stick or small wire feed?

Discussion in '<a href=' started by mikeklein, Nov 7, 2002.

  1. mikeklein

    mikeklein LawnSite Member
    Messages: 47

    I am going to buy a welder soon.I had originally planned on oxy-act. setup,since I learned this in high school shop class,but dont want to store the tanks in my garage/basement.I looked at stick machines(225 buzz box) for about $200. around here.nice,but I have never used one and I will have to do some re-wiring for it.I have heard stick is hard to learn and Ive heard it is easy to learn.I tend to pick up mechanical skills quickly,so this may be the one.Fianally I looked at a wire feed,looks simple,but in my price range I will only get a unit with standard household current.I typically will only be working with 1/8" and 3/16" steel,sometimes1/4" I am worried the mig unit will not produce strong enough welds,yet the stick may be too strong for these thicknesses.Any suggestions would be helpful.
  2. 1grnlwn

    1grnlwn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,261

    A wire welder would be perfect for you. 1/4 stuff can be welded with the small welders. You may have to make several passes. And 1/4" is thick for most small fab jobs. Don't get me wrong stick welding is tried and true American (sorry 75) work horse but it does take a fair amount of skill and a lot of practice. Especially with the thinner materials.

  3. I use arc because thats what I know. Seemed easy to learn for me. I find thinner materials easier to work, but thats most of what I do. I can use Oxygen-Acetylene but I don't want the tanks at home either. Borrow from my brother when needed.
    Never used wire feed so I can't compare.
  4. Alan

    Alan Member
    Messages: 1,185

    I've got all three processes handy, torches(which I never weld with), stick, in the form of a 225 Lincoln "buzz box" and two MIGs, one Millermatic 130 and a Snap-On MM140. The Lincoln rarely gets used now. Only time I drag out the leads is if I have something heavy and relatively critical that needs low hydrogen electrodes to do the job correctly. Other than that it's usually the Snap-On that gets called upon. That's a 120 volt machine with 140 amp output at 100% duty cycle. It's on a wheeled carriage and abit too heavy to tote around so if I need to do something away from home I take the Miller and the generator. Both MIGS are normally using flux cored wire.

    As for how hard to learn, I really can't say. MIG is easy to learn to do poor welds with. It's awful easy to put down beads that aren't stuck to anything. I learned stick first and I think that is the proper progression. If you can run stick then it's easy to make the switch to MIG.

    With a bit of weave it's possible to run a properly prepared joint on 1/4" material with the flux cored. A bit harder with bare wire and gas at low currents but easy to do in two passes with the small machines. Bigger MIGs (more money) can run 1/4" beads with no problem.

    Sorry for not having any real answers. All sorts of options though. I guess if I was starting from scratch I'd get a buzz box and a bunch of scrap steel. Glue it together and take the hammer to it. Bust things apart and observe how the weld failed, try again until you get welds that will take a beating and not snap.
  5. Rob T

    Rob T LawnSite Member
    Messages: 165

    If you can afford it buy a wire feed. Gas shielding is better than flux core and some machines will do both. Mig welding is the easiest to learn and is best for lighter guage material. For the lawn care operation mig is the way to go. The only drawback to mig is welding outside. If the wind is blowing, the gas shield will be blown away and the weld will be ruined by oxygen intrusion.
  6. Clint

    Clint LawnSite Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 97

    I would suggest a mig over stick, mig produces a much nicer weld, and you dont have to chip away slag. If you dont want to have tanks, they make a wire that does not require the gases, although, its about 5 times more expensive. it is actually better if you are welding outside as well, because the wind doesnt affect it, but this wire does splatter more and smoke quite a bit more.


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