mig or TIG?


Staff member
I got asked which is better for minor body and frame repairs...mig or TIG,, thats a bit like asking if blonds or red heads provide better pin-up pictures, each application varies and both options are viable in some conditions, but TIG welding allows you total control over the heat and when and were the heats applied, this alone is a HUGE ADVANTAGE, mig welding can be rather difficult on thinner sheet metal, but if its done correctly and you can find the correct combo of wire diam, shield gas and amp settings & wire feed for the application,
(something the better 230 volt, MIG 220 amp 180AMPp-250AMP machines generally do well, on the 1/8" or thicker materials and almost all good quality name brand MIG WELDERS

(120 volt or 230 volt) ,
can do well, on the 26 GA-to 1/8" sheet steel )
its fast and strong and easy to use, so finding a balance where you get adequate penetration and little or no porosity in the weld while not blowing thru is not that easy, MIG is usually faster and easier on the thicker metal, but again it lacks the fine heat control. As far as the .023" wire vs. .030" wire,size if you are using a MIG welder, there are those that prefer the .030", others the .023"., keep in mind the thinner wire has slightly less chance of blowing thru the base material,as it takes a bit less heat to melt the fill wire,and as it generates a bit less heat,in the material being welded. I think that your welding machine your used to using, its ability to be finely adjusted,and your experience plays into this. In the end, you go with what your familiar with and what you're comfortable with. You're looking for the flattest bead that doesn't blow through, yet gets full penetration and a solid weld..remember you can go back several times to re-heat a welded area, with T.I.G. ...with or without adding fill rod ....something you can,t do with a M.I.G. welder
read these, links below,
keep in mind that allowing outside air to enter the molten metal weld pool, generally results in a far less dense and as a result noticeably weaker weld structure, some what like a sponge if you could examine it under an electron micro scope, use of a surrounding barrier of outer shield gas allows the molten metal to cool as a much stronger and denser more or less solid crystalline structure, this will generally result in a weld that looks better and provides a good deal stronger bond between the two welded original structures and a weld that requires noticeably less mechanical cleaning of its outer surfaces with grinding to clean its exposed outer surface.
this is especially helpful on processes like welding two thin sheet metal body panels as it will almost always require significantly less panel prep with grinding, sanding, bondo etc.
if you get a chance weld two scrap body panels one with flux core and one with MIG or even better TIG welds with the proper matched shield gases.

I think, youll notice a very obvious difference in both the surface of the welds and if you bend the welded joint several times, the effort it takes to crack the welded joint resulting it the welded area failing due to physical stress on that joint.
a properly welded MIG or even better TIG weld, will generally duplicate or even exceed the structural strength of the two parent panels you joined, Flux core welds by comparison won,t look as clean, and generally need far more surface prep, and provide a weaker panel bond.now theres a place for flux core welds when your not overly concerned with the appearance of the area on the adjacent panels to be welded , and your going to be welding a fairly low stressed area, but Ive always felt if you have anything your thinking about flux core welding MIG or TIG welding makes for a better choice, MIG welds are fast, easy to do and more than acceptably strong in most areas,if your really concerned with the welded joints strength and the time you take to weld the joints not critical, TIG welding is generally my preferred type of welding, on the structural stressed areas, but MIG welding is in my experience the better choice for larger low stress areas like installing a new floor pan, in a car.

before anyone buys any welder , new or used,

you should call and talk too both the manufactures reps, the TECH and sales and repair dept. guys,
and find someone local thats owned and used one for at least several months,
Ideally you'll want to get a local dealer to point out the welders strong vs weak points,
and perhaps let you either try one out or point you to a local shop,
that will be willing to let you try a few welds and show you how too use the welder for a few buck$
slipping some guy $50 -$60 bucks for 20-30 minutes instruction on a similar machine,
before you buy one,

is going to be a great financial investmen
t, and it could save you from making the wrong decision.
if the TIG welder your looking at does not have AC/DC and pulse frequency, options,
and rated at at least 180 amps, its not going to be ideal for welding aluminum.

the answer to if you can get by with a cheap 110 volt mig vs a larger 230 volt welder depends on both the welder and the type of work, plus the operators skill level, but for welding 1/8" or thinner sheet steel,you can easily use a GOOD QUALITY 110 volt will be fine!
keep in mind DUTY CYCLE when you think about selecting a welder to purchase, the less expensive 110-120 volt welder will frequently require or limit you to welding for a few minutes maximum then letting the welder cool off , for lets say alternating 7-8 minute time frames where the larger capacity 230 amp MIGS on the lower amp setting's might allow nearly continues use.

remember your wire size and shield gas and the regulator pressure and flow effect results

why not visit your local miller and lincoln dealers and ask LOTS OF questions, maybe ask for a demo and before you ask, FLUX CORE is NOT MIG WELDING AND GENERALLY RESULTS IN MUCH POORER RESULTS

http://www.usaweld.com/TIG-WELDER-Inver ... 12.5-3.htm




http://www.weldingtipsandtricks.com/tig ... ideos.html

http://millerwelds.com/resources/basicM ... cont__.htm



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nLsrcsc ... re=related


http://www.circletrack.com/howto/ctrp_0 ... index.html




http://content.lincolnelectric.com/pdfs ... /e3372.pdf


http://www.extremehowto.com/xh/article. ... e_id=60352

http://www.millerwelds.com/swf/flv/flas ... &h=250&v=8

EITHER MIG or TIG welders can do a decent job in the hands of a skilled WELDOR, provided the amps are there to do the job correctly, but I think you'll find that the TIG has a slight advantage in that you can control BOTH the heat and filler feed rates independently and change them very quickly as you weld while the mig is set and runs basically at a pre-set feed and heat range, while both the feed and heat are adjustable with a decent mig, they are generally, not as quickly or as finely adjustable because YOUR not in direct and instant control.
TIG is similar to oxy-acetylene welding in that you use a filler rod and a heat source, the electric arc replaces the flame and theres a shield gas curtain around the arc, but the process is similar.
mig basically pumps wire, into the weld are where it grounds out, and melts as it leaves the gun,heating the surrounding area and turning into molten metal.
the answer to which welder you'll want depends on what your intended use for the welder is, an ARC welder like your talking about is a rather poor choice for that, that welder is fine for welding up car trailers or brackets on rear differentials or most things made from 3/16-3/8" steel but it will be a P.I.T.A, on thin 24-20 gauge sheet steel fenders and doors etc. compared to a decent MIG or TIG
Id suggest you take a class on learning to weld BEFORE you buy a welder
and if its body work your intending to do a small MIG or TIG is a far better choice than an ARC welder

the main difference is you always need to be pumping metal wire to generate heat with a mig and that's not true of the TIG so you can PRE-HEAT or RE-HEAT and area without adding filler wire/rod with a TIG, but NOT with a MIG, so obviously a MIG has a bit more limitations.

MIGS are generally cheaper and faster,& easier to operate, and in most cases do a decent job, but you get a better,deeper weld with a TIG,and you can go back over areas when you need to, if the guy using it has decent skills and understands the process well.

I bought this miller 252 MIG for my shop, but I now see other options I was un-aware of at the time I purchased it


I already owned and used a lincoln ARC welder






BTW LOTS of guys use those wire feed FLUX CORE WIRE WELDERS without the ARGON tank and gas shield and refer to them as MIG WELDING... ITS NOT and its a VERY POOR substitute for EVEN MIG WELDING, in the QUALITY of the welds produced






http://www.usaweld.com/ProductDetails.a ... 70221-12.5

http://www.ehow.com/video_2327405_opera ... elder.html


http://www.pirate4x4.com/tech/billavist ... 0Guide.pdf

BTW while it might be (OLD SCHOOL) an OXY-ACETYLENE welder torch and tank set can do a surprising amount of jobs in skilled hands and should not be ignored as a tool,

but what ever you buy research it carefully ,first, and buy the best you can afford in name brand equipment, youll be far less likely to get crap that needs to be upgraded or replaced shortly, and the quality of the welds, and the EASE OF WELDING IS effected BY THE EQUIPMENT YOU PURCHASE

ask questions here....LOTS OF QUESTIONS and don,t relie on a single source for valid info







if you check your local bargain trader and Craig,s list or EBAY theres a good chance you can find a used miller,Lincoln or HTP TIG WELDER that would do an even better job that would normally cost several thousand dollar$ for a similar cash out lay
something in a used TIG WELDER , preferably in a 200-300 amp ranger can be
less than 1/2 price, of a new tig welder and a screaming deal, keep in mind a decent TIG can also do aluminum
just stick to name brands LINCOLN,MILLER,HTP and do the research to verify its still got parts availability (LESS THAN 10 years old usually)
IF you shop carefully you can normally find a decent used TIG WELDER for well under $1500 that originally cost 2-4 times that much, ive seen used commercial 250-300 amp miller tig welders fairly frequently listed for under $1500
Last edited by a moderator:


Staff member
a few of you guys will be lucky an get a decent MIG or TIG welder for XMASS, hopefully the equipment will match your needs and you have SOME input in the sellection process,
I would suggest you go to your local LINCOLN and MILLER dealers and discuss each machines features and capabilities BEFORE making a selection, the worst thing you can do is buy a welder thats not able to do what you need it too do, then be forced to buy a different welder latter, effectively wasting your money on the first welder.

each of my welders is designed and was purchased to fill a need that the others don,t match well.
yes you can do a whole lot with some welders, but only the more expensive mig and TIG welders have a WIDE RANGE in what they can do, and they BOTH require a GAS SHIELD, LIKE ALL TRUE MIG WELDERS DO,(OR TIG for that matter) making them a bit more expensive that the bargin basement entry welders, that spit flux core wires, and are not true MIG
any decent MIG welder REQUIRES, a minimum of, the correct wire for the application AND a tank of shield gas and a regulator and a basic understanding of what your DOING and the knowledge of adjustments to the GAS,and WIRE FEED rates and AMP SETTINGS PLUS the skill to WELD CORRECTLY, thats why Ive always suggested taking a class on welding BEFORE purchasing a welder.

< Gas metal arc welding (GMAW), commonly called metal inert gas (MIG) welding or metal active gas (MAG) welding, is a semi-automatic or automatic arc welding process which utilizes a welding gun through which a continuous and consumable wire electrode and a shielding gas is fed. A constant voltage, direct current power source is most commonly used with GMAW, but constant current systems, as well as alternating current, can be used. There are four primary methods of metal transfer in GMAW, called globular, short-circuiting, spray, and pulsed-spray, and each have distinct properties and corresponding advantages and limitations. Originally developed for welding aluminum and other non-ferrous materials in the 1940s, GMAW was soon applied to steels because it allowed for lower welding time compared to other welding processes. The cost of inert gas limited its use in steels until several years later, when the use of semi-inert gases such as carbon dioxide became common. Further developments during the 1950s and 1960s gave the process more versatility and as a result, it became a highly used industrial process. Today, GMAW is commonly used in industries such as the automobile industry, where it is preferred for its versatility and speed. Unlike welding processes that do not employ a shielding gas, such as shielded metal arc welding, it is rarely used outdoors or in other areas of air volatility. A related process, flux cored arc welding, employs an hollow electrode wire that is filled with flux on the inside, eliminating the need for shielding gas.

bits of info, READ THRU THE LINKS
first Id like to say Im not an EXPERT at welding but have done quite a bit over the years
now just to answer some basic questions, heres some info from a differant site you might want to know!

I'll try to cover some of the basics for you as best as I can explain them.

TIG - (Tungsten Inert Gas Welding) basically resemble oxy-acetylene welding (torch) but you use a controllable electric arc as the flame/head source, ans add the weld wire, or rod separate from the arc


This process is the toughest to learn. The electrode is composed of Tungsten, and a current is flowed through it controlled by either a foot pedal, a hand switch, or a fixed current on the machine itself. I am learning TIG using a foot pedal, the more you press down on the metal, the more amps you get. Once you get enough current flowing to get an appropriate sized weld pool, you start dabbing a filler metal into the puddle as you move the electrode further down the work piece. TIG allows you a great amount of control because you regulate how much current the electrode gets and how much filler metal the weld pool gets. This process is very slow compared to the other types though.
IG is the easiest process of welding. A feeding gun is used to feed a spool of filler metal wire into the weld pool. Current is usually switched on and off by means of a trigger on the gun. Amps are usually controlled by a dial on the MIG machine itself, meaning that you cannot instantly and constantly adjust current in the middle of welding. Though, with some machines you are able to get a foot pedal to control Amps while welding. the shield gas prevents the molten metal from oxidizing, and that significantly strengthens the weld in some applications
Arc Welding
these are the cheaper buzz box welders we all tend to start with, they use an arc thru the weld rod some what similar to mig but without the gas shielding, they have flux on most rods to help the weld quality[/n]


Arc welding is mostly used in industrial applications. An electrode is used to strike an arc, the electrode then melts away to deposit metal into the weld pool. The electrode is coated with a variety of different materials which are used to help keep the weld pool from being contaminated.

TIG and non-flux-cored MIG both use a variety of different shielding gases to help keep the weld pool from being contaminated depending on what metal is being welding.





http://www.lincolnelectric.com/knowledg ... xcored.asp

MIG vs. Flux-Cored: Which Welding Process Is Right for You?
Lincoln offers a full-line of wire feeder welders capable of MIG welding or flux-cored welding

You are about to make the plunge and buy your first wire feeder welder. Being a toolguy (or gal), you don't want to waste your money on a toy that goes out with the trash in a few weeks. You most likely are very comfortable building things from wood, but you always wanted to step up to steel. You probably want to run it off of 115 volt input, so that it is very portable, but maybe stepping up to the 230 volt input machines with the option of welding thicker material (more than ¼") is a valid point. You think the decision-making process is over when you are hit with yet another question - which welding process will you use? . . . GMAW (MIG) or FCAW (flux-cored)? If you are like most novice welding operators, you may be confused as to the differences of these two choices. The best answer depends on 3 things. First, what you are welding. Second, where are you welding it. And third, the surface finish of what you are welding. We will help you to decipher between the two processes, then describe advantages and disadvantages of each and wrap up by giving you usage tips. Ultimately, we hope to help you decide on a solution that will give you the best results for your application. The suggestions here are conservative and should be attainable by a beginner. Welding is a skill and an art about 95% can learn to do. Very few baseball players are able to hit over .350 in the majors. Very few welders have the skills to make picture perfect welds. It is critical to have good eye/hand coordination and a steady hand. Arc practice time is the only instructor that will teach you to truly set the machine properly. With basic motor skills, practice and patience, you should attain success at making sound welds.

heres a few MIG WELDING tips

An easy way to think of the two is this:

DC(-) Straight = more heat in the base metal (the metal melts faster)
DC(+) Reverse = more heat in the wire (the wire melts faster)

mig wire should be selected based on what your welding, a .025 wires great for sheet steel body parts and .030 makes a good compromise choice for both sheet metal body parts and thicker stuff up to about 3/16" thick.

youll usually get a better weld if your a bit too high on the amp setting than a bit too low, so if your not real sure try to keep it hot

most mig welders have a chart or a manual that gives suggested wire diam. feed speeds and amp ranges for different applications.
naturally you'll need to make adjustments to the wire feed mechanism if you change wire diam. and you'll need to keep the wire clean and dry to prevent corrosion.

shield gas flow rates will also need to vary but 25 cubic feet per hour is a good basic rate to start with with a .030 wire most guys working on cars will use.

youll need a good die grinder and stiff stainless steel brush to clean potential weld surfaces of corrosion and paint.

beveling the edges of two parts to be welded where they will join tends to allow a better weld joint.

welding so the joint is directly down is obviously preferred, as hot molten metal tends to run with gravity, if working on a vertical surface joint working from the top down tends to leave a cleaner less bulged or protruding joint bead surface requiring less clean-up grinding,than working from the bottom upward.

tack welding thin metal joints in a stitch, skip, stitch pattern limits heat distortion

The Definitions

Gas Metal-Arc Welding:

GMAW as identified by the American Welding Society, is also popularly known as MIG (Metal Inert Gas) and uses a continuous solid wire electrode for filler metal and an externally supplied gas(typically from a high-pressure cylinder) for shielding. The wire is usually mild steel, typically copper colored because it is electroplated with a thin layer of copper to protect it from rusting, improve electrical conductivity, increase contact tip life and generally improve arc performance. The welder must be setup for DC positive polarity. The shielding gas, which is usually carbon dioxide or mixtures of carbon dioxide and argon, protects the molten metal from reacting with the atmosphere. Shielding gas flows through the gun and cable assembly and out the gun nozzle with the welding wire to shield and protect the molten weld pool. Molten metal is very reactive to oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen from the atmosphere, if exposed to it. The inert gas usually continues to flow for some time after welding to keep protecting the metal as it cools. A slight breeze can blow the shielding away and cause porosity, therefore welding outdoors is usually avoided unless special windscreens are erected.

However, if done properly, operator appeal and weld appearance are excellent with MIG and it is most welders' favorite process to use. Good technique will yield excellent results. The properly made finished weld has no slag and virtually no spatter. A "push" gun angle is normally used to enhance gas coverage and get the best results. If the material you are welding is dirty, rusty, or painted it must be cleaned by grinding until you see shiny bare metal. MIG welding may be used with all of the major commercial metals, including low carbon steel, low alloy steel, and stainless steel and aluminum with potential for excellent success by a novice.

Aluminum MIG Welding

Welding aluminum requires much more than just changing to aluminum wire. Get comfortable welding steel first. Since aluminum is very soft, it requires aluminum drive rolls that have a U-groove and no teeth to bite or cause wire flaking. Cleanliness of the wire and base metal are critical. Wipe the material with acetone on a clean shop rag. Use stainless steel wire brushes that have only been used on aluminum. Drive roll tension and gun length must be minimized. A Teflon, nylon or similar gun liner is needed to minimize friction in feeding the wire and 100% pure Argon gas is required for shielding. Special contact tips are often recommended. Special gun movement techniques are often highly desirable. It is a challenge, but it can be done.

Self-shielded Flux-Cored Arc-Welding process

FCAW per the American Welding Society, or flux-cored for short, is different in that it uses a wire which contains materials in its core that, when burned by the heat of the arc, produce shielding gases and fluxing agents to help produce a sound weld, without need for the external shielding gas. We achieve a sound weld, but in a very different way. We have internal shielding instead of external shielding. The shielding is very positive and can endure a strong breeze. The arc is forceful, but has spatter. When finished, the weld is covered with a slag that usually needs to be removed. A "drag" angle for the gun is specified which improves operator visibility. The settings on the wire feeder welder are slightly more critical for this process. Improper technique will have results that are magnified. This type of welding is primarily performed on mild steel applications outdoors. The Innershield® .035" NR-211-MP is often used for the 115 volt machines and the .045" Innershield NR-211-MP is typically used in the 230 volt machines. Farmers have found that these products can save a planting or harvest by repairing a broken machine out in the middle of the field in record time.

General Usage Rules


MIG welding example

As a rule of thumb, it is recommended to use a compact 115 volt input (or 230 volt) MIG wire feeder welder indoors on clean new steel that is 24 to 12 gauge thick. 12 gauge is a little less than 1/8" thick. 24 gauge is less than 1/16" thick. The smallest wire (.025") will make it the easiest to weld the thinnest (24 gauge) material. The .030" diameter wire will weld a little faster deposition rate. If you need to weld 1/8" to ¼" thick material with MIG, you will need the higher capacity compact machine which will require 230 volt input. The higher amperage range of this machine can better handle your welding needs in a single pass and you may not have to waste time with second or third passes. The 230 volt machine could also run .035" diameter wire. To MIG weld material more than ¼" thick, you need a higher capacity truly industrial machine. If most of your welding will be performed indoors on clean material that is less than 1/8" thick, a MIG machine that operates on 115 volts is probably your best bet for economic reasons in that a 230 volt input machine will be more expensive.

Flux-cored welding example

The flux-cored process is only recommended on materials as thin as 20 gauge, a bit thicker than the 24 gauge we said for MIG. In general, this process is best for welding thicker materials with a single pass, especially if you need to weld outdoors such as to repair a tractor out in the field. A 115 volt flux-cored machine using an electrode such as .035" Innershield NR-211-MP will generally allow you to weld steel up to ¼"thick. Note that this is more than double the thickness maximum of 12 gauge with MIG on 115 volts. With the proper electrode on a proper machine, such as .045" Innershield NR-211MP, and a 230 volt input machine, you can weld steel up to 1/2" thick. Note that Innershield® NR-211-MP requires that the machine be setup for DC negative polarity.


While there are advantages and disadvantages to both processes, we will try to outline for you some of the most common.

Welding application image


* The best choice when cosmetic appearance is an issue since it provides lower spatter levels than flux-cored. The arc is soft and less likely to burn through thin material.
* The lower spatter associated with MIG welding also means no slag to chip off and faster cleaning time.
* MIG welding is the easiest type of welding to learn and is more forgiving if the operator is somewhat erratic in holding arc length or providing a steady travel speed. Procedure settings are more forgiving.
* If you are skilled and get specific proper guns, shielding gas, liners, drive rolls, and electrode, MIG can weld a wider range of material including thinner materials and different materials such as stainless, nickel alloys or aluminum.


* Since a bottle of external shielding gas is required, MIG welding may not be the process of choice if you are looking for something that offers portability and convenience. MIG also requires additional equipment such as a hose, regulator, solenoid (electric valve) in the wire feeder and flowmeter.
* The welder's first job is to prepare the surface by removing paint, rust and any surface contamination.
* MIG has a soft arc which will not properly weld thicker materials (10 gauge would be the maximum thickness that MIG could soundly weld with the 115 volt compact wire feeder welder we are referring to or ¼" with the 230 volt input compact wire feeder welder.) As the thickness of the material (steel) increases, the risk of cold lapping also increases because the heat input needed for good fusion is just not possible with these small machines.

Welding application image


* The Self-Shielded electrodes are optimal for outdoor procedures since the flux is built into the wire for positive shielding even in windy conditions. An external shielding gas and additional equipment are not needed, so setting up is simpler, faster and easier.
* The flux-cored process is most suited for applications with thicker materials as it is less prone to cold lapping.


* It is not recommended for very thin materials (less than 20 gauge).
* When flux-cored welding, machine settings need to be precise. A slight change in a knob position can make a big difference in the arc. In addition, the gun position is more critical in that it must be held consistently, and at the proper angle, to create a good weld.
* This process creates spatter and slag that may need to be cleaned for painting or finishing.

It should be noted that the same machine can be used to weld with both MIG and flux-cored processes though a special package is usually needed to change from one application to the other. Drive rolls, shielding gas, gun liners, contact tips and procedure settings need to be addressed when changing processes.

Choosing Wire

Another area that may cause the novice welder some concern is how to choose the best wire. Proper electrode diameter is related to plate thickness and the welder you have. A smaller wire makes it easier to weld thinner plate.

For a 110 volt input MIG machine, an electrode such as Lincoln's .025" SuperArc® L-56 is the smallest available size and the easiest to use on very thin material. A .030" SuperArc would weld slightly thicker material a little faster. For flux-cored, a 110v machine would run a .035" wire (such as Lincoln's Innershield NR-211-MP) because this is the smallest size made and this is all the machine can run.

For a 230v MIG machine, most people are welding heavier plate and step up to the .030" or even .035" diameter solid electrode such as .030" or .035" SuperArc® L-56 because they deposit weld metal faster and they can weld heavier plate. For flux-cored with the 230 volt input machine, most people move up to Lincoln's .045" diameter Innershield NR-211-MP for plate up to ½" thick.

Realize that these small machines are excellent at what they do, but they cannot do everything. Electrodes for production welding, hardfacing to resist wear, and most specialty electrodes will exceed the capacity of these machines. You must be careful to match the output voltage of your machine with the voltage of the electrode and the appropriate wire diameter and wire feed speeds to make sure you have a compatible system.

Tips for All

1) It is very important to get a good, solid work connection. This means you should thoroughly clean or grind the surface of the metal where attaching the work clamp and use a tightly attached work clamp so electricity can easily flow through the workpiece and back to the welder. Paint and rust are insulators. Remove them. This is a very common mistake to overlook.

2) Put the welder on a separate circuit breaker that is properly fused as stated in your Operators Manual. This is not another strand of Christmas lights. You are melting steel at around 5,000 degrees F. You cannot weld with inadequate input power. Don't even try.

3) Good fit-up is a big plus. Weld joints are laps, fillets and butts. Avoid gaps whenever possible to minimize burnthrough problems. This is especially critical on thin sheet metal.

4) Keep the gun cable as straight as possible for smooth wire feeding. Don't sharply bend it.

5) Make sure the contact tip looks good (not elongated or melted) and it is tightened to the diffuser.

6) Cut the wire at an angle to a point before starting to weld for better starts.

7) Use correct electrode stickout and maintain it as well as proper welding procedures.

8) Make sure the drive rolls feed smoothly with proper tension.

9) Relax and try to hold the gun as steady and smooth as possible.

10) Observe and follow all welding safety precautions as specified in your Operators Manual. Pay special attention to the potential for electric shock, arc rays that can burn skin and eyes, fire and explosion, and proper ventilation. For more details, consult ANSI Z 49.1.



Staff member
just some info, Ive looked into the more reasonably priced TIG welders that are able to do 90% plus of the type of work that welders are used for in this hobby ,welders that the hot rodder hobby requires to do that type of work

I talked at length recently to my miller dealer about that TIG,


http://www.toolsforless.com/product/980 ... er_Package

they are saying its getting good feed back from those guys who are only using it for light work, like sheet metal and small aluminum parts (probably 60% of the hobby guys)

here is another option

EVERYONE I KNOW that bought this tig below is THRILLED WITH IT


here is another option


one of my friends was recently working on an older corvette with a rather large, thin,flimsy and complicated aluminum bracket that held the air conditioner compressor and serpentine belt tension-er, to the block and used its multi bolt, secured base for its strength, during the removal he forgot one bolt and tugged hard on the bracket and twisted it enough that it broke, or the previous owner had used air tools and overtightened it, pricing a new one at salvage corvette yards showed that it cost several hundred dollars to replace.
SO, I got out my TIG welder, figuring even if I totally destroyed the bracket during the repair process he would be no worse off.
now Ive learned years ago to do some test welds on some similar size scrap aluminum and to use the minimum amps required so as not to warp the component.
he was surprised when I grabbed some scrap aluminum to do some test welds on ans when I took the effort to re-grind the tungsten torch electrode, but once I worked the amps up to about 83 amps Id found the required heat, and gas flow rates and while the bracket was obviously not new , under a close visual inspection,its now very serviceable and it takes a close look to see it was welded.something I doubt would be true if I,d been testing the amp range on the weld while adjusting the welder

good advice on learning to TIG WELD ,posted in different thread
"Take a welding class at the local community college, and learn to TIG before you spend the money. Just like any other machine tool, the welding machine is only about half the cost of getting setup to weld.

You'll need:

TIG power supply (600$-60,000$)
Foot Pedal (100$ and up)
TIG torch (15$-150$ bodies, 5$ handles, 40-50$ cabling)
Torch parts (3$ collet bodies, 1$ collets, insulators, 2$ cups, backcaps)
Tungstens (10packs usually 20-30$)
Gas bottle (Mine is 50$/year lease, plus 36$ for Argon fill, I fill about every two weeks)
Gloves (12$/pr)
Filler rod (aluminum 5.60/lb, steel 4.30/lb, stainless 8.90/lb current and local)

Figure in if you are starting from scratch, that you'll go through two packs of tungsten, 40 collets, 8 cups, a pair of gloves, 30lbs of steel rod, and probably 8 tank fills on a Q size tank, before you are able to produce a consistent, clean, saleable weld.

Now, if you take the TIG class, then you get to pay the 400$ and burn through as much in the way of supplies as you want...get as good as you want...and THEN

spend the big money on equipment, after you've already spent someone else's money on materials learning. "








Staff member
personally IM kind of torn between the ease and speed a good MIG like my 252 miller provides



and the flexibility and wide variations in what you can do with the TIG welders



both can produce excellent results, if your doing alot of welding a MIG may be prefered, but if QUALITY is more a concern ID suggest the TIG

guys tell me the cheaper off brand migs tend to jam wire...

Ive never had the slightest problem,
but then Ive used mostly TIG, oxy acetolene and ARC welders untill very recently, MIGS are fairly NEW TO MY SHOP, the torch and arc have been available for many years,
the LINCOLN mig I had for several years and the HOBART mig worked flawlessly and the new MILLER 252 has so far been just fine!
I know lots of guys with MIGS and if you don,t keep the feed rollers lubed and clean they tend to develope problems

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Staff member
BTW, when sellecting a TIG TORCH DESIGN, theres air cooled and liquid cooled, LIQUID COOLED COSTS MORE BUT ITS A GOOD OPTION, you might want to spring for!

the AMPS your using naturally effect the HEAT and the rate it builds but its the TIME you spend welding thats the big concern, as the HEAT that builds up in the hand held torch doesn,t drop off real fast.
if your doing things like brackets and headers its usually no big deal, simply because you stop and start and verify fit so often giving the torch time to cool, but on bigger projects like rear suspensions and roll cages its occasionally a P.I.T.A. letting an air cool torch cool


Staff member
From "Mr. TIG" (http://www.tigdepot.com):


So....you purchased a MIG machine. You took it home and immediately plugged it in to "test" your skills on long awaited home projects. You have fairly good results and your chest swells with pride. Your machine is typically set-up with "gasless" filler material commonly known as "Flux Core". It welds ok, but you find that if you want "clean" results you need a bottle of Argon/Co2 75/25% mix and "bare" filler wire. You then read in the instruction manual that you can weld aluminum, but you need to change the wire feed rolls and replace the Steel Gun Liner with a near frictionless "Poly" or plastic Liner........Oh, and don't forget that now you need to get a new bottle of 100% Argon for aluminum.

Now that you have made the changes in your system, purchased or leased the additional gas bottle, changed the filler to aluminum, you are ready to go. Once you pull the trigger you are quickly surprised and almost disillusioned with the results. It would be kind to say you produced a weld. In fact, the results are HORRIBLE!! Fear not! You are one of millions that believed you would get excellent results from your machine. The fact is, MIG (metallic inert gas welding) is very easy to learn when applied to Steel applications. The less expensive machines, (under $500.00) typically do not have precise controls and are difficult to "tune-in" to thin materials, (under 16 ga.). They also are not good for material in excess of 1/8", therefore, your window of opportunity is 1/8" to 1/4" steel.

Enter TIG Welding.................the TIG welding process, commonly known as "Heliarc" allows you to weld most weldable materials including 4130 Cr-Mo, Stainless, Aluminum, Titanium, Magnesium and many other materials. Not only can you weld a variety of materials, but with the variable "foot control" you can adjust amperage on the fly and weld super-thin materials, typically as thin as 24 ga. Using only Argon gas, it allows you to weld all of the materials mentioned, so what's the catch? Simply put.............TIG requires more skill. Very much like gas welding, you have to manually apply or "dab" filler material into the puddle using cut length alloys of diameters of your choice. The TIG torch provides the heat source through tungsten and you hold the tungsten directly above the area you are welding. Depress the "foot control" (very much like a car accelerator) until you see a "liquid" puddle. Dab the filler into the base of the puddle, (not the middle), and move at a slow consistent speed, dabbing the puddle as you go. This method of welding is slower than MIG, however, cold lapping is virtually non-existent with TIG, whereas it is somewhat common in MIG.

Why isn't everyone using TIG? For many years the TIG machines were extremely expensive and were focused towards industry. Now, the hobbyist, hot rodder, motorcycle builder or kit plane builder are the focus of attention. Machines are now smaller, lower cost, designed for the garage, (power requirements are 115V and 220V and typically require no more than a 50 amp circuit). So the best way to get started with TIG is to................get started!!


Material thickness (steel)..............up to 1/4".......same
Productivity................................fast.. .............slow
Quality.......................................aver age.........excellent
Variety of materials.......................limited........... most
Skills Required..............................2-4 hours......20-40 hours
Thin materials (24 to 16 ga)...........difficult..........easy
Thick materials............................easy......... .....easy

Note: comparisons are based on the home hobbyist and machines not rated at more than 185 amps. Material thickness based on steel applications. Hours for Skill building reflect a level of "feeling comfortable" with the process.

Good luck, Mister TIG


I borrowed a freinds miller 180 mig similar to this one (below) to install new mufflers, after I found the clamps just won,t hold the correct angle on the exhaust pipes once you start driving on bumpy roads

http://www.csnwelders.com/Miller-Electr ... R1002.html

all I can say is IM saving every dime to get one! darn nice tool,that was both fun and reasonably easy to use once I got the hang of it. (we will totally ignore that first weld I made on the scrap exhaust pipes grumpy gave me top practic on,you understand)


Staff member
whats a decent welder for this hobby?

that depends on if you ever intend to do anything other than that single panel repair, the miller has better control and a wider amp range, either welder will work on that repair but once you get into 3/16" or thicker the 180 amp miller will be better.
personally ID say its a total no brainer to get the miller 180, but if your really strapped for cash the smaller hobart will work fine on the current project.
but if you get into other types of repairs you may be kicking yorself for not getting the miller later.

lets put it this way, I bought this for my shop, because it has the option & ability to use a dirrect feed for aluminum welding with a mig and the necessary amps for aluminum mig welding in the future

http://www.millerwelds.com/products/mig ... matic_252/

something like this does panel repairs

http://www.welders-direct.com/merchant2 ... de=K2688-1

but the price difference would make me get this,

http://www.welders-direct.com/merchant2 ... ode=907422

if I was more heavily envolved in the hobby than it appears you are currently

or at least this

http://www.welders-direct.com/merchant2 ... ode=907312


Staff member
your basic 110volt shop mig will do a great deal but its not up to the larger jobs on frame and suspension components in some cases

http://www.welders-direct.com/merchant2 ... ode=907335


I FULLY AGREE! if I was limited to a 110 volt mig thats a good selection,but should you spend $680 on a welder that will do many things or add $290 more to get a welder that will do almost ANYTHING on a car???

if you need to upgrade its not just $290 more its almost $1000 minus what you get for the used miller welder at that time, but if your like most of us gear heads you won,t want top part with an old freind and youll wish to get the larger welder in ADDITION TO the smaller mig

http://www.welders-direct.com/merchant2 ... ode=907422

keep in mind MIG requires a tank and gauges to run shield gases, tanks can be rented or purchased but both routes have advantages, renting requires a small monthly expence plus refils, buying requires a couple hundered dollars up front, refils, and occasional tank recertification costs

Ive used the hobarts and lincolns both work, but Id point out I sold my lincoln mig and hobart migs and purchased the MILLER after using all of them repeatedly, that SHOULD make you think a bit about WHY I bought the miller if the smaller migs from hobart and lincoln were working just fine when I sold them??

theres not a thing wrong with either brand equipment, its just not as easy to use or a versital as the larger miller mig, yes the added features and how they perform is in my opinion worth the extra cost, but then I do frequent welds

I suggested this mig, above
http://www.welders-direct.com/merchant2 ... ode=907422

but I bought this MIG for my shop

http://www.welders-direct.com/merchant2 ... ode=907321

the differance is the larger amp rated miller mig allows you to snap in a seperate ALUMINUM welding spool gun, and weld aluminum

http://www.welders-direct.com/merchant2 ... ode=130831


Staff member
owning a decent welder is a bit like being addicted to crack cocain, you get sucked in thinking, no big deal, Ill try it, but once you do you find it takes up a good deal of your time, once you find out how good it feels to fabricate custom stuff, and once you get envolved your hooked.
I got a basic SEARS arc welder 30 years ago, and it never impressed me, it was a tool, but it was not that impressive,simply because I lacked the skills to use it and it was very limited in what it could do. I certainly could not easily weld up an oil pan, or make a nice looking bracket, with that arc welder, it wasn,t till a buddy got a MILLER TIG and a MIG in HIS shop , and he already had a big drill press with a vice on its table,and a band saw and a small metal lathe, purchased at a machine shop that the owner had passed on, and his widdow was dumping all the tools at bargin prices about 25 years ago that I began to see the potential.
He would just fabricate the most amazing accessory brackets, motor mounts, suspension components, oil pans, ETC, stuff that would cost THOUSANDS of dollars IF it was even available, for pocket change in most cases
ID look at a catalog, that showed a custom baffled oil pan for about a weeks pay, he would build a better one in his shop, fot $30-$35, it became obvious that having a decent welder and aquiring some skills was the route to take in this hobby
but a really cheap welder will tend to fustrate your efforts while having decent equipment is a huge help.
now the first step is learning the differance, so take a few classes or hang out with some old geezer that can teach you, or at least spend some time talking to the local lincoln, HTP, and miller dealers, local welding shops and get some background.
one of the first lessons was mocking up stuff with cardboard or plexiglass patterns, and not to start fabricating stuff untill you built a model or pattern and worked out the clearance issues.
Its a whole lot easier to move tape on cardboard, or use glue on plexi-glass to check and verify, clearance and alignment issues than to do those changes in metal.
and you darn sure will learn the wisdom in "MEASSURE TWICE BEFORE CUTTING ONCE"


New Member
I'm not sure if this was mentioned above but if you are using a water cooled tig torch, make SURE that the pump for the liquid is turned on BEFORE you start welding. I know one guy that destroyed 3 torches in one day by not turning on what needed to be, that was a bad day for him!

From what I've read, most new water cooled tig setups have some sort of 'auto-on' feature, I figured it's still worth mentioning however.


Staff member
I know Ive sure started too start a TIG arc, and only then REMEMBERED to turn on the torch coolant pump, a few times, I put a plastic tape STICKER on the welder torch to remind me!
those label makers that spit out plastic tape labels sure come in handy in the shop!

both welding types (MIG/TIG) SHOULD be used with a different shield gas for the different metals, (STAINLESS vs ALUMINUM)
MIG obviously requires a different wire, and in most cases a different mig spool gun for aluminum, those are usually small 5 lb rolls the stainless feeds from the welder in 30-40 lb rolls that cost nearly $200

http://www.millerwelds.com/education/te ... setup.html

http://www.millerwelds.com/education/te ... _tips.html

tig requires a different filler rod (10 lb packs about $60)and electrode and shield gas .($240 or so to own) cheaper to rent but theres a deposit required

your local miller welder supply will be THRILLED to point out the EXTRA stuff you'll need, example on my miller 252 it requires a different spool gun for aluminum and that alone is $1000, add the wire and ideally a different tank of shield gas adds an additional $340 or so

keep in mind mig basically squirts wire that melts as it grounds to the project, you don,t get heat or an arc without metal wire also
TIG is basically an electric arc you control with filler rods you dab and melt as you control both the feed of the fill rod rate and the heat of the arc and the duration the heat stays at any one point, migs generally faster once you get the settings correct and the skill to use it, tigs generally more precise and easier to hide or correct mistakes made on the first pass but it takes more skill to master and the equipments more expensive, but with TIG you only add fill rod or heat as you need either , and at the rate you need either one and you can go back and remelt things without adding fill rod, YOUR in total control with TIG.
If you've used an oxy-acetylene torch to weld TIG is similar you just have an electric arc replacing the flame, and electric arc that's usually controlled with a foot pedal.

the last couple guys I know who bought one said they were several hundred dollars less than a comparable miller or lincon TIG, and had a bit better features for the money.
Call us at 800-USA-WELD (800-872-9353) for more information or to place an order.
http://www.usaweld.com/TIG-WELDER-Inver ... 12.5-3.htm





Maxstar 200 DX power source
Quick Reference Guide: English | Spanish
8 ft (2.4 m) primary cord
2-Wheel trolley cart (300480)
Coolmate™ 1 cooler 120 VAC (300360)
1 Gallon coolant (043810)
RFCS-14HD foot control (194744)
25 ft (7.6 m) Weldcraft® WP20 water cooled torch (300185)
Torch accessory kit with tungsten includes:
- Shielding cups
- Collets-1/16, 3/32, 1/8
- Collet bodies-1/16, 3/32, 1/8
- 2% Cerium tungsten-1/16, 3/32, 1/8
15 ft (4.6 m) Work lead with clamp and Dinse connector
Gas hose
Smith Regulator/flowmeter
Torch cable cover
Setup DVD $4,429.00

http://www.welders-direct.com/mm5/merch ... Code=m-tig

http://www.welders-direct.com/mm5/merch ... Code=l-tig


Active Member
I just bought a second mig welder, a Millermatic 180, based on Grumpys experience/advice. A great unit and very easy to use. Much higher quality than my old Century 110v/110a unit. It's gonna get a work-out on the '72 Chevelle rust bucket I bought a few weeks ago.


Staff member
congrats on the purchase of a tool you'll soon find you wonder how you ever got along without!

I live on a pension,so I know all about money being tight but if your reading thru this thread and looking for a first welder don,t shop on price! SHOP FOR WHAT THE WELDER CAN DO! AND FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU NEED AND HOW TO AFFORD IT!
don,t think of buying a 90-100 amp flux core welder, its basically wasted money as its extremely limited in its capacity
your far better off saving and waiting until you can get a 140-180 amp name brand mig welder in most cases.the deference in what they can do is amazing

http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/ ... _200306073


this will do a great deal but its best on exhaust and body panel work

probably the best compromise between price and capacity for most car guys, it will do 90% of car welding


this is an excellent shop mig, that will do almost anything


I HATE finding out Im limited by tools so I bought this for the personal shop
(took me almost two years of doing odd side work and dropping the proceeds into the welder fund)


http://www.mylincolnelectric.com/Catalo ... ocale=1033

http://www.lincolnelectric.com/knowledg ... xcored.asp


Staff member
IM really curious, the pictures not clear enough to be sure so Ill ask,
did you use a stainless brush for weld prep
because THAT appears to be a nice aluminum weld job

Better pic for ya Grumpy

Miller Dynasty tig of coarse
amp setting changes on thickness
3/ 32 rod
about 30-35 on the gas
as for prep use ss brush, different scrapers that are like knives and a deburring tool made for aluminum on cast peices. I think it will hold.





OK lots of choices and experience here.

I would Love to learn how to weld to a point where i could start making things and selling them. For me, to finish my car i need body panel repair, aluminum welding, stainless welding (exhaust) chromoly and mild steel welding. from what i have read here i should invest in a Tig and learn how to use it.

Are there TIG machines out there that are able to plug in to normal house outlet? or is 220V mandatory. that's another consideration in the investment as i don't have 220 in the garage (yet) not even sure how much it would cost to have it installed.

I have read thru several post sorry if i missed the post that answers my questions exactly. :mrgreen: there is alot of info here.


Staff member


well i found a TIG. its a miller 180. its about 3 years old, the chassis guy that is finishing my car is closing his shop and moving to a smaller space and therfore doesnt need the 5 welders he has now ;>

got it for 1k with pedal, torch and gage. only has about 50 hours of use. Anything i sould be aware or or lookout for on this welder???


Staff member
sounds like a very good deal!
please post pictures/details, model etc.
don,t forget, youll NEED the torch tips, electrodes and shield gas tank and gauges, torch, and every filler rod you can scrounge
plus ASK for a DEMO on some ALUMINUM, and brief instruction doing a sample weld
and buy a auto darkening helmet







http://www.millerwelds.com/resources/im ... kills/tig/


Cool thanks. Allready asked for all teh stuff to be included and he even vollenteered some setup and demo time ;>

He is the guy that finished my chassis and from the looks of his welds he knows what he is doing. Now i just have to get 220 in the garage ;> the wife said no to welding in the laundry room upstairs :lol:

BTW this site is awesome. lots of good info.