“If you can only afford one welder, it really needs to be a MIG.” That is how Gearz host Stacey David ends his tutorial on MIG welders. Why should you use a MIG welder? What are MIG welders good for? Which MIG welder do you need?
When it comes to tools everybody knows how important they are, and you can’t do any work without them. However, some tools are more important than others. And in the shop one of the most important tools you can have is a welder, cause it will allow you to build and fabricate and create like no other tool. But the question is: what kind of welder do you need? MIG? TIG? What? Well if you want the most versatile and the easiest to use and the most affordable, you’ve got to invest in a MIG welder. That’s what we’re going to take a look at.
OK, the first question is: what MIG do you need?
As you can see, there are a lot of choices out there, but the first rule is: buy something good. Don’t buy that cheap Taiwanese piece that’s down at the hardware store on sale. You will regret that. That will just be a waste of money. No, buy something quality that you know is going to last and is going to do the job for you.
Alright. For most enthusiasts a small machine like this Millermatic 141 is perfect, because first of all, it plugs right into a standard 110 volt house outlet and it will weld everything from thin sheet metal all the way up to 3/16th steel. So, you can do bodywork with it and you can do some heavier frame work with it. However, if you’re planning on doing a lot of heavier welding – you know, thicker metal – this machine may not do it for you. You might end up popping the circuit breakers in your house all the time. That’s when you need to step up to something a little more powerful.
As you can see the machines looks pretty much the same, and this (Millermatic 211) will do everything this one (Millermatic 141) will, but it’s got a lot more power – and here’s how it does it: If you’re welding with 110 and that’s not enough power just pop off the end; stick on the 220 plug and you’ve got a 220 volt machine able to weld a lot thicker metal.
Now obviously one of the things that makes a MIG so easy to use is that when you pull the trigger the machine strikes the arc and feeds the wire at the same time, so all you have to do is run the bead. However another cool feature that Miller has come out with to make this process even easier is called the Auto-Set. Now, since most DIYers are not professional welders the biggest problem they’ve got is setting their wire speed and voltage. With the Auto-Set feature you just dial in the wire size and the middle thickness, and the machine sets the parameters for you.
Now, what if you need to take your welder to a job site or to a buddy’s house to help him out? I mean having a portable MIG would be a cool thing, because we’ve all tried to load these kind of welders (Millermatic 140) into the bed of a truck. That is what this (Millermatic Passport Plus) is for. This is called The Passport Plus and it’s basically this welder (Millermatic 140) in a lightweight heavy-duty box. Now check this out: not only is it a MIG welder but it’s also got the multi-plug, so this is a 110 and a 220 volt machine.
Now I know you’re wondering about gas. I mean you’ve got to have shielding gas. Well a bottle like this (large container of gas) will plug right into the machine or – if you want to be really portable – it comes with this little bottle here that you fill up with CO2, and that’ll give you 20 minutes of welding time. So if you really want to be portable, this is the only way to go.
Finally, if you still need more power you need to look into one of the big boys, like this (Millermatic) 252. Now this will do pretty much anything that you want to do, including up to 1/2 inch steel. Now, you’re probably thinking “Well that’s great for steel, but what about aluminum? Guess I need a TIG for that, right?” Well, a TIG is a great machine for aluminum but a MIG will do it too, and that is what this spool gun is for.
- Now you stick aluminum wire in the gun
- Plug the gun into the machine; it’s got it’s own separate gas source.
- And then, you can weld steel or aluminum with the same machine depending on what trigger you pull.
That is a cool deal.
If you can only afford one welder, it really needs to be a MIG.