kogatana

MIG, TIG, plasma Cutter...

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Hello

From what I read on IFI, a welder is very usefull. Last time I was wandering in a hardware and tool shop I was looking at the welders.

I saw boxes that looks alike to me, but one of them was a plasma cutter and was rather expensive (equivalent to 800US$).

Now here is my point: what is hidden behind the notions of MIG and TIG, what can I do with a plasma cutter (can it cut that railroad track I've spotted, can it weld...)

All in all, I couldn't find a beginer guide to welding, and I'd need your advices on where to start, what can we do with what (can we have a TIG, MIG and plasma cutter all together?)

Ludo (Taiwan)

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Hi Ludo; For tons of good info on welders and plasma cutters check out Lincoln Electric. For some quick basic (not even close to all-inclusive) info here goes. Welders come in two basic flavors stick and wire-feed. I use a 110volt Lincoln 135plus wire feed (MIG) welder for my projects. I use flux-core wire so I don't need to mess with a shielding gas. This makes it real convenient. The welder is stored under my work bench. When I want to weld I just grab the gun, flip the on switch, pull the trigger and I'm welding. I use it almost daily. This machine is small and very portable and since it only needs 110volts I can take to any client site, plug it in and weld away.

I also have a Lincoln Procut25 plasma cutter - also 110volts. This machine is used to cut up to 1/4 inch steel - so it wouldn't work for railroad track. You will also need an air compressor for this machine. I use it to cut out shapes from sheet steel - mostly 1/8in thick.

This is just a start but I hope it helps. Have Fun!

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Ludo: For a blacksmith shop, an oxy/acetylene torch or equivalent is more useful and can be cheaper than a decent MIG or TIG welder. A plasma cutter is unnecessary in a blacksmith shop since it is entirely a fabricating tool. You can weld, cut, and locally heat steel with a O/A torch and the set is self-contained... you don't have to stay tethered to an eletric source. If acetylene is not an option, look for MAPP or propane, though they have other limitations.

If you don't know what you want but are bound and determined to arc weld your way into the blacksmithing community, get a good simple stick welder. That is the cheapest route. Then as you gradually shift away from blacksmithing to fabricating, figure out what tools will replace the forging skills the best, and buy those as you need them. They are too expensive to guess ahead of time, and the cheaper versions aren't worth the waste of money.

You don't NEED electric metal fusing/cutting devices in a hot forging shop. They are handy tools for making tools, but there is a forging equivalent for everything that they do. That is the point of blacksmithing -- traditional forging and joinery is free of gimmickry and is completely elemental. You need a heat source, and anvil, and a hammer. You can make or buy anything else as you need it.

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Kogatana,
Please don't take me wrong but From the questions you have asked it would probably be best it you signed up for a vocational course in basic welding, or at least found a local blacksmithing /metalworking group to join. They willl help you alot.
I'm not trying to discourage you but you will learn quicker and safer if you know the basics before you purchase your own equipment.

JWB

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Kogatana,
Please don't take me wrong but From the questions you have asked it would probably be best it you signed up for a vocational course in basic welding, or at least found a local blacksmithing /metalworking group to join. They willl help you alot.
I'm not trying to discourage you but you will learn quicker and safer if you know the basics before you purchase your own equipment.

JWB


I agree. Firsthand experience with someone skilled looking over your shoulder is the best and safest way to start learning.
If you are doing a lot of pattern cutting, then a plasma cutter may be good.

I love the oxy-acetylene kit I bought recently even though I have only used it for welding. You can use it to heat, weld, cut, and braze dissimilar materials together. Be careful though, they are limited to the thickness that you can use them on by the capacity of the gas cylinders that you have. (Acetylene can be dangerous at pressure over 15 PSI past the regulator. Acetylene can not be used at a flowrate of more than 1/7 the capacity of the cylinder you are using so large nozzles on small tanks will not work - be sure to understand and follow the instruction booklet)

Where was I..

MIG is handy for the ease of being able to tack something fast (possible to do with O/A torch but not nearly as fast) Main lesson I learned when I used a MIG was to go slow.

TIG is handy for exotic metals like Al, Ti. Takes more skill than MIG to use.

I didn't have too much time with the TIG so I never got good at it but I think I learned to use the O/A torch for welding faster just because I did a lot of research and read many sources on technique - which my technique is still not the best but I can get nice welds for the most part.

At the moment, I think technique is everything. It pays to know what to look for in wrong technique and what to change to make it better.

Anyhoo.. enough rambling..

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This is all helping, thank you. Now I see more clearly where I should go.
JWBironworks, you're right, if I could have a basic course in welding and blacksmithing that'd be great. But in Taiwan there's no such things. Totally different from the US where you one can find a course in almost anything you might be interested in (let's limit the scope to metalworking/woodworking related courses).
So to learn blackmsithing, I watch (Japanese woodworking-tool makers), read (books, IFI) and go slowly (built my mini forge, heated some iron and hammered it to get the feeling). For welding, well, I used an arc welder once when I was 13yrs old (that's a long time ago!).
Here in Taiwan, I used an O/A torch under the guidance of a craftman to cut a piece of railtrack. Ed, I take your message that an O/A may be more usefull/cheaper than a MIG welder.

And by the way, I'v just found out that the wikipedia has some good starting points to understand welding:
Welding - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ludo

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Ludo: Yes, I really think an O/A torch is a better first tool than a MIG welder for a blacksmithing shop. I have a MIG and use it fairly often because it is a convenient tool, but it is quite one-dimensional... all you can do is weld. A good MIG will definitely cost at least as much as a good O/A set... in my case it was much more. The torch, on the other hand, just continues to increase in usefulness as you grow as a blacksmith.

I routinely use the torch to locally heat for setting tenons and rivets. I often heat pieces that need shaped a particular way. By using a rosebud, you can heat and bend as you go, which makes complex bending with varying thicknesses a piece of cake. With cutting tips, you can cut rough shapes in MUCH thicker steel than a plasma cutter. It is nothing to cut a 2" bar of mild steel with a typical medium duty torch. With practice you can cut patterns in thick or thin sheets. I have used the O/A welding tips on site to tack pieces in position to get a pattern for railings. By making a mockup with scraps that I can bring back to the shop, there isn't any guessing on slopes and dimensions. The O/A set doesn't need an electrical outlet to do that sort of work. Welding sheet metal is actually easier with a torch than anything but a TIG. When I am all done forging, cleaning, and sanding a piece, I can use the rosebud on the torch to warm the work before applying a finish, and then use the torch to speed the drying or alter the look of the finish.

Be aware, though, that this is assuming you are going to be working with iron and steel. Other metals present different problems and the torch isn't always the answer.

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probably the more varied of the three would be O/A but i wouldn't touch it without a course in it. Or we might be reading about you on the news over here. I'm sure you can find a basic book and read up on it somewhere. But i'll let the experst tell you about that. I wsa actually just going to mention that plasme was used up untill the mid 50's exclusivly for welding, then they figured out how to set it up for cutting. Pretty interesting history actually. I'd post a few links but I think they're all on the home pc. Good luck with whatever you choose.

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Good advice Paragon and ted.... I went out and got the Mig first only because I used them and stick welders at Gm doing shut downs and re-tooling. I just reciently started doing brazing and gas welds and if I had to do it over again I would have bought the O/A before the mig. Dont get me wrong.. I love my mig but the O/A is Sooooo much more virsitle.

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If you learn to weld with O/A (gas), which is difficult, the electrical processes are very easy to pick up.

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Theres not much you CAN'T do with a simple old "gas axe" but I would advize a course of instruction, I sold equipment as Pacific rim sales manager for Brown Lennox, and my dealer in Taiwan might be able to help you find instruction. I will call him to ask. He is at his office in Kuala Lumpur till Jan, his name is B.T. Lim, if he calls don't get shocked, he is a realy good guy. Keep on learning, anyway you can, no such thing as bad knowledge!!
Paul.
It's not over... Untill we Win!!!

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Here is some general info. on welding & cutting. Miller - Resources - Improving Your Skills
I use a mig , and a small o/a outfit in my shop. I can mig,tig,stick,O/A. I would probally try to learn to use a o/a before i bought anything else then try stick welding , then mig , and lastly tig .
Welding is joining of metals , usally done with a mig , stick, tig , o/a , Forge welding.
To cut metals is usally done with o/a, plasma cutter, various saws.

Chris

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