newbie/hobbyist with some questions
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  1. #1

    newbie/hobbyist with some questions

    Let me say first off I'm not a welder by trade or in the fabrication field at all, I am a computer programmer by day. I did work in a machine shop when I was younger and have mig-welded for maybe about 20 minutes in my whole life.

    I sold one of my pistols today and the idea struck me that I could use that money to do something productive, and whenever I'm in places that have 'em, I always look at the welding machines. And I thought: "I wonder if there's a way I could make some money in my spare time building/fabricating things?"

    So I've got a few questions for you guys. Is it reasonable to think that I could get started at some level with welding with a $500 budget including protective equipment? If so, what would you recommend? Are there limitations of MIG that I should be aware of vs other types of welding? Do you need different machines to weld different kinds of metals? And finally, what kind of workshop area should I set up?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Re: newbie/hobbyist with some questions

    Hi, and welcome to the Forum.
    I wish I had taken up programming, I would not be welding today and making very little money.
    That said, your budget is small depending on what you exactly want to do.
    If you could let us know what environment you are working out of and what you see
    yourself producing to sell or just repair, it would help us answer or advise.
    One thing would be the sort of power you have available to run a welder, 110-240 volt,
    and what amperage is available to you.
    Stick welding has advantages in that you don't need to buy or rent a shielding gas like
    you would have to for mig welding.
    Stick welding is a little harder to grasp than mig for most people, it is also more
    labour intensive in that you need to clean off the flux left after welding, there is no
    such flux in mig, unless you decide to use flux cored wire, which like stick welding
    would enable you to weld outside or in windy conditions, which if you tried with a
    mig welder would result in your shielding gas being blown away and your welds
    destroyed.
    Also worth considering is how portable or not you want your welder to be, as newer
    technologies now produce lighter machines, they will be lighter again if you chose
    stick as you wont need that shielding gas and the bottle its in.

    Probably a lot to take for a beginner, but you are most certainly in the right place,
    just keep asking, lots of good advise on here.
    Look on youtube for stick welding, and mig welding, maybe focus on mild stell
    and leave alloys of kind until you are up and running.

    Regards, john

  3. #3
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    Re: newbie/hobbyist with some questions

    merlinfire I’m just a hobbyist, have no intensions of making money! I’ll bet I have at least $100,000.00 invested in tools, and welders.
    Don’t pay any attention to me
    I’m just a hobbyist!

    Carl

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  4. #4
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    Re: newbie/hobbyist with some questions

    Hello and welcome. It helps if we know your location and may be able to guide you to local suppliers.
    As for selling '' ONE '' pistol . It maybe a good time to take inventory to see how much $$$$ we can help you invest .

  5. #5
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    Re: newbie/hobbyist with some questions

    Welcome...
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  6. #6
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    Jan 2014
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    Re: newbie/hobbyist with some questions

    My career, like your's, was nothing to do with welding. I did stick welding back in 1980's, but that was jobsite construction, not hobby. Then did a nearly 40 year career in electronics. No real amount of welding until about 3 years ago, when I became interested in MIG for my little home shop. I found a good, but old, MIG machine on CL. I saw that it worked, so I bought it, for about half the price of a new one.

    It has been flawless for 3 years, and I am convinced that a used, "name brand" is a lot better than buying something from H.F. that won't have parts, service or reliability of a respected brand.

    But to answer your questions, as previous poster said, you need to decide what sort of fab work you'll be doing (e.g. thin steel; 1/8" so? If you intend to weld 1/4 to 3/8, you'll need more power. You also should consider your work area; garage floor gets old fast; or will a small portable table from H.F. do? Will you need to re-wire the garage with a 240VAC 30A welding recpt? That will take a chunk of your money.

    You'll need consummables, gloves, a decen auto-dark helmet, clamps and some other tools, in addition to the machine. It is going to be tough to do it for $500, unless you find a very good deal on CL. But I expect your budget will be used just for the machine.

    Good luck; keep us posted.
    Last edited by Will S.; 01-05-2017 at 09:58 AM.
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  7. #7
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    Re: newbie/hobbyist with some questions

    Quote Originally Posted by merlinfire View Post
    Let me say first off I'm not a welder by trade or in the fabrication field at all, I am a computer programmer by day. I did work in a machine shop when I was younger and have mig-welded for maybe about 20 minutes in my whole life.

    I sold one of my pistols today and the idea struck me that I could use that money to do something productive, and whenever I'm in places that have 'em, I always look at the welding machines. And I thought: "I wonder if there's a way I could make some money in my spare time building/fabricating things?"

    So I've got a few questions for you guys. Is it reasonable to think that I could get started at some level with welding with a $500 budget including protective equipment? If so, what would you recommend? Are there limitations of MIG that I should be aware of vs other types of welding? Do you need different machines to weld different kinds of metals? And finally, what kind of workshop area should I set up?

    Thanks
    .
    ,
    sounds like if you got a needle and thread and bandages and aspirin you think you can make some money as a doctor. you think people going to pay a non expert to weld for them ? and pay a lot of money ?

  8. #8
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    Ireland
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    Re: newbie/hobbyist with some questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Will S. View Post
    My career, like your's, was nothing to do with welding. I did stick welding back in 1980's, but that was jobsite construction, not hobby. Then did a nearly 40 year career in electronics. No real amount of welding until about 3 years ago, when I became interested in MIG for my little home shop. I found a good, but old, MIG machine on CL. I saw that it worked, so I bought it, for about half the price of a new one.

    It has been flawless for 3 years, and I am convinced that a used, "name brand" is a lot better than buying something from H.F. that won't have parts, service or reliability of a respected brand.

    But to answer your questions, as previous poster said, you need to decide what sort of fab work you'll be doing (e.g. thin steel; 1/8" so? If you intend to weld 1/4 to 3/8, you'll need more power. You also should consider your work area; garage floor gets old fast; or will a small portable table from H.F. do? Will you need to re-wire the garage with a 240VAC 30A welding recpt? That will take a chunk of your money.

    You'll need consummables, gloves, a decen auto-dark helmet, clamps and some other tools, in addition to the machine. It is going to be tough to do it for $500, unless you find a very good deal on CL. But I expect your budget will be used just for the machine.

    Good luck; keep us posted.
    I would agree with the above, a respected and proven older brand name would be my choice too,
    I recently bought a new mig, ended up buying another new mig, neither of which compare to
    the only second hand mig I ever purchased, and to make me happy I know I will end up buying again,
    but at least now time will be on my side, and it will need to be because older brand name machines
    do not come up for sale too often where I live, simply because they are so good at what they do it
    would be a gamble of sorts to suss out a new replacement and it would put a real dint in ones pocket.
    From what I see, Hobart seem to make competitively priced machines, and I would not be ashamed to
    own one.
    Regarding no one wanting to pay a newbie to weld, you will get the jobs a pro will avoid, and as long
    as you are smart enough to know when you are getting in too deep you will get a little money and
    experience.
    I would not hire a newbie but not everyone has the luxury of being able to pay a pro, I would hire
    a newbie if I wanted to spend time training him or her up for a specific position that would keep them
    in work where the reward would be such they would not want to wander after all the time invested.
    Where there is a will there is a way, its as much about the person and their attitude.

  9. #9
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    Re: newbie/hobbyist with some questions

    Having an interest in welding is a good thing; that does not automatically translate into an ability to earn money. My recommendation is to take some welding classes at your local community college and learn about different welding processes and get some under the hood time, then see where you stand. A $500 budget seems pretty small to have the necessary gear, even with a very cheap welding machine, consumables, grinder, hood, gloves, etc.

  10. #10

    Re: newbie/hobbyist with some questions

    All,

    Thanks for the advice. I called my dad last night to ask his opinions too, he used to be a welder by trade. He suggested I buy a used Miller or Lincoln machine, and said that to really do much I would need to also get a band saw and a drill press. That seems to reflect to a degree what you've said, regarding used-but-quality equipment to save money. It also sounds like that $500 is going to be on the low end of what's possible, but I'm probably satisfied with 1/8" or at most 3/16" mild steel at first. With his suggestions, he said $2000 would be a more realistic figure, but I may be able to revise my options as high as $1000. He told me I'd need more stuff to do aluminum or stainless, so I'm going to rule those out for now.

    Regarding "making money", I don't mean to insult those of you who weld for a living, as at least one response seemed a bit testy about that. If any money is to be made, I intend to make it by making things and then selling them, not by taking my neophyte skills and trying to compete with you for boat/trailer/tractor/wheel/whatever repair jobs.

    Regar

  11. #11
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    Re: newbie/hobbyist with some questions

    I would follow you dad's advice, and up the budget, so you can actually do this right. Don't rule out Hobart; they are built by Miller, and make a damn fine machine; just fewer features. Since your dad was a welder by trade, you have a good teacher, so learn from him, and others here who offer advice. You can also watch some great videos by Jamie, and WeldingTipsandTricks.com and ChuckE2009.com. If you follow their advice, it will help you build welding skills.

    What sort of things do you want to fabricate? Knowing that, folks here can help you avoid costly mistakes.

    Good luck.
    Millermatic 180
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  12. #12

    Re: newbie/hobbyist with some questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Will S. View Post
    I would follow you dad's advice, and up the budget, so you can actually do this right. Don't rule out Hobart; they are built by Miller, and make a damn fine machine; just fewer features. Since your dad was a welder by trade, you have a good teacher, so learn from him, and others here who offer advice. You can also watch some great videos by Jamie, and WeldingTipsandTricks.com and ChuckE2009.com. If you follow their advice, it will help you build welding skills.

    What sort of things do you want to fabricate? Knowing that, folks here can help you avoid costly mistakes.

    Good luck.
    unfortunately dear old dad isn't geographically nearby and isn't likely to be in the future either. I agree that would be the most obvious teacher. he did give me some tips like "spot weld first before you fill so keep everything in place" which makes intuitive sense.

    As far what to fabricate, I'm not 100% sure yet. probably nothing any larger than say, a bbq grill, and probably things quite a bit smaller. nothing load-bearing.

  13. #13
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    Re: newbie/hobbyist with some questions

    Making money would be the wrong reason to get into metal fabrication, especially with a $500 budget.

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