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When you finally find the project that you really need a welder for, and you’re not a welding genius, you need to research what exactly you should be looking for in a welder. You’ve got lots of options when it comes to welding, starting with MIG and TIG — but then you have to watch the features on the model you purchase, to be sure you aren’t trying to use tissue paper when you need cardboard. Buyer’s guides can help, especially with no-nonsense .  You can also check out our “getting started” post on welding.

Keep in mind that as useful and widespread as welding is, there’s probably a welder model designed specifically for your needs.  If you need to weld in remote areas you can look into vehicle-mounted welders, while shop-based projects probably just need a standard plug-in variety. Likewise, if you only plan to weld one specific application over and over again you might choose differently than if you just end up running into projects that need a little welding. Then again, if it’s just occasional use, check your local equipment rental!

Let us know in comments if you have good advice on picking the right welder.

Picture posted on Flickr by Marshall Astor.

[DIY MIG Welding]
Welding Processes [CSN Welders]
Toolmonger Photo Pool [Flickr]

 

4 Responses to Welder Selection

  1. fred says:

    I too wish there were more forums and independent tests for tools like welders.
    We are not boilermakers – but do get to do some fairly heavy site work – now it’s become mostly stainless steel.

    I had an Old Hobart engine driven-stick welder which finally needed a major rebuild and was no longer up to our needs. My experience tells me that stick welders have there place – but are more difficult for an occasional user to master.
    When we decided to scrap the Hobart – we took recommendations and bought a Miller Trailblazer – nothing too big – no diesel or anything. We tried a Lincoln welder at the time – and my welder thought it to be a bit rough and said it had inconsistent output.
    We like the Miller – but we bought it based on one man’s opinion comparing only 2 machines – but maybe what we need is a magazine like Consumer Reports to do unbiased tests of contractor tools.

  2. Frank Hicinbothem says:

    Thanks for that article! I have been wanting to get a low-end welder for minor projects (repairs, building “useful” things out of scrap bikes, etc) but I’ve been held back by the bewildering array of technologies out there. No matter what the brand or type of welder, there seems to be someone on line who thinks it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, and someone equally believable who says it’s utter junk.

    I haven’t welded since I did some gas welding in metal shop in high school, lo these many years ago. After reading your roundup I feel much more comfortable with my decision and re-energized to make a choice of both product and technology.

  3. Brew says:

    “but maybe what we need is a magazine like Consumer Reports to do unbiased tests of contractor tools.”

    There are literally hundreds of sites out there that do tool tests. Tools of the trade is one. There are also tons of forums with professionals that will give tool advise too and welding forums that will help you decide on what you need depending on what you are going to use it for.

    Consumer Reports is about as far away from an “unbiased” review as you will find too.

  4. Dale says:

    Buy Miller… Can’t go wrong…buy cheap, you get cheap

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