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What’s the Most Cost Effective (Cheapest) Welding Machine for Your Home Welding Workshop?

Welding Machine

You’ve always wanted to set-up your own home-based project welding workshop, so you can finally have the opportunity to work on all those cool welding projects you’ve been dreaming about.

You’ve got the perfect space, the second bay in your two stall garage that you never park in, and you already have a bunch of basic tools you’ll need for your project workshop: assorted hand tools, cordless drill, and a box fan to help with ventilation. And from there, you’ve pulled together a few more ancillary items: a decent welding table, some clamps, safety equipment (welding helmet, gloves and apron), and a hand held grinder with assorted cutting blades.

Your almost ready to go, but you still need the biggest and most important piece of equipment to complete your home welding workshop: a welding machine.

Welding Machine Options

You’ve got a lot of options, but what’s the best and most cost effective option for your new welding workshop? Let’s review your choices and see if we can make an informed decision.

Oxyacetylene Gas Welding

Oxyacetylene welding is the original article in the welding trade, but certainly not the sexy choice when it comes to outfitting your home welding workshop. This welding process is, however, still in common use and the equipment is fairly simple to operate.

On the Upside

An oxyacetylene welding set-up is portable, doesn’t require electricity, and offers a great deal of versatility, including the ability to cut, braze and heat metal, in addition to welding.

On the Downside

Gas tanks can leak (and the gas stinks), the process produces tons of ambient heat, it creates toxic fumes if you’re not using the equipment properly, and there’s always the danger of the pressurized tanks exploding.

The Verdict

Despite the relatively low cost, oxyacetylene welding is not the easiest method to learn, and do you really want the risk of fire or explosion from the highly flammable gas tanks that could burn down your garage and house?

Shielded Metal Arc Welding (Stick Welding)

Stick welding is the original article among Arc Welding processes, it’s still in common use, and pretty easy to set-up. Once again, not the sexy choice, especially when compared to Mig and Tig welding, but definitely cheaper than those options.

On the Upside

Stick welding is pretty basic, the equipment set-up is about as straightforward as it gets, and the electrodes are a much less dangerous fuel source than highly flammable gas. The process is cheap, versatile, and good for indoor or outdoor welding.

On the Downside

It takes a while to master the stick welding process, it’s not great for a lot of thinner metals, and requires access to electricity.

The Verdict

If you’re willing to put in the time necessary to learn the process, stick welding might be the option for your welding workshop.

Mig Welding

Mig welding represents one of the greatest advancements in welding technology. The streamlined, all-in-one process makes welding much easier to get a handle on. Load the filler wire in the machine, set your amperage, and away you go! Definitely a sexy option, but by no means cheap.

On the Upside

Learning the basics of the machine requires some up front effort, but overall, Mig welding is a very simple process, that produces clean and sound welds.

On the Downside

The biggest drawback with Mig welding, especially compared to the other processes, is the cost. Mig welding machines and filler wire are more expensive than stick welding machines and electrodes. The applications are also more limited, as Mig welding doesn’t work for everything.

The Verdict

If you can afford it, the ease of use makes the Mig welder a great option for your home project welding workshop.

Tig Welding

Tig welding is certainly an option, but considering the costs, limited application, and technical skilled required to use effectively, it’s probably not a great option for a home welding workshop.


The title of this post references selecting both the “best” and “most cost effective” welding machine for your home project welding workshop. Unfortunately, there is a bit of contradiction at work here because the most cost effective (read cheap) welding machine is not the best welding machine for a home welding workshop.

Both oxyacetylene welding setup and stick welding machines are cost effective and will definitely work in a home-based welding workshop environment. Based on safety concerns, ease of use, and skill level required, however, the Mig welder is really the best welding machine to outfit your home welding workshop. If you want to do it right, save up some cash and you should be able to find a decent used Millermatic Mig welder that will be perfect for your project welding workshop. 

Dylan Brown

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