LanEvo
LanEvo HalfDork
9/21/18 1:08 p.m.

As the title says. I have zero experience with welding. Just bought a house and have a large garage for the first time. I'd like to be able to do rust repairs and other general "fooling around with old crappy cars" kind of stuff.

What's the best way to learn well enough to get decent/serviceable results without investing years of time? Do people still start with stick welding, or just go straight to MIG?

Toyman01
Toyman01 MegaDork
9/21/18 1:28 p.m.

For general automotive welding, go with a MIG. A trip to the pawn shops will usually find you a decent MIG machine for a couple of hundred. Hobart and Miller are the preferred brands. The Hobarts will be a good bit cheaper. 

Learning is a case of practice. YouTube videos will help as well but mostly it's lots and lots of practice. You might also consider a welding course at the local tech school. 

 

Ram50Ron
Ram50Ron Reader
9/21/18 1:31 p.m.

There is no replacement for years of practice.

However,  Youtube videos, a basic understanding of metallurgy and heat transfer will get you pretty far.  A MIG is a good starting place to learn puddle control and setting up the machine.  Get a cheap welder and some scrap metal to practice running beads and sticking coupons together. Prep your metal before you weld even if that is just hitting it quick with a paddle wheel to get the mill scale off of it. Clean metal is happy metal.  Also while shielding gas can be expensive it offers more repeatable results and personally I find it easier to deal with than flux core wire feed welding.

APEowner
APEowner Dork
9/21/18 2:26 p.m.

I've never had an automotive application where stick was required.  MIG is probably the easiest welding process to learn and with today's machines you may never need another process.  I prefer TIG on sheet metal and aluminum and I'll still occasionally gas weld stuff with the oxy-acetylene torch but mostly as a novelty. 

If you're working with crappy old cars in NY you'll probably want an oxy-acetylene setup at some point for removing rusted parts and fasteners but that's harder to learn than TIG and isn't as useful for welding as wide a range of material thicknesses. 

I started with an oxy-acetylene setup, added a MIG and then a TIG that can also do stick and I still use all of them (except the stick capability) on a pretty regular basis.

ShinnyGroove
ShinnyGroove New Reader
11/16/18 11:06 p.m.

It might be a good idea to get 220v receptacle installed. Lets you weld thick  pieces easier. My Harbor Freight 170 amp welder was cheap, but it works 

SkinnyG
SkinnyG UltraDork
11/16/18 11:47 p.m.

www.weldingtipsandtricks.com

Subscribe to his YouTube channel.  Watch all his vids on whatever type of welding you think would be good.  A WEALTH of info there.

For almost everything, I recommend MIG.

My first welder was a TIG, which I love, but I do like the "quick and dirty" convenience of MIG.

I recently picked up an Oxy-Acetylene kit.  I rarely use it, but when I need it, it's very good to have.

I do not use stick welding, I do not like stick welding. Not on a frame, not on a car. I do not like it here or thar. I do not like it anywhar.

NOHOME
NOHOME UltimaDork
11/17/18 7:11 a.m.

I did a "How to replace a sill" thing on Sweedspeed. About halfway down there is a quick "How to MIG weld panels together. Won't make you a welder, but it let you stick metal together good enough to get the job done.

 

https://forums.swedespeed.com/showthread.php?327681-Sill-replacement-Easy-for-the-most-part

 

Pete

Petrolburner
Petrolburner Dork
12/3/18 4:56 p.m.

For the cost of a welding class at my local college I bought a Millermatic 211, gas and some scrap metal.  I've built a new stand on wheels for my bandsaw, a welding cabinet/welder/gas bottle holder on wheels and a fancy Tab and slot welding table.  I've even made some other repairs and modifications around the house.  I've watched a lot of youtube videos too.  Miller just came out with a multi process welder that can do AC and DC TIG as well as MIG.  I'd get that if you can swing the asking price.  Otherwise, grab a decent MIG machine and start putting things together.  It's very enjoyable.  It's also potentially a giant black hole that involves a lot of learning and buying accessories.  

JohnInKansas
JohnInKansas Dork
12/3/18 7:29 p.m.

I took a welding class in college. I don't remember much of the classroom portion, but the "lab" work was "here, kid, take this 3x3x1/8 inch plate. Lay beads across it right next to each other. Fill it up, turn it 90 degrees and do it again. Come see me when its an inch thick."

Was tedious, but made for what must have been about 20 yards of practice beads. Get a cheap used MIG and practice.

AWSX1686
AWSX1686 SuperDork
12/14/18 2:28 p.m.
Petrolburner said:

For the cost of a welding class at my local college I bought a Millermatic 211, gas and some scrap metal.  I've built a new stand on wheels for my bandsaw, a welding cabinet/welder/gas bottle holder on wheels and a fancy Tab and slot welding table.  I've even made some other repairs and modifications around the house.  I've watched a lot of youtube videos too.  Miller just came out with a multi process welder that can do AC and DC TIG as well as MIG.  I'd get that if you can swing the asking price.  Otherwise, grab a decent MIG machine and start putting things together.  It's very enjoyable.  It's also potentially a giant black hole that involves a lot of learning and buying accessories.  

I got a Millermatic 211 last year, it's a great machine. I have been eyeing up the newer multi-process welders now that they are actually starting to have full functionality. I'm kinda hoping they come down in price just a bit in the next couple years. 

Dusterbd13-michael
Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
12/14/18 2:34 p.m.

Tried teaching myself.  Failed and got frustrated. 

Took a class, and then had enough baseline knowledge and experience to start making stuff. Practice and experience make me better, along with feedback from others.

dean1484
dean1484 MegaDork
12/24/18 12:00 p.m.

I got a Lincoln 140 MIG off Craig’s list about ten years ago. It has been all I needed for a wide range of things. Flux core is what it is. I like it because I can bring my welder with me with out lugging a tank around. You having a garage will probibly make having a tank something you should consider. 

Apexcarver
Apexcarver UltimaDork
12/24/18 5:36 p.m.

I too have a Lincoln 140.  Only thing it won't do is weld a rollcage on gas (it wouldn't be right to do it flux). Flux welds thicker metal, is messy, and struggles with thin metal and blowing through. Gas is much easier for that. 

 

Flux is cheap though, and useful for quick and dirty work. You can take your first steps with it and not worry about the tank. Then finer work gets easier when you go gas. 

 

Use the chart on the side. Clean before welding (no rust, paint, or oil). Pay attention to how much wire you have between the gun and the work. Smooth motion with constant speed, distance, and angle are key.

 

Rodan
Rodan HalfDork
12/30/18 10:42 a.m.

As most have noted above, MIG is a good place to start.  Get one with a regulator and gas setup, it's a little more $$, but you won't regret it.  A class is great idea, but you can learn an incredible amount from the various YouTube channels and forums.

One thing I'll mention is used Red/Blue machines... this used to be the go-to advice, but be aware that some of the parts for those machines (especially electronic parts) are very expensive if it's out of warranty.  Make sure you can test the machine before buying, but that's a little harder if you're planning to use it to learn on.  Alternatively, there are a lot of '2nd tier' machines (imported) these days that are showing really good quality and durability for the price, so don't feel like you need to buy Red/Blue.  Just make sure whatever machine you end up with takes standard sized consumable parts.  

Also, as noted above, 220 is much better for welding if your garage is wired for it.

 

WonkoTheSane
WonkoTheSane Dork
1/18/19 12:54 p.m.

Two things:  Just get a MIG with gas and an auto darkening helmet.  Harbor freight is fine for the helmet.  After that, practice practice practice, but there's no sense in practicing without those two things.  You'll* never get a flux core weld to look good, and it's frustrating to get in position and ready to weld then have the tip drift away from the part when you move to lower your hood.

 

*You'll means a home-gamer that's just starting out and will probably only weld a few times a year.   If You'll is a daily welder who has thousands of meters of bead laid down, then it's possible You'll do better with a flux-core stick than most people can do with a gas MIG.  But it's unlikely.

AngryCorvair
AngryCorvair MegaDork
11/10/19 2:04 p.m.

I don’t remember if it was SkinnyG or NOHOME, but one of those guys said “look past the smoke and spatter and focus on the puddle.”

i stopped what I was doing today so I could post this:

THANK YOU!!!

that one single tidbit improved my results immediately and dramatically. 

SkinnyG
SkinnyG UltraDork
11/10/19 3:53 p.m.

I don't know if it was me, or NOHOME, but on behalf of myself and NOHOME, as well as whoever may have actually said that.... "You're welcome!"

Mezzanine
Mezzanine Dork
11/15/19 4:26 p.m.

I'd add to the above comments that encourage you to take a class. You need to either find someone local that's willing to teach, or you should consider a class at the local community college. I've personally taught tens of people to weld, and am always willing to take on a student (Tacoma WA area). Watching videos can teach you a ton, but I see people get foiled by machine settings and conditions that would be solved within seconds of hands-on instruction. 

 

Since you're a regular racer, the chances of you putting welding skills to use is somewhat high. With those two things in mind, I'd encourage you to look to TIG welding. Lots of people will shoot me down on this one, but from personal experience, TIG is easy to learn on (you don't have to be in a rush to move like with stick and MIG). and the skills apply broadly to other methods. 

Suprf1y
Suprf1y UltimaDork
11/15/19 4:55 p.m.

I don't like mig machines for beginners, but as long as you're not doing anything structural it's fine.

With a little practice it's pretty easy to run an excellent bead with the mig welder.  It's also just as easy to run a beautiful bead that has little to no strength and they look almost the same.

GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE HalfDork
11/16/19 10:16 a.m.

Some good advice here.

I'm gonna echo the "220v" comment above- DC power has more consistency than AC. You are also gonna need a tank and shielding gas- impregnated core is meant for small, non-structural fixes like an outside table or fences. It's also ~$75 a spool versus ~$5 for standard. Once you've gone through 2 spools of impregnated flux-core it's reached parity even if you bought a tank of argon and standard wire, and the latter will always make better welds and will always be easier to work with.

A harbor freight welding helmet is fine, but if you weld routinely you'll probably want something better.

Our Preferred Partners
eZ8ZCu7ybnPDmIcQ0NUnzRf4WLVekc5EmGwLFmfWuKAR4dtgl21vcMxlZxzAA0ir