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I Forge Iron

which welder to get?

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I don't know what you plan to weld. I have a Lincoln buzz box that I have had for about forty years. Get used a few times a month. Has held up well. Will go to 200 amp @ a 10% duty cycle. Using 6013 can weld up to 100 amp @ 100% duty cycle. I weld very few thing that require more them 100 amp.

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I would suggest either a Lincoln tombstone (AC/DC if possible) or a Miller Thunderbolt. If you are not picky check craigslist.com in your area. I see nice machines all the time in the Dallas area for little $$. Sometimes they were used only one time and they person just wants the machine out of their way. Both of these machines run on 220 so I would advise getting an outlet wired in for that purpose. The AC/DC machine will cost a little more but they are SO much easier to use and give you more versitility. I just bought a Miller Syncrowave 200 that had less than 4 hrs on it for less than 1/2 of the MSRP! Got it off of craigslist.

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Depends on various factors. How thick/thin a material do you plan to weld, duty-cycle/continuous-use? Also, how good a weldor are you? Actually, a cheap "buzz-box" is more difficult to use, than a more expensive and capable welding-machine.

Many, many years ago, when I learned how to weld (at a local community college and OJT at the company I worked at) I bought a Miller Buzz-Box A/C welder. It was REALLY tough to get it to work right, and forget about trying to weld light gauge.

Eventually (around twenty-years later,) I bought a Lincoln SP-170 Amp MIG Welder. With the tall-Argon-tank, it was around $570 (7-years ago.) Money well spent, it does the job very well, on fairly light-gauge material all the way to 1/4-inch plate.

Used equipment (if you can assess condition and KNOW what you're looking at) might be a way to go.

In one regard you're in luck. This IS the time of year (holiday season) that welding supply stores typically have their lowest prices/best sales.

Wish I could recommend Harbor Freight Tools (a cheap source) but for the Welding Unit itself, it is usually best to stick with a well-known American brand (Lincoln, Miller, Hobart, etc) as repair/replacement parts are often hard to find for foreign/off-brands.

Would say that my $50 self-darkening hood and many of the welding-related tools from Harbor Freight have worked out well.

Speaking of that, a self-darkening hood is a big help, particularly if you are a beginner or low on experience.

I prefer 220 Volt, but the 110-volt unit (I could have ordered the same Lincoln SP-170 as either 110 or 220-Volts) "may" have worked out Ok (though the points made previous seem valid, (might trip your circuit-breaker.)

If (in your garage) you have an electric clothes-dryer 220-volt outlet (with suitable circuit-breaker protection/wiring) you might be able to buy or make a plug-adapter to allow for a 220-Volt welder hookup.

Edited by DerekC
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Another possibility (in that price range) would be an Oxy-Acetylene Torch, Welding Tips, Hose, Tanks and Cart. You could Gas-Weld.

That was my first welding investment (before buying a buzz-box A/C arc-welder or MIG welder.)

When I first began welding (late 1970's/early 1980's), low-end "cheap" MIG welders were in the $1,000-plus range (before the advent of cheaper foreign and Chinese imports and overseas production,) and that is $1,000 uncorrected for inflation (so more like $3,000, give-or-take, in 2008 dollars.)

As for your current situation, you could always shop around at local welding-supply stores. This is their discount-shopping season, and in the current economy, they may be willing to deal you a good price/cut you a break.

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The only thing decent in your price range is a Lincoln or Miller or hobart "Stick" welder. All are going to require a 220 50amp outlet to operate.

110v welders are really meant for light work, 1/8 or less. Thermal Dynamics makes a 110 unit that fits your price range. The local shop sells them and warns that they are really only for repairs not fabrication.

Sign up for TSC's email flyer they send out a 10% off coupon about once a week on various stuff. About every other month it will apply to a welder.

Getting a 220 outlet needs to be your first purchase.

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Here is my suggestion:

Last July I purchased a Lincoln 180c. I got the bottle and two boxes of wire for $800. That was with the welder being on sale for $700. I then went down to the local electrical supply house and I picked up a length of 6/2 cable,a 50 amp CB and a plug and box. I carefully installed the CB and wired up the plug. All that took me less that an hour. I have been using this welder almost non stop. I built our barn doors with it,and I currently using it to build my new forge. I would not get a 110v because I find that that they are just under-powered.

The 180c is not a tapped machine. I have the ability to infinately adjust the wire feed speed and current. I refuse to have the restrictions that a tapped machine puts on me.I have been welding now for over ten years as a professional, and i have never liked tapped machines.

This is what I would suggest that you get. If you have any other questions about this machine I would be glad to answer that just send me a pm



P.S. The pictures are of me fabbing up the barn doors and then us taking them off the truck after powder coating.



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I was think about getting a welder for christmas and wasn't sure what kind to get. I have a pric range of about 100-250 dollars. I don't have special plugs in my garrage or anything so it can need a 220 outlet. ANy suggestions would be very appreciated.

Don't get a new one. Get a used one. Check Craigslist.org every day. Check the local classifieds regularly. If you have time, go to an auction.

The old American made arc welders are indestructable. I got a old Forney welder from a guy at a yard sale for $50. It came with (almost) brand new cables which would have cost $75 or more if I'd have bought them at a store.

It looks beat up. It's older than I am. But it works like a dream.

There are TONS of used welders out there that don't cost much, but are of very high quality.
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I highly recommend taking a course on welding before purchasing a welder. I bought a welder then took a course. In the course I was able to use equipment a lot nicer than what I purchased and it was years before my welder broke and I was able to replace it with a welder that allowed better adjustability of the amperage. The limited settings on the original welder meant that a weld either did not have enough amperage and resulted in poor penetration, or I could choose a setting that had too much amperage with too much penetration, undercutting and splattering. Your local community college may offer such a course.

If you take a course you will have a better idea of what type of welder fits your needs.

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I'll go along with what Truman said about used welders. I've got an old Forney ( 220v, 230amp ) we bought - prob in the mid 60's. It has been used and quite misused for many years. Has never failed me in any way - well I did replace the ground clamp once.

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You can only get so much power out of a 110 v welder. It's an absolute law of physics period. Some of the better name [ Miller, Lincoln ] 110 v wire Mig machines do a good job on sheet metal up to about 1/8'' but above that they just don't have the output to really melt the base metal. It might look like a good weld, but if there is not fusion of the molten base metal with the filler material you will end up with a weld that is just sitting on the surface. [ regardless of the sales hype]
If you are wanting the least expensive machine to weld thicker material you are better off with a brand name 220 v stick welder [new or used]
With a lot of people and businesses getting slammed by the recession there is likely to to be some real deals on all kinds of equipment out there.
If you are welding anything that is the least bit structural or for pay you should wait until you have enough $ saved and /or find a real deal on a decent machine .
The most efficient welders as far as power input to actual welding output are inverter machines, but those are far beyond your budget of $150.

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I'd second the recommendation to take a class. Not only will you get a chance to learn a lot, from someone that knows a lot about welding, it's just plain fun. You have a totally valid excuse to play around welding random pieces of scrap together for 3 or 4 hours. In the class I took they also showed us how to cut with a torch. A very entertaining way to spend a Saturday morning.

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