Matt writes: “I want a welder for my home workshop and wonder which is the best to have. I want a welder that is not only diverse in application, but also well-built. I expect to use it for auto, home projects, and metal scultping. I would also like to use it for building bike frames.”
Those are some pretty vauge uses, but we do have a few suggestions — as I’m sure other Toolmongers will as well. If you’re just getting started, you might want to consider a wire welder. MIG welders — wire welders that also feed shielding gas — are even easier to use, but a basic no-gas wire welder will offer the best combination of simple setup and easy use. Wire welding is many, many times easier for the beginner than stick welding. For auto and home projects, you can often get away with a 120V unit, which will alleviate the need for special 220V wiring and render the welder much more portable as well.
Just as an FYI: we reviewed a pretty nice starter welder quite a while back — Hobart’s Handler 125 EZ. We even built a small project with it to demonstrate its capabilities.
As far as “bike frames” go, I’d start with some simpler projects before you jump into something you’re going to bet your butt on. To build bike frames you’re going to need a tubing notcher — and a lot of welding knowledge.
But what say you Toolmongers? Any good recommendations? Let us know in comments.