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Old 09-11-2012, 01:33 AM   #1
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Default Stick vs MIG welder

I'm wanting to do a few small stainless steel welds on my Brutus 10 - attaching banjo burner mounts/shields from brewers hardware and a couple very small welds. I just want to buy a welder because I've always wanted to get into it.

Lincoln Handy MiG is about 280 shipped, but you have to buy gas and a tank, etc. seems like it can be a big additional expense, a tank costs like 180 plus the gas.

Stick welders can be found for about 100 bucks on Craigslist and can weld stainless without gas, etc etc.

I don't care too much about how pretty the welds are. Just functional. Is a stick welder okay for stainless? I'm just basically making a few tack welds at this point.

And I can't find a cheap mig setup on Craigslist around here (New Orleans). Been looking for a while,..

Thanks.

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Old 09-11-2012, 04:17 AM   #2
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Ideally, you would find a tig welder for stainless steel...
That being said, I would probably look into the mig welder, as it will be easier to learn, and you will probably find more uses for it than the stick welder. Also, check the power requirements for the welders you are looking at, verses what you have available. As far as the extra expense of gasses, you should be able to rent tanks for fairly cheap from praxair/airgas, or possibly a welding supply shop. For stainless steel, you will want argon, and for most mild steels you can get buy with a tank of co2, or for nicer welds C25 gas.
Stick welding is a possibility, but will probably take a little more time to get the hang of, and stainless rods will be more of a specialty item/cost, but I have not tried stainless with a stick welder.
Now, if you have stick welder, there maybe the option of finding an aftermarket high frequency converter and a tig torch to hook up to the stick welder for doing crude tig welding on stainless, but you will still need a bottle of argon to attempt this...

I have both a stick(harbor freight) and an old, cheap mig welder from craigslist, and find myself using the mig welder over the stick, heck, the stick welder hasn't been touched in 4+ years...

If you don't see yourself needing to do anymore welding for a while, I would find a shop that would be willing to handle the stainless for cheap, or maybe in trade for some beer, and keeping watching craigslist for a good deal on a mig welder.

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Old 09-11-2012, 05:04 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TonyG View Post
[...]and keeping watching craigslist for a good deal on a mig welder.
+1 to that. It can take a lot of patience - like, many months even - but I picked up a NIB gas-ready Lincoln Pro-Mig 180 for $300. A couple of days of YouTube Welding School and I was knocking steel together like I actually knew what I was doing

Cheers!
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Old 09-11-2012, 11:45 AM   #4
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Thanks for the tips. I have 100 amp 220v service in my beer garage so that shouldn't be an issue.
Any thoughts on learning with one of the Chinese combo TIG/plasma/stick machines? Seems they can be had for 300

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Old 09-11-2012, 09:15 PM   #5
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Problem with Combos is they don't do any one thing well.

I'd recommend sticking with a recognized brand welder. When it breaks down, you'll kick yourself if you go with an off brand.
Not to mention, using a crappy welder can lead a novice to frustration and you won't know why.

For the price, I'd recommend the Hobart 210MVP. Its a very versatile machine at a great price point. Perfect for the novice.
A good and patient welder can MIG stainless, but +1 to TIG being preferred route. TIGing however is not for the a novice, IMO.

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Old 09-11-2012, 09:32 PM   #6
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Craigslist is your friend for picking up used welders. I have never bought a new welder but I bought my first home machine (a miller Dialarc 250) for $50. My latest beast (a 2009 miller syncrowave 250dx tig practically brand new) is around $5500 fully decked out and I picked it up for $3200, that's a huge savings for this machine and they hold their value very well.

But if I was you I would stick to a constant current (CC) power source for stainless (ie tig/stick machine). The reason I say this is because the versatility of using both stick and tig will cover just about any material thickness, and for the comparable price of a used MIG machine your going to produce better welds. Because most MIG welders your going to find in the hobbyists price range are more than likely low powered 110 machines that arent that great to begin with and most people who are selling them are realizing their limits and trying to upgrade to a bigger machine.

Another thing I will bring up so you don't think you have to find a expensive ac/dc tig machine, is that you can scratch start tig with any DC stick welder you just need to pick up a gas cooled tig torch w/valve, a power adapter (your stick electrode holder and argon hose meet here) and reverse your + and - leads so you are running DCEN. Now it's more difficult to learn to TIG weld, so if you aren't up for it just pay a welder to weld it for you.

http://weldingweb.com/showthread.php?t=58786

Here is a link to scratch start tig. I have also had plenty of success stick welding stainless, just use te smallest rod available (3/32 normally) I like 309L it can be used on almost anything, even welding SS to steel. It just don't run well out of position, and it's not suited well for material thinner than the size of the rod.

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Old 09-12-2012, 01:04 AM   #7
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For me, tig was easier than stick or mig, but I haven't done tig in over 10 years. With tig, I never felt like I had to account for any material build up like the others. I found stick very difficult to learn, the stupid stick keep sticking. If you do go with mig, get a gas shielded mig, not flux core. Flux core is really messy.

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Old 09-12-2012, 04:18 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by modenacart;4405712[...
If you do go with mig, get a gas shielded mig, not flux core. Flux core is really messy.
Agreed. I used the flux wire just to get a feel for the machine. But once I had my 80cf mixed gas tank set up the welds were so much cleaner - and frankly easier - that I'll gladly take the hit for the gas.

I also appreciate not having to surround the work with blankets in my wee shop. I've found GMAW to be virtually spark free...

Cheers!
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Old 09-13-2012, 01:25 AM   #9
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What you save in labor cleaning up will easily pay for the gas.

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Old 09-13-2012, 03:16 AM   #10
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Any suggestions on what MIG welder to buy? The only ones I know of are the ones they sell at lows?

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