I often wish I was able to click a button
& just send an autoresponder pre-formatted answer to the questions from my website enquirers.
However, every question is different & the ‘askers’
of the questions have real questions that needs real answers.
So, in short, yes.
But firstly, would you consider the mig welder in question to be an investment towards your son’s future,
or an expensive ornament for the shed?
The reason I ask this, is because mig welding machines are not cheap, and the accessories and shielding gas hardware that
go with them, very quickly represents a significant amount of money.
If your son was to have a serious interest in learning
to weld, and had a vehicle that was in need of repair that he would benefit from, then I would say OK.
Most engineering students that I have came across over
the years have an avid interest in welding of all kinds, and enthusiastically grasp the practical and technical requirements
to be able to accomplish welding tasks.
But that said, I would hate to see you throw money at a lost cause.
I am not trying to change your
ideas here, but please ascertain that your son has a reasonable sort of interest in learning mig
welding before you purchase something that he will not use.
You have mentioned ‘simple repairs’ and ‘simple constructions’.
Unfortunately, mig welding machines
come in two variety’s, the cheap and nasty ones (that even I can’t get to perform a
satisfactory weld), and the slightly more expensive ones that actually do work.
For example; if you take a look here at machine mart, you will find a very good range
of mig welders for most common mig welding applications.
On the DIY mig welders page, there is only one model that
is actually worth the money, and I am sure you will quickly spot it.
Unfortunately I cannot really comment one way
or the other, due to legal action taken against me last year, when I criticised
a leading manufacturer of DIY mig welders for selling machines that completely failed to
function properly or as would be expected.
Fortunately for consumers, they have now
changed a lot of the website wording on mig welder product
So, to make your life a little
easier, here are some quick pointers on what you should be looking for:
any welding machine that is capable of taking the shielding gas supply from industrial
size shielding gas bottles. (all machines are easy to adapt)
- The higher the ‘duty cycle’ the better.
240volt x 13amp input supply machine can be plugged in and used immediately at home (
a 16A input supply requires a heavy duty electrical supply and specialized sockets).
replaceable (consumable) copper contact tips within the mig welding torch must be readily available
(a learner can expect to bin one tip per hour minimum, unless he has taken welding instruction
- Forced air cooling is essential, (fan assisted or sometimes called turbo).
Please do not be tempted to purchase
a DIY mig welding machine that runs on ‘no gas’
or is supplied to be used with ‘self shielding’ welding wire. (it will end in tears!)
My primary concern for yourself and
your son is that once the mig welding machine is put into use, the cost of running it will soon
be fully appreciated.
I do not mean that it is an expensive pastime, but it can be if you are using the disposable pressurized shielding gas canisters as supplied with your new mig
These are only pressurized gas canisters and not high pressure compressed or liquefied,
as are the industrial shielding gas bottles.
The cost of running a mig welder using this kind of
disposable canister shielding gas supply is absolutely horrendous.
During the mig welding ‘learning curve’
(or crash course), a lot of time is spent messing about and practicing, even this alone
will cost upwards of £50- worth of these canisters.
The only alternative available, is to take your shielding gas supply from any of
the UK’s industrial gas suppliers.
Such as: boc or ‘air products’ or similar.
Y cylinder’ universal shielding gas is probably the best option for the home user
and will save you a serious amount of money. Just check out the cubic metres of gas content between
this size of bottle and the cubic metres of gas content in a tiny disposable canister, then
work out the costs, and you will rapidly draw the same conclusion
as myself and many other welders!
The above point alone is the main off-putting factor that all people learning
to mig weld come across quickly, but they don’t realize this until they have
bought everything then find that they cannot keep up with the horrific
expense of small disposable gas canisters.
I would rather you knew all the facts before you make any
A different way of painting
this picture is that the actual welding time from a small portable gas canister can be measured in minutes
(honestly), whereas the actual welding time from an industrial size Y bottle is measured in days (if not weeks)!
The downside of industrial gases
is that you cannot own the actual bottle.
The bottle is rented from a gas supplier on a contract basis (1 month upwards) and the bottle is simply returned when empty and exchanged for a full one.
You can collect the gas yourself or ask for a (chargeable) delivery.
The refill costs are actually
very reasonable, but they look expensive compared to a tiny disposable canister.
Simply telephone the industrial gas
suppliers for further details as they are always very helpful.
Another small but important point with industrial gas suppliers, not only do they charge you for your gas refill
at point of bottle exchange, but they also charge what they call a ‘transaction charge’,
and it is applied at each transaction.
So don’t be surprised to find that the refill cost
for say an Argoshield (trade name) ‘size W’ bottle, that is
currently around £37-96, actually costs you £48-50,
and of course that’s +vat @ 17.5%! (but this is a full size bottle
& double the size you would probably want or need).
If you get into TIG welding, a ‘size Y’ (commonly known as a ‘half
size of a big bottle’) pure argon refill is currently £45-45 + small charges
& now for probably your biggest concern, the tutorials.
I have been constructing these for quite a while now
& they still aren’t ready yet!
constraints of running a fulltime welding company and trying to ‘keep the family happy’ are not easy,
in all honesty, and I admit to having fallen behind with my schedule as
advertised on my website.
But all is not lost,
as I am now devoting 40 hours per week to the production of welding tutorials and nothing else.
A ‘start from scratch’
mig welding tutorial is first on the re-release ‘hit list’ as I am asked for this almost every single day of the
week, however, it now looks like mid October before the first run is ready
from the printers.
I have completely abandoned the downloadable pdf’s and digital versions of my ‘learn
welding manuals’, as I discovered that they were on sale at eBay just two weeks after
I released them.
They were being duplicated and resold by others, fortunately ‘the devaluers’ have now been stopped.
So, printed hard copy & posted next day from
point of order, anywhere in the world, is now being utilised.
I also discovered that the ‘bonuses’ (sales incentives) that I offered with
the welding tutorials have a very high ‘interest value’ to welders, & these are being expanded upon &
re-developed to offer an un-paralleled value-for-money ‘learn welding’ product currently available in the world
I have also just finished installing & integrating the Google checkout payment system on my website & it is currently
being formatted & trialled as I speak, but as with a website that I built myself, I had not originally intended for this,
so major changes are being made right at the moment!
So Garry, you will probably appreciate that I am making my website my main priority at the moment & lots are happening
‘behind the scenes’.
I have also just invested in a dedicated server & new pc systems to support my website & infra-structures
& moving into a new office space at a local customer of mine.
Unfortunately, my current web host (xx) cannot provide the reliability (always continuous
problems) or back-office support required, so a web host change is also programmed for just before product launch next month.
I know this is not quite the answer that you expected
from a welder, but it’s the truth.
I hope you are a bit more ‘informed’ now, & I assure you that no matter what your welding
(or relative) question, I will supply whatever it takes to satisfy your request.
Just as a side note Garry, colleges etc offer various welding courses for beginners,
the most popular being night-classes & they normally begin in September, so enrolment needs to be right now.
But, the courses are not quite the value that
you may expect, as they are diluted with non-essential elements of welding related instruction that is not a lot of use to
someone wanting to learn say; just DIY mig welding, so always scrutinise the course contents closely.
Another drawback is that the colleges provide
top spec mig welding machines that bear almost no practical alliance to DIY machines & the courses are structured to teach
mig welding basics using relatively thick steel plate material of around the 4mm thick capacity, whereas car bodywork is only
Thicker section steel is very
easy to weld, but the thin stuff is an entirely different kettle of fish, hence the high turnover of near new DIY welding
machines in the small ads.
This is primarily due to purchasers of new machines being very disappointed at
the performance of their DIY mig welder (in reality, because they haven’t been taught how to correctly use it) &
the cost of the disposable shielding gas canisters.
My Picasa web albums detail interesting stuff for the learner mig welder, & the album that details the repairs to an
old Landrover was purely a favour for a good customer of mine.
I uploaded up the extensive photolog & detailed process captions out of boredom one
night in march, & I have received hundreds of emails thanking me for this ever since!
You can find it here & forward the url
These are all available on-line right now &
completely free of charge.
I’ve got major amounts
of welding work like this to display & something like 7600 images from the past five years alone, so the Picasa albums
will be added to continuously.
My first attempt at converting some of these images into video using special software, is also now available
at the same public url http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/markthewelder & since uploading yesterday & 6pm tonight, I’ve got 18 emails asking for
The quality is superb on my pc but not as well as expected on-line, due to the flash file decompression, so always just
click on the video picture to make it display (not view slideshow – that’s only for the photo’s) view the
videos using ‘view original size’ at the video control window!
What you can see for ‘stick welding practice’ is just a start, mig welding is my mainstay actually & I have big plans for 10 times
better in DIY MIG welding instruction, so watch my website closely, as everything seems to be coming together at the same
My ‘learn DIY MIG welding’
(back to basics, now volume 4) tutorial manual, complete with a mountain of free extras, has taken an amount of time &
investment that you probably wouldn’t believe, but I can guarantee that it is world class, complete with a brand new
off-the-shelf DIY sample MIG welding machine as a demonstrator & all the ins & outs that a DIY welder could possibly
imagine or wish for.
Anyway Garry, I will finish
here as my wife is moaning about the time spent typing, as usual, so thanks for the question & apologies for the long
is manned every evening