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Thread: Tips for locating practice materials?

  1. #1
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    Tips for locating practice materials?

    Hi all,

    Just purchased my first welder (3rd if you count when I tried to learn at 13, didn't work out too well ), a lincoln AC 225 and am ready to start trying to learn again. I was hoping to get some advice on locating a good source in my home town of materials for practicing on. I live in Birmingham, AL so I would imagine there is an abundance of suppliers / junk yards in my area. I would say my main issue would be cutting right now as all I really have for that is an angle grinder. I've done a bit of googling myself and have found what look like suppliers but am not really sure of the right questions to ask or what the best learning materials would be. Watching videos and reading guides it seems like it would be easiest to get a square plate and just start practicing in different positions on that.

    Also, for electrodes I was thinking of starting out working with 6011 and 6013. I found a good video that goes over a lot of the basics of running a good bead and what puddle characteristics to looks for when running it. Hopefully that will be enough to at least get me practicing.

    I got the AC 225 off CL and it came with what looks like a 25' 230v extension cord that was plugged already attached to the base cord. I assume that means it was being used with the extension cord and from some of the reading of done on here that sounds like a "no no". Could this have possibly damaged the welder?

    My apologies for not splitting up these questions, they came to me as I was writing. Thanks in advance for any advice.

  2. #2
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    Re: Tips for locating practice materials?

    You can run your new toy from an extension cord if the cord is heavy enough. I run my Hobart AC/DC Stickmate with a 40 foot 8 Awg extension cord. If all you will be using the extension coord for iis running the welder, it is possible to use smaller guage wire because your welder will not be a continous steady load.

    I think you will want to acquire another means to cut steel, I would suggest putting an abrasive chop saw on your birthday wish list. I take a good hacksaw and a Sawzall with me when I an picking up steal to bring home.

    I found a good find on Craigs List recently, an ATV dealer had some crates to be hauled away; they were made of 1" X thin angle.

    Mechaniical contractors, who install industrial piping, generate short pieces of scrap. They can sell this stuff to scrap dealers, so remember to say Please and "Thank You".

    If you develope a connection for material, keep in mind that the guys who are helping you will certainly appreciate a token offering of cold sodas on the warm days you come to haul away the goodies. Adult beverages can cause trouble for the employer, and should be avoided on the job site.

    You might also like 7014 as an additional electrode in your bag of tricks.

    Good Luck and enjoy your new welder in good health.
    I offer three choices: Good, Fast, & Cheap. You may pick two.

    Hobart AC/DC StikMate LX
    Harbor Freight AD Hood
    Harbor Freight Industrial Chop Saw
    DeVilbis 20 Gallon, 5 HP Compressor

  3. #3
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    Re: Tips for locating practice materials?

    Quote Originally Posted by skinner89 View Post
    Hi all,

    ... I would say my main issue would be cutting right now as all I really have for that is an angle grinder...
    Angle grinder with a very thin cutting disc installed in place of a grinding disc works excellent to cut most metal (be careful though they can be a little dangerous if you get careless - I recommend wearing a full faceshield). I use my angle grinder with a very thin cutting disc installed much more than I use my chop saw. The chop saw is okay for building something from scratch but is useless for cutting out broken sections for repairs on something that already exists.

    A hand held 4 1/2 grinder is a very useful tool and cheap too. $15 for a cheapie grinder and $2 for a cutting disc will be hard to beat and indispensable when welding. If money is tight simply swap out between the cutting and grinding discs to have a dual function tool. Second most useful tool for cutting metal for me is a Sawzall (Sawzall useful for wood too). I would only consider a chop saw if you frequently get into building large complex projects from scratch. Simple projects can usually be cut good enough with the handheld cutter.
    Last edited by rankrank1; 03-28-2011 at 08:46 PM.

  4. #4
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    Re: Tips for locating practice materials?

    There is a Harbor Freight store in your city, Birmingham, and I suggest you get to know them. They have some usable tools and supplies at attractive prices. They also sell what some folks would call junk. The trick is knowing if the value of the merchandise matches the price. I watch the sales and use coupons for discounts.

    They sell an angle grinder for about $10, on sale. I have two of them, one with a grinding disk and the other with a Flap Disk. I bought the insurance for the cheap grinder so if one fails within 2 years, they will replace it. For about $15, I am guaranteed a grinder for 2 years. I am not depending on one of these to earn a living or satiisfy a customer. The motors are not real powerful, so I run my Wire Cup Brush on an industrial grinder from a big name maker.

    I have several Harbor Freight items in my workshop.

    I buy my grinding wheels there also. They also sell leather aprons, rod keepers, etc.
    I offer three choices: Good, Fast, & Cheap. You may pick two.

    Hobart AC/DC StikMate LX
    Harbor Freight AD Hood
    Harbor Freight Industrial Chop Saw
    DeVilbis 20 Gallon, 5 HP Compressor

  5. #5
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    Re: Tips for locating practice materials?

    Look around for someone who runs a CNC plasma cutting operation. Ask for the drops.

    You'll find a lot of interesting shapes, sizes and thicknesses to play with. Add a bit of creativity and ingenuity plus a unique finish - call it 'art' and bring in some $$.

  6. #6
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    Re: Tips for locating practice materials?

    Thank y'all for the suggestions, this has helped me out. Luckily after finding the welder for cheap on CL I'm still pretty far under budget so I will most likely invest in a sawzall, a hacksaw, and look for a chop saw down the line.

    There is a Harbor Freight store in your city, Birmingham, and I suggest you get to know them
    Thanks for the heads up on this, i'll definitely check them out and they're only 10 min. away so that's clutch.

  7. #7
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    Re: Tips for locating practice materials?

    I've had great luck getting pratice pieces from my local steel supplier. Anyone can go in and get all the cuts and ends they want. Anything from 1/2" square tube, up to 10" round pipe and anything in between. He figures if you get enough practice, eventually you'll be buying from him anyway. Great way to run a shop.
    Last edited by Birdwell4; 03-31-2011 at 02:10 AM. Reason: spell check

  8. #8
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    Re: Tips for locating practice materials?

    dont do too much cutting with a small angle grinder. its a question of when not if it jumnps out and bites you hard.
    chopsaw noisy dirty..
    sawzall good
    portaband good
    oa torch good.....

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