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Harbor Freight Stick & MIG Welders

 
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Faston



Joined: 17 Apr 2013
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Wed Aug 20 14 4:46 am    Post subject: Harbor Freight Stick & MIG Welders Reply with quote

Well in gross ignorance I picked up a HF 225 ($199) amp stick welder thinking it would be good enough to get going. Unfortunately I have zero welding experience and I have a terrible time making a decent weld. I'm sure most of the problem is my experience but I really expected to be able to produce half way decent welds. They hold just fine but look terrible to the point where I don't want to admit to anyone I created the lousy welds. I primarily have been doing welds that you guys would probably tell me to just pay a pro to do the welds for me.

Several people have told me I should have gotten a MIG and used inert gas to make things much easier. They know a lot more than I do so I am sure they are steering me in the right direction.

Suggestions on features that are recommended for a MIG welder would also be appreciated.

Assuming MIG with the gas tanks is the way to go does anyone have any suggestions as to what I should get. Harbor Freight has their 180 amp MIG for $265 at the moment and I would have to buy the gas tanks.

Please set me straight & let me know if the Harbor Freight is junk or not. If it's not recommended I would appreciate make and model suggestions. I'll do some looking for used if that is what I should be looking at.

I have a dang fixed income so cost is a very important factor for me. But I will wait and save my money up to buy a good quality welder rather than make another mistake.

Thanks in advance!!
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gandrfab
BBQ Fan


Joined: 08 Feb 2012
Posts: 220
Location: Edgewater fl

PostPosted: Wed Aug 20 14 4:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like an Indian hunting, It is 90% Indian and 10% bow n arrow. Practice and some instruction will go a long way.

Good luck.
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k.a.m.
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Joined: 12 Dec 2007
Posts: 26012
Location: Southeast Texas.

PostPosted: Wed Aug 20 14 5:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Faston, is your stick welder AC/DC or straight AC?
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Faston



Joined: 17 Apr 2013
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Wed Aug 20 14 5:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

gandrfab wrote:
Like an Indian hunting, It is 90% Indian and 10% bow n arrow. Practice and some instruction will go a long way.

Good luck.


You probably have nailed it. I had a fair amount of machine shop experience, sheet metal fab amount a lot of mechanical stuff. Unfortunately no welding experience.

Thanks for your insight!
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Faston



Joined: 17 Apr 2013
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Wed Aug 20 14 5:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

k.a.m. wrote:
Faston, is your stick welder AC/DC or straight AC?


Unfortunately it is straight AC only. I have to keep the power down as my 240 circuit tops out at 30 amps. I'm about to mount a heavy duty hitch to the bottom of my smoke chamber (all 1/4"). I don't to screw up an expensive smoker (expensive on my budget) and I detest poor workmanship even if it's completely functional.

Wish my welder was AC/DC w/reversible polarity with all the hardware to run an inert gas. I am in a somewhat rural area and haven't met anyone here with welding skills. Sure was easier to get help when I lived in Houston.

Thanks so much for the help!
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ecave
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Joined: 20 Sep 2013
Posts: 38
Location: Benson, NC

PostPosted: Wed Aug 20 14 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My best advice is DO NOT buy a HF welder. They are hit and miss..mostly miss. The only ones I have ever been in contact with were junk.
You will frustrate yourself trying to learn how to weld with one of those machines.

Just my 2 cents worth....
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k.a.m.
BBQ Mega Star


Joined: 12 Dec 2007
Posts: 26012
Location: Southeast Texas.

PostPosted: Wed Aug 20 14 8:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

P.M. sent.
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Wreckless
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Joined: 15 May 2009
Posts: 2292
Location: New Braunfels, TX

PostPosted: Thu Aug 21 14 11:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am sure you have been well taken are of already but just to add my $.02 worth...being in a rural area, surely you still have a home depot nearby. They sell a Lincoln A/C 7018 rod that works well as long as your steel is fairly clean. While some may insist on a 6011 rod for a root pass, there are some skills to it which you have stated may currently be hard to come by, especially in the sense of having a good looking weld. The 7018 should work just fine and looks good as well for the beginner welder. Since it is just a BBQ smoker and not an x-ray weld you are looking for, the penetration should be just fine. I would try them, at worst you can just drag the rod if need be until your skills improve a bit more. And as far as vertical up welds, hell, forget it, weld down and it will be fine. Now you have welds that will hold just fine and afford a few bragging rights on the appearance. Yah, the A/C only machine is a bit limited. Once more, just my $.02 worth
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