Lets see that's a torch or chopsaw, grinder and helmet. Those things and some good gloves are essential. What you get as far as type and brand can be researched on this site. Here is a budget recomendation of tools.
        ACDC transformer (stickmate)
        Torch combo set (harris smith victor)
        4.5" grinder (dewalt 402)
        Helmet (I'll just say if you get an auto dark hood then your learning curve will be a little easier especially with mig not so much with stick)
        Gloves (tillman)
        Get some 6010, 6011, 7018 rods and a few grinding wheels and a wire wheel.

        This can be done pretty easy for under a grand and will suit all your "regular" welding needs. "Regular" welding will not include aluminum. That is a whole other beast that comes later. I recomended a tranny welder but if the budget allows for a mig machine then go for it. Just realize there are hidden costs associated with one of these. Like bottle rentals and the need for an AD lid. You will be able to upgrade a mig with a spool gun and pure argon to weld aluminum which will make it more attractive. But (there is always a butt) aluminum has special cutting needs like a plasma cutter or a band saw, you can't cut it with an abrasive tool or torch.
        d.
        I don't care what size, just hand me a wrench I'm gonna use it as a hammer.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by diesel
          Don't let people fool you into thinking a 4.5" grinder with a cut off wheel will do your cutting. Its the most dangerous and slowest cutting method.
          d.
          I got by with a 4.5" angle grinder for a couple of years. Did all my cutting and grinding with one until I could afford the $150.00 chopsaw. That and the small MIG I have, have always been enough to do what I needed to do.

          I don't think that bottle rental and such is hidden cost. That should be considered up front, or you will wind up with a torch and 2 regulators sitting in a box until you can afford the gases. I am wondering how much under a grand you will be when you get all that.

          I started with an angle grinder and a MIG. Depending on how much you think you will need to weld heavier stuff, I think that 135A is a good starting point without spending too much money. I know somebody will say that if you are going to spend money you might as well save and get the biggest welder available, even if it means bringing in 3-phase to do so; after all you might need it someday. This is just my opinion, and if your needs really justify it go for it. Just remember that even after you have purchased everything you think you will need, there will always be something that you shoulda, woulda, coulda bought.

          Just my 2.5 cents.

          Dave
          Still building my new old truck - see the progress!
          http://www.ford-trucks.com/forums/65...-coe-idea.html
          http://www.hobartwelders.com/weldtal...ad.php?t=27017

          Square Wave TIG 200 - Woot!
          MM180
          SP125+

          Comment


          • #6
            You will be WAY ahead if you just take a Basic [stick] Welding class a your local C.C.Most starter classes also teach OX/ACET. cutting and welding along with stick welding.Then you can practice at home.After you get the hang of stick welding,MIG will be easy for you.If you are not going to take a class,MIG welding will be the easiest to learn.Fluxcore wire is the easiest in my opinion . good luck

            Comment


            • #7
              Go for it

              If you really want to weld........buy the best welder your budget will allow...........practice,
              practice, practice and never accept failure...........now you are a weldor
              Nick
              _____________________________
              Miller 252 Mig
              Miller Cricket XL Mig
              Millermatic 150 Mig
              Syncrowave 200 Tig
              Century 50 Amp Plasma
              2- O/A outfits
              Spot welder
              Jet Lathe and Mill
              Jet 7x12 horiz/vert bandsaw
              DeWalt Multi Cutter Metal Saw
              Electric Hydraulic vertical press
              CNC 60"x60" Plasma/Router table
              www.nixstuff.com
              www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTu7wicVCmQ

              Comment


              • #8
                I myself am self taught and totally just as a hobbie. I started with Oxy/A about 20 years ago. Did that for 3 years or so, then went on to mig. Did that for about 12 years. Now I'm learning to tig on my own. Tig is alot like Oxy/A so my early Oxy/A experience helped alot. I'm having so much fun with the tig, it's all I want to do lately. Hopefully the wife understands. So far she's not complaining though.

                I would say that Oxy/A is a good way to learn the basics. Also it doesn't require a dark shade, so you can see the weld pool very well.

                I do want to take some classes now to tig better.
                HH210 w/spool gun
                HTP Invertig 201

                Comment


                • #9
                  What I'm wondering is if I should just go ahead and buy some equipment and just try it.
                  Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! and burn the books too You'll become addicted to it and then all will be lost.
                  Ed Conley
                  Screaming Broccoli, Inc
                  http://www.screamingbroccoli.net/
                  MM252
                  MM211
                  Miller Passport Plus, Spoolmate 100
                  TA185
                  SO 2020 Bender
                  Miller 125c Plasma
                  "Hold my beer while I try this!"

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Maybe some Gov. regulatory outfit like OSHA or EPA can require a warning sticker on welding equipment. Something like " Hobby welding is known to be highly addictive and may cause cancer of the billfold." LOL Maybe we need a whole new Dept to handle this. I guess I can volunteer to head that up. What's a GS 23 make these days? LOL
                    Dennis


                    Thermal Arc 185-TSW
                    Millermatic Challenger 172
                    VictorO/A
                    Atlas Craftsman 12 by 24 Lathe
                    Esab PCM-875
                    Wholesale Tool Mill-Drill

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by tailshaft56
                      Maybe some Gov. regulatory outfit like OSHA or EPA can require a warning sticker on welding equipment. Something like " Hobby welding is known to be highly addictive and may cause cancer of the billfold." LOL Maybe we need a whole new Dept to handle this. I guess I can volunteer to head that up. What's a GS 23 make these days? LOL
                      I think it's more like hemorrhaging of the billfold
                      HH210 w/spool gun
                      HTP Invertig 201

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        MIG is easy to learn. You can almost do it by reading the manual that comes with your MIG machine, though a class or even a demo would be helpful. You can download manuals from both Miller and Lincoln welders. IIRC, the manual for the Lincoln SP-175 MIG welder has the best trouble-shooting section.

                        Unfortunately, MIG generally doesn't do well with aluminum. And aluminum generally doesn't do well with small budgets. Whether you're talking MIG or TIG, it seems like you'll want more power than a typical 175-180A/220V hobbiest welder provides...

                        Suggest you try to find a welding supply store in your area. Drop in, tell them you're interested in learning to weld, and see what they have to say. My local welding supply is independently owned and everyone is extremely helpful. They're always offering to help with welding questions, fab questions, or a demo of the latest machine. If you could find a shop like that in your area, they might be willing to give you an extended demo and show you much of what you need to know about MIG welding. They might also be able to put you in touch with a local welder who, for a small fee, could come to your place and spend an hour or two teaching you the basics. The nice thing about that is you could use your own projects and tools for the "class".

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thanks for all the replies.

                          I do have a relationship with a welding supply store (they used to sell me my horseshoeing supplies when I was doing that full time). I think they might even be willing to get me started with a demo or two.

                          Access to 220 is doable and I realize that if I go with MIG I should get the highest amps I can afford and still use 220. The Ironman 210 or similiar welder sounds like it should fill the bill. I don't anticipate working with anything thicker than 3/8".

                          I should probably get an OA setup for cutting as well.

                          Now I just need to convince the wife I need all this stuff. And while I'm at it, I'll convince her I need to build a shop out back because all this welding stuff is too dangerous to have near the house.

                          After I get started, I'm sure I'll be back here looking for advice on my welds.

                          Thanks, folks!

                          Jim

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jimgood
                            Now I just need to convince the wife I need all this stuff. And while I'm at it, I'll convince her I need to build a shop out back because all this welding stuff is too dangerous to have near the house.

                            After I get started, I'm sure I'll be back here looking for advice on my welds.

                            Thanks, folks!

                            Jim


                            Oooo. Don't tell her that part until you've got everything and the cartons are gone in the recycling.
                            For off topic conversations, discussions, rants, or even a dirty joke or two, click here

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              When the handle breaks off the frying you'll be there.........Think of the money you'll save
                              with gas cost and all. She'll understand.
                              Nick
                              _____________________________
                              Miller 252 Mig
                              Miller Cricket XL Mig
                              Millermatic 150 Mig
                              Syncrowave 200 Tig
                              Century 50 Amp Plasma
                              2- O/A outfits
                              Spot welder
                              Jet Lathe and Mill
                              Jet 7x12 horiz/vert bandsaw
                              DeWalt Multi Cutter Metal Saw
                              Electric Hydraulic vertical press
                              CNC 60"x60" Plasma/Router table
                              www.nixstuff.com
                              www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTu7wicVCmQ

                              Comment

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