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Discussion Starter #1
I know this is not directly wood working related, but I've gotten some really good advice here so far, so hoping for more.

I am in need of a contradiction of terms. I need an inexpensive Tig Welder that will hold up to hobby levels of use. I already have Mig/Flux Core and Oxy/Acetylene setups.

I'm ok with used, but I need it pretty quick, so if any of you are in the Dallas area and have one for sale let me know. I'll pay a fair premium for a good one. Will even compensate for your time if you can spend a couple hours teaching me the basics to get me to a point I can spend a couple of weekends with scraps practicing before I start this project.

Also with this welder I am in need of a complete ready to weld (well maybe minus bottle/gas). I have never Tig welded before, and my Mig/Flux Core welding is at a self taught beginner level (basically not looking pretty but finally welds I can trust to hold together). A month ago I would have confidently said my O/A *welding* was intermediate to very good, but a couple of weeks ago I accidently come to the realization that the person who taught me to O/A *weld* had never taught me welding, but taught me to be a very good brazzer. Long/funny story how I figured this out, and I wish my uncle was still alive so I could razz him about it.

So basically here is my issue I've been asked by an In-Law to build an Atuad (basically a slow cook oven that uses Mesquite or Char Coal for heat source... Pic attached.)

Anyway he wants it as light as possible, and wants a stainless steel inside. He loaned me his current one for measurements and such, and it's built using mild steel and Cedar.

I'm not sure I can lighten by too much, but I should be able to knock 10-20 pounds off the overall construction by replacing as much of the steel with Aluminium, but there are some things that just has to be steel.... Oh yeah, and a recommendation for a good beautiful wood that is lighter than Cedar would be helpful too. I would like to have a finish that anyone looking at would say WOW that is nice!!!

My issue is that I have nothing to weld Stainless or Aluminium with. I know that some claim you can use Mig for Stainless, and I've even heard claims of using Mig on Aluminium too but I am not convinced that either is good welds or even safe welds, and especially with 20-30 pounds of hot ash and coal on sitting on top of the structure and potentially some pretty expensive food inside.
 

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The New Guy
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MIG is a "cold" weld. Yes, the metals are melted together, but relatively speaking, it's a cold process. It also has a high rate at which new metal is deposited. TIG on the other hand, is a particularly hot process. It has a particularly slow rate of new metal deposition. It's much harder to TIG thin materials than it is to MIG the same materials. Also, if you've never welded aluminum before, you're going to have a hard time just jumping in and doing it. Aluminum doesn't light up the same way carbon steel does when you weld on it. You still see the arc, but that liquid pool of metal doesn't glow so it's harder to see. You almost have to feel your way through it rather than see it.

In addition to a few thousand dollars for the welding machine itself, you're going to need a bottle of argon, tungsten, and some filler material that's compatible with what you're going to practice with, and what you're going to weld the final item with. You can't use the same filler metal for aluminum, stainless, and carbon steel. You need one for steel to steel, another for stainless to steel, another for stainless to stainless... By the time you're ready to weld that thing together, you're looking at about $4000, if you're a fast learner. Honestly, you should try to find a sheet metal shop around you that can weld that up for you. It'll be significantly cheaper.

You're right though, inexpensive and TIG shouldn't even be said in the same sentence. It's a wonderful welding process, but it's not cheap or easy.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
This really sucks. I really don't want to farm the welding off. I really want to learn to weld Aluminium and Stainless.

I know that Miller, Lincoln and Hobart are considered to be the best and/or are the recommended machines. But what about Everlast? They have a favorable reviews. They seem to be at least 25% less than the others. They are still out of my price range, but they are at least doable.

What are y'alls opinion?
 

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Sawdust Creator
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I used to teach welding, and I've never seen anyone who's been able to pick up tig aluminum on their own. It's not at all the same as welding steels. Now stainless on the other hand isn't too difficult to pick up. I've always found it easier to tig thin stock than to mig it....but I guess that's just me.
 

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where's my table saw?
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Old School
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This really sucks. I really don't want to farm the welding off. I really want to learn to weld Aluminium and Stainless.

I know that Miller, Lincoln and Hobart are considered to be the best and/or are the recommended machines. But what about Everlast? They have a favorable reviews. They seem to be at least 25% less than the others. They are still out of my price range, but they are at least doable.

What are y'alls opinion?
Have you checked CL for your area?





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Discussion Starter #8
Cabinetman; I have been watching CL for the past couple of weeks, and there have been a couple of Millers show up, but the asking prices were either way out of my budget, or within $100-200 of retail.

Woodnthings; I had looked hard at the Hobart and the HF, but the problem with both of them are that they are DC only. From my reading so far it looks like the only way to weld Aluminium is with AC. If I am wrong about this, would someone let me know please. DC Inverters are far cheaper than AC/DC inverters.

Ryan; That's one of my concerns about getting into TIG welding. Only recently have I even touched Flux/Mig welding, and I am just now getting welds that even hold properly, and they are still very ugly welds, not something I would want anyone else to even see.

Once I make a decision on this I was planning to get some scrap aluminium angle and spend some time messing around. I'm not expecting miracles, I have heard/read that welding Aluminium is one of the hardest skills to learn. There is also a local Machinist club in my area that I only recently found out about. I'm planning on joining that club too. If I just cannot get it, I might see if I could get one or two of them to spend a little time teaching me. And absolute worse case, one of the colleges in the area offers a 7 week continuing education course on welding. Down side to that is that it started 2 weeks ago, and it's too late for me to get in on that class so I have to wait till the next one.

On a different note, I also have a funny story about Oxy/Ace welding. I was taught by an Uncle when I was 13-14 yrs old, and did a bunch of welding repairs around his farm too. It wasn't until 2 or 3 weeks ago (I am 44 now by the way) that I realized I had never once made a weld joint. All I was doing all these years was brazing... I really wish my Uncle was still alive so I could finally raz him the way he did me about all the bad welds I had done....

It was actually my working with FluxCore that lead me to realizing this as well. The way I was taught was that the steel needed to be heated to a bright cherry red, just hot enough that it would melt the filler rod to flow easily. I used to get thumped in the back of the head if I got the steel to the point that it looks like its starting to sweat. I was really in trouble if I caused the steel to melt.

I was making jack screw stops for my Shop Table (another post on here), and was heating a piece of Angle Iron and square tube, and my mind started wondering onto thinking about the next step and before I knew it I had the metal "too hot". It was basically going from the sweating stage to the pooling stage, and the pool looked surprisingly like the weld pool for Flux.

That got the light bulb turned on, and I started moving the flame in small circles, sort of like mixing the metals together, and as I did this I moved slowly across the area I needed welded. I didn't use any filler rod, just the flame and the metal.

When I finished across the area and dunk cooled the piece I started looking at the welded area. I did the drop test, and the hammer test to see if that weld would break, and it withstood a 3lbs sledge hitting it with a pretty good swing...
 

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The New Guy
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That machinist club could be exactly what you need. I bet one of them has a TIG rig set up at home and will let you spend a little time playing around with it. A weekend of 1 on 1 help in exactly what you're going to be doing might get you good enough for the structural welds you plan on doing.

If you're going to buy a small home TIG rig, definitely get one that's AC. You can weld aluminum with DC, but it makes an already difficult task even harder. Welding aluminum with a DC machine is like ripping a sheet of plywood in half with a jig saw. You can do it, but there are better tools for such a job.
 

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where's my table saw?
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Hobart inverter welder

You said;
Woodnthings; I had looked hard at the Hobart and the HF, but the problem with both of them are that they are DC only. From my reading so far it looks like the only way to weld Aluminium is with AC. If I am wrong about this, would someone let me know please. DC Inverters are far cheaper than AC/DC inverters.


Description reads AC/DC:
http://www.northerntool.com/shop/too...5786_200405786
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I'm sorry woodnthings, I looked at the N/T ad quickly and didn't catch that it AC/DC. I've been looking at so many different welders I saw that ad and quickly jumped to a conclusion.

I have added that one to my list of candidates now.
 
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