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.

One of the most popular and common types of welding in use today is arc welding. Yet the average layman walking the street has little understanding of this welding process other seeing the blinding light flashing from a construction job site they may walking past at rush hour. Welding is basically just a fusion process for joining metals. The metals are simply melted together by intense heat and fuse as one piece. If done correctly, welding makes the joining of two pieces of metal with the same strength as single solid piece. A welding joint is superior to gluing because through the welding process, the metals are actually melted together instead using the bonding properties of glue to hold them together.

The key concept in welding is a heat source is needed in order to fuse the metal together. There are several methods of welding and arc welding is one of the most popular. The term arc welding comes from the fact that an electrical arc is created to produce intense heat. This arc is formed between the metal being worked on and an electrode connected to the arc welder. The electrode rod is moved along the joint and is melted by the electrical arc. The rod has two purposes. One is to help produce the arc and the other is it makes a filler material as it is melted.

At its heart, arc welding is about creating an electrical circuit. An arc welder needs an electrical power source that produces either AC or DC current. The metal piece you are attempting to weld becomes part of the electrical circuit by attaching a cable from the arc welder to metal. The other hot cable is attached to electrode that the welder is holding. An electrical arc is created between the metal work piece and the electrode when the electrode is held close to the metal. Now there is a complete electrical circuit between the arc welder and the metal. This process creates some pretty amazing temperatures. The tip of the arc can reach temperatures in excess of 6500 F. Now there is enough heat to fuse the metal pieces together and create a strong bond. To ignite the arc, the electrode must be pressed against the metal and then pulled away.

Besides creating heat, the arc produces a very bright light. This light is hazardous to the welder and those around the welding job site. You should not look directly into the arc without proper eye protection. However, the visible light is not the only danger. The arc gives of infrared and ultraviolet light that is invisible to the naked eye. This is why welders wear auto darkening welding helmets. These helmets will automatically darken when the arc is struck to shield the welders eyes from the bright visible and the lens filter is designed to keep out infrared and ultraviolet at all times whether the lens is darkened or not. Welders also put up welding blankets or shields to protect other people in the work area that may not have proper eye protection.

Despite these hazards arc welding is a safe and reliable method for fusing metal together and with some practice anyone can become competent enough for basic welding.