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dragoncutlery

Welding?

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Hi guys,

 

I am going to be buying a welder pretty soon, and I would like some opinions on what type people think is the most useful for the bladesmith shop or the shop in general.  

 

I would be using it to build equipment (such as a forge/salt pot/etc) and other general tasks.

 

Any suggestions?  I am currently leaning towards Oxy (because that is what I am most familiar with) but I don't mind learning something new if it will be useful.  As far as I understand it, Arc, MIG and TIG are all pretty similar in how they work, but better suited to different applications?

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If I was restricted to only one choice, I'd probably lean towards the oxy/acet, for it's wide range of usefullness to the bladesmith shop in general.

I'd reccomend adding a good stick welder next, if you could afford a little tig machine that could stick weld as well you'd have all you'd ever need.

Mig welders are handy too, but I'm not big on the structural integrity of the welds they produce for stuff like salt pots especially.

 

Check out Lincoln or Miller tig welders, they all weld stick as well, both companies make very high quality machines, and although they are reletively high-ticket, like around $1200, you'd have a welder for a lifetime that would handle any job that a bladesmith would ever need to do.

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I'm inclined to agree with R.H. about the TIG. From what I've seen, though, TIG is a little trickier to work with than MIG.  MIG machines are also less expensive, and a monkey (read: yours truly) can learn to use one with some proficiency in a relatively short time frame and MIG machines cost fewer bananas.

I actually went to the local "HOME store" this weekend and out of desperation/shop need bought a wire feed/MIG setup.  I'm not a fan of the flux cored wire because of the spalling that it does.  But, once I got the feed and power settings where I needed them I was doing 1/4" welds in one pass.  I built a frame for the welder to mount it to the wall to keep it out of my way.  To test the welds I threw it around in the back yard and beat on it with a hammer.  So far so good :)

The gas shielding advantage is the smaller bead (compromises less of the "parent" material).  A side advantage is that it looks nicer, too.

If you've looked at a custom exhaust, for example, those are all very likely to be TIG welds. TIG can do some amazingly small beads.  This leads to less stress on the parent material and has the side benefit of being more attractive. I don't know, but I seem to recall hearing or reading that TIG filler makes for a stronger weld than MIG, and can surely do deeper passes. I've never seen a TIG that runs off of household current, the MIG that I bought this weekend does; although the wattage at full power is pretty high (110V X 135Amp = 14,800 Watts) Compare that to a hairdryer or Microwave that runs peak at 1500W.

 

Good luck!!

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???  i hope you were testing the piece you welded and not the welder in that fashon im prity shur thoes units arnt dop test worthy but you knever know till you try  :D

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I pretty much go along.I've been earning bread welding since I was old enough to drive.Studied the art through Hobart Technologies.Make sure you get a DC welder if stick is the way you go.The small "buzz boxes" of the past have really improved over the years.A small AC machine was once the main stay for home and farm use.AC machines are dangerous.Used now mainly for alumium.I would insist you get one running on at least 220. The duty cycle will be greater allowing you to weld longer without burning your machine up and it will allow for better penetration of the weld.Presently I am running a flux core rig running C02 gas.It really digs.Will cut through a 1/4 inch deep tack and weld right through it.Necessary for bridge code welding I am doing now.The Oxy/acetylene rig can do most anything you want but it does put a good deal of heat in the weld zone.Brazing has saved the day on many ocasions repairing stuff. Especially cast iron.As far as the "suit case" migs go that run on the 110 outlet, well IMO are a waste of $. My brother got one and could not get enough volts to burn the wire .I took the cover off and disconnected the small transformer and ran a pig tail out to connect to his lincoln 250DC stick .Using only the drive motor inside the suit case to feed the wire the welding heat was provided by the big boy.Alas he was cooking with gas.I have gotten by a lot of years not actually owning a welder.Being known as such everyone takes for granted you got one.Astonished looks I get  when asked to do welding favors when I say I don't got one.Miller Electric makes what they call a shop master.A do all. mig,tig,stick and with a built in high freq. box it tigs alum as well.(high frequency is required to stabilize the arc when tigging alum.) Projects that I'm wanting to build now I must say the time has come for me to get one also.I plan to visit my local welding dealer soon to see what is available and check prices.Try to get your equipment from a dealer who offers service as well .Some of the new age digital stuff out these days are nifty and user friendly but they seem to like staying in the shop for repairs.

Oh, for the oxy/gas rig.propane is now a trend people are using instead of acetylene.Cheaper and cleaner and IMO safer.Does not heat quite as fast  but makes it up with higher quality welds.Our shop has stove gas from the city running all our torches.Just make sure you get the proper tip for the gas you use.

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dragon- that's why I was SO impressed with the welder- even after being beaten like a rented mule it still came back for more.  :D  Kidding, it was the bracketry that took the abuse.

 

slagstag- I would generally agree that the 110 machines aren't worth the money. I resisted buying one for the past couple of years and have even steered people AWAY from the ones that are sold in the hardware/convenience stores.  But, circumstances being what they are that's the machine that'll have to do the job for now.  It welds just fine for my needs (no bridge work for me). Plus I can use my store-brand credit card to buy the machine that will run on my available power; it's the same machine that I'd buy at Central Welding, and I don't believe they are as gracious with credit.

 

If my situation were different (e.g. if I had a 220 source to work from) your bet your DC Stick welder that I'd be using the biggest MIG machine I could afford.

 

What is the advantage of using BOTH flux cored wire and an inert gas?  does it allow you to weld deeper on a dirtier piece of steel?  Or did I read that wrong and your machine is capable of both flux core and standard wire, and you're running steel wire with CO2?

 

Of course, bladesam, if you're comfortable already with the gas welding (oxy/acet or oxy/prop) and think it'll be useable in your applications, that might be what you want to stay with.  The gas setups can braze, solder and generally heat stuff, too, where as the welders, well, just weld.

 

good luck my man

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I too am a welder and I would recommend a MIG, I use a 300 amp. Esab that can run high freg. TIG as well. You dont need that big of a machine, but the ire welder will afford more control and cleaner welds if you want to spot tack anything small and not make too big of a mess. I built all my tools, from hammer to press to roller to a tiny jewlers roller. Thats why I preffer MIG is that you can weld large to small. As far as weld integrity, a good welder with a stick or MIG can get solid X-Ray welds. With the mig you eliminate cold joints from changing rods. Where I worked every weld was X-Rayed and you got 2 chances, first bad weld a warning, second bad weld your fired and escorted away :-).. this was on ship and industrial pipe lines...BTW I think you need both oxy/act. and electric welding, or you may find yourself jobbing a lot out in the construction of tools...

 

Zoe

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Well said Zoe,Mig is the ticket.I have to watch my step too. Radiograph almost all my welds.You can be accused of sabotage and mysteriously dissapear.

engineerboy,the reason to use both flux and gas is to ensure the highest quality weld .Its not required.For home use I would just use the  steel wire using 75/25 mix of argon/ co2 gas. Are you using gas?We use straight co2 gas for it digs very deep to boil out impurities better.Best I remember the flux core wire that runs without gas needs to be run on straight polarity.(wire negative/ ground positive) fluxcore wire that uses gas runs on reverse polarity.Steel wire runs on reverse .Just the oposite.Should be a terminal block to change polarity on the machine.Just check it to see its on the right polarity.It makes a big difference.Always practice safety and UNPLUG the power when adjusting it.A lot of problems can come from running the wrong polarity.Some smaller suitcase models have a selenoid valve to use with gas .If yours does I would check into getting a small bottle of gas to run the steel wire.If it doesn't have gas capability you will have to stay with the flux core wire. You can use c02 gas with the steel wire.welds out of position well and gets good penetration.Different gases have different properties when used for welding .Way too many to get started here.

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AC machines are dangerous.

Im not a welder, but I have an old AC machine for doing the basics.  Im assuming you mean that an AC machine is more dangerous that a DC machine. If so, how?  

 

BTW, thanks for the informative post, Im asking because I want to be clear about the risks involved with the equipment Im using.

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I'm not sure if this is the particular reason that Slagstag was thinking of (I don't know about welding, great thread) but AC is potentialy more dangerous than DC because AC consists of a very quick on/off current, and the beating of the human heart is timed by electrical impulses from the nervous system.  If you electrocute yourself on AC it's like being linked to an extremely powerful high-frequency pace maker, with less than hilarious consequences. This isn't a problem with most machinery, but I guess that with a welder you've got a lot of exposed current flowing.

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Wow, I think Zoe and Slag have pretty well covered this topic. Nothing more I can add here, except I'd like to say that if you are just starting out, get yourself a 100 mig machine, but get a GOOD one. Lincoln makes a 175amp welder, argon-capable, and will do a nice 1/4" FLAT bead with .030 solid wire.

 

If I had the money, I'd but a nice Millermatic TIG  like I have at work, but I have the little Lincoln at home and I've done some pretty amazing stuff with it.

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Slagstag- good advice for the burgeoning MIG welder. Thank you [notworthy] I must confess, I've been welding every scrap of steel I have to every other scrap and I'm having a great time with this machine.

I'll use the flux core until it runs out :D  This has been my first "experiment" with flux core. I was taught by a friend on a standard MIG setup. I have to say I'm impressed with the results and I'll remember to use it when I'm outside needing to weld.  I'll especially remember to bring a stiff brush to rub off all of the splatter.

 

My machine, Lincoln 3200HD (I believe replaces thier 110V 175 series) does have the gas capability and I'll talk to the guys at Central Welding about what gas will be best for my small shop use.

Thanks again

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You're most welcome,I've forgotten more than most will know :P I will add that David pretty much got it on the AC machine.It will grab you and wont let go.I've have had to be physically knocked loose from the steel I was working on.Could not say a word or move. Just  lucky to have a Bud working near that was being observant.Keep dust blown out of your machine and it will serve you well.  :)

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Thanks for all the replies guys, I really appreciate it.  I'm not sure how much I can plunk down on a welder at the moment, but I'll definitely have to go down and check prices at my local shop.

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??? DC/AC

deadly?

well i am a quallified electronic tech and i am also cpr for healthcare providers qualified so effects of electricity on the human body are something i know alot about.

no matter what type of voltage it is 10 milliamps of current across the heart can kill you.

it is deemed in the healthcare comunity that DC is by far more damaging to the body due to the continuous current applied to the body. if you grab 120 volts DC and compare it to 120 volts AC you will discover that with the AC you have a better chance of being able to let go. if you grab DC you will most likely not be able to. this is also one of the reasons that the electric chair uses DC. there is a much larger history regarding that story but you can look that up on your own.

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Very well noted and thanks for info.I just know of what welding industry has done to do away with as many welding processes as posible using ac current.

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dracozny , idunno ,

 

from personal experience. dc has always "blasted" me away from it. and i'm talking in the 600 amp range.

 

not so with the ac.

 

220v ac now that's a darn problem.

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I understand that about A/C and D/C and thats why the country switched over .. for safety... but if you have ever gotten ZAPPED by a welder you will find that A/C will stick you to it and D/C will blow you off. I dont know why, but it is true especially after being sent to the hosputal once from it and the other time not..... Look around for a used mig, the first one I bought, about 15 years ago I bought for around 80 dollars. The three I own now cost about 2600 each. But I got better and business got better so the cost is justified. Flux core is good for outside and deep pen. but you really need gas mix to do fine work, where you wont get spatter and you will be able to start an arc and tac very precisely... C02/Argon, is the most common gas mix and will work for about 99% of what you will do unless you do Stainless or aluminum where then you will need helium or pure argon

 

Zoe

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220v ac now that's a darn problem.

UK standard is 240AC, and i have lost count of the amount of times I have had a shock off of that. Mostly 13A but the occasional 30A :o  it's thrown me every time.... the Hertz are lower in England, but it still Hurts :P??? ...

 

 

Maybe I have lost count because it fried my brain though  [wtf]  :P

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[dunno] i cant say for sure, but i think the change from ac to dc type welders was more of a performance issue, because of the constant current.

in theory (mine of course) the constant current allows for greater heat generation at the weld point allowing for a smoother and quicker weld.

 

i remember metal shop in high school using an ac arc welder and it always seemed to stick and unstick every so often maybe it was from moving to fast and loosing the heated area. im just not sure because it has been so long.

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true that was for performance in welders... i was originally refering to the change from DC to AC in the U.S. electrical system. that I believe was for safety and efficiency...

 

Zoe

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The reason the grid is all AC is for transmission efficiency. DC loses a great deal of it's power over long transmission lines, high voltage AC has much less problem with this. Most of the transmission lines hooked to the transformer in front of your house are 14KVAC, if I remember it right (it is possibe not though).

 

I have been zapped wth 110VAC and 220VAC more times than I care to remember. The only one that really hurt bad was 440 three phase.

 

Real good discussion about welders guys ! I bought an old Airco 250 amp MIG for less than $300 at auction because it is three phase. Old machine with 100% duty cycle, and an enormous copper wound transformer. The only other guy bidding was going to scrap it for copper. Scrounging is a good thing, unless you are in a hurry.

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[wtf]

i bet that hurt

we use 440 three phase on the ship for alot of our equipment and most people that get hit by it usually hit the wall on the otherside of the room and if they are still consious are usually asking in a very sullen voice for help to medical.

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The US debate between AC and DC was partly the result of a feud between Westinghouse and Edison. Apparently the electric chair was part of a scheme to convince the public that AC was unsafe. Here's a link with some history:

AC/DC  :;):

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