Learning to Weld with a Stick Welder or Buzz Box
One of the first places beginning welders go for a new machine is the used welder listings at Craig’s List where they check out used stick welders. The basic stick welders, especially those made by Lincoln Electric, are often called buzz boxes. While these welders are affordable as either used or new machines, are these the best machines for learning how to weld? Using a Lincoln Electric AC/DC 225/125 stick welder as a starting point, here are a few things to consider when you want to learn how to weld with a basic buzz box:
The Features of a Basic AC/DC Stick Welder
You’ll find these features in a typical AC/DC stick welder such as Lincoln’s 225/125 model:
- A smoother, more stable DC welding arc.
- Simple Controls: Front mounted AC/DC polarity switch and full range amperage selector switch.
- Versatily: Weld with different electrodes, including mild steel, low hydrogen, stainless steel and hard-facing electrodes.
- 125 amp DC output – Enough power for most 1/8” (3.2 mm) electrodes.
- 225 amp AC output – Enough power for 3/16” (4.8 mm) diameter general purpose mild steel electrodes and 5/32” (4.0 mm) sizes for other electrodes.
Each of these settings are ideal for new welders. It’s especially helpful to have the DC option, since your arc will run quite smooth. AC will work, but once you’ve tried out DC welding, you rarely have reason to use AC. That option alone may make the extra cash for DC worth it if you want to learn how to weld with minimal headaches.
The Advantages of a Basic Stick Welder
The nice part about a stick welder is that you can easily switch what you weld by swapping out electrodes and tweaking your settings. You don’t have to worry about shielding gas or how fast you’re feeding your filler metal. You only need to manage the travel speed of your electrode and the heat settings. This makes for a simple welding process that is easy to pick up.
If you’re using a model like the Lincoln Electric AC/DC 225/125, you’ll need an outlet that can handle a 225V plug. However, if you’re running that kind of current, you’ll also have enough power to handle a wide variety of projects. If you’re trying to learn how to weld, it will help to have enough power, since it can be really frustrating if you can’t achieve enough heat penetration into the weld joint.
Learning to Weld with a Stick Welder
Though you’ll have to chip away the slag from your weld when you’re done welding, a stick welder buzz box is great for beginners because it provides practice for all that you need to get started: how to strike an arc, settings, matching electrodes to the right job, and travel speed. The simple skills you learn as a stick welder transfer over to MIG and TIG welding where you’ll need to also manage the wire feed and heat input.
Learn more about the Lincoln Electric AC/DC 225/125 stick welder at Baker’s Gas and Welding.
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