Purchasing a Welder?
Purchasing welding tools can be a very stressful experience, filled with doubt and second guessing. We’re here to help guide you through the process, by providing you industry information to help you make an informed decision.
“If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”. That was the first thing my grandpa said to me on the day he finally agreed to teach me the skill of welding. See, he was a master welder, who first learned the skill by plugging holes in a ship deck during WWII. While I was growing up he never spoke much about his craft, but you could always count on finding him in the shop with his helmet & mask on, working away. After years of pestering, he finally gave in and allowed me to be his apprentice. Looking back, that was always his plan, he was just waiting for me to grow up a bit.
With his initial comment, my grandpa was emphasizing the importance of using the right tool for the job. He went on to explain how it will save me time, money, and a big headache if I decided upfront to assess the job and identify the proper tools needed to complete it.
Picking the right tool for the job isn’t always easy. Driving a nail, removing a screw, or digging a hole are all tasks with easily identifiable tools. But what if your job is more complex, like a weld?
Choosing A Welder
Choosing your welding tools is a crucial decision, whether the purchase is a personal or a professional one. It’s a long-term investment in your work and should be treated as such. Are you preforming MIG welding, looking for TIG welding supplies, Engine driven welders, Stud welders , Stick welders, or do you need something else?
To help make this decision, here are 10 questions to ask yourself:
- What kind of work are you trying to accomplish?
- Are you doing a one-off project or is this something you see yourself doing again? How often do you expect to use the machine?
- Is this a very repeatable process designed for commercial use?
- Do you know how to weld now, and if not, how much effort are you willing to put into learning the trade?
- Are you looking for a quick fix or preforming precise design?
- Will you travel with the Welder?
- Will the work be done inside or outside?
- What is the amount of voltage you can support?
- How often will you use your welder?
- What kinds of materials will you be working with?
Once you answer these questions you will be able to use the descriptions below to better match the type of machine you’re looking for.
Also known as GMAW, MIG welding is very popular because the machines are less expensive, easy to learn, versatile, and have comparable power and features to their TIG & Stick counterparts. MIG Welders also allow their operators to use both hands to hold and steady the torch as they utilize continuous solid wire electrodes, fed through a welding gun and into the weld pool, creating the join. Inherently this also speeds up the process, making MIG a much faster solution.
Additionally, MIG Welders send a shielding gas through the welding gun and protect the weld pool from contamination, creating a very neat and easy to clean product. They are perfect for home hobby enthusiast, artists, farmers, and general DIY welders - to complete most types of fabrication and maintenance repair welds, on material from 24-gauge up to ½ in thick.
Keep In mind, MIG Welders also require the purchase of shielding gas, which can be an added cost down the road. Additionally, they work with a limited amount of materials, aren’t good for thicker materials, and aren’t usable outdoors in windy or wet conditions.
Also known as GTAW, TIG welding is popular because it typically is the most aesthetically pleasing of the welds, is the cleanest welding type with no splatter, and allows for extreme precision. Due to these factors TIG welding supplies are often used by welders for cars, motorcycles, and sculpting.
Be careful, TIG welding has a very steep learning curve, and is for experienced welders only. It takes much longer to master and beginners or at home DIY’ers typically start off with MIG or other hybrid machines, so they can build up to operating these TIG welders.
Also known as SMAW. Stick welding is a simplistic form of welding dating back many years. Stick welders work through a single electrode that provides most of the welding material. That electrode emits such intense heat it melts the workpiece and joins the two together. Since the rod is part of the weld it will need to be replaced regularly.
Stick Welders create very strong welds which are great for thick materials. Its often used for heavy repairs and on construction sites, and this type of weld can be done outdoors in windy or wet weather. These machines are also cheap in comparison to their counterparts.
However, there is also a steep learning curve for Stick welding, it is not usable on thin materials due to the intense heat, and it produces a rather ugly finished product, requiring a lot of extra work to make it visually aesthetic.
Not all brands are made the same! The saying “you get what you paid for” rings true when buying welders as much as it does for any other purchase. Some are more suitable for home use and some are more suitable for serious shop or job site equipment. Some are great for permanent placement while others are terrific for mobility. Some are designed for rough patching others for precision. We could go on and on.
There are a handful of well-known and trusted brands such as Lincoln Electric & Miller Electric, which have produced high quality, reliable, and trusted products like Lincoln Welding machines and Miller Welders for decades.
Whatever brand you choose, make sure you do your research and know what you’re buying.
Safety Equipment & Accessories
Different welding processes present different hazards to metal-working professionals. We always suggest doing research before starting work to ensure you have the proper welding safety gear. This includes welding jackets, welding gloves, welding helmets, welding mask, welding bibs, welding hoods, welding aprons, and on and on and on.
Just like the Welding machines, we suggest the Lincoln Welding Helmet or the Miller Welding Helmet both brands that have a long history of reliability, durability, and customer satisfaction. Don’t risk your safety by buying a knock off brand.
While we could peel the onion back much more on the topic, we hope that this brief overview will assist you during your buying process. If you have more questions about welders and welding accessories visit Weldingmart.com for assistance.