No welder is suited to every application. However, there are a limited number of projects a beginner welder can take on due to their experience and abilities. This is why we can say that there are only a few potential contenders for the title “best welder for beginners”. Here are our top recommendations. We’ll share the points in favor and against each model so you can find the one that’s right for you.
Best Welder For Beginners Buying Guide
The world of welding is fascinating for aspiring welders and DIY enthusiasts. But with a wide range of products in the market, choosing the best welder for beginners can be an overwhelming experience. In this post, we’ll give an insight on how to choose the best welder for beginners.
If you’re a novice welder, the type of products in the market can be mind-blowing. Here is what you should look for when choosing the best welder for beginners.
Determine The Type Of Metal You’ll be Working on
Most welding is done on carbon steel as it can handle a lot of heat. Unlike other metals, carbon can be a good start for beginners. Of course, you don’t need a lot of features for a good-looking weld.
Aluminum is another material that requires constant heat to keep it molten. But you need complex equipment to get the job done. Some MIG machines will have trouble feeding the aluminum wire. For some models, the power button is standard.
Some metals are so expensive, so you don’t want to make mistakes on the materials to weld on.
The thicker the metal, the more current you’ll need to weld the joint. As you choose your material, you should allocate one –hundredth inch of steel thickness. But here is the thing – stainless steel needs 25% more juice compared to aluminum. The current settings also matter as it also determines the setting of the machine.
Another important aspect to factor in is, thin metal requires a sensitive welder. Your objective should be to pass enough heat to the material to get the job done. Sometimes, low current can be a nightmare to the welder.
When too much heat enters the material, the area that surrounds the weld may weaken. The idea is to get stable heat for the job.
Will You Weld In A Home Shop Or Field
The place you’ll do the welding will determine the equipment you need to purchase. If you plan to plug the machine on the wall, you can choose a welder that supports:
115 Volt AC
Many entry-level arc machines are rated for 115V of input power – it’s also standard for residential and commercial establishments.
Many entry-level machines feature a 30-amp circuit, but you may have to liaise with an electrician to connect the circuit and control panel.
Single Vs. three-phase
Most electricals are designed to draw power from a 220-240V grid. However, in industrial applications, you’ll find a three-phase option. In this case, a hot wire joins a circuit giving better energy efficiency. This explains why some companies invest in three-phase machines to save power.
What if you’re welding off-grid?
In an off-grid scenario, you need a welder generator or engine-driven welder. Many can accommodate a TIG torch, flux-core wired unit, or a stick welding torch. When shopping for products to use off-grid, be on the lookout for symbols like constant voltage and constant current. While the constant voltage units are costlier, they are the best choice if you plug a MIG welder into them.
Another area you should pay attention to is the power requirements. Some states allow welding machines that are carb-compliant and those that meet low carbon emission standards.
In windy conditions, the breeze may hurt the welds. The CO2 used in welds can also result in porosity and oxidation. In addition to that, you may not be in a position to switch the machine to flux-cored mode.
It shows a 10-minute cycle when the machine can weld at the highest current. Once the welder reaches the limit, it should be allowed to cool down. If the duty cycle is given as a percentage, you ought to do the math. You should multiply the percentage points by the number of minutes you wish to weld. Keep in mind every time the machine heats up, the circuits may get damaged.
Most hobbyists and industrial machines have duty cycles like 20%, 40%, 60%, and 80%. But to boost the higher duty cycle, you should focus on a low amperage setting. A machine that provides 140 amps has a duty cycle of 10%.
If you want to increase the duty cycle, you should buy a machine with a higher maximum current.
Thermal Overload Protection
You should buy a welder that has thermal overload protection. This cuts output power if the circuit overheats. The cooling mechanism ensures the machine continues to run. Be sure to check the equipment manual.
Open Circuit Voltage
It refers to the voltage that emanates from the gun or welding torch. Here is the thing – it can be dangerous to have a circuit around the workbench that may cause potential injury.
OCV affects the way the torch electrode will strike the arc, so the extra punch will be sufficient for other types of welding.
In essence, the E7018 and E6010 rods require high OCV. A common problem for beginners is to strike a balance between the voltage and material requirements. The normal volts for a stick welder is 80 volts – it’s considered normal. But this figure can drop to 35 with a pull of a trigger.
Do You need to Use Compressed Gases?
A variety of gases like argon, oxygen, and CO2 can be used in different welding processes. The gas you choose will depend on the environmental conditions and welding position. A TIG welder will require argon and, in some rare cases, helium.
If you buy a welding machine that uses compressed gas, you should plan to take the tank to the supplier for refilling.
Best Welder for Beginners Review
Hobart Model 500559 MIG Welder
This 115 volt Mig welder has 5 different voltage options; they range from 25 to 140 volts. It can weld 24 gauge metal up to 0.25 inch thick mild steel. It can weld steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. It can do both MIG (GMAW or gas metal arc) welding and flux-cored welding.
The wire feed speed can be anything from 40 to 700 IPM if there is a load, 50 to 740 inches per minute if there is no load.
You get a ten-foot MIG welding gun, ten feet of work cable with a clamp, a power cord, a dual gauge regular with a gas hose, contact tips, a driving role and a flux core wire spool. Hobart sells rolling carts and a lot of other supporting hardware for this welder. Those are sold separately.
One downside of this model is that it has mediocre quality control. The manufacturer doesn’t always ship it with the right components. The welder is solid but not top of the line. For example, it sometimes sputters and bubbles. The wire feeder motor doesn’t always run smoothly. When the connector is plugged in, it can be hard to unplug.
A different issue is the voltage/wire feed chart they provide you. Its recommended settings for wire size and material are too hot, and that can cause problems until you find a solution via costly trial and error.
- Comes with everything you want and need
- Plenty of related accessories and supplies
- Welds almost everything
- Quality issues
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Weldpro 200 Amp Multi-Process Welder
This is the 2020 version of the Weldpro 200 amp inverter welder. It is capable of 110 volt and 220 volt power inputs. It can do MIG welding, TIG welding, and arc stick welding.
The MIG welding runs from 40 to 200 amps. The MMA welding runs from 40 to 200 amps. TIG welding is possible from 15 to 120 amps. However, it doesn’t TIG weld as well as it does other types of welding.
Note that there are differences in the welding diameter it can accept for each type of welding, so be careful to use the right wire and electrode combination. The digital display allows you to see and set both the amperage and wire speed. Yet it is a compact welder that you could carry with one or two hands to the worksite.
The unit seems to have a limited functional life. It may stop working after just a few months of heavy usage. In other cases, it runs but doesn’t properly control the wire speed or voltage. The gauge they provide sometimes leaks in and of itself.
The relative lack of instructions with the welding equipment makes it hard to use when you’re trying to figure things out. We will say this is the best welder for beginners who are already familiar with the various types of welding and trying to get better, not true beginners.
- Allows you to do three different types of welding
- TIG welding is the weakest of the three types of welding it does
- Lack of instructions despite its complexity
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Lotos Brand Tig 200 AC/DC TIG Welder
This is a rugged little TIG welder. It can run on either 110 or 220 volts. It has a square wave inverter to maintain the right voltage. That makes your welding more accurate than comparably priced TIG welders. You can control it with a foot pedal, too.
This welder is capable of welding conventional steel, stainless steel and aluminum. The inverter makes it capable of welding thinner gauge material with clean, precise welds. The inverter also improves power efficiency; the unit’s efficiency can hit 80 percent. Note that this welder isn’t a pulse welder; that’s a different unit by Lotos, though it has a similar price tag.
One issue with this unit is the torch lead. It has a short operational life. A different issue is an electrical system. It sometimes shorts out. It may literally burn out. The argon will be used up in just a few hours.
The controls can have issues, too. If you take your foot off the pedal, the torch burns for up to five seconds. That’s a problem if the pedal is supposed to be a safety measure. If the foot pedal itself shorts out, you can’t turn it off.
- Can weld various materials including thin aluminum sheets
- Energy-efficient for a welder
- The torch may burn too long or burn out
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WeldPro Brand 200 GD AC/DC TIG/Stick Welder with Pulse
This is a dual voltage TIG welder. It can run on both 110 and 220 volts, and it comes with a 110 220 adapter, though it runs better at 220 volts than 110. It has a CK torch, though WeldPro offers a similar welder with a Euro torch. This model of welder comes with a ground cable, torch number 17, flow meter, regulator and foot pedal.
This stick and tig welder has the ability to pulse. Furthermore, you can adjust the pulse strength as well as the AC balance and AC frequency. This feature is generally reserved for more expensive welders. We’ll say this is the best welder for beginners who already know the basics of TIG welding.
The entire assembly weighs around fifty pounds. It is in theory portable.
It can weld stainless steel and welded steel. It does better with thinner sheets than thicker ones.
The argon regular is prone to breaking. It sometimes leaks gas, too. It may not even get gas to the welding tip.
- Both AC and DC
- Has the ability to pulse
- Issues with an argon regulator
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Forney Brand Easy Weld Model 251 Plasma Cutter
This Forney brand “easy weld” plasma cutter is designed for beginners. It is one of the cheaper welders in its product category. It can cut aluminum, stainless steel and mild steel. It can cut anything from thin sheet metal to quarter-inch thick sheets. The manufacturer says it can even be used on thin pieces of copper and brass, something no other welder on our list can do.
It only needs 120 volt power, so you can start using it in your garage. It relies on compressed air, not argon or water cooling systems. Again, this allows the average hobbyist to use it.
The welder comes with the cutting torch, ground clamp, 20 amp to 15 amp adapter, a spare nozzle and an additional electrode. It requires an air compressor capable of delivering 1.5 cubic feet per minute to run, but that is sold separately if you don’t already have one. If you have compressed air tools in your garage, the odds are that you can run this welder.
You can use a standard extension cord with it. You can use a 12 AWG or larger extension cord up to 25 feet long with this welder.
Forney makes it easy to get replacement cutting tips and nozzle tips. The challenge is getting other supporting hardware like hoses and carts.
The drag torch technology makes it easy to weld, but it works slowly. You need to go even slower on thicker pieces of metal. We’ll recommend this for one-eighth inch thick sheets or thinner if you don’t want to spend hours welding. While it can in theory weld quarter-inch-thick aluminum, we’d recommend a different welder for such jobs.
- Can be used in the average person’s garage
- Easy to get consumable parts for it
- Can be used with a wide range of materials
- Slow welding tip
- Struggles with thick material
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Different Types Of Welders
Whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional welder, having the right machine will ensure you produce clean and strong welds.
Tig Welding Machine
TIG is a versatile machine that offers precise welds on any metal. It can be used on stainless steel, nickel alloys, bronze, copper, and brass. And because the machine uses gas for the welding work, this tool can be used for welding processes like bike frames, door handles, fenders, and more.
If the appearance counts, the superior arc and weld puddle will help you create high-quality welds. It’s no wonder TIG welding is ideal in automotive and creative arts.
But what makes TIG welding machines unique is that there are no sparks or spatter – only the necessary amount of filler is added to the puddle. And there will be no slag to remove between the weld passes.
The welding process does not create smoke or fumes unless there are contaminants like paint, oil, lead, or zinc. Since argon can be used on Tig weld, you need one type of gas to handle the welding projects. Besides, you can weld in all positions – flat, vertical, and overhead weld.
TIG welders may not be the best machine if you have lots of fieldwork – transporting it can be a difficult task.
MIG is the best welding machine that gives you control over the output. You’ll get the best outcome even for industrial use – it’s something you can master.
When you use a MIG welder, a continuous solid wire electrode is fed through the gun into the weld pool. Then, a shielding gun protects the pool from contamination.
The MIG process enables a welder to make the most of maintenance and repairs. But before you take any welding project, safety comes first. A solid MIG wire will combat oil, dust, and other contaminants. The material you use also matters.
While a MIG wilder is expensive, it will make up for the hefty price in the long run. And the best part is that you can use it around a variety of materials like alloy steel, mild steel, and carbon steel.
A spot welding machine joins two metal sheets together by applying heat and pressure to the welded area. It works by contacting alloy electrodes to the sheet surface, so heat is generated by the passage of current to low carbon steel.
The process requires the application of pressure to the welded area and then conveys an electrical current to the weld pieces. After that, the heat generated is transferred to the workpiece.
A combo welder is used to construct and repair metal pieces. These are multi-welding combo machines that can perform a variety of tasks. A combo welder can work as a stick, TIG, and plasma as well. And it can be used in a variety of metals like copper, aluminum, and steel.
When you use a combo welder, the steel sheets will be protected. You’ll also be surprised by how easy it is to use specific joints with this machine. And due to its power utilization, it’s a great and efficient choice.
Plastic welders apply heat on plastic until the edges are merged. The process is achieved in three phases – surface preparation, applying pressure and heat, and cooling. The best plastics for welding are polyethylene, polycarbonate, polyvinyl chloride, and polymethyl methacrylate.
Plastic welders can be used in a wide range of applications including electronics, construction, aerospace, and other industries.
A carbon welder uses a non-consumable carbon electrode. It’s an old method of welding that has been replaced by more efficient methods.
How To Weld For Beginners
Welding is a great hobby, and it opens the door to a good-paying job. That is why there are so many people suggesting learning how to weld. However, welding involves high temperatures, bright flames, and other health hazards. It isn’t something beginners should try without the right safety equipment and decent training. That is why our how to weld for beginners guide will focus on MIG welding. But what do you need in order to get started welding?
Buy the Right Safety Equipment
Don’t even think of buying welding equipment without having the right safety equipment and knowing how to use it.
A welding helmet protects your face and neck from sparks and heat. The welding helmet should also protect your eyes from the bright flame. It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing a welding hood, mask or helmet; just get something to protect your skin from sunburn and your retina from damage.
Welding goggles and hand-held face shields are less effective, and beginners shouldn’t try to cut corners when it comes to safety given their inexperience. Note that sunglasses do not protect your eyes from the bright glare. However, you may want to wear safety glasses under the welding helmet or mask. This will protect your eyes when you lift up the mask to inspect your work or take off the mask and go into other parts of the shop.
Welders must wear gloves. Flame-resistance and heat resistance are a must. Good MIG welding gloves have heavy stitching and multiple layers to protect your hands from splattering molten metal, too. But big bulky gloves get in the way when you need to feel the feed rate and the material itself. That’s why the best welding gloves protect your hands while maintaining dexterity.
Don’t forget to protect the rest of your body, too. That’s why welders wear flame-resistant jackets as they work. A welding apron provides additional protection for your legs and chest. Leather sleeves will protect your arms. Leatherwork boots may be enough to protect your feet, while welding spats will protect your lower legs and feet.
Welders may need a respirator. That is because welding melts metal and generates a lot of toxic fumes. You may need to wear a respirator under the welding mask. Note that you may need a respirator to safely work with certain materials, though small projects in well-ventilated spaces may not require a respirator. In every other case, you need to know how to properly use a respirator before you start working with welding equipment.
Pick a Welding Unit Designed for Beginners
Once you have the safety equipment, you can start classes or tutorials on how to weld for beginners. We mentioned that MIG welding is the best choice for beginners. Why do we say that? The wire is automatically fed to the welding gun at a pre-set speed. That means there is less for you to learn how to do beyond controlling the welding electrode itself. You can weld at a slow speed while you’re learning, but MIG welding can be done at high speed, too. And it can give you a clean weld on common materials like sheet metal.
You can always move on to stick welding once you’ve learned the basics of MIG welding. Stick welding isn’t recommended for beginners, since you’re dealing with a flux-covered electrode and special gases. Learn how to weld pieces of clean steel before you worry about being able to deal with other materials like rusted metal or painted materials. Start indoors in a welding shop before you try to learn a welding method that works in windy conditions.
That said, not every MIG welder is designed for beginners. The best MIG welder for beginners will be easy to use when you have no experience with welding equipment. You can set it to feed wire at a slow pace, and the controls themselves are intuitive. Someone just learning how to weld should find an affordable, portable MIG welder.
Then you can take your welding equipment to a welding shop as you’re practicing under the watchful eye of an experienced welder, and you’re using the same equipment you use in your own garage or workshop.
Watch Welding Videos
Before you start working with hot welders and liquid metal, watch welding videos. Read a good welding book. Watch videos on welding safety. This only takes a few hours, and it could save you time and money and even prevent serious burns that could land you in the hospital.
Get Your Raw Materials
Many beginning welding kits come with a short spool of wire in addition to the welder. Buy more wire, pick up some extra tips, and find some scrap metal pieces to work on. Choose pieces of metal that the MIG welder is compatible with. The list includes stainless steel, bronze, nickel, stainless steel, copper, carbon steel and aluminum. Choose a single combination of wire and metal to start with.
Learn How to Set It All Up
Every welder needs to know how to set up their equipment after they’ve donned their safety gear. How do you set up a MIG welder? The typical process for setting up a MIG welder is:
1. Connect the torch/welding gun and the cable.
2. Connect the work cable or work clamp.
3. Install a wire drive roller that matches the wire size or verify the roller in the welder matches the wire.
4. Check the amount of wire you have relative to the job or load a new wire spool.
5. Plug in the power cord for the welder into a power outlet.
6. Feed the wire into the cable liner.
7. Attach your contact tip and the welding gun nozzle.
Optional: If you’re using solid wire, you might connect gas. We don’t recommend gas-based welding techniques for beginners.
Start by getting the welder started and then leaving little dots of weld on a sheet of metal. Alternatively, you could start drawing lines with the welder while learning how to keep it straight. Try to get an even weld instead of having thick blobs of weld interspersed with gaps. You could end up with thick and thin areas because your work speed is not in line with the feed rate.
The goal is to have a clean, even weld as if you’ve laid down a line of grout. Expect somewhat uneven application of the welding material as you’re just getting started. But start slow and master that welding at that speed. Then you can increase the feed rate and work at a faster pace. Once you have smooth straight lines, you can start creating S-welds.
Once you’re confident with the ability to control the welder and have a clean burn, you can start doing things like cutting holes out of metal. Draw patterns on the metal and then cut it out with the welder. Compare the line that you cut to what you drew on the material. You could improve the overall accuracy by coloring in the circle or square you’re going to cut out so that you can see how far in you dipped as you followed the turn. Eventually, you’ll be able to cut out more complex shapes.
Welding is generally done to join two pieces of metal. This is where you’ll need different pieces of metal to weld together. Practice setting up two pieces in a T and welding each side of the vertical piece. This creates a T-joint. Lay two pieces of metal side by side and practice filling in the grooves.
Practice filling in groove welds, since this creates a stronger joint than a basic T-weld. Flare bevel groove welds are used to create corner joints, though they can be used for T-joints, as well. For example, this is the best sort of weld for joining a round bar to a flat plate.
We mentioned practicing creating even round spots of the weld. You can use that to plug weld. That can be used when spot welding isn’t an option. Holes are drilled into the metal at regular intervals. Then the welder is used to fill in the hole until it is almost completely full.
Try Another Material
Let’s suppose you’ve figured out how to weld stainless steel. The next step is swapping out the sheets of stainless steel with carbon steel or aluminum. Switch to a compatible wire. Then set the welder to a slow speed and start the learning process over with new material. You will probably have to adjust temperature settings or your technique to get a smooth weld.
Learn How to Clean Up
If you screw up a weld in the real world, you may be forced to remove it and then redo it. This might be done via plasma cutting or torch cutting, but you’re probably not familiar with these approaches. Simpler options include grinding and cutting it off with a circular saw. You don’t have to wear a respirator while you’re physically grinding down a bad weld, but you need the same safety gear you need when working with metal saws. Think eye goggles, protective gloves, face masks, and protective clothing. After all, cold metal fragments are as dangerous as a molten metal spray.
The best welder for your workshop is one that handles the materials you want to cut and shape as well as matching your skill level. Compare your wants and needs to the welders on our list so that you find the best welder for you.