Q&A OF THE WEEK: “What Welder Should I Buy?”

This small, portable MIG welder plugs into a regular outlet and is useful for joining steel up to about 1/4″ thick. Models like these are great for beginners.

Q: What kind of welder should I buy for home use? I got $500 of gift money this year for Christmas and I’ve always wanted to learn to weld.

A: The easiest kind of welder to use is called a MIG welder. The acronym MIG stands for “metal inert gas”. MIG welders are made by many manufacturers and all have the same main feature. They’re exceptionally easy to learn to use because filler wire is automatically dispensed from the welding gun while welding happens, adding strength to the weld joint. The thing is, $500 is not enough to buy a name brand unit that has full features, but perhaps that’s not even the best model to start with. If you’ve never welded before, it makes more sense to buy a small, basic model for several hundred dollars, leaving some money behind for a helmet, gloves, some additional welding wire and metal to work with. If you like welding on this small scale, you’ll find a basic welder small and easy to transport to mobile work. If you feel you need more welding capability if your interest grows, you can buy a bigger model and keep the small one for use outside your workshop.

Click below for a video lesson on the basics of how MIG welders work. This is part of online course MIG WELDING FOR BEGINNERS.