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Old 04-21-2021, 05:06 AM   #1
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I want to learn to weld

I used to stick weld a lot as a kid but that was a long time ago. Can I just go to Home Depot and buy a welder and have at it? Wouldn't mind taking a local training course if that would be useful.
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Old 04-21-2021, 05:10 AM   #2
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I bought a wire feed welder from Harbor Freight - about 100 bux , does fine for me
If you mess with it enough you'll get the hang of it , u tube has good instructional videos also. mine is a flux core welder , just get a good hood and have fun.
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Old 04-21-2021, 05:12 AM   #3
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Find your local welding supplier and ask if they recommend any service company that offers training. They may even offer training courses or recommend the local vocation school or technical college with courses.
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Old 04-21-2021, 05:24 AM   #4
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As stated above, go HF and buy one of their small wire feed welders and the cart that goes with it. For general welding, you don't need gas with the wire feed welder. Wire feed welding is basically adjusting the power and the speed at which the wire feeds. Bigger/thicker metals, higher power setting. Start with slow wire feed.

Get a bunch of junk metal and practice. If you enjoy it and use it quite a bit, buy a good helmet and you can later step up to a nicer welder. Many years ago I started out with the base Lincoln (Nascar model) that Home Depot sold. It worked for many years, but I eventually wore it out.

Harbor Freight has all the supplies you need. Here is the link to the welder and cart......

https://www.harborfreight.com/170-am...der-68885.html

https://www.harborfreight.com/welding-cart-61316.html
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Old 04-21-2021, 05:48 AM   #5
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Find your local welding supplier and ask if they recommend any service company that offers training. They may even offer training courses or recommend the local vocation school or technical college with courses.
Excellent advice. There is a lot more to learning how to weld than just sticking a couple chunks of metal together.
How many times have you heard someone say, "It ain't pretty but it'll hold"? Strong welds with good penetration are 'pretty' and much stronger. Welds which look like bubble gum stuck to a sign post aren't strong.
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Old 04-21-2021, 06:23 AM   #6
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Lots of good advice here. After retiring [for the first time] I was looking for a hobby to keep me busy between RV trips. Always worked with wood but steel seemed like a more interesting and useful medium to work with. Took a continuing education course at a local high school and "invested" in a cracker-box and a torch set. Later moved on to a Miller welder/generator. Found myself doing a lot of thin-wall metal tube projects so stick was challenging. Toyed with the idea of an HD or HF wire feed but eventually decided on a medium level machine with shielding gas and dual voltage. Very easy to "adjust" it to my limited skill level and it will handle almost any project I can imagine. But don't get me started on TIG vs MIG--its only money [smile].
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Old 04-21-2021, 06:44 AM   #7
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Your local community college
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Old 04-21-2021, 07:05 AM   #8
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If I were you I would spend the extra and go with gas. It's easier and better in my opinion. If you don't plan on doing it regularly don't buy a self darkening helmet because the battery will almost always be dead when you go to use it.
Like mentioned there are a lot of vids out there that will help you get started. A big problem with mig is you can have a nice looking weld but no penetration if you don't have the settings right. A great welder for a beginner is the miller 210 but its a little pricey. It has some nice features like you enter the metal thinkness and it gives you a range for the wire speed and heat. It can also do stick welding if the need ever arises.
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Old 04-21-2021, 07:28 AM   #9
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What do you plan to weld? MIG or TIG are nice, since you don't have to do as much cleaning afterwards. But if you are welding once a year, then the gas probably leaks out, etc. Of course, stick rods have a shelf life as well after the package is opened.

I would suggest some sort of class at a tech or trade school. I actually took a welding class in the industrial education department at LSU back in the 70s. Introduced us to stick, gas, MIG, TIG, and various other metal joining like soldering and brazing. It was fun and useful, plus the instructor got me a hooked up for a job on campus in a machine shop that I worked at for the last 3 years of engineering school.

I can't figure out a way to justify a welder, but if I lived on a farm, had a barn, tractor, etc., I would sure try to convince my wife we needed a welding machine.
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Old 04-21-2021, 07:44 AM   #10
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I went through an aviation program my first 2 years in college that led to an A&P (Airframe & Powerplant) mechanic's license. The program had a welding course which concentrated on gas welding (early '70's) but touched on stick and MIG welding. Years later I purchased an oxy-acetylene set-up and dabbled in gas welding for awhile. Then I purchased an inexpensive flux-core wire welder from Harbor Freight which served well enough for numerous years. A couple of years ago I became interested in learning how to weld aluminum, so I sold the wire welder and purchased a multi-process welder that included an aluminum welding spool gun which was on sale at Northern Tool and Equipment. It operates on 120v or 240v, will wire weld (both flux-core and gas), stick weld, DC TIG weld, and MIG weld aluminum with the spool gun. I never took a course, just read a lot, watched many YouTube videos, and practiced on a lot of scrap metal. I feel pretty competent in gas, arc and wire welding, am still learning the aluminum process, and have yet to try DC TIG, as the accessories needed weren't included in the package deal. I've always been a do-it-yourselfer, don't have any hobbies outside of my shop (wood-working and metals), so my wife always knows where to find me since I'm retired. My kids, friends, and neighbors are always asking me to make/repair things for them and it's fun and relaxing for me. Just an example of my experience.
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Old 04-21-2021, 08:22 AM   #11
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Thanks everyone!

I looked at local community colleges and vocational schools. All they have are 900 hour courses for full certification. Cost about $10k.

Then I found a local workshop that offers a 2 hour course on MIG welding and plasma cutting for $60. That's more my speed. Going this Friday.
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Old 04-21-2021, 09:06 AM   #12
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Your local community college
X2! Many community colleges offer free or low-cost night classes for adults in welding, electrical, etc.
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Old 04-21-2021, 09:12 AM   #13
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Thanks everyone!

I looked at local community colleges and vocational schools. All they have are 900 hour courses for full certification. Cost about $10k.

Then I found a local workshop that offers a 2 hour course on MIG welding and plasma cutting for $60. That's more my speed. Going this Friday.

We have Degrees, Certificates, and stand-alone classes that are much shorter. Usually the classes outside of certification programs are listed under Community Ed, which is always separate.

And $10k for a certificate course at a CC is crazy expensive. You can get an AA here in any number of disciplines for under $7k.
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Old 04-21-2021, 09:15 AM   #14
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We have Degrees, Certificates, and stand-alone classes that are much shorter. Usually the classes outside of certification programs are listed under Community Ed, which is always separate.

And $10k for a certificate course at a CC is crazy expensive. You can get an AA here in any number of disciplines for under $7k.
The tuition was $7k and the books/materials was $3k. Not sure what you get for $3k. If I wanted to go that route, my GI bill would pay for it but I am not interested in 900 hours of welding. I'm retired.
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