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I Want to Learn to Weld

Discussion in '<a href=http://www.lawnsite.com/buttons/jump.php?i' started by Chopper Lover, Apr 27, 2001.

  1. Chopper Lover

    Chopper Lover LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 288

    Hi Guys!

    I have had an interest in welding for many years and would like to get started. I would like to "get it right" the first time when selecting equipment. I can see most of my applications to be with metal thickness that would be commonly found on mowers, automobiles, trailers and motorcycles.

    What type of welder should I buy, gas, electric, MIG, TIG, etc.? I have no problem with previously owned equipment which is good since cost is a factor. Is there a particular brand to avoid? What should I look for in capability?

    What about learning and education? I know they have courses at the local community college that run about $450. That is a bit more than I would choose to spend at the moment.

    ANY help will be beneficial and graciously accepted.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Deere John

    Deere John LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 327

    You will no doubt get good advice on equipment here, and I could add my 2 cents too about equipment, but I won't. Instead, I'll say that you should look at one of those basic welding courses first of all.

    Why? Well, they are not all that expensive, and there is a variety of welding machines there and the expertice to use them is at hand. The cost of a course here is under $300, and that is money well spent.

    Once you've had a general exposure to the sport, you can zero in on what you want to do, and make sensible and informed equipment choices from there.

    Hope this helps.
  3. Island Lawn

    Island Lawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 632

    I'm hoping to learn everything I need to know about welding right here for free at my own pace. Just like I did for my lawncare biz!LOL

    Well, maybe not EVERYTHING!

    But, maybe how to fix broken equipment, and what equipment I would need to weld as a "hobby"
  4. Eric ELM

    Eric ELM Husband, Father, Friend, Angel
    Posts: 4,831

    I learned to weld 50 years ago when a Forney Welder salesman came to our farm and demonstrated a welder. My dad ended up buying it and I made all sorts of things. I got a set of old washing machine gears and mounted them on the back of my wagon and got an old horse drawn steel wheeled sulky that you sat on while pulling drags and other old equipment and I took the steel wheels and mounted them on the back of this wagon. I welded steel rods cross ways on the wheels for traction. I mounted an old army surplus motor on it and had a chain drive from the gears to the wheels. :)

    This thing would pull like crazy. My first off road vehicle. :D

    I later made a motor bike that I rode all over the country using the same motor. Basically I learned from this salesman and OJT from all the years I have tinkered with welding. I'm far from good at it, but I got by for many years. ;)
  5. Catcher

    Catcher LawnSite Member
    Posts: 166

    Welding is fun and can help you out of a pinch as well. I'd agree with the Deere-man and recommend a class of sorts to people who never burned a stick.
    This will teach the very basics and give the person an idea of what they will want to buy as well.
    To teach someone how to weld over the net is near impossible(?) and downright dangerous.
    A forum is practical for tips, advise and troubleshooting if a basic knowledge is present (once again, in my opinion - that is).
  6. Alan

    Alan Member
    Posts: 1,185

    Here in the NW corner of Vermont there are night classes offered at the local technical centers. These are the "trade school" branch of our local high school system. Tuition is VERY reasonable as a rule, generally under $100 for about 30 hours of classroom time. They tend to be somewhat intensive on torch work, cutting and oxy/fuel welding. Nothing wrong with that though, as once you can run a bead with a torch you pretty much know what a puddle looks and acts like, so that transfers over to the arc processes and heliarc (TIG) especially so.

    As for equipment, if I could have only one power supply it would be a Lincoln AC225 "Buzz Box". Very similar to the Forney that Eric talked about, although the Forney offered more heat choices.
  7. 75

    75 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 992

    Mark - if you're starting out "stone cold" in the welding field, I think that a basic welding course is the best place to start - the initial cost will be made up quickly by the reduced frustration factor! Catcher's right - welding basics are pretty hard to teach over the 'net. Once the basics are in place, you'll have a good foundation to build from.

    From the projects listed (mowers, autos etc) it sounds like a good 220 volt MIG machine would be an ideal all-around welder for you. By using small diameter wire and turning down the amperage/wire speed you can work with body metal, and larger wire/more heat/feed rate will allow you to perform repairs on things such as trailers. One requirement of a MIG is indoor workspace, because the process relies on a gas shield (the term MIG stands for Metal Inert Gas - the gas (commonly carbon dioxide - CO2) protects the weld puddle from contaminants in the atmosphere while it cools) which even a slight breeze can disperse, causing problems

    If you'll be welding outdoors, then a decent 220 volt arc (stick) machine will work well. It won't be as handy on the really light stuff, but it will be more than adequate for heavier fabbing.

    Used is OK - like anything else, check it out thoroughly before buying and if possible, it helps to know the history of the machine - and I don't find too much difference between brands: in fact a lot of the various brands are the same machine with different colours & stickers!

    If you're into welding, you'll probably soon want torches as well. At home I've got a set of medium-duty Harris torches set up for oxy/propane. This means I only have to worry about an oxygen bottle account, the propane side is your basic barbecue tank!

    One other tool that is very useful is a good 5" disk grinder. I find the smaller ones to be a little too light-duty, while the big 7" grinders are nice to have but too cumbersome for a lot of tasks.

    Welcome to the world of metal fab, I hope this info helps you out a little.
  8. Dave1250

    Dave1250 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 15

    Hi Al Just came from the local welding buissnes and pick up a tourch head which someone help then self to my old one . Ouch $100.00 it`s a smiths HD I also have the smaller smith unit this summer I will get a Mig I`ll be checking in here alot . Dave also the local dealer has all kinds of info to read Both brands Linlon and miller have web site with info .
  9. Jason_S

    Jason_S LawnSite Member
    Posts: 94

    If you have access, try to do some oxy-acetelyene welding to start out. You will quickly learn how to lay the wire into joints and what not. Then, stick weldng will come easier, and wire feed welding will come even easier yet. The big thing to remember is to know how fast to go, and how high to set the power. I see a lot of rookies burning holes through metal when neglecting these two factors.

    Miller makes some of the best welders I can think of! They make some nice smaller wire feeds that will fufill you applications ChopperLover!!!!

    Try to get some practice time in!!!!!!! Find a buddy w/ a welder
  10. plowjockey

    plowjockey LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 332

    Welding can be frustrating to learn, but once you get it "right" the first time there is just no feeling like it. The pride you get from creating something from a bunch of raw steel that is done well and will serve your purpose is a really great. The benefits of having the capacity to fix a problem in an emergency or the option to fabricate something you need from your own design opens up an unlimited number of doors.

    Enjoy your welding and above all listen to all the good advice and especially the safety tips you will get from the good people here.


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