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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The workshop » » Entry Level Welder (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

rtgreen
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Inner circle
Portland, Oregon
1322 Posts

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Hey guys,

I will be needing a low-cost welding machine later this month for some lite-non-magic work, but am thinking since I am getting one, I want to be able to use it for prop building in the future. I am thinking of basic things like maybe a super X and want to make sure the welds will be strong enough to hold under stess.

Thanks,
Richard

I just reread my post and realize I was about as clear as mud about what I am asking about.

What low-cost welding machines would you guys suggest for doing light welding that would be able to make strong enough welds for simple levitation props such as a super x or the balloon suspension in Steinmeyer's book?

Thanks for any suggestions

Richard
KenW
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439 Posts

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61magic
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Sacramento California
757 Posts

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Welds done right are stronger than the metal they join.
Welders such as Miller, Hobart, Lincoln Electric, and other brands all offer a range of welders from $100 on up.
It will all depend on your skill level and the type of welding you will do.
The Miller-matic 140 is a great machine if it is in your price range.
You should visit a welding supply store and talk to the pro there, they have all the answers you are looking for.
Also a trip to the book store will result in some books that explain the differences in the type of welding processes and machines.
Professor J. P. Fawkes
Leland Stone
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Inner circle
1204 Posts

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Hey, Richard:

I hate to sound like a shill for Lincoln, but I've used their gear since my blacksmithing days and I've never been disappointed with it. I'm currently (get the pun?) on my second WeldPak 100, and it works great. The new ones cost less and are more advanced than the one I got in '95, which crapped out earlier this year.

Home Depot has 'em for around $350.

Leland

Harbour Freight offers great deals on disposable equipment, and many of their heavier machines actually make swell anchors Smile
KenW
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439 Posts

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Harbour Freight does help when you are just starting out.
After you learn....then invest in a better piece of equipment.
Good luck and have fun with it.
KW
rtgreen
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Inner circle
Portland, Oregon
1322 Posts

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Thanks guys for all the input Smile

I think I'm aiming at the Lincoln WeldPak (Thanks Leland), but I may have to do a bit more saving. I was hoping to find something workable for under $200, but after some research, it seems I set my expectations higher than my budget. Oh well, my birthday is in February. Maybe I'll surprise myself Smile

Thanks,
Richard
61magic
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Sacramento California
757 Posts

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One thing to watch for on the lower cost stick welders, the input current.
Most of them use 220v and if your shop/house does not have this available it can end up costing you more to have the electrical run.
Also if you are looking at a stick welder the DC version is easier to use.
Professor J. P. Fawkes
Lou Hilario
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Inner circle
2222 Posts

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I also own a portable welding machine but I hire a welder to weld stuff for me. I tried doing it myself several times but my work seems to melt the iron I am trying to join together. Aside from that, I will admit, I am chicken to getting shocked.
I hired a welder to teach me, looks easy, but it needs time and experience to master.
Magic, Illusions, Juggling, Puppet & Parrot Show ^0^
http://www.louhilario.net
EsnRedshirt
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Newark, CA
895 Posts

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There's always oxy-acetylene; pretty cheap, no chance of getting shocked, but takes practice and skill to do it well (and there is the chance of a gas explosion).

I learned to weld using an oxy-acetylene torch, but if I start welding again, I'll probably take a class and get a different type of welding machine.
Self-proclaimed Jack-of-all-trades and google expert*.

* = Take any advice from this person with a grain of salt.
MentalistCreationLab
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Inner circle
1525 Posts

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Heres' something: Wire feed type will leave splatter that you will have to clean off whereas with a Tig your weld will be clean. I like the Lincoln 125 that runs on 110 power. Not for ultra heavy work but will only set you back $500 or less. Used even cheaper.
Blair Marshall
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Montreal, Canada
3640 Posts

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Unless you plan to practice a lot, I would take any prepped materials to a professional welder to have it done. ESPECIALLY when you are wanting to work on levitation support equipment. The prepping of the materials can be the costly part. Just having it welded up would not be that costly.

Blair Marshall
"ShaZzam!"
Skypoint
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Dallas, Texas
71 Posts

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You might consider renting a machine from Home Depot or other equipment rental facilty. Ask for a welder that can burn 1/8th or 3/16th (width) #6011, or preferably #7018 rods (7018 will be a stronger weld). I believe HD handles Lincoln, which I've used and will get the job done.

Also, Blair is correct, you'll need an acetlyne torch as well for cutting, heating and bending. You'll need a tip for cutting and a rosebud tip for heating.

Here's a link that may be of help: http://www.rodovens.com/welding_articles......tion.htm

Good luck,
Jim
Lou Hilario
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What kind of welding machine is used in the Discovery Channel motorcycle chopper series. It looks very small and easy to use?
Magic, Illusions, Juggling, Puppet & Parrot Show ^0^
http://www.louhilario.net
Skypoint
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Dallas, Texas
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I've seen this show a couple of times. It's been awhile, but if my memory is correct I think he uses a MIG (Metal Inert Gas) wire welder. The wire is on a continuous feed spool/reel (operated by trigger), usually less than a 16th of an inch thick and has a flux core. It also uses inert gas to help the weld form.

I've used these a time or two when I was in a borrowed a shop. It's an arc-type welder, generally used in large applications. Neat, but way more expensive to buy and operate than a conventional rod machine.
Leland Stone
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I don't know the show, but if the little buzz box being used was blue, it was a Miller rig -- nearly identical to the WeldPak.

Like stick electrodes, MIG flux-core wire burns a chemical compound to produce a shield gas during welding. Electrodes for stick welding are coated with this compound, or "flux," while the flux-core wire is actually a long, thin tube full of flux. Stick welding produces a bead with significant spatter and a thick coating of glass-like waste known as "slag." MIG produces far less of both. Solid wire is often used for MIG welding if an auxiliary shielding gas (typically a 'noble' gas like argon)is fed into the weld zone. This can is a hassle, but -- in the hands of a skilled technician -- produces flawless, impurity-free beads. It's the only way to go on aluminium and stainless.

A stick welder is versatile, does have an edge on price, and some makers offer kits that allow you to do carbon-arc cutting (messy, kinda rough, but you don't need to swap bottles all the time like when you're cutting with oxy-acetylene). Bear in mind that rods have to be kept warm and dry for optimal welding; humidity degrades the flux coating and that mucks up the weld.

A MIG welding machine has the edge on thin stock; with it, I can run a bead on the end of an 0.063 tube. Most of the stock I weld is thin, and since I don't like cleaning up spatter the flux-core wire feed is my choice. When pressed, it will even handle 5/16" stock, if bevelled and welded from both sides.
EsnRedshirt
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Newark, CA
895 Posts

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I've just done some research on this, since I'm thinking about picking up a welder myself. MiG's are probably the best choice for the home workshop. They can be fairly cheap- under $300 from Home Depot (and running on standard 110 volt/15 amp current.) However, the low-end welders aren't as precise- the jacket around the lead and the flash from the arc conceals the end of the rod. If you get a model you can convert to gas, it helps to work around this, but that ups the price. It may be worth it, though, depending on what you want to weld in the future. Leland's 100% correct about the difference between flux and solid rod MiG welding. As always, practice makes perfect. Get some scrap to play with before committing to your project piece.

The best advice I've heard is to visit a welding shop; the experts there will make sure you get what you'll need.
Self-proclaimed Jack-of-all-trades and google expert*.

* = Take any advice from this person with a grain of salt.
state
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First and foremost before buying a welder, you need to know what types and size of metal you will be using. If you want to use Aluminum for lighter material, realize that Most MIG welders need special attachments that are very costly. Aluminum also Spatters a lot more and creates more of a fire hazard.

Also, take into consideration the other equipment you will need to pull welding off.
The #1 tool you will need is a Fire Extinguisher.
Depending on your welding atmosphere and the types of metal being welded, you may want a Breathing mask to protect you from the fumes.

Obviously you will need gloves and a mask. But a flame retardant long sleeve shirt is nice too. Any exposed skin WILL get "sunburned" if exposed long enough.
The next handiest tool to have is an angle grinder. This is a great tool for cutting metal and prepping surfaces.

Since you are a beginner, I recommend getting a Battery operated Auto Darkening mask. They make life so much easier. I chose Battery operated because the have the fastest response time and you don't have to set them out in the sun to charge.

It's hard to give you all the info you need in one post, but if you need help please feel free to PM me, I am a trained welder.
Thought farmer
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72 Posts

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HTP welding makes MIG,TIG and stick welders and they have an informative instructional video on MIG to buy and also another on TIG. Call them up after you have visited their website. They still practice great customer service.
http://www.usaweld.com .......
I would trade welding or welding instruction for effects.
Tom Bartlett
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Our southern border could use
763 Posts

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Everyone has given some great advice so I will just try to add some thought that might come in handy without being to redundant.

I have the same welder I learned to weld with when I was nine years old; it is a little red Lincoln cracker box. My dad bought it second hand in 1965 or 66 not sure. We lived several miles from town and a welder was a time and labor saver no farm or ranch could be without. Over the years we bought other welders but never let this one get away for very long, but we did lone it out on occasions. We built several steel gooseneck trailers with it befor buying a big Miller MIG with sixty foot of lead and hose and spool gun to repair of our aluminum cattle trailers and yes aluminum does splatter, probably more than any other metal, leather sleeves are a must. In all the years we hauled cattle the Miller was never a problem, so along with Lincoln I would have to say they are the top choices.

Everything comes so natural to me, when it comes to welding I can't imagine not being able to but for some one new, I would say a DVD would be the easiest and safest way to learn, it may even be better than going to school, unless they show films or videos. With a DVD you will be able to see what a weld is suppose to look like, the way the puddle starts the way the metal flows and all with out accidentally burning your eyes once you know what a welding pass looks like, all you will have to do, is adjust your amperage, chose the right rod or wire for the material you are wielding (Which should also be taught on the same DVD.) and practice.

If in the course of learning to weld, you do burn your eyes, here is the relief you do not want to be with out; Take a potato and a grater, like you are going to make hash browns and grate a potato, lay down on your back, place a towel under your head and place a handful of uncooked hash browns on your closed eyes and soon the feeling of burning and sand rubbing your eyes will subside.
Our friends don't have to agree with me about everything and some that I hold very dear don't have to agree about anything, except where we are going to meet them for dinner.
Thought farmer
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Received a Sportsmans Guide catalog in the mail today. They had a reconditioned popular brand name Mig welder for sale. You can just do a web search for their site. I have bought other items from them and have had no problems in dealing with them over the past 3 years. Thought Farmer.
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