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  1. #1
    wilbilt is offline Hot Rolled
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    I have a few old stick welders, and have never used a wirefeed unit.

    I don't do a lot of welding, and admittedly, not very good at it. My welds have always done what they needed to do, but aren't very pretty. I am usually welding on rusty junk with old moldy rod, but git-er-done anyway. I do tend to burn holes in the thin stuff.

    A lot of people have told me I need to buy a wirefeed welder because they are "so easy to get good welds with".

    Being an old-school guy, and a bit suspicious anyway, I feel that "good" and "easy" usually aren't found in the same sentence. My oldest daughter is in high school, and has a friend that has been taking welding classes. He came by and thought my old welders were "funny".

    He almost wet himself when I hand-cranked the 1949 Wisconsin-powered Lincwelder into full roar. He had no idea what I was doing with the crank until it started. Poor kid...

    Do I need to buy a wirefeed welder? Plans for the near future include lots of welding on thin-gauge stock (fences and gates).

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    snowman is online now Diamond
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    do you need to buy another tool?

    hmm...

    thinking...

    of course [img]smile.gif[/img]

    The thing about mig welding or wire feed in general is this. It's really easy to get a beautiful weld...however, that means nothing as to the penetration.

    I've got a little 110 volt Lincoln weldpack 100 that I have ran A LOT of wire through (1 roll/week for a three years)...works great for thin gauge stuff and tacking, but any time I get bigger than 3/16" thick, I start using the stick welder.

    -Jacob

  3. #3
    Too_Many_Tools is offline Stainless
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    In my experience, MIG has a place in the scheme of things.

    It excels in welding thin metal and its learning curve is much shorter than stick. Using a shielding gas, there is minimum cleanup. Oneneeds to do proper prep prior to welding to get good weld pentration.

    It is not the choice in thicker welds. It costs more than stick especially for the ocassional welder especially with the cost of gas.

    Keep your stick...you will be using it.

    TMT

  4. #4
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    One needs to do proper prep prior to welding to get good weld penetration
    Amen to that. I know I beat the ground on this over and over but back beveling is a must when using MiG, even for stout MiG welders that claim 3/8"+ in a single pass.

    Stick, by virtue of being so slow, puts a lot of concentrated heat into the local area that does wonders for weld penetration.

    I like MiG because it's fast and clean once the prep's done. But I do have a few sticks laying around in ziplock freezer bags. For fences and gates, especially if this is for "architectural work" I'd recommend the MiG because of lower cleanup time in strange & awkward areas, no chipping slag, etc. However if you're gonna build a new cattle gate for the back 400 then put the money to something else.

    -Matt

  5. #5
    Jeremy is offline Hot Rolled
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    You can always buy yourself a used wire feed unit to add to your stick welder powersupply and have the best of both worlds. One of the shops I worked in had an old Miller wire feed unit powered by a big old 500A Miller stick welder unit. Worked great.

  6. #6
    tnmgcarbide's Avatar
    tnmgcarbide is offline Titanium
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    mig is just too damn easy...my mother could
    mig weld.

    i think it's amazing how many self
    professed "expert" weldors start sweating bullets
    when they are told they have to actually stick
    weld something.

    to me, mig is great for the thin stuff i'd smoke
    with stick... or long runs where i'd have to
    use dozens of electrodes.

    with stick, i've 100 different fillers to choose
    from...mig has around 4 or 5 ....stick is
    quick and dirty + very precise ...all at the same time. i keep a log for each electrode i use with
    notes on settings for my lincoln tig250/250...

    for something like fences-get the mig or else-
    it's gonna' get old changing rods over and over
    and over...

    i don't know about adding wirefeed to just any
    welder....doesn't it have to be a constant voltage
    power supply? i'm pretty sure it won't work properly
    on a buzzbox or TIG machine. i called lincoln
    about it a few years ago ..they said to NEVER
    use wirefeeders on constant current machines.
    good luck

  7. #7
    JL Sargent is offline Titanium
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    I would add one note: Higher amperage mig machines are very capable of welding thicker material. Ive watched shop employees weld pintle hooks on the back of new dump trucks with a mig. Many folks think mig is only for the thin stuff. Capability in a welder is kinda determined by the $ you want to spend on the machine, as usual.

  8. #8
    HuFlungDung is offline Diamond
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    That's right. We have a 300 amp Lincoln, and it will really pour on the metal. When you get up above a certain threshold of voltage and wirespeed, the metal transfer changes from globular to spray. It makes for one hella nice weld, with good penetration. Its much easier to see the weld pool without a mess of slag, such as would be produced by using huge sticks to try to match the deposition rate. When you need a reflector for the back of your glove to keep from scorching the back of your hand, you know its about all you can stand to handle manually

    Oh, migs are great for thin stuff, because much less heat input is required.

    Any well equipped shop will have a stick, mig and tig. They all have a use.

  9. #9
    GregSY is offline Diamond
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    Sticks have their place....but MIG is far better for most of what you or I will ever weld.

    My father in law hates MIGs, he's an old timer who swears by stick. The problem is, and I've never told him, is that his welds suck. They look bad and no one will ever convince me they are as strong and a good MIG bead.

    There are probably some really old-timers who will tell you stick welders suck compared to a good old forge and anvil and 5 lb hammer....but that doesn't mean I want that crap in my garage.

  10. #10
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    Thin-guage welding is a challenge with any process. GMAW (MIG) is a widely accepted welding method for joining thin (and thick) materials in a shop environment.

    SMAW (Stick) is still the first choice for outdoor, all-condition welding. An experienced pipeliner can produce x-ray quality welds all day long in virtually any conditions - windy, wet, etc. On-site steel erection relies on SMAW for the same reasons.

    One limiting factor in MIG welding is shielding gas dispersion. The gas has to surround and blanket the molten weld pool to prevent contamination. The welding area should have no drafts, no fans, nothing that will disturb the gas shield. You can weld outdoors on a dead-still day, or you can set a curtain or tent if the winds are much above one mile per hour.

    Factories that hire & train for the MIG process estimate eight to twelve hours before someone is producing quality welds. Expect to spend at least that long if you have a good teacher. It is worth the time & money to find someone to teach you this skill. You can do it on your own, it just takes longer and you'll need to do some reading, watch some videos, and practice, practice, practice.

    MIG does give you the advantage of clearly seeing the weld pool and the weldment. That is helpful IF you know what you are trying to achieve. But MIG is not a magic bullet. You can easily produce welds that "look good" while having little penetration. Welding in the flat position is nice when the situation allows, but you'll still need to learn to weld horizontal, vertical & overhead.

    Bottom line? MIG is easier than Stick on thin metals. But it is a new skill that takes time & correct practice to learn properly.

    Barry Milton

  11. #11
    David/toledo is online now Hot Rolled
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    Just some thoughts from a newbe on the mig sean. If you buy do at less a 220 one. As a lot of other have said that they both have there place and I agree. I love the fact that I don't have a lot of clean up after a weld with the mig. It is faster for somethings
    David

  12. #12
    Comatose is offline Hot Rolled
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    I'm going to have to disagree with the "you must but a 220v one" for the occasional user. I have a 175A 220v Lincoln, which I use maybe two days per couple months. Does a nice job. The problem is I KNOW I'd use it more if it was, say, the 130A 120v Mller. If you're ANYWHERE but your shop, needing 220 pretty much means its not gonna get welded.

    Just something to think about.

  13. #13
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    smallshop is offline Diamond
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    What I know about welding would fit on one side of a three by five card. I have a Miller Econotig and my brother made the mistake of bringing his Miller MIG welder by my shop to do some work a couple of years ago.(doesn't have 220 at his house) Its still here. This thing is so easy to use on steel and aluminum. I believe that easier is better. My one complaint it because it is a production welder you have to move a a pretty good clip to keep up with it and I don't use it often so I always run a couple test welds to get the feel.

    TJ

  14. #14
    Andrew is offline Senior Member
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    With a MIG welder, you can also buy flux core wire which doesn't require gas. Flux core burns hotter than solid wire, and gets good penetration with thicker metal. Welding with flux core is similar to stick welding, so it requires a bit more skill, but anyone who has stick welded before shouldn't have a problem.

    A MIG welder is a great addition to any shop. They are versatile, and they also weld a lot faster than stick, which is nice when you have a lot of welds to do and don't want to take all day.

    Andrew

  15. #15
    tattoomike68 is offline Stainless
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    my brother has a miller deltaweld 452 wire feed you can turn it full blast and burn a hole through 1" plate easy.

    I use stick for cast iron and portable welding.

    I dont care for flux core for in shop welding, you still have to chip slag and it makes a lot of smoke.

    a millermatic 250 is a fine welder.

    all the welders are wired 460 at the shop.

  16. #16
    Joe Michaels is offline Titanium
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    If I had to choose one welding machine for general shop use, it would be a stick welder. On most carbon steel pressure vessel, pipe and steel fabrication work we still use stcik welding. For field welds on dirty steel or out in the weather, stick is the best process.

    Solid wire MIG is one of the most mis-used welding processes. It is OK for thin to moderately thin work if the welding parameters are right and the weldor knows what he is doing. I have seen some awful welds done with solid wire MIG. Good looking beads but next to no penetration. Stick welding lets a person "burn in" the root pass and get good penetration. On dirty work- such as repair of implements- or work with a bad fitup, stick welding is hard to beat.

    I have been around field welding and fabricationw ork for over thirty years. In that time, I have seen MIG come ont he scene. Just for fun, I was certified for open groove welds , all positions, with flux core MIG (GFCAW). It was an easy process. It was impressive with what it could do in terms of weld deposition, penetration, and lack of post weld stress (warping or distorting of the work). I made the guided bend tests with no problem, and have used GFCAW on a few occasions since. However, a machine capable of running 0.065" flux cored wire at 270 inches per minute is not typically an entry level MIG machine. That is the mistake I think a lot of people are making. They are buying lighter duty solid wire MIG machines and attempting to do heavier work or more welding which is subject to loading or stress. The light duty solid wire MIG machines have their place and it is for light work- stuff like sheet metal or thin/light work.

    Basic Stick welding is still the most useful all-around welding process. With a DC stick welder and the right electrodes, a person should be able to do a surprising range of welding work. Admittedly, thin sheet metal will not be within the capabilities of a stick machine, but most everything else short of aluminum, and certain alloys will be.

    In my own shop, I keep two basic steel electrodes on hand: E 6010 (the "old style" 6010 with the red flux) and E 7018. The E 6010 is a great fast-freeze rod which works well on dirty steel like repair jobs. It is also great for putting in root passes on open root welds. E 7018 is the basic lowp-hydrogen electrode for most structural, piping and pressure vessel work. I al;so keep some E 309L stainless electrode around for welding carbon steel to stainless steel and for occasional welds in stainless. I have some "Ni Rod"- nickel alloy repair electrode for cast iron as well. This assortment of electrodes has been adequate for a wide range of fabrication and repair work. I am probably speaking out of turn, but having an oxyacetylene cutting outfit on hand with a stick welding machine is kind of a given or expectable thing. If a person is doing fab rication and repair work, the cutting torch is used to cut steel to size and shape. It is also used to preheat steel for welding outdoors in colder weather as well as for hot bending. With a cutting torch on hand, occasional joining of thin sheet metal is solved. With an oxyacetylene torch, a person can braze or even "gas weld" to join sheet metal. Years ago, the way most people learned to weld was to be taught to oxyacetylene weld on thin stuff. Having learned what a puddle and fusion were about, they were then started with stick welding. I was tuaght informally, being handed an oxyacetylene torch and a piece of bent coat hanger. From there, I went to stick welding. At home, if I have some thin sheet metal to weld together or dis-similar metals, I use the oxyacetylene torch. I either oxyacetylene weld using steel filler rods (or bent coat hangers- good for welding as well as divining rods), or I braze or silver solder. I would have to say that sitck welding and an oxyacetylene cutting and brazing outfit can make a very complete and versatile welding and fabrication shop if a person has to choose just the basic equipment.

    Joe Michaels

  17. #17
    David/toledo is online now Hot Rolled
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    Yes I could be wrong,on the 220. but then I have been challage with the 110 unit that I borrow from my brother-in law. No I I don't know witch model it is but I would say that he has had it for over 5 years. Of coursre more power is all Is better
    David

  18. #18
    SND
    SND is offline Diamond
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    If you're welding rusty metal outside. Stick is the way to go. If you don't have proper storage for the rods. Buy 6011s 3/32". Learn how to use them right and you'll weld almost any tickness, at least down to 1/8. They're meant to have about 6% humidity in them to work well, so storage isn't much of a problem. Most guys that have stick welders buy 7018's and have no proper way of storing them. It makes very poor welds.
    6011 has a bit of a learning curve to it, you have to whip it. There's also 6013 is easy to weld with, makes nice welds.

    GMAW ( MIG ) solid wire, well you need the gas, you need to clean the material. You can't have much wind going by. So you're limited to doing it inside most of the time. Any dirt of paint will make horrible, full of porosity welds.
    May seem easy to hold a trigger, but there's a lot more to a good weld than how it looks on the outside.

    Flux core wire. Self shielded flux core that you can buy in small rolls is JUNK as far as I'm concerned. I wouldn't even consider it. There is some high quality self shielded that will do alright though.
    Flux core used in the industry is normaly used with Gas. Either CO2 or C25. It isn't a self shielding flux core. It needs the gas, trying to use it without gas will mean a lot of grinding.

    I'm not saying GMAW and FCAW don't have their place because they do and FCAW is now the major part of the welding that takes place in the world. But for the average guy welding once in a while. Stick is the way to go.

  19. #19
    SND
    SND is offline Diamond
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    I'd also like to add that voltage isn't the heat control. Most people will turn up the voltage on a mig thinking they'll get more heat and penetration. It doesn't work like that. Wire speed controls the amperage, in relation to the voltage. There is a fine balance, and going overboard with the voltage will widen the bead and decrease penetration.

    Nice thing about Wire feeders is that it's very easy to get tack welds in place. It will also get into tight spots and smaller grooves.

  20. #20
    Mike C. is offline Diamond
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    "I would have to say that stick welding and an oxyacetylene cutting and brazing outfit can make a very complete and versatile welding and fabrication shop if a person has to choose just the basic equipment."

    Amen, Joe. I also think everyone should be started out with a torch in one hand and a LC1HM rod in the other (Laquer-Coated 1 Hour Martinizing). At the museum shop we have a buzz box, OA rig and a big old Linde TIG. I have only a OA rig at home, and find VERY few things I cannot do with that alone. My first choice of additional equipment will be a little buzz-box, hopefully AC/DC so those 7018s burn well... they are kind of hard to handle on AC.

    I actually HAVE a little 110v MIG rig that was given to me, but I rarely do anything that is really suitable for it (guy I got it from used it to weld in body panels in am auto body shop).

    SND, I keep a big box of those 3/32nds 6013s on hand for the buzz box. They'll weld nearly anything, no matter how nasty, painted, or rusted. I think they would weld boards together if there were enough nails in 'em to raise the iron content! The 6013s also work best with a little whip to them.

    In my thoughts, a small 110V MIG or nice TIG is the last homeshop toy in the welding department to be added to the collection. If you are doing extensive sheetmetal and/or aluminum work, you may find MIG or TIG very useful, but for anything 1/4" or over in steel you'll be lots happier with a stick. You will find a stick handier than an OA rig for some work, but the OA rig is absolutely the most versatile of all.

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