Newbie. Harbor freight and my construction

Discussion in 'Furnaces and their construction' started by Ben Ricard, Mar 26, 2020.

  1. Ben Ricard

    Ben Ricard Copper

    I posted in my new welcome thread..and my next question is a bit offish..
    Advice needed..
    To be clear, I have never, and do not have or know , used any type of welding machine .
    A few people in this site, mentioned a welder, that it helps with some of the construction. Honestly, I truly agree. And I am not against purchasing a welder. And I believe if I do some good study, with proper PPE ...?
    I noticed Harbor freight has a few 100-200$ machines.. and if I am just doing small job..nothing crazy...this a good machine for what I am asking it to do ?
    Help make the lid, crucible stand, and a few other items ? Including crucible holders ?.
    Thank you in advance,
    Ben Ricard
  2. garyhlucas

    garyhlucas Silver

    Last week I got a HF open box Titanium 170 welder for $187.00. Gas regulator was missing, but other than that was perfect. Plan on only using flux core right now anyway, and the ones still on the shelf were priced at $499. Haven't tried it yet, not really interested in 120 vac performance as it is dual voltage and I haven't installed a 240vac outlet yet. I am a fairly decent welder and haven't been at all impressed with 120vac powered welders. Mine was under $200 but I don't really think the regular $200 price welders are worth having. I'll let you know how this one works, might get it working this weekend.
    Ben Ricard likes this.
  3. Jason

    Jason Gold

    I agree Gary. 120vt welders are useless. I've still got an old craftsman 110vt mig that needs to get replaced one of these days. For now, I just TIG my stuff.

    If I needed a welder and didn't have a lot of cash to spend. I'd buy this cheapy.
    Then I'd get a piece of 10/2 romex and stick a dryer plug on the end and unhook the clothes dryer. I've used one of these and it was okay on flux cored wire. (which I hate)
    The good part, you can run mig mix on this machine. (highly recommend)
    Ben Ricard likes this.
  4. OddDuck

    OddDuck Silver

    Welders, while nice, are not strictly necessary. I don't own one, most of my stuff is either bolted together or I've cast fixtures to make up for the lack. It's been challenging at times, but there are useable workarounds to welding.
    Ben Ricard likes this.
  5. Jason

    Jason Gold

    You're just the "oddDuck" :p:p:p:p
    Ben Ricard likes this.
  6. OddDuck

    OddDuck Silver

    Admittedly so. But, necessity is a mother, and with zero budget for toys one must get creative with ones solutions.
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  7. Peedee

    Peedee Silver

    I really don't know how you guys cope with 120V supplies. Not a critisism but just feel lucky to have 240V as a mainstay supply.

    Welding takes time to learn and with crap gear that curve just gets bigger, more frustrating. By all means dabble but don't expect to plug in and get instant results.

    Edit: That sounded very negative which wasn't intended, if you pick up a cheap mig or stick welder to play with you'll soon learn the limits of the machine but it will make the learn harder. Weld something then break your weld by flexing it in a vice then decide if it's good enough to hang a pot of molten metal on.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2020
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  8. Getting a simple stick welder is just the beginning, you'll need a welding mask, gloves, wire brushes (cheap ones will shed a wire and damage your eyeball), chipping hammer, welding rods, angle grinder and an endless supply of thin cut off wheels to suit, some 90 degree welding clamp magnets are nice too. A belt grinder is also very handy but a luxury when welding. That said, they are very handy bits of equipment to have in the workshop with an endless list of things you can make or repair, stick welders can only weld mild steel and stainless steel.

    If you clean/grind off any rust and mill scale from mild steel you will eliminate about half the grief of getting a good weld.

    So how common are 230 Volt power sockets in the USA, I'd assume an electrician would have to come and fit one?.
    Ben Ricard likes this.
  9. Jason

    Jason Gold

    Mark, they aren't! Most homes only have one 22ovt outlet in the laundry room for an electric clothes dryer. If the house has an electric oven, there will be one in the kitchen also. When I moved in my house, first thing I did was run a pair of 220vt circuits to the garage on some #6 wire from the main box. The only other common 220 circuit here is for the outside AC condensor. Our indoor hvac blowers are 110vts. Laundry rooms are often very close to the garage, so pulling out the dryer to plug in a cable to run to a garage is usually pretty easy. When I rented a house years ago, that was my common method to run the compressor.

    Now I still have to play the plug game, but look at all the 220 crap I run.
    Milling machine, Lathe, Air Compressor, Kiln, and a Tig Welder! To run all this at once, I'd need a substation in my back yard!:eek: As far as I'm concerned, my 220 circuits were here when I bought the house. ;)
    Ben Ricard likes this.
  10. Jason

    Jason Gold

    Hey Mark... One big difference between US 220 and Euro 220 is the size of the circuits. Our little 110vt circuits are usually 15amp circuits for lighting and 20amp circuits for wall plugs. Anything here that is 220vt, will usually be 30,40 or 50amp circuits. Savvy?
    Ben Ricard likes this.
  11. FishbonzWV

    FishbonzWV Silver Banner Member

    I purchased my first welder to build my furnace and had never used one before. It was an HF 90Amp from a pawn shop. Now I'm ready to upgrade to more power and a gas rig. Just get some scrap and practice a few times to get the feel of it.
    Don't buy the HF flux core wire, it's crap.
    Ben Ricard likes this.
  12. Here we get 240 volt 10 amp and 15 amp sockets and it's straight to three phase after that....hang on the 415 Volt welders are two phases. I started with a $120 240 volt, 10 Amp stick welder that claimed 120 Amps welding current: it could do three 1/8" rods before shutting down overheated for half an hour. They are very optimistically rated and I soon switched to 2mm rods to get anything built, including boat trailers and the roof beam for my workshop. I have a nice CIG "Tradesman" I bought for $50 second hand and fixed up and the difference is night and day, it's a rebadged Lincoln design made locally. It needs a 15 Amp socket but will run all day without breaking a sweat, I still have the cheap welder but I won't loan it to anyone as it would be too cruel.

    So long story short, the small $100 are a pain to use, there are good, reliable second hand transformer welders available for cheap but after that you get into modern electronic welders that get pricy fast.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2020
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  13. Jason

    Jason Gold

    Yup I learned the hard way on that one too! But it did teach me you have to change the polarity to run flux cored wire. I also learned to not crank down on the tension too hard also. I have decent luck with lincoln flux core, but still hate the mess. Bonz, if you want the last mig you'll ever have to buy, check out the MIG machines from HTP. They will give you a free test drive, but you won't need it. You'll fall in love with the smooth arc. I thought it was all bs until I compared my invertig to lincolns squarewave. One is smooth and gentle and the lincoln was like a pissed off hornet!
    Zila on YT explains the mig better than I can.

    The only thing I can do with a stick machine, is stick to EVERYTHING! The part, the truck, the toolbox, the ground clamp, the dog.....
    Ben Ricard likes this.
  14. Tobho Mott

    Tobho Mott Administrator Staff Member Banner Member

    I never wanted to spend money on a welder, so I compromised by going as cheap as possible - a fluxcore only 90A Power Fister from Princess Auto, which plugs into an oridinary North American 120V outlet.

    I haven't done much welding and only ever had a real quick lesson from a guy who has, using his more powerful 240V machine, but it has been good enough to make the tongs and dross skimmers I have needed.

    Very likely I just dont appreciate what I'm missing out on. I probably would if I were good at weldering. But it did save me a few hundred dollars just on the machine alone, and that's not including savings from not having an electrician come out to put one of those stove plugs in my shed...

    I'd rather have a more powerful welder too but the one I have is definitely better than none. Don't run out and buy one like mine if you can afford a better one. But if thats not in the cards right now, IMO you could get by with it and accept that it will be a bit frustrating to work with sometimes, or find workarounds as OddDuck suggests.

    Ben Ricard likes this.
  15. Petee716

    Petee716 Gold Banner Member

    My friend owns a machine shop and I told him several years ago that I was going to build a gingery lathe from scratch. He rolled his eyes and told me it would be a colossal waste of my time. From his standpoint it was a valid response. It's very similar to the response experienced welders with time on "real" welders give to noobies like us. And it is justified. However, when there's no ROI the cheapie becomes more appealing again.
    I bought a Hobart 125 110v that runs fluxcore and gas. I use gas. I paid about $400 for it. It has limitations and since I've never run anymore powerful machine I probably don't know what I'm missing. But it serves me well and I have no regrets. As to the original post, watch Craigslist, take a gamble on the cheap one, or find someone with a welder to give you some lessons on their "good one". Or else hire it out.
    Lots of options but none without some expense and/or risk.

    Ben Ricard likes this.
  16. Ben Ricard

    Ben Ricard Copper

    Yes ! Exactly..I am a huge fan of making things work with least possible spendage..
    I thank you ALL for ur advice.
    Stay safe
    Stay healthy
    God bless
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  17. Peedee

    Peedee Silver

    I started really learning with a junk shop stick welder, when you realise you are more capable than the machine you can move up and not worry about what it cost you. Prepping the weld is probably one of the most significant things to consider. Clean, clean clean. Bevel the edges if your welder doesn't have the guts to penetrate and make several passes.

    Duty cycle is a two fold problem but for the most part the arc voltage falling away with heating up the tranny will make the most headaches, be it MIG or MMA. That's when patience needs to kick in.

    My father has a 350A Oxford I can use any time I wish, it's like spreading hot butter even in my incompetant hands.
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  18. OMM

    OMM Silver

    Jason, just to clarify north America at residential level it is called split single phase 120/240 V. Right now in my shop the metre reading is 243 V. You should not have 110 V or 220 V anymore. I believe that was done away with in the 50's.
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  19. Peedee

    Peedee Silver

    When we harmonised the UK with Europe and got 230V (By extending the upper tolerance nothing actually changed from 240V) I see 250V on a regular basis. We don't run a single split phase system like the US just a 3 phase with each being 230V above ground or 415V between phases. The domestic supplies are usually distributed to balance loading across the three available phases from the transformer/sub with each property getting 'a' phase and neutral/ground.

    Each wall socket is limited to 13A (around 3kw) by an internal plug fuse but the ring is capable of 32A. All main supplies are limited to 100A (23/24KW) on a single phase.

    None of which helps with the welder issues of the OP but it is interesting the differing systems.
    Ben Ricard likes this.
  20. garyhlucas

    garyhlucas Silver

    At one time I had 400 amp continuous duty cycle mig machine, and a 475 amp Lincoln Tig/Stick machine. If you weld aluminum you really appreciate the high powered machines. My dad taught me stick welding when I was 10. When I was 12 he took a job building heavy tables with 2" square 1/4" wall tube legs with 3/8 x 6" plates between. He was cutting the steel and fixturing it while I was welding. Somebody driving by stopped to complain we were blinding drivers with the arc and I had the helmet down. I put the helmet up and asked what the problem was. The guy says "Jesus Christ he's just a kid!" Dad calmly replied "Yeah and he welds pretty good too, take a look at his work." I had a friend that was a fantastic welder and he taught me pipe welding, welding all the way around 3/4" pipe in one pass without stopping and getting leak free joints on 600 degree hot oil lines. However TIG on aluminum is the most fun.
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