Senior Tech Team
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: The Sunny South
Re: 110 volt mig welder
I spent near five years as a welder for a living, trained and certified by my state, doing mig, tungsten inert gas, sub-arc, stick, flux-core, as well as conventional brazing. In addition to that, I come from a welding family. My father was a career welder, and besides 27 years on the line, he also ran his own welding shop for another 15 years. I've burned a lot of rod in my time, and a lot of gas/wire and a heck of a lot of flux core too. I trained and worked on Lincoln, Hobart, and Miller equipment, and have used them all quite extensively. All good boxes back in the day. Today? Dunno - but Miller still looks like pretty good stuff to me.
I'm long out of the daily welding business, but having the above background, I'd say that my current 110 volt mig welder is decent for small around the shop ticky-tack stuff. I find the .030 wire to be about its max, but the .023 works better for sheet metal work. It seems perfectly o.k., IME for light duty sheet metal work...(but a buzz box is still quite handy for stick welding, if you need better penetration.) Just for reference, I used my 110VAC unit to weld on a pair of quarters recently, as well as floor pans, and a couple of trunks. It did o.k.
Definitely buy your own bottle. Save money and hassle.
Ditto on the floating ball regulator - but whatever you get, make sure it works and is accurate. Gas costs money. (Yes, dad, I know...:-)
Forget the flux fore wire in a 110VAC unit, the 110 machines are just not robust enough to handle it.
Also, with their very low duty cycle, don't expect to spend hours of continuous welding with the typical cheapie welder either.
Some things to help what you get to work better.
Install a 10 gauge wire supplied 20 amp rated dedicated receptacle for your 110 volt welder. Home run the wire from your breaker box. You will get much better results than plugging into a typical wall receptacle.
Invest in a 15' 10 gauge extension cord, if you must use an extension.
Get a heavier ground cable than the one that comes on the cheapie welder... and double the length. You'll be glad you did.
Replace the cheapo power cord on the cheapie welder. It's too light duty.
Other welding tips
invest in some silicone anti-spatter spray for your tip and shield.
Get a welding multi-tool to cut and nip and clean tips.
DEFINITELY get an auto-darkening hood! Save you a ton of time and hassle.
I've liked Tweeco guns. Mine is 10 years old and still going strong on the original liner. They seem to hold up well and have minimal problems.
get a pair of welding gloves and a welding apron.
Keep your welder covered when not using it. A clean welder is a happy welder.
Finally, my father (God rest his soul) would FLOG me if I didn't put this. :-) Son, turn off your tanks anytime you're not using your welder!
Remember, a LOT of welding is in the hands of the operator, understanding what's going on in the puddle, noting the conditions, clean metal, good wire, controlling the airflow around you when gas/wire welding, proper wire feed speed, correct heat setting, quality grounding, and a host of other things you just learn by feel and experience.
Just my 2C