cheap welder opinions

Mon Nov 25, 2013 2:14 pm

Hey all,

Im thinking about buying a cheap welder for my shop, and was wondering if anyone had any opionions on the Harbor Freight 90amp wire welder? I am not new to welding at all, but want something to stick stuff together for the least amount of money. I honestly dont know much about wire welders in general. I grew up somewhat spoiled as my Dad had a full machine and welding shop in our backyard. I learned how to weld on a miller synchrowave 250 (tig) at age 12, and have not really welded with anything other than a TIG welder my entire life, with the exception of arc welding with the same unit.

Now that I have moved into my own shop I find it more and more frustrating that I do not have a welder, and i find that projects take much longer because i have to drive 20 minutes to my dads house to weld anything. I know that the HF welder will not be good quality, and i will not be able to be as precise as with a TIG, but will it do basic welding? I also have a line on an old MIller 330 heliarc, but the asking price is significantly more than the HF unit. lol. Im getting married soon and am on a budget unitl then.

What do you guys think?

Scott

Re: cheap welder opinions

Mon Nov 25, 2013 2:38 pm

I know you want to save money but keep in mind, you get what you pay for. I'm not a welder, but when I wanted to add one to my shop I went straight to Rick Prentice (owner of KubKraft products at the time) for his opinion. Rick told me the cheaper welders have plastic gear drives and will cause problems after a lot of use. His recommendation was to go with a Miller-Matic 140. More money now, yes, but better value overall. I have never regretted Rick's advice.

Re: cheap welder opinions

Mon Nov 25, 2013 2:54 pm

I like my Hobart Handler 140 (believe Miller owns them). Wife bought it for my birthday from TSC. Love it. No regrets.

If you truly want a cheap welder, then you might start looking at Harbor Freight and go from there. HF does have "reviews" on each product page. There may be others on here who have experience with such and will give an opinion. Wish you the best in your search.

Re: cheap welder opinions

Mon Nov 25, 2013 5:50 pm

Scott, I am about as cheap as they come. That being said, anytime I spend money I really do my best to make sure my limited money goes as far as possible. Buying a HF welder would not be, in my opinion good use of my money. If you buy a HF welder, in my opinion, you have to consider it your first welder because you will be buying another.

One thing to keep in mind is serviceability of the unit. HF is a throw away model. Miller, Lincoln or Hobart can be serviced and you know repair parts will be available in the future. Consumables need to be a consideration too. I recommend getting a welder with Tweco consumables. You can buy those anywhere now and in the future. Duty cycle is another thing to consider. Models can be made cheaper by making them with shorter duty cycles.

I have used HF electric tools before and never with good results. My recommendation is to shop Craigslist and look for a good Miller, Lincoln or Hobart welder in a price range that meets your budget. When you go to look at it make sure you run some beads at different settings. I prefer welders that use a shielding gas like an Argon / CO2 mix over flux core wire.

I guess it’s kind of like choosing to buy a good older Cub Cadet or John Deere mower over the Ranch King or other throw away mowers sold by department stores. That’s just my 2 cents. I have a Lincoln 220 volt MIG welder and it is probably the only one I’ll ever buy. Now if I could afford a nice TIG unit…..

Rick

Re: cheap welder opinions

Mon Nov 25, 2013 6:27 pm

I had a HF wire welder with the plastic wheel. POC. I gave it away and purchased a small Lincoln 220 volt and am very happy with it.

Re: cheap welder opinions

Mon Nov 25, 2013 7:10 pm

if you can get by with an old buzz box they can be had for little money and are good welders

Re: cheap welder opinions

Mon Nov 25, 2013 7:29 pm

I have 2 welders. A Lincoln 225 stick welder for heaver welding and cast iron welding. A Lincoln 140 mig for light to medium welding. The stick welder was given to me about 8 years ago and has served me very well. The mig welder is 3 years old and I am on my third 2 lb roll of wire with no complaints. I use a Miller mig at work. My two cents is either a Lincoln or a Miller and you will get many useful years out of it.

Rodney 8)

Re: cheap welder opinions

Mon Nov 25, 2013 8:58 pm

Spend the money and buy a quality welder. It will be cheaper in the long run. Owning two stick and one wire feed welder(s), buy local, where you can get parts, service, consumables, and advise.

My nearest Harbor Freight store is 60 plus miles one way. I only buy throw away things from Harbor Freight.

Stick welders frequently come up for sale at auction. Sell in the inexpensive price range. And, usually it there is a problem, can be easily repaired.

Re: cheap welder opinions

Mon Nov 25, 2013 10:16 pm

Cecil wrote:I had a HF wire welder with the plastic wheel. POC. I gave it away and purchased a small Lincoln 220 volt and am very happy with it.

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