Can a newbie get good results with a cheap stick welder?


Big news on the DIY front: I got myself a
free welder. You’d be right to point out that this is really weak and it’s a
stick welder, which could make it harder to use, but I’m still excited. I’ve been
wanting to get into welding for a while. I’ve done it once. That was maybe 15
years ago, 10-15 years ago, at my friend Henry’s house. It didn’t go well and the
stick welding especially didn’t go well. But I was a different person then
and YouTube wasn’t as great of a resource. I did zero research. It was my
friend trying to help me figure this out. He wasn’t getting paid anything.
Essentially if this was an experiment it would be: Can a newbie welder use a
really cheap stick welder to get any welds that are worthwhile? My hypothesis
is: Yes. The perception seems to be that smaller welders aren’t worth trying to
use because they just don’t have enough power and you can’t get good welds out
of them. That troubles me because to get into welding you have to start somewhere
and if I need to spend 800 bucks to get a decent welder right off the bat,
that’s a huge barrier to entry. But evidence suggests that these can be used.
Backstreetmechanic actually did a series of videos using a similar
welder and he talked about some strategies about how to get this thing to
weld good welds. I actually haven’t had a chance to try it out. I didn’t notice it
but this uses a 20 amp plug. That’s what this special little sideways plug on the
ground is. This might draw more power than your average electrical appliance.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a 20 amp plug in my garage. I do have a 20 amp breaker
and 12-gauge wire between the breaker and the outlets in the garage, though, so
all I have to do is change out one of the outlets. But I’m not an electrician
so we’re not really gonna go over that. Instead, I’m just gonna magically
change it out. Time to test it out. It runs! [Sizzling metal sounds] It works! That’s cool. That’s pretty
awesome. I don’t even care. So obviously I need a
ton of practice, and I need a proper welding table, but that was enough
success for me to see that this could really work. Very exciting. It’s about a
month later and I got myself something to weld. On it’s a 16 by 20 piece of
quarter-inch steel. So let’s attach some legs and turn this into a welding table. That should work. [Welding sounds] [Welding sounds] It’s ugly, but I was certainly able to
keep an arc going for quite a while there. So I guess next we try to weld two
things together. That looks really bad. Yeah if you desire
pretty welds I’m not your guy right now, but again, I think that’s my
fault, not the machine’s fault. One last test: We’re gonna see how this does with
16 gauge metal. [Metal flexing sounds]
[YouTube suggested applause, but this is not applause!] That is one ugly weld right there, but it
worked! I’m feeling pretty confident that it’s gonna be a fine machine, but I’m not
gonna be able to figure that out for years, really, so in the short term, one
test we could do is to see if this welder can be used for at least one
project. So let’s see if we can make a measuring tape holder. [Metal breaking]
Dang it. [More metal breaking]
At least I didn’t waste time cutting those. [If you read these, please let me know!] [And is there anything else I could do] [to make these better for people who read captions?] It’s time to look at the results. We’ve
got some burn holes in the bottom. I actually tried to fix these and only
made them worse. The corners are notched. I wasn’t able to fill in where it
started to melt away. And despite my efforts, this still didn’t come out
square. I really think most of the problems here
were because of fitment. I just don’t really have a great setup yet for
cutting metal. I was also trying to do some bevels on the edges so that the
puddle would sink into those spots and it would create a stronger joint, but
there just wasn’t enough metal left. I beveled it too much and just
blew right through. I also didn’t mean to break the corners, obviously. Maybe if I
would have heated up the metal and bent it instead, it wouldn’t have
broken. The material might have been another problem. I was talking to David
Finch at Fabtech this week and he brought up how bedframe metal is often
recycled from whatever. Things like railroad track. So it’s super hard, super
brittle. While free, it’s not the easiest stuff to weld with. I think if I get that
stuff figured out, the next version of this will go much more smoothly. In any
case, it’s solid it’ll certainly hold the tape measure. So is a welder like this
a good option for a beginning welder? I did have fun, but I enjoyed the process
of learning how to do this. If you were buying the welder to do a project on
your daily driver car or something and you were under the gun, I could easily
see how this would be a bad choice for you. Because for one, it was kind of hard.
And two if you’re working on scrap material, who cares if you blow through
it, but as soon as you’re working on something that’s kind of nice or that
you can’t easily replace and you blow a big hole in it and then you just keep
making the hole bigger as you work, that’s not gonna be
a good time. But regardless of that, I could easily see this being handy around the
house for fixing lawnmowers or welding a couple of things together or making some
art or just having fun. In any case, I’ll keep messing with this welder. We’ll see
how good I can get. If you have any welding tips or tricks for working with
smaller, weaker welders that you’d like to share, I welcome them in the comments
below. And if you want to learn more about this stuff, I’ll include some links
in the description to all the various resources I used for research.
Thanks for watching! (And reading! :))

15 thoughts on “Can a newbie get good results with a cheap stick welder?

  1. Here's some answers to a few questions you might have:

    WHAT KIND OF RODS DID YOU USE?

    3/32" 6013s. I tried 1/16" 6013s for the 16 gauge sheet metal, but I couldn't get them to work at all.

    HOW DID YOU PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THE SMOKE?

    I tried to vent it outdoors at first, but that didn't work the best, so I picked up some of these and wore them with my dust mask: http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B007STCT00

    WHAT KIND OF WELDER WAS THAT AGAIN?

    It's a Pro-Arc 115 volt, 100 amp stick welder, model 10412. I can't find a manual for it, unfortunately. If you have one, I'd love it if you shared it with me! [email protected]

    WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE HARBOR FREIGHT AUTO DARKENING WELDING MASK?

    Worked great. No problems so far.

  2. Great start! If I were to make a suggestion though, in my experience cheap mig welders work a lot better than cheap stick welders, and are easier to use for thinner metals. Things like stick welders are definitely useful, but for stuff like thin sheet metal, its very difficult. Thats just my opinion though. Love your videos, keep it up!

  3. So here is advice from someone who has only stick welded three years;
    Push the electrode down harder, the stops you had in the video was because your arc gap was too big.
    I don't touch the rod, but this is personal preference. I focus on bracing my other hand, that way you can use massive 14" electrodes and still be comfortable.
    Rest your elbows on the table, it will help you with your arc manipulation.
    You are going back and forth WAY TOO MUCH. I did this too, nasty habit. It's good for stack-of-dimes aesthetic welds, but horrible for good, strong, easy welds. For home gamers like you and me, welding in horizontal positions, just drag the electrode and wait for the puddle to cool. Don't go too slow, and you will have a sexy weld.

    Sorry for the critiques, but I thought you may take them to heart.
    Another thing – You are welding in a lumber shop. Just remember that heat and wood do not mix, and wet wood is very conductive. Don't zap yourself or burn your shop down. Have a good day, keep up the awesome videos!

  4. What Joseph said. You do not want too long of an arc length. Shove that thing down into the desired welded area if you have to. Hold the electrode at about 45 degrees in the direction you are traveling and brace your forearm with your free hand. One of the most important things when you are learning how to stick weld is to be comfortable. Also, once you strike an arc and begin welding, go slow and steady at an even pace. Practice with different types of joints.

  5. Iโ€™m a total novice, So for me this was pure GOLD fella,,many heartfelt thanks,,๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง

  6. I have 5 welding machines. The 3 little 120v machines probably do 75% of the jobs. They work great on thinner stuff, but even 1/4 plate can be done if you bevel the hell out of it. Keep it up and don't get too frustrated and practice practice practice!

  7. Thank you! Great video for us new guys! It can be very confusing! I bought a Harbor freight flux welder because it was cheap and I wanted to learn how to weld. It was good for practice, but not only do I suck, the welds were horrible and wouldnโ€™t hold. I want to try stick welding next, and your video sold me on just starting with another cheap machine until I get better at this! I like the fact that your not cocky! Keep posting!

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