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Welding question: well..mostly non-shop type

1965 Views 6 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  gfadvm
I'm curious about the difference between ARC MIG and Gas welding. I haven't been able to find much and was thinking of getting a small set just for things at home and in the shop. I remember a LONG time ago the metal guys in shop class using the rods to weld so I suppose that's not gas.

I'd be using it to make metal brackets and jigs, not for plumbing or electrical.

Any thoughts/best uses for each?

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I wuold say try both type MIG and stick arc before you deside I have MIG now
but still finds it easyer to Stick arc welding I gess it depends on personal tast
and how thick you want to weld together

cr1 forgot the gas weld definition; oxygen and axcytelene,mixed in a torch, the correct flame, so that you can gas weld steel or braze with a brass rod with flux. with the three types of welding mentioned, your electric or " stick welding" would be the cheapest to invest in.
learn to weld with the stick first in as many disaplines as you can…eg horizontal ,vertical and overhead.. if you can master at least two of these then any other form is pretty easy to pick up…the basic principles are the same. the mig and tig will give you other options with alloys and gas welding has the added benefit of being able to use a gas torch for applying heat to stubborn jobs eg stuck nuts and bolts etc..
the stick is probably best for what you want unless you use a flux core wire in a mig otherwise you have to have the argon sheild gas which adds to expense if not used very often.
GAS (Oxy-Acetylene)
On the plus side, this is a very versaile system in that you can fusion weld either with or without a rod, braze, siversolder, cut or just use the torch for heating of all sorts of things. Gas welding is great for small jobs or thin material such as sheet metal or thin walled tubing. The two main issues with gas are (1) they possibly represent the greatest danger in terms of the gas bottles - though fortunately accidents are not that common if appropriate precautions are taken, and (2) I'm not sure how they do things in the USA, but often the gas bottles are only rented, not bought. That can make gas welding expensive if you only use it very seldom.

ARC (with rod / stick)
This uses electric current to melt the welding rod at the point of the weld. The rod is coated in flux which melts at a suitable rate. The job of the flux is, as said above, to "keep the metal clean" by creating a small gas cloud that excludes oxygen from the surface of the molten metal. Arc welding sets are reasonably affordable and you can weld a variety of thicknesses with them. It can be quite difficult to use arc welding on thin material, but that seems to depend on the welding machine used since my father has been having much better success since he bought a new machine.

As CR1 said, a different form of arc welding. Instead of having to stop the weld to replace the rods / sticks periodically, wire is fed from a spool on a continuous basis. The other difference, as said before, is that the wire is not coated with a flux so an inert gas is used to achieve the same effect. This does mean that MIG sets have a gas bottle that needs to be maintained. If, like oxy-acetylene, the gas bottle is rented rather than bought, it may have the same disadvantage. While I have yet to use a MIG welder, I have heard it said that MIG welding is easier than standard arc welding. However Dennis, above, says it is the other way around for him, so perhaps it is a personal thing.

I'll defer to CR1 on this as I have no experience of TIG welding - and probably have less chance of gaining such experience as MIG welding equipment seems more common in the workshops where I have seen welding equipment available. This probably says something about TIG welding in itself, but whether it is cost, difficulty or both (or even something quite different) I do not know.
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I think for what you say you need ( brackets and jigs) an oxy-acetylene set up would be a good way to go for starters. First of all, it is portable and needs no electrical outlet. You can heat treat with it, braze with a brass filler rod, weld with a steel filler rod( coat hangers work great) or weld without a rod just by getting the two parts close enough to melt them together. That is base metal welding. You can also cut with the torch and do aluminum welding with it with the new rods they have out now. You usually use about 7 times the oxygen as acetylene for cutting- that is why the oxy tank is always bigger. If you buy the tanks, you get a title for them and need to identify them when getting refilled.

I use mine to make tools and harden tools that I use in woodworking,too.

If you have the money, there is a torch head call a Henrob torch ($300) that is just great. I saw it at the EAA show in Oshkosh, Wi. about 12 years ago and they let me cut my name through a 1/2" plate of steel- so I bought one a few months later when I had the money and that is all I use any more. It comes with 4 tips and the cutting attachment and only uses 4 psi of oxy and 4 psi of acetylene for most work. With the 0 tip, you can stitch weld fenders without warping the panel- very concentrated heat!

For heavier welding - like 1/4" on up, a stick welder is great. I have used 3/64" rod and welded a whole 18 ga. trailer frame with only a few burn through s. You have to practice with it to know what rod and heat setting is needed for the job at hand.Those auto darkening helmets are the nuts, too.

If you want to go with a wire welder, you have to maintain a stock of spools of different wire diameter if you want to do bigger stuff. And for the best welds, you need to buy shielding gas. Wire welding( MIG) is a bit more involved. You can get 110 volt MIG welders that uses flux core wire for shielding, but it is not as good as using the inert gas in the tank.

Let us know what you bought!!........................Jim
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Chris, I think the best bet for your situation would be a gas sheilded, 110 volt, MIG welder. I have a Miller which has served me well for many years. The main advantage is the extremely short learning curve. You can weld up to 1/4" stock with this unit. The other choices cited above will all work but require considerable practice to become proficient. The Mig is the easiest and the TIG the most difficult. Hope this helps.
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