Proficiency in welding can open so many exciting doors for you! You can use your newfound skills to carry out quick fixes around the house, start DIY projects as a hobby, and maybe even open up a little workshop once you get the hang of it. Metalworking is an exciting craft and is definitely worth getting into.
However, one aspect of this skill that discourages newbies is the steep learning curve at the start. Some people may feel discouraged at the thought of having to invest in heavy machinery or repetitive maintenance when they’re just dipping their toe in the water. That’s why I made this guide—so that welders, especially beginners, have a handy reference point that they can fall back on if they ever need a few pointers.
I would not recommend investing too much in your first welding machine because your priority as a beginner is to understand the fundamentals of these devices. If you go straight for the latest welders with complex features and the latest technologies, then you may not be able to fully comprehend how the machine works. It is also possible that these additional features will make your initial learning curve more difficult to overcome.
This guide outlines the best industry practices for welders and provides a list of the ideal machines for beginners. In addition, it can also function as a refresher course for professionals in the industry, although it is mostly geared towards newbies in welding who don’t know which welding machines they need to look out for. I’ve been working in this industry for over a decade and I’ve had the opportunity to weld with dozens of machines that are still popular today. Here is everything that I know about welding in a comprehensive and summarized guide, so you don’t have to scour through the internet by yourself.
- Best Welder for Beginners in 2020 – Comparison
- The 7 Best Beginner Welders Reviewed
- Hobart 500559 Handler 140 MIG Welder 115V
- Forney Easy Weld 261, 140 FC-i MIG Welder
- WeldPro 200 3 in 1 Multi Process Welder
- 2018 AHP AlphaTIG 200X 200 Amp IGBT AC DC Tig/Stick Welder
- LINCOLN ELECTRIC CO K1170 AC225, 60Hz Arc Welder
- Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy MIG Welder
- ARC Reboot 135
- Factors To Consider To Find Your Best Starter Welder
- Getting Started With A Welding Machine
- Maintaining Your Welding Machine
- Working With Your Welder
Best Welder for Beginners in 2020 – Comparison
|Name & Brand||Amp||Volts||Weight||Price|
|Hobart 500559 Handler||140 Amp ||115V||65 pounds|
|Forney Easy Weld 261||140 Amp ||120V||19 pounds|
|Weldpro Multi Process||200 Amp||220V/110V||30.4 pounds|
|2018 AHP AlphaTIG||200 Amp||110v 220v||69 pounds|
|Lincoln Electric CO K1170||225 Amp||120 V||115 pounds|
|Lincoln Electric K2185-1||70 Amp||115V||26 pounds|
|Reboot ARC135 Welder||160 Amp ||110V/220V||12.55 pounds|
The 7 Best Beginner Welders Reviewed
My top priority for this list was to ensure that each machine promised ease of use. In my opinion, this is a crucial consideration for beginners because once you understand how your machine works, the technique will naturally follow. Note that no two welders are alike; they all have their own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s up to you to assess what you really need in your workshop before you make the final purchase.
Usually, small welding machines are designed exclusively for hobbyists and beginner welders. This is because it is difficult to pack so much power into a tiny frame. What I love about the Hobart 500559 140 is that it has risen up to this challenge. This machine can deliver a reasonable 140A, with a duty cycle of 20% at 90 amperes. These numbers indicate that it can do more than enough whenever you need to conduct some quick fixes around the house.
The Hobart 500559 140 is a hybrid welding machine. It is capable of both MIG and flux core welding. This is useful because it can work on a variety of metals. As a MIG welder, it can weld stainless steel, steel, and aluminum. However, if you must work on slightly thicker metals, then the flux core can also work in a pinch.
One aspect I appreciate about the Hobart brand in general is their comprehensive warranty. This welding machine is protected by the signature 5/3/1 year warranty, which is extremely helpful because you are reassured that the company will still continue to support you even after you made the purchase.
When it comes to safety, there are several mechanisms built into the Hobart 500559 140. The first is the self-reset thermal overloading capacity, which automatically adjusts the device once it detects that it is overheating. The second is the motor damage protection, to safeguard the longevity of what is arguably the most important part of your machine.
Overall, this welding machine is definitely a steal. It’s a little pricey, but it’s worth it for all the additional features that’s been packed into its diminutive frame, it’s well worth it. If you plan to become a professional welder in the long run, then this is the ideal model for you and this machine is the best mig welder for beginners. I would not recommend this for heavy industrial applications, but it is more than enough to get you started.
Don’t let the bright green exterior fool you. The 261 140 is remarkably lightweight, clocking in at 8.6 kilograms. This means that you can just carry it around your workshop. And despite its small stature and reduced weight, the Forney 261 140 is big enough to handle two-pound and ten-pound rolls of wire.
One strong reason the 261 140 is on this list is its easy set-up. You can go seamlessly from unpacking it to welding in just a few minutes. A simple set-up is always a priority when it comes to beginners in welding.
Another feature that I appreciated from this welding machine is that it uses flux-cored wire. These types of wires are usually applied when welding thicker metals or jobs that require welding at difficult angles. This is because it is easier to clean up slag and other debris when using flux wires.
When you buy this package, you don’t just get the machine. You will also receive the MIG gun, the ground clamp, a handle with the torch wrap, and an adapter that can handle 20A to 150A.
These accessories do not come with your purchase, but are still highly recommended to preserve and maintain the capabilities of your machine. These include the contact tips (#60170, #60171 and #60172), welding nozzles (#85336 and #85337), a diffuser, some flux core MIG wire, nozzle gel, and anti-spatter spray. This is practically the complete toolkit for any welder, regardless of their capacity and skill.
Finally, the Forney 261 140 is supported by a twelve-month warranty. This is a decent amount of time to get to know your welding machine and seek support in case there are certain aspects of the device that you feel needs some extra work.
If you need a welder that is relatively low-maintenance yet still ready to take on some serious work, then this mean green machine is perfect. It is more than equipped to get you started and then help you transition into some advanced metalworking in the future.
Looking for a well-rounded and versatile welding machine? Look no further than the WeldPro 200. This mid-range machine is capable of several functions, which we will quickly go over below.
Apart from Flux core and MIG welding, this model can also perform stick welding, aluminum welding, and TIG welding. In my experience, I found it easy to switch between different modes so that I could work on different types of metal. I enjoyed working on different pieces with just one machine by my side.
One clear advantage for beginners in this welding machine has over the others would be its display. The dual digital display takes care of tracking your machine’s status. With this support, you can devote more time paying attention to your weld.
Finally, one small but important feature I would like to highlight in this welder model would be how all the controls you need to know about are highlighted. When you’re in the middle of work and you need to switch from one setting to another, then all you should do is look for the familiar yellow highlights to make the necessary adjustments. When you are a beginner and you need to think on your toes, this feature goes a long way in ensuring seamless welds.
Two years is a reasonable amount of time to understand how your machine works and what you must do to keep it well-maintained. This welding machine has a two-year warranty, so you know that you are supported even after your purchase.
Overall, this multifunctional welder is a worthwhile addition to any toolkit. It’s a solid model to start with if you want to try your hand at multiple welding methods instead of just sticking to one. While it is not one of the cheapest models available, it is definitely one of the most worthwhile investments to make—especially when you consider everything that this device is capable of doing.
The AHP 200X is primarily a TIG welder, with some stick welding capabilities. This machine can run on dual voltage, which is an advantage for beginners—you can either run it on 110V or 220V. As a result, you do not need to invest in generators and you can also freely move this machine from one area to another without having to worry about its source of power.
In my experience, I did not find any difference in performance when it came to switching between the different voltages. It still performed at a duty cycle of 60% at 200A as a TIG welder, and 35% at 155A as a stick welder. That’s a fair amount of time and work that you can get done before the machine overheats.
A word of caution to beginners: the control panel of this model may be a bit overwhelming at first, because there are a lot of options that you need to set before you can start your work. It will definitely require a bit more intensive studying and tweaking until you are satisfied with the output of the machine.
One challenge to the AHP 200X is that it is not lightweight. It is 31 kilograms and you will likely need to invest in a cart to quickly transport it from one place to another.
Now to the strongest selling point of this device—which, ironically, is also one of its greatest challenges. This welding machine has a number of options that you can use to work on difficult types of welds, such as the pulse frequency and the 2T/4T switch for when you need to weld out of position with a foot pedal. This is the instrument for welding veterans who want to get straight to work on out of position welds and other slightly complex metalworking activities. The AHP 200X will be capable of seeing you through the job while simultaneously mitigating your exposure to risk. I feel that this is the strongest selling point of the AHP 200X; that it is capable of performing difficult or inconvenient welds while remaining relatively user-friendly for beginners.
Do you see yourself as the kind of welder who will be working on a variety of jobs? Consider taking on the AHP 200X. This is a robust and dependable model that can work on complicated welds in the long run.
You’re looking at one of Lincoln Electric’s most established bestsellers. The AC 225 model has been a mainstay of the brand for more than forty years now and it has been a staple when it comes to professional welding.
This welding machine has a broad amperage range of 40A to 225A. This is an important consideration that you need to think about because the minimum and maximum amperage figures give you a glimpse of the kinds of metal that your machine can work on. Amperage is the measurement of a machine’s capacity to generate heat and power, which can differ according to the weld you want and the metal you are working on.
In addition to the welding machine, the AC 225 is also bundled with the ground and electrode clamps. I would recommend buying an extra set of electrodes while you are making this purchase so that you are well-equipped when you get to work.
I appreciated how easy it was to set up this welding machine. Right after I got it out of the box, all I needed to do was attach the ground clamp and stingers to the cable ends. I figured out that there are distinctive markings that you can use to guide you into which wire goes where, as one of the challenges I faced initially was that they did not mention which cable connects to where in the instruction manual.
Suppose you’re the kind of welder who prefers a classic, tried and tested machine to get you started. The Lincoln Electric AC 225 is the product you’ve been looking for. It has been around the longest and it is still a crowd favorite.
If you’re going to be welding mild steel on a regular basis, then you should consider going for the Lincoln K 2185 1. This device comes from a long line of quality machinery and its brand has been a strong presence in the welding industry for more than a hundred years.
This machine is primarily an MIG welder, but it can also switch to flux-core welding as well. It is definitely designed for small DIY projects and quick fixes around the house, as it excels in welding mild steel but begins to struggle beyond anything more than this metal.
The K 2185 1 has a one year warranty on labor and parts, which I believe is enough time to familiarize yourself with how the machine works. However, this warranty does not extend to its gun and cable. These two pieces of equipment are only warrantied for ninety days after the date of purchase.
When it comes to performance, the K 2185 1 has a duty cycle of 20% at 70A as well as a variable amperage output of 35 to 88. This is a decent amount of power coupled with some versatility in case you want to add or decrease the output in certain welds.
This welding machine is not fussy about its source of power either. It can easily operate off of any 115V household outlet. Considering how it is meant for use around the house or for small projects, this is a reasonable feature to have. You do not need to invest in a generator just to power up the K 2185 1.
In addition to the welding machine, you will also receive the following materials: an 8-foot clamp cable, 0.035 flux core wire with three corresponding tips, and 0.025 solid MIG wire with three corresponding tips.
To conclude, this welder is a true homebody. It’s not meant for commercial or heavy industrial use; instead, it’s the perfect companion for welders who want a machine capable of fixing things up or improving small features around the home.
The last, but definitely not the least to be featured on this list is the ARC Reboot 135. I appreciated how easy it was to comprehend the controls and the setup of this welder. This welding machine is advertised to be capable of working on all kinds of ferrous metals, and in my experience this claim holds true. I’ve put it to the test on carbon steel, alloy steel, and other types of metal. It has consistently resulted in strong and clean welds.
The ARC Reboot 135 runs on a 60% duty cycle for 3.2mm rods. This is more than enough power for an entire day of welding, which is an advantage for beginners who want to dive straight into welding.
This welding machine is compatible with both 110V and 220V—still an advantage for beginners because they can go straight from using it in their homes to plugging it into workshops. In my experience, I did not observe any fluctuations in quality between the different sources of power.
If you ever decide on buying the ARC Reboot 135, you will also get a five-foot electrode holder and a five-foot earth clamp. These are two essential items to the welding process, and it’s good to know that you don’t need to think of any additional costs in this respect when you’re out buying your machine.
This machine weighs only 5.6 kilograms. This makes it the most lightweight machine on this list. In fact, it’s so easy to carry that you can even haul it along with just one hand. It may seem like it takes up a lot more space than other welding machine models, but this is only to accommodate the amount of ventilation needed for quality performance inside the machine.
To conclude, this is one of the best welders on the market! It is incredibly lightweight, flexible, and consistent in its work. If you are a beginner who wants to get busy straightaway or who wants to specialize in stick welding, then this is the model that you have been looking for.
Factors To Consider To Find Your Best Starter Welder
What do you think your first purchase will look like? There are tons of machines out there for you to consider, and the industry is constantly developing new ways to enhance your craft as a welder. Since this is most likely your first time shopping for a welding machine, it might get a bit overwhelming—especially when you have to think of accessories, maintenance requirements, and the like. To help you with your work, here are some crucial considerations that you should make before you splurge.
How Much Money You’re Willing To Spend
As a beginner, you may want to start off with the most affordable welding machine there is. However, this may not always be the best decision for you. If you want to get the most out of your device, then you may need to consider putting in some extra funding to ensure that what you buy is durable and capable. Remember that true cost-efficiency isn’t just putting your money toward the cheapest machine there is— it’s in ensuring that you get quality performance in exchange for what you are willing to spend.
What You Plan On Using Your Welder For
There are different kinds of welders. You can choose from TIG machines, MIG machines, and stick welding machines. Each type has its own strengths and weaknesses, which you must weigh according to the kind of projects that you will most likely be working with most frequently.
You may also want to consider buying a welding machine that has extended capabilities, especially if you’re thinking of welding professionally in the future.
The Kinds Of Metal You Expect To Be Working With Most Frequently
Regardless of the type of welder that you need to buy, it is always convenient to have a machine that can work on a variety of different metals. However, remember that truly versatile welders are going to be slightly heavier and more equipped than others, because they need the extra accessories and power to cut through anything beyond mild steel.
How Much Power The Machine Needs
There are different kinds of amperage and power requirements that you need to consider for each machine. Check your workshop or household’s capacity beforehand so that you know what to look for.
A welding machine’s duty cycle is also an important consideration that you need to make. This refers to the amount of time that your welder can work before it needs to take a break. Balance out the power requirements you need as well as the best operational results you can get with your budget to really make the most out of your machine.
Accessories And Other Supplies
Don’t forget that before you start operating your welder, you also need to factor in additional costs for personal protective equipment and consumables. You may have to get different kinds of consumables depending on the type of welder you end up buying, so refer to the instruction manual for this.
How Well You Can Transport The Machine
Are you willing to start working with a machine that has limited capabilities, if it means that you can easily transport it from place to place? Portability can be an important consideration for beginners who want to conduct some welding work around the household. However, due to the limitations of its size and weight, it may not have as many features as its bigger and more robust counterparts.
How Its Controls Are Displayed
This is a priority for all welders, especially if you’re just starting out. Look for welders that come with an in-depth guide as well as a parameters chart to help you with navigating the settings of the machine. If you can view the machine beforehand, look at the control panel. Ensure that all the controls are labelled and placed in positions that are clearly accessible.
Getting Started With A Welding Machine
Like any other craft, welding is a skill. It can take several years before you can really master it. However, when you’re equipped with the right tools and knowledge on the subject, then the process can be a lot easier. Here are some quick tips for using a welding machine for beginners.
Prepare The Area For Welding
Find a clean, dry, and well-ventilated spot to place your welding machine. While these machines are powerful, they can also be extremely vulnerable. Furthermore, the environment around the machine could also affect the quality of the weld.
Practice The Basics
Get the feel of things before you dive into your work. Practice holding the welding gun by supporting the barrel with one hand and then priming the other for the trigger. Take some time to find your ideal standing position and then glide the gun steadily over the imagined work surface. As you move, make the necessary adjustments to ensure that they feel as natural as possible.
Put On Your Protective Equipment
Never attempt to weld without a complete set of protective equipment! A sturdy welding helmet, heavy-duty gloves, leather apron, and boots are a crucial part of your get-up. These will protect your skin from spatter, heat, and ultraviolet rays.
Prepare The Metal
Scrape off any paint and rust stains on the metal, and then clean it with a degreaser. This encourages stronger welds. After this, grind or file along the edges of the piece that you’re working on. This step ensures that your welding will penetrate as deeply as possible.
Fit And Tack It Onto The Table
If you don’t prepare your welding materials well, then you could be putting yourself in some serious danger. Secure the metal or metals that you will work on firmly to the table. Observe and ensure that everything is balanced and even. Once everything looks good, you can tack them into position. Tacking, in the industry jargon, refers to small welds you can make to hold multiple pieces in position until they can actually be welded together.
Prepare The Welding Gun
Now that everything is set, firmly grasp the welding gun with both of your hands and position its tip on a 20-degree angle. Make sure that the machine has been set on a level surface and the item that you are working on is properly secured.
Turn On The Welding Machine And Begin Welding
Press the trigger to begin. Steadily pull the gun toward you to create your first weld.
One technique that you will have to learn over time is how much speed you need to work with. This will depend on the size of what you plan on working with as well as the metal. Keep a careful eye and allow a puddle to build up before you carry on.
Use A Wire Brush To Clean Up After
Most of the common welding methods create a byproduct known as slag. This is a result of melted flux and molten metal combined together. Once this combination cools, it floats to the surface and hardens.
Slags do not affect the quality of the weld. However, it is considered to be a nuisance by many. This is because it is unattractive and it makes painting over the metal more difficult. As such, part of what goes unsaid is a welding job is the removal of slag.
Maintaining Your Welding Machine
Maintaining your welding machine can take some time and depending on the type you’ve chosen, there can be more steps required to keep things running smoothly. It’s important to develop a strict routine when it comes to checking the welder for any mishaps—this way, you become accustomed to working on it.
Start With The Instruction Manual
Before anything else, look through the guide that will come with your welding machine. The industry is constantly coming up with new developments in hardware and machinery. This could also mean new ways to clean and ensure the longevity of your welder. For your personal safety and the machine’s, consult the instruction manual first.
Check The Machine Before You Begin
Just finished welding? Give the machine a quick break before you get started on another job. Disconnect the feeder from the gun to completely cut off any flow in that area. This small break will have a big impact in keeping both you and the machine safe.
Keep Yourself Grounded
You must follow up with this on a daily basis. As a welder, you must always be mindful of the possibility of electrical shock. It’s important that you avoid working in wet and humid conditions, as this may affect the electrical resistance in your surroundings. As such, standing on a dry surface or rubber mat is highly recommended.
Check The Consumables
As you are working, your consumables will constantly receive strong waves of ultraviolet rays and heat. Consumables most certainly need to be replaced every once in a while, but the right maintenance can significantly prolong the amount of time you have between the replacements.
Sources Of Power
Once every six months, switch off the unit and vacuum the inside of your welder. For professional workers in the heavy service industry, then this should be done on a monthly basis instead.
Check these feeders for dirt or deformity, and make the necessary adjustments. If they have accumulated too much dirt, clean them with a wire brush. If they are damaged beyond repair, then replace them.
You must frequently inspect the cables for any signs of wear, cracks, or damage. A bare cable can deliver a lethal shock, so immediately replace those that you suspect have worn or damaged insulation. Furthermore, cables should be kept away from oil, grease, and hot sparks.
Cover Your Machine And Keep Distance When Not In Use
Welding machines are best kept to themselves, away from other large pieces of equipment. This is due to the fact that even the most subtle disturbances can put you in danger—for example, saw dust can trigger sparks and cause a fire. Water can disrupt the flow of electricity increase the likelihood of electrical shock. Set up your welding machine away from other working equipment, in a clean and dry area.
When you are not using your machine, keep it tightly covered and away from the elements. This will help ensure its longevity and keep its performance consistent for the next job.
Working With Your Welder
I hope you enjoyed this article on the best welders for beginners! It’s always inspiring to see people take up this craft and learn to construct things on their own. This industry has been growing dramatically in the past few years and I look forward to seeing all the new developments that are coming down the pipeline.
I hope that this guide, at the very least, has managed to clarify some of your biggest doubts and has pointed you in the right direction. It’s a tough job and there is definitely a steep learning curve at first, but there are tons of opportunities that you can pursue once you understand how to work with your welder.
The most important thing that you need to remember is that you shouldn’t rush when it comes to picking your first welder. Try allocating as much time as possible to figuring out the kind of model that you need before you decide on buying one. Your first welding machines is going to be your partner in crime for a while, so you gotta be sure that the first purchase is your the best purchase. Think of what you want to get out of your machine in the long run, and whether you plan to go any further into the welding industry as well. Maybe you just want to invest in a simple machine for your household needs, or you’re looking for a device that can effectively grow with you in your career. Regardless of what the answer is, rest assured that there is a corresponding welder in this list.
Here’s to taking that first big step!