To MIG or Arc Weld??

Submitted: Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 12:25
ThreadID: 12289 Views:10639 Replies:15 FollowUps:18
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Hello all,

I've recently been teaching myself to arc weld with a cheapie I picked up at Kmart. Now I'm thinking of upgrading to something that is of more use. The question is should I spend a few hundred dollars on a decent Arc welder or spend similar money on a low end MIG.

Most of my projects will be with structural steel, e.g. Wheel carrier, trailer etc rather than thin steel bodywork. At a guess the minimum thickness would be about 1.6mm.

Any thoughts on which way the dollars should go?

Many thanks in advance,

Cheers,

Chris
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Reply By: Member - Pesty (SA) - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 12:40

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 12:40
Hi Chris
Do a lot of welding with arc welder, fab, repairs and most of them outside. Was going to upgrade to mig but helped a mate on a project in a carport and the mig was useless in a any kind of wind otherwise good to weld with. In my reseach re new welder I came accross a dc inverter welder about the size of a shoe box but starting price around a grand, and having used tractor driven dc arc welders in the past I think this might be the way for me as nothing arc welds like a dc welder.
For the handy man, a reasonable arc welder would be the go as it will do anything a mig will and doesnt cost money when not in use like a mig gas cylinder rental. Arm youself with good rods for all aplications and this will be half the battle.
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Follow Up By: Member - Gajm (VIC) - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 13:16

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 13:16
I have to agree, I have a MIG, but it's only cause i can't weld worth a damn with the ARC, and I have to do welding in the garage with the door closed if its windy, you can use the gasless wire but the finish looks like crap. i do however have the option of welding Aluminium, but had the MIG years and only used it twice on alloy, and like Steve said, I have to pay for gas cylinder rental wether I use it all year or not at all.

Glenn
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Reply By: paul - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 13:21

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 13:21
hey Chris (and the rest)

I learnt to weld with a mig at a tafe course but the cost of repairable units has put me off getting one, guess i should have gone to stick welding, now i know i should have.

i know some theory know the dangers and have the safety gear but if i get the K-Mart one does it come with instructions that i can experiment with in my own time in my own backyard ?

paul
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Reply By: Cruisergxl - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 13:45

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 13:45
Thanks for the replies there, I think I will go with the Arc....

I rent a house with no garage or workshop so all welding is done outside, sounds like I would have had real problems with the MIG, I had just heard that it is easier to learn with and make better welds. Time to go to Tafe I think to perect my arc skills!

Paul - The Kmart welder cost $80 and was a bit of an impulse buy. It is handy to learn with but has a short duty cycle and so you have to learn a little bit at a time. It does come with instructions but the best tutorial I came across is on the following site

http://www.aussieweld.com.au/arcwelding/

it's bloody good!!!

If you live in Adelaide my little arc may well be up for sale soon......

Thanks again,

Chris
AnswerID: 55497

Follow Up By: flappan - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 14:09

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 14:09
"I had just heard that it is easier to learn with and make better welds. "

Heck yeah it is , even I can use a Mig.

Unless its something you use a LOT though , an ARC welder would be a better idea.

Just need to practice.
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Reply By: Member - Nick (TAS) - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 13:49

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 13:49
I wouldnt waste my time on a elcheapo mig,know heaps of people that have brought them,bragging about it only costing $350 compared to $1000 for mine.Two years later mine's the only one still working.I couldnt do without a Mig welder but I also have a Stick welder to do stainless,cast etc without having to change the Mig wire.
I'd reccomend buying a good Mig for allround welding.Go on weight,the heavier the Mig the better(for same size migs),they are easier for vertical and welding upside down.
AnswerID: 55500

Follow Up By: Member - Mik - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 14:59

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 14:59
Cruisergxl, Ihave been welding/fabricating since i left school (20 years) and thoughly agree with Nick on all aspects of his reply, i was always told buy top notch tools and they will last a life time. Look for copper coiled welders as they they are the ant pants can be a little dearer though.
Answering your question, I personaly tend to favour the stick welder over the mig due to its versatility.

Keep both?

Cheers Mik


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Follow Up By: Member -Bob & Lex (Sydney) - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 16:57

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 16:57
Good to see a Tassie member on site, it's been awhile
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Reply By: fatz - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 14:03

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 14:03
why not look at an ESAB Caddy (think thats what it's called). used to be one in the workshop I learned to weld in. It could do arc and with a bottle of gas and the correct head you could do TiG as well (good for cast, alloy and so on) The unit was small, about half the size of the Kmart jobbie with a shoulder strap. Think they retail for about $750. Good duty cycle and good high amps as well.
AnswerID: 55505

Follow Up By: Member - JohnR (Vic) - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 17:26

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 17:26
Fatz, there is a lot of attraction in that direction too. They are just so light and portable. With the capability to TiG stainless is good too. One of the greater things is the stability of the DC arc in comparison to AC. It is a lot easier to weld and a lot less spatter.

The next welder I get would be that way for preference or a competitor. The ESAB used to be $1500 or so but a lot better now
Cheers,
Who?
John

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Reply By: tim - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 15:18

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 15:18
This is a depends on what you want.
I do a bit of welding at work and have used mig,tig,arc the lot but if you are only going to weld occasionaly i would get an arc welder that goes to 140 amps and has a decent duty cycle on it.
With this you should be able to weld most things that you would ned to do.
Practice makes perfect look on the web for tips on welding and always make sure the area you are welding is as clean as possible.
Good luck
Tim
AnswerID: 55513

Follow Up By: Member - Brian (Gold Coast) - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 16:59

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 16:59
tim,
I did welding at trade school tooooo many years ago but have forgotten most everything. The term "Duty Cycle" escapes me at this moment, am thinking it relates to the time you are actually welding??
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Follow Up By: Member - Jiarna (SA) - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 18:42

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 18:42
That's right Brian. The duty cycle is how long you can weld before the thermal cutout shuts you down to cool off.
Cheers
John
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Follow Up By: Member - Brian (Gold Coast) - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 18:52

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 18:52
Thanks for the quick reply John.
:-)
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Follow Up By: Member - Jiarna (SA) - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 18:57

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 18:57
Yeah. Not allowed to use the work computer to check the forum so have to wait til I get home. Can you believe it!! The boss expects me to work when I'm at work!! No wonder we need holidays.
Those who say something cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.

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Follow Up By: Member - Brian (Gold Coast) - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 19:03

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 19:03
LOL......... Luckily my boss, (me) doesn't mind if I spend a little time on the forum when I should be working.... as longs as it's not TOO much time though..........
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Reply By: Member - Bradley- Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 16:16

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 16:16
Agree with the the others, get a good quality arc, will last for decades and can handle heavy work. Put the money saved on gas and rentals toward one of the 'speedglass' auto helmets and make it a lot easier on yourself as well..

Do a tafe course on the arc or a multi type intro course and go from there.
AnswerID: 55519

Follow Up By: Member - Jiarna (SA) - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 18:44

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 18:44
I'll second that. The automatic helmets are the bee's knees. I was sceptical, but my mate loaned me one for the weekend while ago, and it was hard to give it back.

Cheers
John
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Follow Up By: Member - Pesty (SA) - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 21:46

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 21:46
Jiarna you can buy the automatic lense to fit in a standard helmet now, about $180 - $200. Ideal for handyman.
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Follow Up By: Member - Jiarna (SA) - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 22:01

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 22:01
Thanks Pesty

Where can I get one from? I'd have to mail-order, so it's a bit hard to browse the shops myself.

Cheers
John
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Follow Up By: Member - Pesty (SA) - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 22:14

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 22:14
Jiarna, I will do some homework on it for you as I have been meaning to get one for myself and will let you know. I was bitten when I borrowed one too.

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Reply By: paul - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 16:41

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 16:41
Anyone got the portable 12v stick welder ? If so give us comments - and do you need to use two batteries in the same condition ? What are the restrictions ? etc

I've got in-laws in the states now, might go there next year and pick up a set a lot cheaper than they sell them here if the set is a good buy - was reviewed briefly in 4WD Monthly last year some time but i never bought the mag.
AnswerID: 55522

Reply By: Foss - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 17:51

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 17:51
G'Day Chris
There's a lot of replies here already, My 2 cents worth is.

If you are going to use a MIG and most of your work is outside you need a gassless one. Don't let people put you off with the finish as a wire brush will clean it up pretty easily. As for the stick, If you don't get it right you have to grind out the original weld or you risk slag intrusions into the fillet space weakening the whole job. This is something that wont happen with a MIG.

Couple of thing for you to try.

1. Weld verticle with a stick welder.
2. Weld underneath something with a stick welder.
3. Weld in an awkward offhand position with a stick welder.

All of these things are quite easy with a MIG and you don't really have to be a tradesman to get it right. Once you have the wire feed rate and amps right, which would take an amature about 5 mins, you're ready to go.

hope this helps with the decission.

Cheers

Foss
AnswerID: 55534

Follow Up By: Foss - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 20:44

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 20:44
PS.

It's a sure sign you're getting good with a stick when the slag peels of and curles up as you go.
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Reply By: Member - John- Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 18:27

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 18:27
I'm doing a welding course at TAFE under the wonderful direction of a marvellous old boilermaker guy with just unbelieveable experience.

He says MIG is the only way to fly if you do plenty of welding and do it indoors.

Outdoors, the stick welder is still the go. He highly recommends these small modern inverter type arc welders. They are not cheap (around $1000) but are beautiful to use and portable as well.

He thoroughly bags the old box of copper and iron cheapy arc welders we all hate. Not worth the trouble unless every connection is in good nick, your mains supply good and your rods are new and dry.

Have fun!

JohnS
AnswerID: 55540

Follow Up By: Member - Nick (TAS) - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 20:34

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 20:34
Can agree with your comments on the Inverter type welders,you have to use one to fully appreciate how well they weld.They run a rod as smooth as silk.
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Reply By: Member - Jeffrey - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 18:39

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 18:39
Hi Cruisergxl,
Both machines will give good to acetptable welds,they both have thier weaknesses,the main weakness is operator knowledge it takes time to learn how to weld properly,so go to were the knowledge is,do a tafe coures,to weld suscessfully you need to know what sort of steel (fe) you are using stick to low carbon steel (mild steel) and you should be ok.I have heard of a person who welded up thier own towbar and done a fine job to look at but! nearly cost him 50 thou boat! because improper steel selection anyway your dollars in my opion should go a stick with a reasonable duty cylce I say this because generally speaking if a stick weld looks good it usually is,and stick produces a more ductile weld with good strenght.I have stick,mig,oxyacet in my workshop and I use them all and they just a handy as each other,and yes many thousands of hours behind the arc perfecting my welding as it is ongoing the more you weld the better you get.
Hope this helps,

All The Best In Health And Wealth
Jeffrey (AKA JD)
AnswerID: 55541

Reply By: Wil - Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 22:00

Thursday, Apr 22, 2004 at 22:00
Hi Cruisergxl
I have a Mig welder which I use for general welding both gas & gasless. Must admit do wish I have bought an arc welder at times due to preferrence to weld outside. But the ability to perform alloy welding & low thickness is a big plus for the odd body welding or aluminium work.

You can buy the little throw away gas bottle instead of rental bottles. The little bottles are good enough for the odd small jobs. Gasless is a bit messy but cleans up OK if you use a wire brush on a cordless drill. The continuous feed wire makes welding a breeze too. Must admit gas welding comes up really beautiful...

Maybe you need to check out the cost of expendables for an arc welder before diving into it. Hope you make the right choice.

Regards

AnswerID: 55593

Follow Up By: Member - Gajm (VIC) - Friday, Apr 23, 2004 at 12:18

Friday, Apr 23, 2004 at 12:18
G'day Wil,

What are the throw away gas bottles you mentioned? I have never heard of them before now. Do you have any info on price, or what size job they would be good for, I hate paying rental on the bottle for just the odd job here and there.
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Follow Up By: Wil - Friday, Apr 23, 2004 at 17:01

Friday, Apr 23, 2004 at 17:01
Gajm

The bottles are from bunning warehouse. They bundle with the Ryobi migs with these bottles (Italian made disposible). I get them trade at about $30. Good for the odd bit of alloy or important steel parts. Otherwise I use gasless.

Cheers
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FollowupID: 317532

Reply By: Cruisergxl - Friday, Apr 23, 2004 at 09:16

Friday, Apr 23, 2004 at 09:16
Thanks everyone, so much to think about there.

I'll go and sign up at Tafe and take it from there, at least I can then get my welds inspected by someone that knows their stuff before I put too much trust in them.

Cheers all,

Chris
AnswerID: 55622

Reply By: Camper - Friday, Apr 23, 2004 at 18:35

Friday, Apr 23, 2004 at 18:35
Hi Cruisergxl

If you are going to buy a mig get a good one not a cheapy from an automotive cheap shop designed to weld car bodies.
If you do that you can weld all thicknesses of mild steel you could want as a handywelder,no slag problems and huge adjustment range. Weld thick to thin is possible and easy.
Since I bought mine my arc has gatehered dust in the workshop because the mig is so good. Considering the convienence, the expenditure on gas & rental is peanuts.

Cheers Camper
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Reply By: keepsmilin - Friday, Apr 23, 2004 at 21:17

Friday, Apr 23, 2004 at 21:17
Got an arc 160 amp does everything i need it to, repairs to the camper trailer, 4x4, and on the job as a builder. Im not the best welder but it works and with an angle grinder and brush you can do wonders.
Tried mig welding a few times, as im always willing to try new toys, Its a lot harder to get the hang of and the cheaper models spit the thinner cable everywhere.
The mask that i have has the auto, tinting when the arc is struck, but it a cheaper one(still a Shhit load) and welding with the mig is a no go with it....
good luck
AnswerID: 55692

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