Want to get into welding so i can do custom work on my car...TIG or MIG?

killer5.0

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Oct 8, 2009
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#1
Dont have any decent welders anywhere near me plus i would like to learn more skills to further enhance my builds. Mainly looking for the ability to weld stainless, aluminum, and sheetmetal so pretty sold on a TIG. Eventually i would like a MIG as well for more structural work. Ive read good reviews on the eastwood 200 digital unit and its half the price of the competition at around $1k. Dont want to shell out to much cash without knowing how i will like it etc.

I also plan to do some chassis/suspension work (like installing an IRS, a 6pt, and adding a few more welds to my SFC) and didnt know if the TIG is capable of this type of work.
 
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tannerc91gt

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#2
AHP alpha 200. Check them out. Around $800 and mine has kicked ass for 2 years or so now. I’ve used it to build 2 cars, 3-4 turbo kits and a million things in between. Used it for 6 hours yesterday.
I also went out and bought a Lincoln MiG for $100 that I used the other half of the day yesterday. Being able to “point and shoot” can be super helpful with chassis stuff. Sometimes I tack it in with the MIG and do the real welding with my TIG.
I had a harbor freight flux core deal to handle the tacking stuff but flux core can be sloppy so for the same money I was able to replace it with a gas machine.

I guess what I’m saying is that each one has its place and does things the other can’t do but if I had neither I’d buy the TIG first 100%.

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Hoytster

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#3
I have the Eastwood TIG-200 (non-digital) machine and can't complain about it's performance, for the money. It doesn't have as much nuts as other 200 amp TIG machines I've used (Such as a syncrowave 200) but does just fine for most anything below 1/4 and below. With what you want to do you will definitely want a TIG. With that being said, I use my MIG for most everything structural steel but there is no replacement for a TIG when welding aluminum and sheet metal, or when you want to make a weld look really nice or have heat concerns :). Plus, to weld aluminum with a MIG you will need a spool gun which will add a couple hundred to your cost of a MIG machine.
 
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srtthis

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#4
mines a dewalt cordless tig.... i love it other than the fact its scratch start and i cant do aluminum. but i can take it with me if i need to go weld something not at my house.
prob going to order an alphatig here in a few weeks
 

killer5.0

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#5
Ill definately look at the alpha tig...like i said ive never welded before but im a pretty quick learner so hopefully can pick it up with practice. Ive watched alot of videos and the array of settings and different tips/cups etc seems a little orverwhelming but im sure its like anything else thats new to someone. It would be nice to be able to fabricate my own exhaust routing, intercooler tubing etc then to try and rely on a shop.
Would the TIG be adequate for the MM torque arm brackets and similar stuff?
 

Hoytster

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#6
Ill definately look at the alpha tig...like i said ive never welded before but im a pretty quick learner so hopefully can pick it up with practice. Ive watched alot of videos and the array of settings and different tips/cups etc seems a little orverwhelming but im sure its like anything else thats new to someone. It would be nice to be able to fabricate my own exhaust routing, intercooler tubing etc then to try and rely on a shop.
Would the TIG be adequate for the MM torque arm brackets and similar stuff?
Absolutely. That machine is rated for 3/8" on mild steel which is more than enough for the torque arm brackets. I've never needed to use 3/8" on anything vehicle related.

And I know what you mean about being able to do your own stuff, that's how I live. Probably spend more money on the tools then it's worth $ sometimes, but it's worth the satisfaction of doing it yourself.
 

CarMichael Angelo

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#7
I cannot reply to any thread it seems. Everytime I click on the reply button, I have to resign in.


However, now that I can see that I can reply generically, I'll say that I had a mig and a TIG. If you get a TIG, it needs to be capable of aluminum welding. mig welding takes a degree of patience and a steady hand that I don't have. If you posses the skill, nothing looks better than a properly done TIG weld. In my case, In a lot of instances, I've been able to make a mig weld look very acceptable on mild steel, but in way more than that, have had to resort to grinding the weld to get them to look good enough to consider coating. It takes a competent person only a few hours to master a mig machine,...it could takes weeks to become proficient with a TIG. You can look at some of the progress threads here, and some of the guys that TIG stuff should have considered saving the money, and just ground down a mig weld for all the good it did them though.
 
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bird_dog0347

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#8
I got a Miller 135 MIG mainly due to cost and it meets my needs. I don't have a 220 outlet in the garage right now so that would add to the cost for an electrician (SCREW messing with electricity) and I got it with a cart and bottle fo 75/25 mix for $500 ready to go. I want a TIG, but honestly just wanted to learn on the MIG first, so one day I'll upgrade but I'm happy for now.
 

hoopty5.0

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#9
.it could takes weeks to become proficient with a TIG. You can look at some of the progress threads here, and some of the guys that TIG stuff should have considered saving the money, and just ground down a mig weld for all the good it did them though.
That shoe looks like a size 11. Here, let me put that on. :zombie:
 

nelzfoxes

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Aug 20, 2013
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#11
I am one of those guys who went right for the tig machine. It is true that tig will take much longer to master. So the earlier you start... the better... if you see yourself doing more in the future.
 

CarMichael Angelo

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#12
Pfft...It's all about how good you are and if you have your machine set up right for the material you're welding. this was done with a mig.
92479DD5-0F4B-4E88-BAF3-4A8417407101_zpspga6evwi.JPG


A TIG would take for freakin ever to learn the technique to get a weld to look this good. If you can see, hold a gun, and pull a trigger, you can make a mig weld look this good, and it took under a minute to do.
 

killer5.0

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#13
I dont doubt the mig can do a great job but when i see all the top builders and high end builders using a TIG for the given application i assume its because it delivers a superior product. I certainly dont expect to be good at it in any short period of time but figure if im going to give it a shot i might as well try with the better machine for the job.
 

revhead347

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#14
I have had very few challenges with my Lincoln Flux Core. For more complicated things, you are definitely going to need the TIG. If you are just starting out, get a Flux Core for practice. You can almost use it like a glue gun.

Kurt
 
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I use the mig much more than the tig it is faster and easier. I have a HTP America 200 mig and a Thermal Arc tig. They are both good machines. I use .023 wire in the mig which works better for sheet metal and works fine on anything 3/16 or less. If you are welding heavy stuff go with the thicker wire.
 

killer5.0

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#16
Will the MIG weld stainless? I hope to fabricate my own exhaust next off season.
 

Hoytster

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#17
You can weld just about anything with a MIG (just requires setting up the machine for whatever you are welding). I weld aluminum, steel and stainless steel all the time with my MIG (You have to have a spool fun for aluminum). I personally use my MIG machine (Lincoln 210MP) way more than my TIG machine. I use my TIG for more visible/delicate welds and/or thinner gauge materials. @CarMichael Angelo is correct, you can make a MIG weld look a lot like a TIG weld. It's not the quite the same as the profile is a little different and the penetration is not quite as good, but this is usually not a problem on thinner guage materials. He is also correct in that TIG is a much harder process to learn. I learned MIG fairly quickly (been welding for 20 years) but I am still trying to improve my TIG (10 years).

Any welding process takes skill and requires it to be done correctly to get the correct result. Even MIG is not always as "easy" as everyone says. To get good penetration on thicker metals there are techniques for all different positions/ect that must be followed. Yet again, this is not as important for thinner metals. This is very important for thicker metals (like cages) or anything that requires it to stay together or save lives. Or if your trying to pass something like a 6G test. You'd be amazed when you cut a weld apart how little penetration you can actually get when not doing it correctly. And it will look absolutely great from the outside...

Here's my reasons to use TIG instead of MIG (when I do)

TIG:
Weld Profile
No Spatter
Great Heat Control (not as much heat into the product, less warpage)

MIG:
Every other reason, and it's faster


Personally, I'd cut my teeth on MIG before I attempted TIG
 
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CarMichael Angelo

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#18
Will the MIG weld stainless? I hope to fabricate my own exhaust next off season.
There are just some things that you have to come to terms with when using a mig. Welding thin wall mild steel, ( like exhaust tubing) can be accomplished with a mig. If you use a thin wire, have your heat set right, and pulse trigger the gun, you get a weld that looks like the one I posted above, except it will stand on top of the joint because you're butt welding pieces together. If you can achieve that look, Despite the " stacked nickels" appearance, Most would elect to grind that down in order to have a seamless appearing joint.

Now,...throw in aluminum, or stainless.

Stainless can be mig welded, but why would you? Stainless doesn't like the excessive heat mig welding can generate and can become brittle when mig welded. Starting off not knowing how to weld, attempting to learn how to TIG, and then going out and using thin wall stainless to learn on is gonna be like a 1 year old baby attempting to run the Boston marathon.

There's gonna be a lot of crying, a bunch of mess, what's not messy wil be ruined, and it's gonna take forever.

Stainless is about the biggest pain in the ass to fabricate going.
It's 3-5 times more expensive
It's a pain in the ass to cut/ drill/ grind, will kill standard drill bits, and saw blades, and will wear out standard flap discs much faster than when used on mild steel.
Grinding on it will show the " tooth marks" of the disc you used to grind on it, requiring even more grinding to smooth it out, and it's already way thinner than the standard tubing to start with.
But,....if you master the TIG process, you don't touch the weld,..you want it visible. And nothing looks better than a TIG welded set of stainless headers.
There's just no way in hell anybody jumps from "a to z" w/o dozens of hours spent welding with a TIG. Anybody who can write their name legibly can learn to mig in a week.
 

killer5.0

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#19
All great info...i appreciate all the feedback. I guess i have a decision to make. When money allows ill get both machines so i can start learning on both but for now ill have to see which one ill start with. Sounds like everyone is on board with learning the MIG first...at least to get the basic principles down.