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Welding Newbie. Mig or stick?

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by fishingpol, Mar 24, 2013.

  1. fishingpol

    fishingpol Minister of Fire

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    I have never welded in my life. I have a project that I will be using angle iron about 1/8 thick making legs with bracing to support under 100 lbs. Height of legs will be about 32" tall or so. I've done some online reading on mig and stick. It sounds like mig is the all around welder but for thinner stock, and stick for heavier uses. I just need to weld the corners and braces for these legs. I am going to precut the pieces and rent a welder. The box store has mig only for under $40 for a half day. I will try the local tool rental places to see if they have a stick. This is going to be a one time project and I don't need to own a machine. I am also thinking of just nuts and bolts to work this up. But really, I want to try welding.

    I was looking at the mig welders at TSC and HD and I see knobs for feed rate of the wire. Is mig for experienced welders? This project will not need to be pretty. I'll take any advice or tips.

    I want this to be a DIY project as I may need to add extra pieces as I go. I am also thinking of making a plywood jig to have the pieces aligned as I go.

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  2. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    MIG will do just fine, easiest to learn. The wire feed and heat settings are usually on a "cheat sheet" found on the machine somewhere.

    I recommend a youtube education so you kinda know what to expect when you light it up.
  3. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest





    2nd video gives some good shots of what you will see thru the helmet.
  4. fishingpol

    fishingpol Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for that MM. The second video was particulary good. I'll do some reading up and watch a few more videos for Mig.
    MasterMech likes this.
  5. greg13

    greg13 Feeling the Heat

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    I think the bottom line is how much do you want to spend? you can do a little more with a MIG if it is properly set up. Aluminum & stainless (to a degree) can be MIG welded. Personally I wouldn't buy a flux core set up, spend the extra and set it up with Argon/CO2 mix.
  6. fishingpol

    fishingpol Minister of Fire

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    I'm going to just weld mild steel for now. I met up with my BIL and he has some mig and stick welding experience and starts a new job tomorrow doing trailer repairs with a bit of welding in the mix. He will help me along.
  7. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    A mig is the caulk gun of welders. Squeeze trigger - BZZZZZZZZTTTT.
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  8. fishingpol

    fishingpol Minister of Fire

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    Yes. Frying bacon. It turns out my new co-worker welded when he did body work. He said he can work it up for me. I am still going to learn.
  9. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    If it were only that easy. Actually I can weld decent (20 years experience) but I can't run a bead of caulk to save my life.

    Pallet Pete, bioman and jeff_t like this.
  10. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    You can borrow my Lincoln Tombstone as long as you like my man. I bought a stick welder for the kiln construction, but it mostly sits there. I have an auto darkening helmet you can borrow as well.
  11. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Blue tape - layout your caulk run. Caulk. Use finger to smooth. Remove tape. Perfection.
  12. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Yeah that is what I do, but I've seen guys that can run a nice bead in about 15 secs to what it takes me 10 mins to tape off and mess with!

  13. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    I have to use this method or I will be gluing the toilet lid down or something equally as stupid.
  14. fishingpol

    fishingpol Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the offer, that is righteous of you. I will definitely keep this in mind. I am going to e-mail you a question or two about a show I am going to be set up at in the end of June. I need to source some small accent pieces (mugs, small vessels) to display/sell with what I will have out.
  15. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Cool. I will finally need some boxes, if you still have the time and material
  16. fishingpol

    fishingpol Minister of Fire

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    I am sure I will be able to make time. I do need to make a crapload of pieces before June. The material I had set aside for you I used on current projects. I may need you to get some material for your boxes though. The stoneyard at the bottom of my street where I got the pallets is closed for the winter. I have a nice bandsaw blade that I can re-saw thicker wood down to nice workable slabs.
  17. fishingpol

    fishingpol Minister of Fire

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    Ok, the project is mostly done. I rented the Lincoln MIG from HD. Someone please tell me where I went wrong on the welds. I had visions of nice, cleaner looking ones. The auto feed was intially set too high and the flux core wire was be-boppin' all over the place. I squared that away, increased the power output a little higher. Maybe I did not go high enough or was the weld to slow? I flap sanded all the joints to bare metal before giving it hell-o. I found that black iron pipe does not weld that well to a floor flange. Never mind welding that to the brake drum. I would assume it was cast iron as most of the reason. I give credit to anyone who can run a nice weld btw.


    Looks like weld puke.

    IMG_3373.JPG

    IMG_3378.JPG

    I made a plywood jig with 8 degree cuts to flare the legs out on the sides for stability.

    IMG_3381.JPG

    The frame was made from a discarded bed frame angle pieces. It is very stable, but when I locate some more, I'll add bracing and a shelf.
  18. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    Looks like you could use a tad more heat and work on moving the gun in a weave or lowercase "e" type pattern.

    Wirebrush & hammer the welds to chip any slag that's stuck on them.
    fishingpol likes this.
  19. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    A touch more heat and you were holding the handle wrong. It appears that you were pointing it straight at the joint (weld). A mig should be "pushed into" the work.

    Edit: I am not a big fan of flux core welding. If you are gonna use flux, use a stick welder. Gas shield welding is where the migs really shine.
  20. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    For thinner materials, yes. "Pulling" the puddle will result in better penetration but usually not as "pretty" of a weld.
  21. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    True story:
    In a past life, I worked at a company that made the big salt spreaders. You know, the big suckers that would go on the back of the state trucks...anyhoo...we had a custom built trailer for stacking parts on to make it easy to move around with a fork truck (which is what I was doing at the time). It needed a couple of repairs. Since I didn't want to disrupt the line I asked one of the pro welders to come out and stick weld this thing (had a giant old stick in the neighborhood of the trailer). He was a mig welder and started to weld like bazooka Joe (bubblegum). I told him to gimme that thing and your helmet. Laid the two prettiest beads of my life in front of him. Earned a little respect that day.==c
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  22. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    You don't know how many stick or even TIG guys have come to me at work because they just can't get the MIG to work for them. Blows my mind. I do not consider myself a "welder" by any means.
  23. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Nope - I just stick things together. Not a pro by a LOOONG shot.
  24. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest



    And that just about says it all.....
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  25. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    looks like not enough heat and the nozzle was being pushed too far away from the puddle, MIG works by melting the wire and the steel inside an envelope of inert gas (usually argon or a mix of argon and another inert gas) if the nozzle is too far away from the point of the joint to be welded if the puddle gets outside of the pocket of gas the weld bead becomes loaded with air bubbles.

    as for direction when the weld is being applied horizontally (flat welding), the puddle is "pushed" by the wire, when welding vertically, the puddle is pulled downhill. an inexperienced welder would likely fare better with flat welding as they wouldnt have to "keep up" with the puddle

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