Want to learn how to Weld

#1
I have no real welding knowledge or experience, yet. I'm planning on doing some custom frame mods and repairs on minis and karts. I was told that wire welding is easier, but stick welding is better. Is this correct ?

I'm not ready to buy a new Welding setup, so I been shopping for a decent used setup. Found a "Like New" per seller Lincoln Red Buzz Box stick welder. Is this a good choice ?

Building a new shop. Is putting in a designated for welder 220V a good idea ?
 
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#2
This is just my opinion and my experience.

I cut my teeth on oxy acetylene welding.
I had a little bit of formal training at A & P school and a class at community college.
I feel that no one can really teach you to weld. All someone can do is offer tips, too fast, too slow, too close, too far etc.
Just like anything else, it just takes practice.

I bought a portable Victor setup with a 10 cu ft acetylene bottle and 20 cu ft oxygen bottle.
This setup works great, but I get less than a hour of weld time, and always run out of gas in the middle of a project.

A few years ago I bought the Harbor Freight 125 amp flux welder when it was on sale for $89.
Bottom line, I love it!
So far I’ve run about 6 pounds of wire through it and it’s performed flawlessly.
I’m a perfectionist and am quite satisfied with the quality of the weld I am able to put out with this machine.

Sure, some day I would like to have a 220v MIG / TIG setup, but in the meantime this is getting the job done.
 
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#4
Stick welding is used for making frames with a larger wall thickness than a mini bike. Unless you did a lot of practicing wth it you will be blowing holes in it. I did a lot of oxy acetylene welding and it helped when I got a tig welder. A mig is probably the easiest of the three to learn and use. I sold my oxy acetylene setup and since have had lots of times I wished I had not gotten rid of it. Mostly for heating exhaust bolts to get them out without breaking (automotive) and other heating or brazing jobs.
 
#5
I have a Lincoln weldpak flux mig. My first concern was safety and YouTube helped me understand a lot about the process – especially the vids put out by the weld.com guys. Listen to Mr. Pink and plan on practice time. My own experience has taught me to practice several similar welds right before the real one. And if you go with a mig, consider one that's also convertible to gas and solid wire.
 

toomanytoys

Well-Known Member
#7
I’m no welder. I learned to weld at the mine years ago welding 1/2” thick and bigger steel is easier than thin stuff. I welded in 1.5” thick chute liners to 3/4” back plates Friday. All flat welds and Super easy to lay down a nice looking bead.

We run migs dual shielded with 1/16” wire

at home I have a Hobart dual voltage with gas. It’s a nice setup. I have about 1500 in it (10 years ago). I’ve used it to weld up mower decks and to add brackets to mini bike frames and such. It’s paid for its self in tractor repairs!

but none of that really answers your question.

A stick welder for a thin mini bike frame probably isn’t the best choice for a new welder. not saying you can’t do it but it would take a lot of practice. Harbor freight has a 110v flux core mig that’s typically pretty cheap. The HF wire sucks so I’d recommend buying a Lincoln or Hobart wire.

get some scrap metal, watch you tube videos, and practice! Practice is what makes a welder a welder. Consistency is key.
 
#8
Tks y'all You have got me looking in at other options now. I've actually been saving some scrap metals to practice with. With my budget being a bit tight currently. This time of year my Surf and Bank fishing guide service is a bit slow and with the building of a shop I had a set a $ amount I wanted to invest for a welding set up. I looked at this one and though a bit over my budget, am I going in the right direction here ?
https://www.harborfreight.com/weldi...ultiprocess-welder-with-120v-input-58828.html
 
#9
I have a small Miller 220v wire welder that I bought almost 40 years ago, and I use Argon/CO2 mix with .030 wire. It can do the small or large stuff and have modified and made multiple projects that without it I would have never been able to do. The 110v should be fine for home stuff but adding gas like a small bottle of Argon/CO2 makes for a nicer looking weld vs. flux core. Good luck on your purchase and please keep us posted.
 
#10
I have no real welding knowledge or experience, yet. I'm planning on doing some custom frame mods and repairs on minis and karts. I was told that wire welding is easier, but stick welding is better. Is this correct ?

I'm not ready to buy a new Welding setup, so I been shopping for a decent used setup. Found a "Like New" per seller Lincoln Red Buzz Box stick welder. Is this a good choice ?

Building a new shop. Is putting in a designated for welder 220V a good idea ?
I will answer the designated welder outlet question first. YES! Plus, you really need more than one. One in the work area where you intend to weld and one by the outside door so you can access something to big to get in the building or can't get in the building because its already occupied. Plus, you will end up wanting a dedicated 220-volt extension cord for the welder.

Since you have zero experience welding you need to avoid random advice that you find on YouTube. There are a lot of folks on there making videos that aren't welders and are full of... well you know what it is. This guy is certified in airframe and is also a certified instructor. He has a lot of information. weldingtipsandtricks - YouTube

Don't buy just any random welding machine, do some research and see what the world has to say about the machine before you buy it. I am just a hobbyist, but I have a small fortune in welding machines and complimentary equipment. Just because you have a budget to buy a machine of XXXX amount you are just starting. You need lots of things to go with it. Jody in the above link reviews a lot of machines which might help you too.

A good welding helmet of quality is the very first item. I have 2 of these, one is 20 years old. Digital Elite™, Black (QR) External Grind, Clearlight 2.0 | MillerWelds A very practical helmet that will protect your eyes in multiple situations. I have one of these too and absolutely hate it for multiple reasons. 3M™ Speedglas™ 9100 Series Welding Helmets | 3M United States

A quality grinder is the second most important item as every piece needs to be prepped either in shape to fit or length to fit or just remove rust/paint to get a clean weld. You want a grinder with a high amp rating for load handling capacity. You can toast a 4 amp grinder in one job or you can buy a 9 or 11 amp grinder that will last for years of heavy use. I prefer Milwaukie grinders with a paddle switch. I will not use a grinder with a flip on flip off switch. It you drop it, and it runs down your leg it will send you to the emergency room and still be laying in the floor running when you get home from the ER. I also suggest that every grinder is the same. That way you don't have to figure it out when you pick it up. I have 8 or 9 that are all the same. Plus, it allows you to set them up with different attachments. A flap wheel, a grinding stone/wheel, a cut off wheel and a wire brush. ONLY use knotted wire bush on these grinders. They turn 10,000 RPM's. All mine are Milwaukie 4 1/2''. Specifically, this one Used Milwaukee 4.5" Super Magnum Sander Grinder #6153-20 45242042296 | eBay

You need clamps and magnets to hold/fixture items that you are trying to weld. Vice Grip C shaped clamps are quick and easy. The cheap magnets work but all they do is collect metal shavings. then they aren't reliable. I use magnets that you can cut on and off made by Strong Hand Tools. Adjust-O™ Magnet Squares - Strong Hand Tools or Adjust-O™ 90° Dual Switch Magnet Squares - Strong Hand Tools

Gloves are a must have item. Don't buy the big old stiff gloves that you see for cheap buy a welding specific glove. You want flexible gloves so you can maintain dexterity when holding or picking up something. I prefer Tilman brand gloves and have been using them for over 50 years. I started welding when I was 12 with a Lincoln Buzz box. Specifically, this glove is my favorite. 1356 “C” Grade Top Grain Cowhide MIG Glove – John Tillman Co. (jtillman.com) They will serve you well and you can buy them from numerous vendors on Ebay if you don't have a welding shop close by. Don't buy just one pair. Always keep at least 2 pairs on hand.

And proper welders' pliers. These will help in removing the nozzle on a MIG gun as well as remove the tips and clean out any spatter build up you may have. I have had several pairs over the years but once I bought a pair of Channel Lock brand welders' pliers, I threw the rest away. This is another don't buy just one item. You will be glad to have at least 2 pairs if you are MIG welding. I use these. 360 9-inch Welder's Pliers | Channellock, Inc. This is the best and you won't have to replace them. I keep a pair on each MIG machine and even a pair on my Tig machine. Along with a pair that stay on the welding table.

And a nice addition to your shop is a belt sander. Not a necessity but something that you will turn to more than you realize once you have one. I have 4. 1 little Horrible Freight 4 x 36. Never use it... 2 Craftsman 6 x 48 3/4 hp that I use occasionally. But I use this beast all the time. A Jet brand 6 x 48 1 hp. I use Norton Abrasives brand belts and they are outstanding for life span and function. JET 6in x 48in Belt/12in Disc Sander w/Open Stand - JET Tools - Quality Woodworking Tools Its pricey but I bought mine used at an equipment auction for about 20 cents on the dollar at the time.

All my Welding machines are either Lincoln or Miller. Except for my Lenco-Spot spot welder. They have been the industry standard for body shops for decades. They have all served me well. Doesn't mean that other machines aren't good and won't do what you need. But when you walk in an overhead crane production facility and everything on the floor is blue it means they work and don't give trouble. I have watched them welding on the opposite side of 1'' plate and the HAZ on the none weld side was 4 or 5 inches wide. I asked the welder what amperage he was running, and he said the machine was wide open. That equated to 500 amps with .060 flux core wire with gas shielding. This was a 90 foot long 100-ton capacity bridge crane.

2 big things I always try to tell people when they are starting out. They sound trivial but amount to a lot when a weld might hold your safety in its quality.

1 - Clean metal welds the best. No popping or spitting or bubbling up little volcanoes due to contamination.

2 - And this one will serve you forever if you start out following it. The better the fit, the better the finish. Filling big gaps from poor fit is not the best end result.

And lastly if I were you and had no welding experience, I would buy a quality gas torch and gas weld everything. It was industry standard forever until "faster" processes were developed. You can heat and bend things. Heat and shape things. Cut things. Weld steel, aluminum, stainless and copper or brass. And if you can gas weld efficiently you can pick up almost anything and weld with it. Buy a Victor or a Smith. It's how small air frames were built for years, and it is still used by air frame fabricators to this day. A good friend has built several tube frame dune buggies with nothing but a gas torch. And they face far more stresses than a Minibike or Gokart frame.

Will cheap or cheaper stuff do the job? Sure. Will it last? Depends on how you treat it as much as how its built. Any of the above items can be substituted for more money or less money but truly you should be looking at this as a long term investment not as a budget investment.

Good luck with whatever you choose! Search this website and you will find a lot of the above information in different threads already. There are huge build threads. There are grinder threads. There are welder threads and on and on. There is no substitute for time spent under the hood practicing. Weld everything you can find to practice on and then weld on critical things. A muffler shop is a good source of scrap tubing. Its thin but will give you loads of experience time and usually they will let you pick up there cut offs out of the scrap bin for free or just a few bucks.
 
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#11
Just some welding porn...

A full sized English wheel that I built.

The frame I built for my 1956 Ford F-100.

The roll bar fit on the 1/2 scale Nascar chassis that I built while attending Greenville Tech.

The fit up on some 3'' exhaust I built for a friends 1971 Blazer.

The beginnings of a swing arm I built for a Minibike

And a horseshoe art piece that I whipped up for a friend with horses.










 
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#12
And one more thing. Smaller machines run the cooling fan continuously. My big 220 volt Miller MIG welder almost never runs the fan, but my 110 volt Miller 140 auto set machine runs anytime it is turned on. Why do I point this out? Grinding dust! If the fan is running cut the machine off before you do your grinding. Dust build up on the internals creates excess heat and will drastically shorten the life of the machine. Don't be afraid to take the cover off once a year and blow the dust out either. Cheaper machines tend to come from sources that continue to evolve thus changing to the "latest, greatest" version. So they self obsolete. when you need a part to repair something they don't make it anymore. Just something to consider when you choose a machine. Most Miller or Lincoln machines are easily repairable until they get into double digit years of age and older then parts get harder and harder to find. Both my Miller 250 amp Dial Arc AC/DC machine and my Lincoln 300 amp AC/DC/Tig machine will weld all day . The Miller came out of a vocational school that was built in the 1970's and the Lincoln a friend bought new in 1968.
 
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#13
I Just realized that I had not posted any complete pics of the half scale Nascar chassis. This will give you a better Idea of the scale and scope of the project. Lots and lots of fitting and welding. If I remember correctly it took 2 1/2 or 3 weeks to build it. That was the spring of 2018...








Your biggest learning curve will come with fitting steep angles like these. But time spent getting the fit right is well worth the end result.



My buddy Bruce welding on the inside of the cage with it up on the work bench.

 
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#14
FOMOGO, thanks Brother for taking the time to post all that great info and pics. You gave me a lot more items to add on my "Gonna need list" After reading what you and others have told me. My budget, meaning what I'm going to spend on just the welder has doubled, I understand that I'm going to need half that much again in tools too use with welder. The grinder, belt sander, drill press etc.. are all on my other new tools I'm planning on buying list. I've always had the mindset of buying something better that will not need replaced for a long time.

I've seen the youtubers who brag about being "Certified Gap Welders" I was not impressed, even though I don't know much yet. I knew that if they had fit the parts better to begin with, there would not be that big gap to fill ! When I bought the first mini and Kart. I just thought I would get them to play around with some on my property. Now I got more and I'm building engines and wanting too do some frame mods. Also now others have been wanting me to fix or restore their minis and karts. I'm not planning on doing the level of welding you are, but who knows !

Again tks y'all, it's truly appreciated. Dale
 
#15
Lots of people think they are good welders because they can fill gaps and the metal "sticks together".
IMHO fitting is almost if not equally important as the welding.
There is definitely knowledge that needs to be considered when picking materials, thickness of material, pipe vs tubing, cold rolled vs hot rolled steel, etc.
Flux core MIG is fine for working outside, where shielding gas could be blown away by the wind. But man is it smoky and dirty and requires more cleanup after the fact. Harder to see the puddle too.
I would recommend getting a slightly bigger (more powerful) machine than needed, it is better to run a big machine turned down, than it is to run a small machine maxed out.
Special attention should be paid to the duty cycle of any machine, the cheaper machines usually have very short duty cycles so cheaper is not always better. Cheaper machines often usually have lesser quality parts like torches/ground clamps/footpedals too.
Just my .02
 
#16
Lots of people think they are good welders because they can fill gaps and the metal "sticks together".
To add to what my friend massacre stated. A Mig will push wire as long as you hold the trigger. Doesnt mean that you are accomplishing anything other than making a mess.

There is the rare occasion that a gap or a hole that simply needs to be filled for cosmetic reasons is acceptable but its not a strong weld in the end. Again just a cosmetic fix.

If you start paying attention to welds on fence gates and small home projects you will see some things that are scary.

Here is a gate hinge that I repaired for a friend years ago that is a prime example of a goober weld. You can see from all the rust that there was never any penetration by the weld. The last pic shows the little pits where the weld actually had a bite. Compare that to the third pic with all the awful weld build up on it before I hit it with a hammer and knocked it off. Dont be afraid to put the heat in a weld. Thats what makes it a weld.






 
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