Best ways / tools to weld thin sheet metal
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  1. #1

    Best ways / tools to weld thin sheet metal

    Hello folks, complete newbie here.
    I would like to buy a welder that is capable of welding thin sheet metal (motorcycle fenders, tanks, etc).
    Problem is that I don't know what type of welder would be best for the job and I am on a very tight budget.

    I found this cheap no-gas welder.
    It only costs 100 British pounds (about 175 US dollars).


    Is a gasless welder any good for welding thin sheet metal?
    Or should I start looking for another type of welder that is more suitable for thin sheet metal?
    I really need recommendations for a cheap-o-welder, guys.

    One last thing that I believe is important to note here: I live in Europe.
    Over here we use 220V instead of 110V, so I guess most USA brands will not be OK for use in my country.
    Not to mention that it is very expensive to import goods from the USA - the VAT will literally kill me.

    Thanks in advance for all your help!

    _
    Last edited by KidWeld; 02-17-2010 at 12:21 AM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Best ways / tools to weld thin sheet metal

    I would consider a small oxy-acetylene torch. Uses no electric power, cuts, bends, welds, brazes, solders. Yeah.

    The small fluxcore machines are price-point items that pose some, how shall I say, challenges in adaptability.



    Welcome to the weld shop.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Best ways / tools to weld thin sheet metal

    Since the machine you posted the picture of says TIG on its side, I assume it is supposed to have that capability. BTW, TIG uses constant current, Mig uses constant voltage usually, so I'm surprised to see both there. Then again, high-freq technology allows more than the old transformers. In any case, for TIG it would need to use an inert gas, and you would need to look carefully at its specifications (starting options, stepped vs. variable current control, min. and max current, gas control solenoid, etc.) to see what they are supposed to be, then really would need an opinion from some qualified user of the machine to know if it actually does as advertised.
    Is that machine made by a good company or just a 'cheap' import from who-knows-where?
    If oxy-acetylene is an option, I agree it is a good place to start. It has the capability for all you might need and will develop your skills well too.
    Last edited by Oldiron2; 02-17-2010 at 01:57 AM.

  4. #4
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    Re: Best ways / tools to weld thin sheet metal

    Hi Kidweld.

    I am not an expert by any stretch of the imagination. I can weld, but not a professional. I am a commercial pilot.

    I do have a MIG (175SP by Lincoln) I have used both gas (solid wire), and gasless (flux core wire). In my opinion, you will not have very good success with flux core wire on sheet metal. It possibly can be done, but it will be a struggle. Most of the flux core that I have used was very dirty and had high penetration. Remember that I am not a professional welder.

    I feel that for a person on a budget, that you may be better off with an Oxy-Acetelyne torch setup.

    A TIG system would certainly do what you desire (I have a Miller Dynasty 200DX that I am learning to use). HOWEVER, the sticker shock (cost) may just put you in a hospital. Even an entry level TIG that has only DC (for Steel only==no Aluminum) will start around $1000-$1500 US. There are cheaper units available; however, on the forums that I participate in regularly, one rarely reads good reviews about the ultracheap units.

    I am not attempting to burst your bubble, or discourage you, I am just hoping to provoke some additional thought.

    I wish you the best of luck in your quest.

    Jerry in Anchorage, Alaska

  5. #5
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    Re: Best ways / tools to weld thin sheet metal

    that welder does not show a gas hose or regulator, so id say it is set for fluxcore, not mig,,definitely ng for sheet metal..also a migtig combo as stated is an expensive one..walk away from this machine.get an oxyacetylene outfit...for a bit more than the welder shown you should get some good used equipment and have what you need for what you want to do.,.best luck

  6. #6
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    Re: Best ways / tools to weld thin sheet metal

    ps i looked a little harder at the foto of the red welder..it looks like the leads..power, work clamp, and the wiredfeeding gun..are all permanently connected tothe machine..so noway to change the gun out for a tig torch,,it seems like strictly a fluxcore wirefeeder..

  7. #7
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    Re: Best ways / tools to weld thin sheet metal

    Maybe that "MIGTIG" on the side is just the 'brand name', doesn't have anything to do with its abilities, and is just there to confuse the buyer.


  8. #8

    Re: Best ways / tools to weld thin sheet metal

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldiron2 View Post
    Maybe that "MIGTIG" on the side is just the 'brand name', doesn't have anything to do with its abilities, and is just there to confuse the buyer.

    ABSOLUTELY!!!
    They have that "TIG MIG" banner on all of their welders.
    Even on their stick welders.

    This is a cheap budget welder that I assume was made in the Far East.
    I reconsidered and I will not buy it.

    So, you guys adivse me to use an oxy acetylene torch for sheet metal.
    Cool.
    Are there any cheap ones on the market?
    Maybe there are disposable torches?

    What about safety?
    There was this guy in my town that got his head chopped off by an exploding oxy acetylene bottle. The upper part of the bottle hit him in the neck and beheaded him.

    _

  9. #9
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    Re: Best ways / tools to weld thin sheet metal

    What about safety?
    There was this guy in my town that got his head chopped off by an exploding oxy acetylene bottle. The upper part of the bottle hit him in the neck and beheaded him.
    Can you find any reports about that which you can post here? I'd be interested in the details. Many stories about technical problems are written by uneducated people who simply get the facts wrong because the don't understand; night that be true there?? Not saying it didn't/couldn't happen, though.

    Anything can be dangerous; I split the end of my thumb a few days ago while not being careful while making a quick graft of an apple branch. Anyway, I'd suggest you get a good, basic book about welding (any libraries near you?) and read about the set-up and use of the equipment before you try to decide exactly what you want to buy. If you get any questions from that, they can then be asked and answered here. Just using the search function here might keep you busy for a good while, since the subject of safety comes up regularly.

  10. #10

    Re: Best ways / tools to weld thin sheet metal

    I think I found a solution.
    I will use brazing instead of welding.
    Brazing seems to be an easy and cheap alternative.
    Can i do brazing with a regular propane torch?

  11. #11
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    Re: Best ways / tools to weld thin sheet metal

    For extremely small parts when using copper based filler alloys, possibly; for larger partsa or sheet metal, only if you use silver 'solder' alloys which melt at lower temperatures than brass/bronze. The lower heat input/longer heating time of propane compared to an oxy-acetylene flame can cause more problems with distortion of sheet metal projects.

  12. #12

    Re: Best ways / tools to weld thin sheet metal

    I saw hand torches that use gas containers with MAPP gas.
    MAPP burns at higher tems than Propane.
    For this particular burner, the tep is 2200 degrees Celsius.



    Would this burner be OK for use with hard solder on steel sheet metal?

  13. #13
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    Re: Best ways / tools to weld thin sheet metal

    The difference between Propane and Mapp in those torches isn't that great; I have a Bernzomatic Mapp torch sorta like that on the workbench which I use nearly every day for heating things, but it isn't capable of most of the brazing/soldering I do. Depending on the solder, it will work for very small things but won't replace the need for a 'real' torch if you do more than make jewelry.

  14. #14
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    Re: Best ways / tools to weld thin sheet metal

    Most all bike builders use tig for all the welding needs. I believe it stands up much better tot he vibration that happen on bikes.
    Miller DVI2
    Lincoln Precision Tig 225
    Thermodynamics Cutmaster 38
    Everything else needed.

  15. #15
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    Re: Best ways / tools to weld thin sheet metal

    Quote Originally Posted by jamlit View Post
    Most all bike builders use tig for all the welding needs. I believe it stands up much better tot he vibration that happen on bikes.
    Not really, lots of O/A welding is done in the custom motorcycle world, and technically it can be a BETTER process for fatigue on some materials. You see lots of brazing on older motorcycle designs. I for one would head towards real O/A welding and brazing, and skip the plumbers torch.

  16. #16
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    Re: Best ways / tools to weld thin sheet metal

    Quote Originally Posted by makoman1860 View Post
    Not really, lots of O/A welding is done in the custom motorcycle world, and technically it can be a BETTER process for fatigue on some materials. You see lots of brazing on older motorcycle designs. I for one would head towards real O/A welding and brazing, and skip the plumbers torch.
    I agree. All the tube frame Lotus race cars were put together with O/A and bronze. Colin Chapman knew what he was doing.

  17. #17

    Re: Best ways / tools to weld thin sheet metal

    From what I understand, brazing has one big advantage over oxy acetylene welding: and this advantage is that brazing does not require a complicated and expensive setup because you don't really need too high temperatures.
    All you have to do is heat the parts to be joined (in the case of steel to red color) and then melt and apply the softer filler inbetween them.

    So, I wonder why do people use oxy-acetylene setups for brazing?
    If you already have an O/A apparatus that is capable of welding the parts, then why don't you just weld them instead of braze them?
    Welds are stronger, aren't they?

    _

  18. #18
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    Re: Best ways / tools to weld thin sheet metal

    Quote Originally Posted by KidWeld View Post
    From what I understand, brazing has one big advantage over oxy acetylene welding: and this advantage is that brazing does not require a complicated and expensive setup because you don't really need too high temperatures.
    All you have to do is heat the parts to be joined (in the case of steel to red color) and then melt and apply the softer filler inbetween them.

    So, I wonder why do people use oxy-acetylene setups for brazing?
    If you already have an O/A apparatus that is capable of welding the parts, then why don't you just weld them instead of braze them?
    Welds are stronger, aren't they?

    _

    One word, control. The plumbers torch spreads heat out over a large area, slowly, and doesn't have the BTU output to braze much at all. O/A is focused heat, and very directable. Remember we didn't get to the technology we have because we're idiots . Some brazing fillers exceed the tensile strengths of common mild steel, so you cant say welding is stronger. Time to read up kiddo, go to your local library and see if they have any technical books on welding. But to make a log story short, give up on the idea of using a plumbers torch, or a flux core welder for what your looking to do. Pick up a decent smaller O/A setup, and find a local person to teach you how to use it.

  19. #19

    Re: Best ways / tools to weld thin sheet metal

    OK, now I am convinced that I need an Oxygen-Acetylene setup.

    I think I will get a small O/A kit.
    Something like this one (it uses a disposable gas container instead of a rechargeable bottle): http://www.belkrafting.com/img/texts...5735-11301.jpg
    Can I weld thick stuff with such a tool?
    Or is it only good for welding sheet metal?

    _

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