Welding seems very intimidating to the average Joe, we are going to prove that even a tool like Eric can learn how to weld through the Internet. The only sources he has will be MillerWelds.com and YouTube. Welding takes a lot of practice, these are just the basics to get started. Once you master this skill, your world will open up to a whole new spectrum. If you are the creative type, imagine what you can build, fix, modify. At the end of these articles and with the aid of Miller and YouTube, hopefully you will be welding and with LOTS of practice, master the technique.
There are 4 main welding processes, MIG, TIG, FCAW and Stick. MIG is the easiest process to learn so we will focus our article on that and talk about the other processes as our skills mature.
Most MIG welders can be adapted in 2 ways:
- MIG “Metal Inert Gas”: Basically this means that you have to use a gas bottle of Argon or a Argon co2 Mixture. This gas shields the arc from the elements as you weld. This way is a little more complex, but creates less splatter and in my opinion leaves a nicer weld. We decided to go this route.
- FCAW “Flux Core Arc Welding”: Basically you do not need a gas to shield the arc, The wire has flux that does this for you. This way is easy to set up and is great for outside dirty conditions, but leaves some splatter.
Changing between the 2 processes is relatively simple, just change the 2 wires and reverse the polarity inside the welder. Look at your owners manual to see if there is anything you need to change with the liner. The liner runs inside the hose and protects the wire as it feeds to the gun. Welders come in all shapes, sizes and all kinds of prices. For our project we wanted to find a welder that was easy to use, innovative and had plenty of power to grow into bigger projects. Another thing to keep in mind is power, 120 or 230V depending on your setup, obviously 230V will give you a lot more power.
We found the Millermatic 211 Auto-Set with MVP. The Auto-Set feature is awesome, basically you just set your material thickness and wire size, then start welding. That’s it, welding for dummies. The machine welds anywhere from 24 ga – 3/8 in. material. The MVP feature lets you change voltages by just changing the plug ends, you will be limited on the thickness when you are plugged into the 120v. Another feature is that when you short out the the tip by touching the work, the unit shuts down and is reset via the trigger. You can also use this machine manually, the guide underneath the door provides a wealth of information for manual set ups.
Of course the unit carries the Miller Electric name which in my opinion is one of the best names in the industry for welding. Miller Electric has been building welders longer than most of our readers. They know welding and are made in the USA. So not only do you feel good because your purchase is supporting the American worker, but also getting a top quality, cutting edge product that is backed by a 3 year warranty.
The Welder is simple to set up. Attach the hose, screw on the tip, hook up the gas, and feed the wire. Feeding the wire is simple on this machine, loosen the nut pull off the old spool. Insert the old spool and tighten till you feel slight resistance, then feed the cable into the auto feed. We did not have to change the drive roll as it was set to the included wire and it was ready to go. You will need to provide your own gas, you can get bottles and gas at any welding supply store. For general welding, we went with a 75% Argon / 25% Carbon Dioxide mixture which is recommended for light general use. The welder came with .30 wire which is great for general mild steel work. Here is a great article on buying your first welder.
You’re almost ready to weld, But first we have to go over the most important thing in Welding, Safety! We will go over safety in part 2 of our Welding basics 101. Remember I am not an expert welder and Eric is just learning. We will all learn new things. If you see a mistake let us know.