Senior Member
Ok guys, heres the deal.

Im looking at spending my tax returns already, and the one main thing I want is a welder. With as much rust as we get here in NY, I either need to learn to do it myself, or pony up to get someone else to do it for me. I would rather learn myself. I am very patient, and can generally do anything I really put my mind to.
So, being completely new at this, where should I start? I have a garage with only 120 right now, but could be setup for 220 if need be.
I want something I can learn with, but will also be able to do what I need down the road. Right now, Im just concerned with exhausts, body panels, minor patches, etc. I dont see myself building a tube frame anytime soon.
With my job future being uncertain at the moment, I would definately like to keep the cost to a minimum, and I am considering used (ebay,etc) as well.
Anyone out there with some advice to a newbie where to start, what to look for, what I should get to fit my needs, etc?
Thanks a lot. -Jason
You can pick up a lincoln wirefeed at home depot brand new for 400 (gasless weldpak 100) and about 480 with the mig attachment (weld pak 3200). It is a 110 plug and will work for everything you are saying and it will last forever too. There is also a conversion kit for the 100 that will turn it into a 3200 for a hundred bucks.

It is the only welder I had for 4 years or so and it worked great. I wouldn't realy want to weld anything over 3/16" with it but I have welded up to 5/16".

You can use innershield wire and that way you don't have to use gas and can weld when it is windy out. Very user friendly and I think it even has a video to teah you how to use it.

You might be able to find one at a local pawn shop used for 200 or so but make sure it works good and appears to have been taken care of.

Good luck!

Thermal Arc 185TSW. Best deal for TIG out there right now. I bought one at a local auction for dirt cheap. Retail is around $1700. I am just beginning to start welding also; a good message board to search and readup on welding is . They have a forum called Weld Talk and it has a good search engine. All brands of welders are discussed freely.
See if you can find a tech school nearby and take classes on welding. That is what I did. Then I went and bought a Hobart 140 Amp wire feed. It was I think $500 and came with a free cart, and the gas conversion kit minus the tank. It also had free shipping. I got it from Northern Tools.

Crap! Now it's even cheaper!

If I were you, I would buy new. I figured that if I was still new at welding, and bought a used welder, I wouldn't be able to tell if my bad welds were me, or the welder. At least if it is new, then you will know where the problem lies. I then took autobody classes, and they had a crappy welder, and I couldn't get any good welds. Then I bought my welder, and the difference was night and day. I'm glad I bought new. It's also hard to learn on a bad welder. The thing is, a good welder(person), can make good welds with a bad welder, but a bad welder(person) will have a hard time of it.
I'll put in my own .02. Millermatic 135

I got mine new for under $500 from a local welding shop which included gloves, helmet, and cart. I just need a tank, but I use flux core for now. BTW, flux core is a good way to learn with.

These Millers are very durable. My buddy has had the previous model for 11 years now and it's still running strong.

I also like this model because of the constant variable voltage / heat setting. I've found that I can really get a clean bead even with flux by really fine tuning in the voltage.

Lincoln's are real nice too. Hobart's are decent as well, but I'd personally lean towards a Lincoln or Miller.
John Larkin said:
Thermal Arc 185TSW. Best deal for TIG out there right now.

Right on John. I just got one a couple of weeks ago. My buddy whos been welding for over 20 years was absolutely impressed that such a little machine can TIG like that. He was so happy that he left with the demo pieces he welded to show them to his boss. :cool:
If you plan on doing body and patch work skip the tig, you'll just warp it. I would go with 1st) Lincoln sp-135+, 2nd) Miller Millermatic 135, 3rd) Lincoln sp-135.

With lots of practice you will be able to do more than you ever dreamed of with any of these welders. Don't buy one with a welding cart, make that your first "project". It will help you get acquainted with the welder and the process.

Some helpful sites to check out would be:

Good luck, Chris S

Dyansty 300dx
Millermatic 210
Bobcat 250
The Lincoln SP135+ is probable one of the best welders for the money.I've done everthing from sheetmetal work to roll cages with mine.

You realy don't want to use flux core wire for body work,you need solid core with gas shield to do it properly.