Probably the most common question we get asked is - What wire welder (mig) should I buy for my small home shop? Its a good question but what most people dont realize is that most small wire welders in the 110 volt range are very similar and its probably the electrode choice, gas choice, duty cycle, input amperage and total output amperage that will matter most in the end.

Lets discuss these items

Electrode choice - Most of these small machines will come with flux cored wire. (The shielding flux is inside the wire and requires no shielding gas) Flux cored wires and small limited Amperage input/output hobby welders are not a match made in heaven.

There is more than one kind of flux cored wire 1) flux cored without gas 2) flux cored with gas.

Flux cored wire does have its place. It is a high penetrating process that will not go away. But most hobby welders lack the know how to run it and dont care for its weld appearance. In addition, most small wire welders dont have the duty cycle to run flux cored wires for any length of time.

If you choose to run it we suggest the following -

1) Increase your stickout (distance between the contact tip and base metal to 1/2 as this allows the core flux to melt and become gas and liquid in the molten puddle.

2) Increase your voltage as most flux cored wires prefer a longer arc length and in wire welding voltage=arc length.

When wire welding always remember - Voltage = Arc length (you can also think of it as weld width) Why? The higher the voltage, the longer the arc length, and, the longer the arc length the wider the weld.

3) Use inline motions. Inline motions (drag, 1/8 forward stop repeat ) allow the molten puddle to maintain heat and eliminate the chances of welding over flux already deposited.

We have small welders set up side by side for users to compare. 1) flux cored without gas 2) flux cored with gas 3) solid core (Er70s6) with 75/25 gas When users try #3 they dont want to go back to #1 or #2.

SO if you purchase one of these machines keep in mind that you might want to opt for the gas kit so you can make the switch and remember youll probably have to. HOWEVER, dont toss the flux cored wire in the trash can ! You might have some applications (i.e... outside in windy conditions, in the field where gas is not portable enough) to use it.

Gosh that took a long time ! The next ones are easier !

Gas Choice -

CO2 - Carbon Dioxide is the least expensive, most penetrating of the 3 with the least weld flow and poorest weld appearance.

75/25 - Argon/CO2 is more expensive, less penetrating than CO2 but have good weld flow and weld appearance. This is the most commonly used.

92/8 - Argon/CO2 is the most expensive and least penetrationg of the three and provides excellent weld flow and appearance. It is excellent for thin metals and auto body work.

Duty Cycle - The amount of time in 10 minutes a machine can perform (weld) at a given amperage. Example - 50% at 60 amps means you can weld 5 minutes out of 10 minutes at 60 amps.

Input Amperage - The required amperage delivered to a machine. This is a point that many people forget when purchasing a machine. If you purchase a 110 volt machine and plug it in to an outlet in your garage which has other items pulling from it you will have input amperage issues. Its a good idea to have a dedicated circuit for your welder or you will be tripping the breaker every time you weld.

Total output amperage - The Amps the power source will deliver for a given duty-cycle period. You just cant expect a 110 volt machine to deliver more amps than its capable of.

Dont get us wrong ! Small wire feed welders have a place in the world but you have to realize that they have the highest return rate of any welder on the market.

Hopefully now you know why, and know if one belongs in your treasure chest of equipment in your shop.

Welding is the well known skill of taking two pieces of metal and fastening them together in very strong fashion. Most people have heard about it and understand at least the above concept but dont really understand how useful it is.

Welding is used in more than just the steel construction industry. Anything metal that is formed from more than one part has most likely been welded. Things ranging from car bodies, to farm equipment, to underwater oil rigs, to custom mufflers, to sculptures...and on and on. There are separate welding techniques for each application whether it be the type of joint you are forming or the type of metal you are working with. There is spot welding, arc welding, stick welding, underwater welding, steel welding, aluminum welding, brass welding, copper welding, etc. You can weld big rugged things like axle assemblies, or tiny fine parts which require an flair. Basically in any industry and for every set of desires gifts, and abilities--there are applications for this wonderful skill.

Welders are in demand and paid well too. There just arenít enough welders for all of the welding that needs to be done. And this is a universal need in every area geographically and in every area of business, in this country and throughout the world. So whether you are a handyman, or hobbyist, or need a great job here is a great skill to master and use. Welding classes are available at most local community colleges and career centers and once you are certified you will never regret it. You will be on your way to making your life, job, hobby--whatever--better!

You shouldnt get the wrong idea though, one class isnt going to teach you every technique and just like everything else with experience comes perfection and ease of welding technique. A good idea is to get a mentor that you can observe, learn tricks from, bounce questions off, and get constructive feedback from. This can be done on a personal level or more easily probably by reading information written by master welders and then contacting them.

So if you want to learn more about the many ways welding can jumpstart your career or make your job/hobby better than go take a class, then start practicing welding and read all you can from well known authors.