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Best stick welder 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]

Last Updated September 1, 2020

Charlie OliverHi there, my name is Charlie Oliver and the first thing I would like to say is thanks for stopping by my website. Let’s discuss this topic to help you select best stick welder for 2018 and take your experience to a whole new level with aerators.

In fact, it was the first time I had been in this situation and what I thought was going to be a very quick and easy task turned out to be a good many weeks of research. We take a close look at some of the best stick welder to help you get ripped.

Best stick welder of 2018

I review the three best stick welder on the market at the moment. Welcome to my website! If you plan to buy stick welder and looking for some recommendations, you have come to the right place.

I have taken the initiative to educate you on the top three best stick welder that you can buy this year. Come with me.

Test Results and Ratings

Rank №1 №2 №3
Total 4.8 4.5 4.3
5 points
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5 points
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4 points
5 points
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4 points
4 points
4 points
Awards 1
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How to save up to 86%? Here is little trick.

You must visit the page of sales. Here is the link. If you don’t care about which brand is better, then you can choose the stick welder by the price and buy from the one who will offer the greatest discount.



№1 – Ansen Portable IGBT Inverter Welder 115V/230V Dual Voltage TIG&STICK DC Welding Machine

Ansen Portable IGBT Inverter Welder 115V/230V Dual Voltage TIG&STICK DC Welding Machine

Advanced Performance: Adopting advanced control module IGBT dual 115V and 230V, rated input frequency 60Hz, duty cycle 60%, improves the performance of the welding machine
Energy Saving: Portable handle makes it easier to operate, the lightweight makes it more convenient to carry
Literally no flaws

Why did this stick welder win the first place?

I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. I was completely satisfied with the price. Its counterparts in this price range are way worse. I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing! The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack.
















№2 – Lotos LTPDC2000D Plasma Cutter Tig Stick Welder 3 in 1 Combo Welding Machine

Lotos LTPDC2000D Plasma Cutter Tig Stick Welder 3 in 1 Combo Welding Machine

[Non-Touch Plasma Cutter] 50AMP Plasma Cutter Current Output; Max Ideal Cut Thickness: 1/2″ ; Max Severance Thickness: 3/4″; Pilot Arc Torch Efficiently Cuts Though Rough, Painted, and Rusty Surfaces and Produces Minimal Slag; Compact Plasma Cutter Has a Handle for Portability and Uses Non-Hazardous Compressed Air to Cut Stainless Steel, Alloy Steel, Mild steel, Copper, and Aluminum
A bit expensive.
A little bit heavy.

Why did this stick welder come in second place?

The design quality is top notch and the color is nice. The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed. I recommend you to consider buying this model, it definitely worth its money. I really liked it. It is amazing in every aspect. It did even exceed my expectations for a bit, considering the affordable price.
















№3 – ANSEN 200AMP TIG&STICK Welder DC Inverter Welder Dual Voltage IGBT Welding

ANSEN 200AMP TIG&STICK Welder DC Inverter Welder Dual Voltage IGBT Welding

Portable,Rate duty cycle 60%
Functions with TIG&STICK welder, maximum welding ¢4.0 rod
IGBT inverter technology, dual voltage 115V/230V, 60Hz input frequency
Takes some getting used to.
The large size.

Why did this stick welder take third place?

It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment. I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. I hope that the good reputation of the manufacturer will guarantee a long-term work.
















stick welder Buyer’s Guide

If you keep the before points in mind, you can easily go out to the market and buy stick welder, right? No!

Amico Power DC-160A

My experience with the Amico was a very good one, as I found that it did everything I could need it to do without issue.

One of my first reactions, when I picked up this particular welder, was how light it is to carry around and use. The issue you find with a lot of models is that they’re just not suited to extended usage. The heavier weight can hamper what you can do, but I was pleased to find that this was not the case with the Amico.

I was delighted with the level of control which was granted to me as well. The LED display meant that I could adjust the output with ease, which made some of the more tricky welding jobs an absolute breeze. I could not have been more pleased with the level of performance which I’ve been getting on a consistent basis.

Hobart 500570 Stickmate 160i 

The Stickmate is different from a lot of welders I’ve used in the past, and I say that with a smile. It’s not different in a bad way, in fact, it’s quite the opposite.

When I first came into contact with the Stickmate, I was very impressed with the design and the functionality of the device. It’s a well built and rugged piece of kit, and you can see it in the shape and size of it. However, my expectations of weight were wholly subverted. The Stickmate is a very lightweight model, being easy to carry around and not a strain on the body at all to transport around. This particular model is one which blends functionality with a lightweight design and succeeds at both.

Every time I turned it on, the hot start technology made it so that the welder was ready to go without a massive wait. And go it did! I found that there was plenty of power available for my needs, with it being able to weld 5/3inches of mild steel. This meant that any task I put the welder too, it performed above my expectations. Obviously, with a welder, you need it to offer a consistent level of performance, and I’m pleased to report that the Stickmate did. Each time I used it, there was a high level of power being put out, and the lightweight nature meant I could be precise in my welding. This ensured that even the more tricky tasks I found myself confronted with were done with ease, leading to one happy owner.

Sun Gold Power ARC

So after a lot of use with my Sungoldpower model, I can safely report that it’s a high quality, well designed and handy tool.

As soon as you first look at the model, you know that it’s been designed for one purpose. To get things done. And get things done it does. It’s a compelling model which is exceptionally heavy duty but isn’t massively heavy to pick up. This makes it a lot of people, myself included, breathe a sigh of relief. Anyone who welds on a frequent basis will tell you that a model which is flimsy and easily damaged is a waste of time and money. Thankfully, that’s not the case here. Instead, you’ve got something which is easy to use, but powerful enough to cope.

Welding with the Sungoldpower was, quite frankly, a breeze. The welder was designed very well and offers the user enough control to do precise and fine work on anything that requires welding. This sets it apart from other models, which I’ve found to be imprecise and hard to control. When you’re trying to do some of the more tricky welds, you’ll see that this control does come in handy. Thanks to the hot start technology which the welder has built in, I don’t have to wait for it to be ready either. It’s always quick and reliable to start and warm up, so I can get straight to work. This is a model which I would recommend, because not only is it suitable for any task, but it’s also smartly designed for the modern worker.

HYL ARC160A Stick Welder

When I first picked up the Arc160A, I was sceptical. I’d had a lot of welders beforehand, and none of them quite managed to meet my expectations of what a welder should do. However, I soon learned that this welder was everything I needed it to be.

This is something which has been designed to be professional and sturdy. You can feel as soon as you pick it up; this is something which has been developed well. Modern welding technology and a lightweight design have come together here and created something which is suitable for any welding task.

I was very impressed with the level of power which I got from this particular machine. The Arc160A has all the power you could need for the tasks you’ve got in mind, making it suitable for all the different welding tasks I had to get through. Even the more precise and tricky welding tasks which I’d dreaded tackling were no issue at all thanks to this welder. Not only is there a lot of power, but there’s also a lot of control involved too. You’ve got all that power at your command, but there’s also a high level of control available, which makes this a good choice. And weighing in at only 1pounds meant that it was lightweight and easy to carry around, meaning I could work all through the day and not feel a strain. In my eyes, this is precisely what a welder should be. It is powerful, reliable and built to last, making it a perfect choice for a long-term tool.

Century Inverter Arc 120 Stick Welder

As welders go, this is one of the good ones. There’s a lot to appreciate here, and I’m now one of the many people who I suspect rely on this welder for all of my needs.

Just looking at the model, I knew that it would be lightweight. And it was. Not only was it easy to carry, but it was also surprisingly durable. It’s stood being knocked around and bashed up a bit, which is just a testament to how well it’s been designed because it still works well.

When it came to using the welder, I was very impressed. It had a lot of power to offer, and this all came with a surprising amount of control too. I didn’t have to worry about not being able to make precise welds because this model offered no resistance when I used it. Even when confronted with tricky angles to weld, I wasn’t disappointed with the level of power and control I got. It was perfect for all of the smaller jobs I had around the house, and it even did well with a couple of the bigger ones too, although obviously, you’ll get a reduced performance if you’re unrealistic about the capability of your tools. However, when I used this for what it was meant for, it was fantastic. It was consistently powerful, started up with no issues every time, and it’s not let me down yet. All the welds I’ve made with this welder have stood the test of time, and I’m confident that it won’t let me down in a hurry.


AC, also known as alternating current, are considered entry level, inexpensive basic welders. These types of welders are best suited for a DIY hobbyist or those with a minimal workload. Don’t be fooled by this seemingly simple machine, however, as it still is quite powerful. Its current is used when the material becomes magnetised, thanks to friction. The arc blow is the result of this friction. Although electrodes may not run as smooth as compared to their DC counterparts, they are still quite robust and dependable, capable of handling both small and large tasks.

Operating under direct current, the DC welders are the most commonly used units. Efficient and versatile, it can be used in nearly every and any situation. Some of its benefits are that is offers a much more polished finish, is easier to manage, and is more efficient in vertical and overhead welding. Unlike AC, which can only operate under AC, DC has the option of two different polarities of negative and positive. A negative DC will produce less weld penetration but more deposition, whereas a DC positive will provide higher depth fusion and less deposition. Robust and dependable, DC stick welders are generally more costly that AC welders.

Multi-Purpose Welders

Although you may not require any of the bells and whistles on these multi-purpose models, you might be interested in them further down the line. More and more welding machines are going the combination route, and with technology progressing and demand increasing, it may benefit you to consider purchasing one of these units. Yes, they will be more pricey. However, you will no doubt receive a hefty return on your investment. This option is also useful for those who may want to keep their options open or use a wide variety of different materials.

Ease of Transport

In today’s day and age, workers need efficiency. One of the most appealing features about the stick welder and the inverter, in particular, is how easily transportable it is. Many welders who do freelance work must depend on a unit that they can bring from site to site. If you fall into this category and ease of transport is important to you, then an inverter welder is truly the best option. At most kg, an inverter welder is a high-quality machine that is easily portable.

Input Power Requirements

Before buying a welder, you need to determine if the primary power you have available (or can have an electrician install) is compatible with the unit. Consult the operating manual or spec sheet and look at requirements for primary voltage (range, phase, frequency), minimum primary circuit size and recommended circuit size (required to achieve maximum output).

Amperage and Metal Thickness

When someone asks, “What thickness of metal can that unit weld,” they are really referring to metal thickness that can be welded in a single pass while achieving full penetration.

Broadly speaking, you need amp of power for every.001” of steel thickness. Stainless steel and welding out-of-position require to 15% less heat input, while aluminum requires about 25% more. Here are some common metal thicknesses in gauges/fractions, decimals and metric equivalents.

2.    An old trick for increasing penetration on thicker metal is to heat it with a torch until it reaches about 250o F (which you may want to do anyway to drive off moisture).

3.    In many applications, using a smaller diameter electrode increases control over travel speed, the weld puddle, weld bead placement and heat input. When welding on thinner metal (auto body work is a good example), good arc characteristics at low outputs (e.g., good arc stability, positive arc starts, low spatter) are far more important than total power.

Notes on Selecting a Stick Welder

Stick inverters make it much easier to learn to weld because they have a “hot start” function. During Stick arc initiation, the rod is prone to sticking because the voltage drops to zero when the rod touches the work piece. Hot start helps to free the rod and establish the arc by automatically boosting the welding current for a fraction of a second during arc starts. Once the arc is established, the hot start function shuts off.

Stick inverters also have the ability to adjust arc force or “dig” characteristics. Increasing dig creates a stiffer, more driving arc that helps prevent the rod from sticking when welding overhead or welding in tight fit-up situations. 701electrodes especially tend to run better with a little more arc force added, while 601and 601electrodes favor less or neutral arc force settings.

Note that some conventional Stick welders are built specifically to excel at welding with one type of electrode or in one particular application (it has to do with their volt/amp curve, which is an advanced topic). Because Stick inverters with arc force adjustment enable you to adjust the arc characteristics from soft to stiff, you always get the best performance in any situation.

People who grew up welding with a classic Stick buzz box and its AC output might be concerned about switching to a DC output. However, if you imagine an electric current flowing only in one direction, it’s easy to picture how a DC output creates more positive arc starts, helps keep the arc established and makes the rod less prone to sticking. These benefits make Stick welding a lot easier to learn! Other benefits of a DC output include reduced spatter, easier out-of-position welding and better weld bead aesthetics.

Notes on Selecting a TIG Welder

Choose the TIG weldingprocess when you want the best weld bead appearance possible—that classic “stack of dimes” look—or need more precision and control, such as for chrome-moly tubing in motorsports applications.

What type of remote amperage controls are available? Some people feel more comfortable with an optional foot control, others prefer the amperage control integrated into the torch while those who are cost-conscious are fine with controlling amperage at the power source.

Pro-Series MMIG1212Amp Fluxcore Welder Kit

Are you searching a MIG welder for small and medium working projects? Then MMIG12125amp Fluxcore Welder can be a good choice. The specially designed size of the welder allows it to work safely in small spaces.This welder machine is one the best 110v mig welder for home use.

This MIG welder allows to weld carbon metal, copper, stainless steel, aluminum, silicon bronze, nickel, magnesium and other alloys.

A duty cycle 20 percent at 80 amps defines that the welder can weld constantly for two minutes when cracked up to the maximum amperage prior to being cool down.

This welder machine can weld mild steel up to 1gauge to 3/1inches in one pass. MMIG12is equipped with a ground cable with clamp, welding gun, brush hammer, flux cored wire and face shield. You can start welding after getting the unit in your hand.

Lotos MIG140 140 Amp MIG Wire Welder Flux Core Welder

If you are searching for a best 110v flux core welder, then you may keep Lotos Mig140 in your choice.   The new upgrade Lotos MIG 140 features with a power output of 30A-140A. The welder can weld at industrial quality at affordable price. 2T/4T switch and digital displays are now added on Lotos MIG140 welder. These feature helps to adjust wire feeder speed and welding speed accurately.

The machine is connected to 110V power source and capable of setting up within minutes or less time to use. The machine can weld stainless steel, aluminum, mild steel and other metals. The Lotos MIG 140 can weld stainless steel from 1gauge to 3/1inch, Mild steel from 1gauge to 3/1inch and aluminum metal can be weld up to 1/inch or less thin than 1/inch. The welding machine is secured with 4-inch or 8-inch wire spools.

You can use Lotos MIG 140 for DIY projects, Auto body welding, light professional project, small home projects etc. Oh yes, I just forget to mention that the Lotos MIG 140 is efficient to handle flux-cored weld. The new machine has a ground connector that makes it easily switch between “+” and “-”.

The machine is equipped with high quality aluminum wire feeder which makes it more stable and better user experience than other welders. This Welder is featured with transfer technology. Transfer technology offers more reliability and durability of the machine.

Forney Easy Weld 29125FC Flux Core Welder

Are you tired of searching a small but durable welder machine? Then the new Forney 29125FC Flux Core Welder is one of the best choices for your requirement.

Forney is an American largest metalworking product company. They have more than 80 years of experience in the metal industry, has introduced this Forney 29125FC Flux core welder. It is easy to use and affordable to buy. That’s why if you are beginner then choosing this welder is a wise decision.

The welder runs without gas settings. So, the machine is only suitable for gasless flux core welding projects. The machine comes with plug and play option. It allows welding quarter of an inch. Moreover, it has 10Ib capacity of spool which makes it a versatile welder.

You have to plug the machine into 120v input power connection. The welder machine will provide you 12amps output. So this welder is perfect for home and garage projects. The welder can weld from 2gauge to 1/4inch thick metal.

LOTOS MIG17175AMP Mig Welder

People who are seeking an affordable, industrial grade and quality welder, Lotos MIG17175Amp MIG welder is one of the best choices. This welder is a versatile welder which is featured with transfer technology. That technology made the welder reliable and durable.

You can connect this welder with our existing 220V power line. You can run the welding machine in minutes after getting the package from the manufacturer. Because you will get MIG spool gun, MIG Torch, ground cable with clamp, argon hose, Argon regulator, cleaning wire brush and hand shield with the package.

This welding machine allows to weld stainless steel, Mild steel, Aluminum and materials. The machine can weld Mild steel or stainless steel from 1gauge to ¼ inches. For aluminum materials welding capacity is up to 3/inch or thicker. Duty circle of the welder is 20% at 17amps and 30% at 13amps. You are capable of doing the job of maintenance, constructions, farm/ranch, rental, home, auto body with this welder easily.

It is equipped with high quality wire feeder which allows more stable and better user experience than other welders. Two automatic circuits are used to protect the wire feeder motor of the welder.

Hobart Handler 50055400190

The Hobart Handler 50055400190 is a robust and sturdy welding machine with a range of features. Hobart Hander is an excellent machine for them who are looking for a powerful and efficient MIG Welder.

As it is equipped with a lot of features it can handle different types of job easily. It is suitable for a professional or a beginner. It can handle small jobs or medium projects or heavy duty jobs.

This is a powerful wire-feed flux core and MIG welder that allows you to weld stainless steel, mild steel, aluminum and flux core. It can weld materials as thick as ranging from 2gauge to 5/1inch. No matter you are a hobbyist or a tradesman, you can deal your work with it.

The machine comes with voltage selections and infinitive wire speed control that make it control over output settings. This is a perfect versatile machine that can be used on auto body, light industrial work, household repairs, maintenance and construction work or even heavier farm and ranch projects that need more power. But you have to keep in mind that this welding machine is not designed for constant use or heavy duty industrial work.

A built in contractor system keep the welder cool until the welder go to start welding.

Input and Output Of A Welder

If you work in the home for small projects like joining thin iron or aluminum sheets with a MIG welder. That time you need a 115v welder with 140A power output. Well if you work with thick materials that time this 115V-140A is not sufficient. You may need 220V welder with an output of 180A.

If you work with different types of sample, it is best to choose a welder that allows multi-voltage option. It gives you the opportunity to adjust power level from 120v-230v. So choose it as your required demands. Technology has changed, you can also buy an advanced model. That allows to set the power automatically.

Wire-Feed Speed

Wire feed speed determines how fast and accurately welding can be executed. So, wire feed speed is an important factor in selecting a MIG welder. You will find many welders that come with different wire feed speed. You have to choose a welder according to your need. We recommend choosing a welder that comes with wide range of wire feed speed.

Amperage Range

This is a critical factor to keep in mind while choosing a TIG welder. It is best to choose the one that has the widest range available for your set budget. Too narrow amperage range usually restricts the variety of metals on which the tool can weld.

A welder with to 230 amps offers maximum flexibility for welding on a variety of metals as well as thicknesses. This is because aluminum needs higher amperage than stainless or steel. Anything lower than 200 amps restricts the maximum thickness of aluminium. The wider the amperage range, the more projects you can finish without buying different welders.

Heat Control

This is a critical factor responsible for successful welding. In case of thinner materials, heat input control alleviates metal warpage, which is done through pulse welding without losing weld penetration. In pulse TIG welding, the tool swaps between a lower background and higher peak currents for maintaining the arc as well as cooling the welded joint.

A few welders have a built-in TIG pulse regulator for the desired heat input control. Such a welder allows dipping the filler metal into the puddle of weld while at the peak amperage as well as taking out the same during background amperage. This ensures a consistent stacked bead appearance, which is an indicator of good TIG weld.

AHP Alpha TIG 200X IGBT Welder with PULSE

This affordable model is ideal for quality TIG welding onstainless steel, aluminum, and thinner-gauge materials by both hobbyists and professionals alike who wish to perform a variety of tasks.

Arc welders

Arc welders join two metals by generating an electric arc (spark) between a covered sacrificial metal electrode and the metals to be joined using high voltage. Think of it as hand-held lightning and you will have an idea of the process.

The heat produced by the arc between positive and negative electrical charge melts the parent metal, which mixes with the molten deposits of the coated electrode or the wire and gas shield.

The most common arc welder is the good old ‘stick’ welder: the electrodes – the sticks – are about 250mm long and look like stout bits of wire that were dipped in cement.

More correctly called ‘shielded metal arc’ welding, stick welding works better than most other methods on dirty or rusty materials and in less than perfect conditions.

Depending on the metals to be joined, there are many types and diameters of welding electrodes, but with age, the flux (the ‘cement’) can absorb moisture or crumble off, making fresh rods desirable.

On some big job sites, welding rods are kept in hot boxes to prevent moisture in the flux. For big welding jobs, stick welding is comparatively slow, since the consumable electrodes must be replaced every couple of minutes and because slag (the residue from the flux) must be chipped away after the weld is complete.

As for technique, if you’re learning to weld using the stick process, remembering these five points will improve your technique. Think CLAMS: Current, Length of arc, Angle, Manipulation and Speed.

Arc welding current

Stick welders can be of AC (alternating current) or DC (direct current) types.

DC welding offers advantages such as easier starts, fewer arc outages, less sticking, less spatter, better-looking welds, and easier vertical up and overhead welding. Plus, with DC, it’s easier to learn how to weld and you get a smoother arc.

DC reverse polarity (electrode positive) provides about percent more penetration at any given amperage than AC, while DC straight polarity (electrode negative) welds thinner metals better.

AC has advantages if welding on material that has become magnetised from friction, such as when hay, feed, grain, or water constantly rub against a steel part.

In that case, a DC output doesn’t work well because of ‘arc blow’, where the magnetic field blows the molten filler metal out of the weld puddle.

The AC succeeds because AC output alternates between polarities, thus enabling welding of magnetised parts.

A machine rated at between 22and 300 amps will be capable of handling most jobs that a decent mechanic will need to weld. Beyond that, you might be in for a trip to a specialist.

In fact, most stick welding procedures require less than 200 amps. To weld material thicker than about 10mm, simply make multiple passes – this is what the pros do, even when welding on one inch (25mm) structural steel. When buying a machine, the welder’s ‘duty cycle’ is important. This refers to the number of minutes out of a 10-minute cycle a welder can operate.

For example, Miller’s Thunderbolt XL creates a 200 amp DC output at 20 percent duty cycle. It can weld continuously at 200 amps for two minutes, and then must cool for eight minutes to avoid overheating.

Duty cycle and amperage are inversely proportional. Operating at only 90 amps, the Thunderbolt has a 100 percent duty cycle, meaning you can weld without stopping. Exceeding the rated duty cycle can damage the machine or cause it to overload and trip out.

Arc welding rods

The details for welding rods are printed on the end of the stick if you no longer have the packet. These designations were standardised in the United States by ASTM and WIA, with the first two digits representing the metal’s tensile strength.

For example, 60 series rods have a maximum tensile of 60,000psi (415MPa) and the 70 series 70,000psi (485MPa).

Common electrodes used for general work include 6010, 6011, 6013, 7018, and 7024, each of which has specific properties: 60electrodes penetrate deeply, while 601electrodes penetrate less.

For much better bead appearance and work on higher strength steels – say for an implement hitch – use a 701rod. For better penetration on thick material, grind open the joint to a 30-degree bevel (leave a 2mm width vertical land on the bottom of the groove) and make multiple passes.

Alternatively, make the first pass with a 60rod and then make a ‘cap’ with a 7018.

The 702rod is perhaps the easiest to use. This is also known as a ‘drag rod’, meaning the electrode’s thick flux automatically maintains the correct arc length, which allows you to drag the rod directly along the work piece. That’s pretty handy for better-looking welds.

Hard-facing rods can provide impact resistant or abrasion resistant welds or both depending on the application. Because the type of rod required depends on the type of environment the tool will expose to, it’s probably better to ask the local welding supplier for advice.

Inverter welders

Inverter welders have some advantages over traditional welders. Both require a transformer to convert incoming current to suitable welding current, but an inverter welder does it more efficiently and is much smaller and lighter and uses less power too.

Because they’re more efficient, their duty cycle is also higher. Using modern solid-state electronics, inverter welders lose little heat in comparison to traditional machines, giving the smaller inverter machine the ability to use nearly all of its input current where an older-style transformer could lose up to 20 percent efficiency to heat loss.

The electronics make it possible to maintain an arc where a conventional transformer welder would allow the electrode stick to the work: big 5mm diameter rods can be run on an inverter machine, and it’s practically impossible to make them stick to the job.

The higher frequency of the output current and computer software to monitor and adjust current and voltage while welding, produces a consistent, smooth arc that’s easier to strike and to maintain.

When running on domestic single-phase power most inverter machines do need a 15-amp power outlet.

Welding supplies such as electrodes, welding wire, and shielding gas typically last longer than when using a traditional welding power supply.

Adjustments to current and voltage can be made for different materials and thicknesses, giving the operator tighter control over the welding process.

The small size and weight of these welders make them popular where a traditional transformer welder is too bulky or uses too much power, so they are popular in maintenance facilities, general fabrication shops, construction sites, and farms as portable, lightweight units for on-site repairs.

MIG welders

MIG stands for metal inert gas, and this process is also known as gas (shielded) metal arc welding (GMAW).

This process has a continuously fed wire electrode that melts in the arc to form a weldbead. Like TIG, the weld is protected from surrounding air by a shielding mixture of gases, usually including argon.

Alternatively, tubular flux-cored ‘self-shielding’ wires are available, which need no external gas. Ventilation is needed because of fumes, and the slag formed on the weld has to be removed between passes or before painting.

MIG welders with solid wire are more commonly used with industrial robots and on heavy, thicker work because the continuously fed electrode wire and arc length are automatically controlled.

MIG weld joints are stronger, more ductile, and have less distortion than other welding processes and are ideal for thin metal work, alloys, and aluminium.

However, welding wire isn’t cheap, and there’s a bit more to consider with MIG such as welding meter amps and volts, wire speed and position.

There’s a gasless wire option with MIG that’s a lot cheaper than bottle rental but it isn’t as nice as running a MIG on gas, and the power supply must be considered – ideally a consistent current with very little drop in voltage is needed.

Duty cycle is also a consideration: the machine will need to be watched to avoid overheating. For example, a 200-amp welder with 30 percent duty cycle should be operated for no more than three minutes in 10, allowing seven minutes for cooling.

Gas welders

More often than not, gas welding uses a combination of (usually) oxygen and acetylene as the heat source, which is why it’s also called oxy welding or oxyacetylene welding.

No electricity is involved, so as a result, it’s the most versatile system because it doesn’t require mains power.

If you’re likely to be welding out in the paddock or even on a site where power is yet to be connected, a pair of gas bottles, some appropriate hoses, and a gas ‘torch’ are in your future.

A neutral (one-to-one acetylene/oxygen) flame – the inner cone – reaches 3,17degrees C. This primary flame creates a molten weld pool that is protected by the outer flame.

The pool is filled with a welding/filler rod, usually made of the same material as the component(s) being welded. Mild steel melts at 1,48degrees C.

While it’s certainly versatile, a disadvantage of oxy welding compared with arc welding is that a large amount of heat is absorbed by the part being welded and that causes distortion. Excess heat may also weaken the area due to changes in the crystal structure of the base metal.

Usually known simply as ‘the oxy set’, it might also be called ‘the gas axe’ because the same equipment can be used for many things, including demolition and preparing large metal items for recycling.

An oxy set lends itself to many applications, including brazing, hard surfacing, tempering, soldering, heating, and bending jobs.

Forney 32140-Amp Multi-Process Welder

It’s a multi-process welder so it can handle Stick, TIG (requires seperate parts), and MIG welds.  This puts it leagues ahead of the Miller and the Hobart that came in number and respectively.

TIG Welding

While the 32is perfectly capable of TIG welding you will need to purchase the TIG torch and foot pedal separately.  You can find the torch here and foot pedal here.  While this does bump the price up close to the Hobart, you’re still getting a great deal more capability at basically the same price.

Great TIG Welder for Beginners

In the past few years more and more TIG welders are appearing on the scene from overseas.  Some of these are quality products, while others are straight up junk.  Here are the most important features, capabilities, and functions you should look for as well as what to avoid.

Simple Operation & Ergonomic Design

TIG welding in general requires a high degree of skill.  But that doesn’t mean that your machine needs to be complicated.  In fact it should be as user friendly as possible with controls that are well laid out and easy to learn.

If you’re planning on welding aluminum a amperage control foot pedal is a must-have.  At the start of the weld the metal can be quite cool and require more power.  By the time you reach the end of the weld the aluminum will have heated and your amperage will need to be lowered.

Hand controls are fine, but imagine trying to drive your car without the use of your foot accelerator.  It would unnecissarily complicate things.  If you’re serious about welding, invest in a unit that comes with a foot pedal, or buy one separately.

Common Mistakes When Purchasing TIG Welders

Improper input voltage: Make sure you understand what your power capabilities are. Some welders operate on both 110v and 220v. The power output at 110v will be significantly less than at 220v. Some machines also operate on single or phase power. Make sure to check the input voltage of the unit you want to ensure it matches up with what’s available where you’ll be using the unit.

Unnecessary functions: If you’re not going to be welding aluminum or magnesium, you don’t need a unit with AC capabilities. This can add significantly to the cost.

Cooling Units: Larger welders like the Everlast 256S will require separate cooling equipment to get the full power out of the machine. This adds significantly to the cost. Make sure you know if the unit you pick needs a cooling unit to maximize it’s duty cycle and output.

Understand Power Demands: If you think you might require more power from your unit at some point in the future make sure to build this into your decision. Spending a little bit more now is better than having to invest in a bigger machine down the road.

Overkill: While there are worse problems than buying more machine than you need, it’s easy to get carried away when buying heavy equipment. If you’re a hobbyist, going with a unit with plenty of power and a lower duty cycle can help you save some money.

Finding the best TIG welder for your needs should be a balance of features and price. We hope you have found our reviews helpful.

I get asked this question frequently and the short answer is, “it depends.”  The long answer is a lively debate surrounding pros, cons, and specific applications of the machines.

History of Transformers

Let’s begin the by understanding the history of transformers.  The first transformers were created as electricity became common in the late 1800s.  Soon it was discovered that transformers could be used in the arc welding process, which was in its infancy in the early 1900s.  It took a number of years to work through various electrical designs of machines to be able to control the arc.  This also brought about the need to create covered (or coated) arc welding electrodes commonly referred to as stick welding.

During WWI, welding went through a significant research and development phase with the construction of steel ships and early tanks.  Remember, before this time, steel joining was primarily done with rivets, forging, and gas welding.  Between the 1920s and 1930s, arc welding and transformer welding power supplies became common place.  As the power grid grew, arc welding grew with it.  By the end of WWII, the U.S. was experiencing a welding and manufacturing boom.  From the 1930s to 1980s almost all arc welding machines produced were transformer based which gave engineers and manufacturing more than 50 years to perfect the designs and create incredibly reliable arc welding machines.

History of Inverters

The next era started in the 1980s with the electronics explosion that coincided with personal computers.  As the electronics and software industry grew, engineers soon realized that software-controlled inverters could be used to weld; this opened up a new world of possibilities. The growing pains of inverters happened around the 1990s and many early inverter welding machines were plagued with reliability problems.  In the early 2000s, inverter welding machines were becoming popular because of their versatility and ability to control the arc.  The early inverter machines went through the normal engineering growing pains, which consisted of hotly contested topics around user interface, controls, heat dissipation, moisture concerns, and many other issues.  These issues are still at the core of the inverter adoption debate.

The Debate

This brings me to the reliability point that so many people like to debate.  For nearly a century, transformer machines have had extensive research and development to create reliable and rugged machines, while inverter machines have had only 30 years of similar attention. I still consider transformer machines to be more reliable than the best inverter machines but the gap has narrowed considerably over recent years.  Gone are the days of the 1990s where failures on inverters were the stuff of nightmares.

Welds Produced

Considering we are discussing welding machines, we may want to get to the heart of welding and discuss the arc and the welds that are produced.  If I were the type of welder that only welds on mild steel all day, every day, I wouldn’t need to look past a transformer machine.  However, we live in a welding world that demands weld perfection in any position and on any material.  In this demanding world, inverters start to shine.  Since inverters can be programmed to do just about anything, we now see advanced pulse MIG performing as well as high skilled TIG.  There is a world opening up to us with software and advanced electronics that has really changed what a welding machine can do.  It even makes a mediocre welder like myself look pretty good at times.  I will give inverter machines a thumb up for weld quality and innovation but I still like to keep it simple for steel.

MIG welders use a tool called a spool gun, which feeds a spooled wire electrode at a constant speed pre-selected by the operator. The gun also emits a shielding gas as it lays the weld. This gas protects the weld area from atmospheric gases such as nitrogen and oxygen, which can cause some serious problems if they come in contact with the electrode, the arc, or the welding metal.


TIG is much harder to learn than the other methods. It requires a highly skilled operator, as it demands the simultaneous use of both hands and a foot. TIG welding is also significantly slower than either MIG or stick, and demands that the surface of the workpiece be absolutely immaculate. All paint, rust, and debris must be removed, and the weld area should be clean enough that you could eat off it.

Summary:  When it absolutely has to look perfect, and you have some time to put into it, TIG welding is far and away the preferred technique. TIG is perfect for artwork, ornamental designs, stainless steel, and automotive applications.

How to Select an MIG Welder

Anybody can go out and buy an MIG welder, but not anyone can buy a good MIG welder. This is because selecting an MIG welder can be a very confusing task. To help eliminate some of the confusion, I will discuss the important components of an MIG welder. I will also tell you what to consider when buying a welder and some of the best welders on the market today.

When selecting top rated MIG welders, there are five important factors to consider.

Input and Output Power

The amount of power that you require will be dependent on the type of project that you will be working on. If you plan on working on smaller, DIY, home-based projects, then I recommend that you select a 115V welder with an output of 140A. But, if you are planning on working with larger, more complex projects, then a 220V welder with an output of 180A would be better suited for your project.

Consider the amount of power that you would need on the thickness of the materials that you use. If you plan on welding material that is 1.0 mm thick, then I recommend that you select an MIG welder with a minimum of 30 amps. Go for less than 30 amps if you plan on working with thinner sheets. Or, go for more than 30 amps if you work with thicker sheets. Remember the thirty rule in this case.

Spool Gun

Spool guns are often used with aluminum materials. If you decide to go with a spool gun, then I recommend that you select one that has special features for better welding. One important feature on spool guns is the euro-connect. Now that you know five of the most important characteristics involved in choosing an MIG welder, I will now discuss some of the best MIG welders on the market.

A Humbling Experience

I picked up the MIG gun and didn’t realize I was pressing the trigger. I was looking at the machine, trying to figure out the settings, when something touched my leg. About feet of wire had run out of the gun! I madly tried to break it off by bending it back and forth. After about a hundred bends, I looked down at the table and saw a pair of wire cutters. “So that’s what they do, they cut it off,” I thought.

After wadding up the wire and hiding it under the machine, I decided to try and weld the tubing. As soon as I started the arc, POW! A big hole opened up in the tube. What the heck! I pulled the trigger again and immediately blew out another big hole in a second tube. I grabbed the other two tubes, tried welding them, and, you guessed it, more big holes.

The foreman told me to come back when I had learned MIG, and he’d give me another chance. What’s ironic is I could have learned MIG well enough to work at that job site in just a couple of days, had I know it wasn’t a stick welding job.

MIG at Home

What’s neat about MIG is that you can put a machine in your garage and weld up a storm. MIG welding is very popular, because it is easily learned and because you can do and make many things with it. In my adult community education classes, people learn MIG so they can do everything from making yard art to restoring 195Chevy pickups with Corvette engines.

A plethora (did you like that five dollar word?) of MIG machines are available People are always asking if I know where they can get a good MIG welding machine for about a hundred bucks. Sure, and although it won’t work worth a dang for welding, at least you can use it as a good boat anchor.

A warning about buying one of these small machines: Do notlet your neighbors see it. If they do, you will have everyone and their brothers coming by. “Hey, I’ll bring you some steel and you can make me a smoker! That way it’s practically free.” (Never mind that it’ll take you 20 hours of tedious labor to get it done.) You’ll be surprised how many new friends you’ll gain when you acquire a MIG welding machine. It’s kind of like owning a pickup truck when someone needs to move.

Practical Welding Today

The WELDER, formerly known as Practical Welding Today, is a showcase of the real people who make the products we use and work with every day. This magazine has served the welding community in North America well for more than 20 years, and we intend to continue providing hands-on information, real-world applications, and down-to-earth advice for welders.

MIG Welding

MIG (Metal Inert Gas) is arguably the easiest welding process to learn. MIG uses a consumable wire electrode, which is fed through a “whip” (also called a gun) or a spool gun (used for aluminum). A trigger is squeezed on the business end of the whip or spool gun to start the machine. This signals the machine to feed wire, electrical current and gas (if required) to the work. The machine operator’s spouse is sometimes squeezed to signal the spouse to feed leaky beer cans to the machine operator. You would be best advised to tread lightly here. Besides MIG not being a good process for welding empty beer cans, third degree burns, trips to the ER and structure fires are never a good idea either. I once saw a guy accidently set fire to his ’6Mustang and barn with a cutting torch and then subsequently tried to beat both fires out with a window regulator, but that’s another story for another time. No, it wasn’t my father. Keep your workspace clear of all flammables; fumes included. Keep the juice flowing to you at a minimum when welding. The juice to the machine is another matter entirely and is easily controlled.

Amperage and wire speed are both controlled at the machine via their respective dials. Most machines will normally have an amperage/wire/material setting chart located on the inside of the cover where the wire is located. This chart will give the user basic information on which wire speed and amperage settings to use. The chart is divided by wire size, wire type, material type and thickness. This takes a lot of guesswork out for beginners.

The first time I ever used a MIG machine I was as a student worker for the department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering at U.N.O. The place was loaded with computer guys but no one there had any hands-on or fabrication experience. I was the go-to guy if you wanted anything fixed or built for all of the engineering departments. One day my boss told me, “Hey, go weld this up for me” as he pointed me towards the welding machine. I confidently walked over to the machine, knowing good and well I’ve never run a MIG machine before I my life. All I had ever run before was a stick unit. Heck, I never even seen a MIG unit up close until then for that matter.

I carefully looked it over as a stall tactic hoping my boss would leave the area before I started. Unfortunate he lingered around as I ignorantly fumbled the machine. I stumbled upon the side cover where the wire was located. Still trying to buy time, I opened the cover, pretending as-if to inspect it for the proper wire. I was pleasantly surprised to find a setting chart on the inside of the cover telling me where to set the machine. I figured this couldn’t be too hard; I’d been blowing holes through mild steel with a stick machine for years, so I figured it shouldn’t be too hard to blow holes through stuff with this thing. So, I set it as recommended and off I went. It was the easiest welding I’d ever done in my life to that point.

Simply setting the machine to what’s recommended will quickly get you under way. While these settings may not be spot-on, it’ll give you a good starting point. It’s similar to adjusting a carburetor; you have a baseline setting and adjust from there. MIG is easier to set up and run than stick or TIG. MIG is much better at thin material than stick. Most MIG machines can weld steel as thin as 24-gauge and as thick as 3/8-inch for top hobby sized machines. MIG is a faster process than TIG as well.

MIG machines are basically divided into two groups, gas and flux core wire-only. Gas (solid wire) machines use a separate shielding gas just like TIG. Once the regulator is set, it’s usually left as-is unless windy conditions arise. Flux core wire doesn’t use a separate shielding gas. Flux core wire creates its own shielding gases as the wire melts. Using flux core wire will usually result in slightly “dirtier” welds than with gas and solid wire. Some folks don’t like or use flux core wire as they feel it’s a bit more difficult to achieve quality results. I prefer gas myself but I will use flux core in a pinch (read lazy). Most good flux core-only machines are usually limited in their amperage range.

Flux core-only machines are usually only 110v and produce less amperage than a good gas unit. They also produce less amperage than a really good alternator. While you can use flux core wire in a gas machine, you can’t use solid wire in a flux core-only machine. Most gas machines above 140 amps can weld aluminum and a spool gun is usually available to eliminate aluminum wire breakage. That is, if you don’t enjoy having six-foot lengths of aluminum wire strewn about to tangle your feet in. This is really effective for keeping the wife or small children out of your work space. No, I’m not recommending you tie them up with it; just leaving it on the floor will suffice. In either case, wire size determines the range of material thickness that can be welded. This information is also listed in the settings chart if present. The two basic MIG machine type are divided into three subcategories dependent on input voltage.

Local welding stores will usually carry Miller and their prices will be higher than online or a home improvement store. While extra cost may be a deterrent, nothing beats being able to see a machine first-hand. It’s always a good idea to see what welding supplies these stores carry, as you will also need extra wire, tips and accessories too. Friendly face-to-face customer service is a big bonus as well.

I recommend you only consider vendors who will be there after the sale. Nothing is more aggravating than a new purchase that’s defective with no customer service. You wouldn’t buy a watch from a guy on the street, right? The same thought applies to your tools. Stick with a name you know you can trust. Anything less than that and you may find yourself throwing more than just sparks.

This is 100% rubbish.

They are utter rubbish. I stand by that statement. I’ve used plenty of gasless migs being a metal fabricator.

If you want ease of access get a stick welder they will do small to big jobs.

There’s absolutely nothing “wrong” with gasless MIG welding as such – it’s used extensively in industry where appropriate (outdoor fabrication of thin sections for example). It creates more spatter than gas MIG, and leaves slag on the weld, but that slag can be easily brushed off rather than chipped as with stick.

The actual problem tends to be cheap POS welders that happen to run gasless wire.

That said, as mentioned, plenty of those cheap-arsed units defy expectations.

If someone was serious about welding as a long term interest, I’d echo the suggestion of a TAFE course – there are sometimes short ones that just get you going on stick. I’d also suggest starting on stick with a good little inverter – the BOC Smootharc 130 has a very good rep.

One of the things you get with dearer migs is better control. Steady wire feed and well controlled arcs.

Most Versatile MIG Welder

The Amico Power IGBT Inverter is one of the lightest yet most powerful welding machines you can get. Though it has a weight of just 1pounds, it gives you a maximum power output of 160 amps. The output range is 5A to 160 A, making the machine incredibly versatile.

Even though the machine delivers such huge power, it can run at 11volts.

The machine is also extremely efficient, as it has a duty cycle of 60% while most other machines have a duty cycle of around to 30%. That means that you can weld for minutes, requiring only 4-minute rests between intervals.

Power Output

The foremost factor you should consider is the power output you’re targeting. Do know your ideal power output you need to think about the kind of welding you will be doing and how frequently you will be doing it.

Looking to do small projects with thin metals at home? 100 amps is enough. Nonetheless, who knows if a need will arise that will require you to weld thicker metalspieces? That’s why it’d be better to provide for that possibility and get a welder that can deliver a maximum of 140 amps.

Power Input

You might want to get something that requires little to deliver a lot. That means that input requirements should be lower than the output. This helps to reduce the electricity costs.

Normally, a 140-amp MIG welder will require 120 volts to power. Input requirements will obviously increase with increase in output.

Feed Speed

Feed speed refers to the speed at which the machine feeds the welding wire to the gun.

The ideal feed speed is the one that has the wire going through just quickly enough to deliver a constant arc. In such a situation, a nice sizzling sound is made.

Cheap machines normally come with separate feed speed and power settings, meaning you will have to play around with the values to set the perfect speed. This is easy to do but it will definitely take some practice.

If you don’t want to take chances with the quality of your weld, it’d be better to go for higher quality MIG welders, as they come with automatic speed settings. The speed gets adjusted automatically based on the power.


Some machines will offer you both gas tank and flux options. That way, you can handle your projects confidently, as you have back up. If the gas is finished, the flux backs you up.

Remember, flux-cored welders do not require extra shielding gas as there’s already some gas in the welding wire.

Of course, the dual option will cost you more, but for flexibility, I’d say it’s worth it.

Short Circuit Transfer

This transfer happens when the welding wire comes into contact with the metals you’re welding. Electric current from the gun flows through the welding wire, creating a short circuit.

As a result, the wire heats up and dribbles onto the metals you’re welding. Multiple drops are released at a very fast pace, creating a crackling sound, more like frying broth in an extremely hot pan.

To achieve a short circuit transfer, what you have to do is set the machine to low voltage and use CO2(carbon dioxide) gas (pure or in mixture form).

One obvious advantage of using short circuit transfer is that the needed shielding gas is relatively inexpensive. However, you can’t use this transfer type to weld thick metals.

Short circuit transfer can only handle thin/sheet metals with a thickness of not more than an inch.

Use it on a metal that’s thicker than an inch and the weld will not penetrate the joint properly.

Globular Transfer

This one is a lot like the short circuit transfer, only that the intensity and speed of the drops of molten wire are different. With globular transfer, the welding wire will melt and collect into a glob at the tip of the wire. Therefore, the molten wire drips onto the joint at a slower pace.

In the process, globular transfer pops are produced, rather than fast crackling sounds.

To achieve this type of transfer, all you have to do is set the machine to high voltage and use argon (pure or in a mixture) as shielding gas.

The good thing about globular transfer is that it can weld thicker metals.

However, it’s not easy to control the drops, and thus spatters can result.

Neat and efficient

The purpose of the shielding gas in MIG welding is to protect the arc. For that, alloying elements are rarely lost during the metal transfer process. Therefore, as opposed to other welding methods, especially stick welding, there is no slag to remove.

Furthermore, only minimal amounts of spatter are produced. This means that you only have to do a little clean up and get back to the job.

High electrode efficiency

With MIG, there’s a high electrode efficiency – 9to 9percent normally. Therefore, when you purchase a 100-pound MIG welding wire, you’re able to deposit 9to 9pounds.

A process like stick welding has just around 6percent efficiency.

Great welds

Looking to achieve a nice-looking weld? Then you’ve to consider using MIG welding. This method gives you a finer visibility of the weld pool and with an auto-feed wire, you have better control.

Consequently, there are also minimal spatters, and thus the results are great.

Wondering how to do proper welds for great results? This is what the next section is about.

Get a good MIG gun.

Some are shaped like acetylene torches while others appear like pistols. Also, some are cooled with water while for others, air is enough.

Usually, air-cooled MIG guns are used with machines delivering not more 200 amps. Such guns are easier to control. If you’re doing small welding projects at home, I recommend you go for an air-cooled gun.

Prepare the welding area

Get rid of any flammables and find a good surface on which to do the job.

I suggest putting a ground connecting on the material you’re welding to steady it.

Are there people present in the area? If so, use welding curtains to protect them from the UV rays.

A horizontal weld

Lower the gun angle a little to prevent sagging of the filler. The amperage for this weld is the same as that of the flat weld.

Here, you can also use the back-forth movement to fill big gaps.

Is the weld pool getting too large? No worries. Just use a somewhat thinner welding wire.

A vertical weld

If you’re welding thin metals, begin from the top, moving the weld pool down with the gravity. That way, the arc will not penetrate the metals you’re welding.

If, on the other hand, you’re welding thick metals, begin at the base, going upward. This technique helps to boost penetration.

In this case, you might want to reduce the amperage by about to 1percent to battle gravity.

Some of their products are

Normally, they produce their MIG welders with flux-cored wires to help you weld even when you don’t have shielding gas.

A most unique feature about their MIG welders is that they require low power input. For instance, the Lincoln K2185-requires only 11volts to run. For that, you can plug their welders into your regular wall outlet.

Hobart Welders

Hobart happens to be one of the oldest brands in the market. Can you believe they’ve been around for over 80 years? That means over decades of experience in making welders.

Therefore, you can count on them to offer you the best with regard to quality.

All their machines normally have to pass a strict reliability check. Furthermore, the company is dedicated to giving back to the welding industry with the unique 5/3/warranty.

Therefore, in the unlikely event that there’s something wrong with the welder, you can rest assured that you’ll have another or get your money back.

Apart from that, Hobart is one of the few brands that gives you access to a web welding forum. By joining the community, you can always get answers for your welding questions, especially those about Hobart products and how to use them.

Forney Industries

If you’re looking to get the most up-to-date MIG welders, then Forney is a brand you can’t ignore. The entire company regularly goes through rigorous checks to make sure that their welders meet the newest standards.

Furthermore, their welders carry a standard warranty to protect you against defects. Also, they come with all the accessories and consumables. That’s why Forney products are called MIG-ready. You can get the machine and start welding immediately.

Forney Industries is very keen on giving you value for your hard-earned cash. Apart from offering you excellent quality, the company has a program – the Greenback rebates. With the program, you get to save lots of money when you make purchases.

The company mostly deals in refurbished welders but that doesn’t mean compromised quality. They undergo strict standards checks to ensure that the machines are as good as new.

One of the most unique features of Forney Industries welders is that even though they’re mostly lightweight, they deliver high power output.

For instance, although the Forney 29125FC Welder weighs only 32.pounds, it offers you 12amps.

Amico Power

Since its founding in 1995, this brand has been known to provide quality through continuous improvements in their products.

If you’re looking for the best MIG welder with the lowest price in the market, Amico Power is the brand to consider.

The company specializes in designing and manufacturing durable and affordable welders, such as the Amico Power IGBT Inverter Welding Machine.

Their welders are some of the most unique in the market with regard to user-friendliness. For instance, the Amico Power IGBT Inverter Welding Machine comes with an LED meter to help you set your parameters effortlessly and do your weld just the way you want it.

Amico Power welders are, also, some of the most lightweight in the industry. Can you believe that some are as light as 1pounds? That means that if you seek a welder that you can easily transport fromplace to place, an Amico Power welder would be the ideal choice.

MIG Welder Vs TIG Welder

When welding, the method you choose is as important as the equipment you use. Using the wrong method can be like trying to saw a log of wood using a kitchen knife. Can that work? Yep, I don’t think so.

If you’re a beginner, there’s something you should know. Different materials will need different welding techniques, and some techniques are a lot more suitable than others.

First, I know you may have heard that there are two main welding methods – TIG and MIG. Of course, there are others, like stick, but we shall center on those two for today.

To help you get a clearer picture of the more beneficial method for your task, I will elaborate each process.

How it Works

As opposed to MIG, TIG doesn’t use a metal electrode; it uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode instead.

The electrode normally needs extremely high temperatures to melt, and for that, extra filler is normally required. You normally have to feed the filler into the weld area using one hand as you operate the torch using the other hand.

Also, as you weld, you usually have to utilize one of your feet to operate a control pedal to determines the heat input.

Welding Basics

Welding is a fabrication process that joins separate pieces of metals. This is accomplished by partially melting the juncture of the work pieces while adding metal to form a pool of molten material, which then cools and solidifies to become a very strong joint. In the types of welding we are interested in, electricity is used to create the heat. Other welding methods, such as brazing or soldering, use heat obtained from an external source such as a torch flame or an independently heated soldering gun tip. Brazing or soldering creates a joint where the bond is, to some extent, external to the pieces being joined and the joint is usually not as strong as the material being used. This is because during brazing or soldering the materials are not completely melted and mixed together. The three types of arc welding we are going to look at create a bond that is as strong as the material being joined. All three types of welders have a principal function in common. They transform high voltage, low amperage primary power into low voltage, high amperage secondary or welding power. They do this through two sets of windings or coils of copper wire inside the machine that are wrapped around steel plates.

On any type of arc welding, the molten joint must be protected from atmospheric contamination and this is accomplished either by a coating of flux contained on or in the electrode or by an inert gas such as Argon that is applied to the surface of the weld while it is being created. In stick and flux-cored wire, welding the flux leaves a coating of slag, which must be chipped off once the weld has cooled. All arc welding processes involve a welding power source and some means of completing an electric circuit between the electrode and the part being welded. While different welding processes share some things in common, each process creates the finished product in a unique manner.

Before you purchase a welder it’s important to consider the thickness of the metal you’ll be welding on because the amperage required to successfully accomplish the weld varies. The thicker the metal you intend to weld, the greater the amount of amperage required. The material thickness and the current carrying capacity of the electrode determine the amperage at which you weld. As a general rule of thumb, you need one amp of power for every 0.001-inch of mild steel. For example, to weld 1/8-inch (0.125-inch) mild steel in a single pass, you need approximately 12amps.

The type of metal you’ll be welding will also change your equipment needs. For example if you’re going to be welding steel some of the time and aluminum at other times, you may wish to add a spool gun for the aluminum welding. More precise control is the result and it eliminates having to unload the wire used with steel welding from the machine when running a second type of wire. What upgrades and accessories are available for the machine you selected? Are the machine’s size, weight, and portability important to you? These are all things you’ll need to consider. Inverter-based welders are also available. They require much less primary power than conventional welders because they feature special circuitry. While an inverter welder will cost more, you could actually save money if you avoid the need to rewire your garage, barn, or shop. Besides amperage capability range, the machine’s performance is also evaluated for continuous rated output, which is expressed in terms of its “duty cycle.” The duty cycle is the number of minutes out of a 10-minute period that a welding machine can operate at the rated output. This standard helps buyers make a direct comparison between welders. To better understand how duty cycle ratings are applied specifically let’s look at two different sizes of welders. A typical machine for home or shop use might have a total output range of 30 to 140 amps. If it were rated for an output of 90 amps at a 20 percent duty cycle that would mean that it can weld continuously at 90 amps for two minutes and then must cool down during the remaining eight minutes to prevent overheating. A second example might be a heavier semi-industrial-type unit that’s also popular for more serious personal users. If it has 30 to 300 amp welding range and duty cycle of 40 percent at 250 amps it can weld continuously at 250 amps for four minutes and then must cool down during the remaining six minutes to prevent overheating. As welding output decreases, duty cycle increases. For example the 40 percent duty rating at 250 amps would increase to a 60 percent duty cycle when welding at 200 amps. Ambient temperature also impacts duty cycle. For example, if a machine achieves its rating at 10degrees Fahrenheit then the machine becomes de-rated to some extent when welding at ambient temperatures of greater than 10degrees.

Stick Welding

Stick welding is also known as shielded metal arc welding. Stick welding is a manual arc welding process that uses a consumable electrode, or stick rod, that is coated in flux. The filling metal material is obtained from the electrode core, while the flux coating produces shielding gas and a layer of slag, both of which protect the weld from atmospheric contamination.

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MIG welding using flux-core wire works as well as stick welding on dirty or rusty material. In addition, self-shielding gasless wire can be used for welding outdoors. The use of self-shielding wire increases portability as there is no gas cylinder to haul around. MIG welding using flux-core wire offers deeper penetration when welding thick sections and a high rate of metal deposition allows the job to be completed faster.

Plasma Cutting

Sometimes before you can weld you need to be able to remove other material before you can begin. For doing this it’s hard to beat plasma cutting. Plasma is an ionized gas that conducts electricity. Plasma is created by adding energy to an electrically neutral gas. In this application the gas is compressed air and the energy is electricity. The more electrical energy added, the hotter the plasma arc becomes. Plasma-arc cutting machines control this powerful energy by constricting the arc and forcing it through a concentrated area called the nozzle. By increasing air pressure and intensifying the arc with higher amperage, the arc becomes hotter and more capable of blasting through thicker metals.

As you can see from this photo, a plasma cutter makes short work of the 1/4-inch thick steel framerail. Plasma provides numerous advantages over other common cutting processes. The plasma process cuts any type of electrically conductive metal including aluminum, copper, brass, and stainless steel. Plasma cutting produces a narrow and more precise cut while sawing or chopping takes a long time and will typically leave a rough edge. Plasma cutting is fast, clean, and leaves a nice straight edge. It also offers gouging and piercing capabilities.

To fix this…..

Now you can restart the rod without pecking like a Chicken.

There are also other ways to get better restarts…

Some welders whip the rod right thru the air as they pull off the arc and say that gets rid of the ball.

I used to work up high around a bunch of ironworkers. Slinging balls of fire everywhere was unwise. So I just got used to the file.

Stick welding tips from other Visitors

Material, position, heat/angle, etc, then visualize desired outcome.

Tall …

What to do with the little shorty rod tips?  After a rod gets to 2-inches I usually remove it and save my rod tips in the 2-inch range for tack welds.

Wearing earplugs while doing any overhead or enclosed spaces.  I personally wear earplugs welding any position. I am still able to hear and adjust welder for proper amp range. I think it gives you more confidence when … recommended rod for welding 3″ thick steel  we have to build a box out of 3″ thick steel but not sure what rod we should use, could you help? another thing is what kind of bevel should be done on … tip for restarting  i just tap my rod lightly on something…im NOT working on…till i see metal from the rod.

To stop porosity  To stop porosity it usually depends on the angle of the rod.

If your pipe welding to a stringent …

I own a Solter CoTT S 17It is a 1ph 220v inverter which puts out up to 160amps and has an open circuit voltage of 9volts. the weld is sitting on the bottom too much? ive tried to angle the rod different and amp different.

V-groove When it is too hot to weld.  I have always found it helpful to carry a heat marker or laser thermometer for welding test plates or vertical groove welds. as a rule of thumb 350-400 … porosity in 701stop starts  Hi guys, Im having trouble with porosity in stop starts, mostly on pipe work.

Anyone have any tips to help me as i have tried everything i can think … preheating on mig  when mig welding be sure to preheat your base metal. sometimes if you dont you wont get good penetration and youll have cold lap.

Cant wait to try it. …

701Hater  I have a great tip for 701starts…grab a handful of them and throw them as far as you can. Then start using 6011’s or 6010’s.

Tip for Welding dirty High Strength Nodular Cast Iron  One of the swing tower eyelets (3″ID) let loose on my Backhoe.


Nu-bie with some questions?  tip for setting the right amperage. How to start homebase welding business. ————————————————– x-ray quality stringer welds  When welding a test piece in the 6g and 2g position. Burn a rod around the pipe chip the slag away from the crater.

60vs 701for training welders…Looks might be one thing…  The 60welding rod is the thing to get beginners to start on first.

Another tip for restarting 701rods.  This is something that’s always worked for me, be it out in the refinery or down in the machine shop.

When you’ve just stopped a pass, your rod will …





How to save up to 86%? Here is little trick.

You must visit the page of sales. Here is the link. If you don’t care about which brand is better, then you can choose the stick welder by the price and buy from the one who will offer the greatest discount.



Final Word

First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.

Most important, have fun and choose your stick welder wisely! Good luck!

So, TOP3 of stick welder



Questions? Leave a comment below!

Chatting about stick welder is my passion! Leave me a question in the comments, I answer each and every one and would love to get to know you better!

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