Episode-2581- Getting Started with Welding on a Budget — 5 Comments

  1. I have no formal training for welding but can stick two pieces of steel together. The cheapest easiest way to get started is a harbor freight Chicago electric flux core wire 110 volt welder for less the $90 on sale. Grab a $30 auto darkening helmet so you can see easier to get started. And a $10 angle grinder with a $4 wire wheel.

    Get a piece of 3/8 rebar from your local big box store. 20′ stick is less then $10. Take a hack saw and chop it up into sizes that fit in your ride.

    Start by making a t stake. Cut 4″ piece of rebar for top and use the wire brush to clean all the rust from the middle where you will weld. Then cut your long piece 18″ and wire brush the last 1″ on each end.

    Lay them in a T and attach your ground to bottom end of the long part and make sure the top piece is touching. Put your helmet down and put the wire right on the joint holding the gun tip a 1/2″ away from steel. Squeeze the trigger and draw a few small circles from the long piece to the short piece fairly slowly.  Maybe 3 seconds total. This is a tack weld do it three more times around your joint and it will hold.

    Now you can make more stuff from there.

  2. I weld at work all the time and have the skill and supply to do it at home but… as far as the trampoline goes I use one of those spiral dog stakes he talks about too without welding.   Pick three spots under the trampoline equal distances apart.  Dig a small hole directly underneath the circle (only like 2-3” deep). Twist the stake in the center of the hole until about 1” or so is sticking up above the ground level and then pack the dirt back around it.

    Now just take a ratchet strap and loop through the stake and around the circle bar in each of the three spaces.   Mine has withstood a few 40mph wind gust. When it’s time to mow undo the straps and move the trampoline. The stakes should be well enough deep that you can now right over them.

  3. I am retired 3 years now. Getting ready for retirement, I had a shop built. Then, I bought a Hobart 14o Handler wire welder (120 volt) and started learning how to weld with it. Within a day of messing around with it, I was turning out decent welds (caveat, I had welded quite a bit with stick welders when younger). I had a 220 volt stick welder for years, but a lot of the stuff needing welded around the house were made of very thin steel. That stick welder just burned things up a lot, unless the steel was at least 1/8″ thick. After 3 years of using the MIG, I sold the stick welder with all the supplies for $50 just to get it out of the way.

    I make lots of yard art work. In fact, the local newspaper did an full page article on my stuff just this week, as a human interest thing.

    I would NEVER recommend a flux-core welder of any kind. They are kind of junk, I think, and you will not be satisfied with the results. Yes, gas bottles and a MIG welder are more money, but quality counts. I paid $90 for a decent auto-darkening helmet (it has several adjustments) and really like it. I use a cheap desk lamp with a LED bulb to see where I am instead of fumbling around in the dark starting the weld.

    For angle grinders, go with cheapo Harbor Freight ones, unless you plan on a career in this business rather than a hobby. I have one dedicated to each of 3 uses: a wire wheel buffer, a grinder, and a cutoff wheel tool.

    A good vise is kind of essential, along with some hammers. Then, get after it. A chunk of RR track works for an anvil, kind of.

    Nice to have but not necessary at first: bench grinder, drill press, welding table (you can fabricate one yourself very easily), anvil, plasma cutter, and propane forge (plans on internet; you CAN use a shop made coal forge, but you will waste all your time tending the fire instead of forging). You WILL need an air compressor for the plasma cutter (some have one internal though).

    My first Chinese plasma cutter was a cheap Lotos 5000D off Ebay. It worked but only on light stuff, and I had to file the contact points on it twice, even though I hadn’t used it much. Sold it off and upgraded to a Hypertherm 30, used off Ebay, and it was twice as much money and easily twice the machine. It will cut 1/4″ steel very well. Supposed to do 3/8″ but I haven’t done that so I don’t know. Lotos CLAIMS the same ability for theirs, but very marginal, crappy cuts, using up lots of supplies, and patience.

    I have about $2,000 invested but I have been blessed. Friends gave me an anvil and welding table. I got hammers at garage sales and auctions. You can get lots of cheap steel at farm auctions around here. It’s always rusty but you can buff it with your wire wheel setup.

    After hearing this podcast, I think I would like to do some stainless and aluminum.