In 2003 I wanted to build an exhaust for Red Beast. I had no idea how to weld so I did a lot of research on the web to figure out which welder to get. It seems like I constantly get asked about welding so I am throwing together a quick page on what I have. Hopefully this information will help some of you.

A few quick points / opinions:

1) A cheap welder is good enough for YOU. If you buy cheap and you want a $10,000 welder later then just resell your old stuff. Get a good enough deal and you will probably make money if you want to sell it.
2) Use the extra money you saved on your mig welder to buy the other equipment you need (plasma cutter, angle grinder, gloves, helmet, gas, etc). This stuff will be more expensive than what you spent on the mig itself.
3) A Mig (wire welder) is pretty easy to use. You will be welding your first day with it.
4) Make sure you use gas with your mig welder. It is pretty easy to make nice welds with it.
5) Use a solar powered welding helmet. I keep mine by a window in my garage and it stays halfway charged most of the time. When it is time to actually use it I set the thing out in the sun for an hour "just in case". I always check the helmet before using it (stare at the sun and wave your hand in front of your face - you'll see if it is working). You WILL burn your eyes if you are not careful.
6) Use a face sheild, ear plugs, and dust mask if you are doing any grinding. You'll catch me not wearing this stuff from time to time but you should definitely be concerned about safety.
7) Make sure you have some leather boots and gloves on when you weld. This stuff is hot and it will burn you.
8) How has the equipement held up? Well, as of the creation of this page I have been welding for around 6-7 years. I have had to replace the torch (all the cables, hoses, trigger, etc) on the welder due to my ignorance ($50), a caster on one of my welding carts ($2), a switch on the mig welder AND the plasma cutter ($2), and the battery went bad so I bought another helmet ($35). I am currently welding maybe 20 times a year. Sometimes the jobs are big and sometimes they are small. A note for you guys who thought I should have bought a Miller - the $3000 I saved by buying inexpensive equipment is now sitting in a stock account and will pay for my Porsche 911 Turbo when I retire.


Most of this equipment was purchased at Harbor Freight. I'll try to give the price I paid and the item number. Note that most of the time I go to HF I get atleast 20% off by using a coupon. I also print out ads off the internet and take them in for pricematching:

$300 - Plasma Cutter off Ebay (search for "plasma cutter" and there will be several new ones for around $400 - they are all the same and this is what I got)

$140 - 120 Amp MIG/Flux Wire Welder with Wheels #97503

$35 - Mig - Flux Welding Cart #90305

$40 - Auto Darkening Welding Helmet with Blue Flame Design #91214

$10 - 14" Goatskin Welding Gloves #38197

$20 - Heavy Duty 4-1/2" Angle Grinder #91223

$55 - 2 HP, 14" Heavy Duty Cut-Off Saw #91938

$35 - Industrial Duty Reciprocating Saw #65298

$2 - 4-3/4'' Multipurpose Magnet Holder #1938 *** Buy six or more of these ***





A quick trip to Harbor Freight:



I'm ready to start building:



Cut the rear end off a Miata:



You've got a place to carry your beer:



Angle iron and a broken monitor stand:



Tablet PC (iPad) control for my racecar:



Buy some rusty angle iron from the scrap yard:



Aquarium stand:



Some rebar and pipe bender:



Wine tree:



Make your generator more quiet:



Start with a $10 bishop's hook:



A gift for my mother-in-law:



Dragonflies:



Plasma cut some parts from sheetmetal:



Weld them together:



Christmas reindeer:



Some old spare parts from a Miata:



My new cigar ashtray:



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