Evanuel9
Evanuel9 Reader
4/18/22 3:46 a.m.

Hey all,


I have always wanted to know how to weld. I think it's a pretty vital car building skill when you live in a rusty area like me, and additionally I want to know how to weld for things like roll cages and tubular frames. However, it seems like a bit of a steep learning curve and expensive to get into. What is the best way to learn to mig/tig weld, and is there a way to do it on a budget.

 

Thanks!1

Find your local career center or community college and they should offer welding classes, that's the easiest and low budget way of getting into welding. 

Danny Shields (Forum Supporter)
Danny Shields (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
4/18/22 6:43 a.m.

My local vo-tech high school offered excellent "adult education" welding classes to the public at minimal cost, one or two evenings a week.

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
4/18/22 8:31 a.m.

Becoming a "Welder" is an education that covers a lot of ground. Definitely seek out an institution that teaches and accredits the education so you end up with a ticket.

Learning a process to weld a certain item is less challenging. I can "train" most people to stick sheet metal together in an afternoon over a few beers.  That is kinda where I took this hobby and it has kept me busy doing fun stuff.  Pretty sure that someone can teach the same for doing a roll-cage; the rest is just practice and knowing good from bad.

 

For the hobbyist, I believe self-educated is the best way forward. Also believe that the best way to learn a new skill is to have a project and get committed. Buy a brand name 220 volt welder like Lincoln, Hobart or Miller.  You can do a lot of practice on scraps ( coupons) but it really only starts for real when you point the gun at the actual car, so have one in the background waiting for your attention.

 

When I started I had the worlds rustiest Bugeye Sprite. The sole purpose of that restoration was to learn how to weld as it needed 90% of the panels replaced.  Mission accomplished an I have been a serial offender ever since.

 

 

 

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
4/18/22 9:42 a.m.
adam525i
adam525i GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/18/22 9:52 a.m.

I definitely need a project of some sorts to take on learning a new skill myself so having a goal is important. For me it was a rusty BMW that had me buying a mig welder and learning how to use it, lots of sheet metal work but then eventually some heavier stuff like suspension and a building a bolt in roll bar for it with proper welded in base plates in the car. I was lucky to learn some basics at work in the past so that gave me a head start with MIG.

This spring I've been building a new sump for my oil pan which requires AC tig for the aluminum. I've wanted a TIG welder for a while but it wasn't until I had a need that I made the jump. I also jumped straight into the project rather than starting with the basics welding coupons thinking I could save materials. That was good and bad but I also ended up starting over as I wasn't happy with my original part once I had it finished. Now that I'm almost done the project I know starting over again would result in an even nicer piece but I think I'm well into the good enough range to be happy. 

Doing some training would be awesome but there is also so much available online to help get you going that wasn't available ten years ago. If this is just going to be a hobby I'd start hitting youtube pretty hard seeing how people complete projects you are interested in along with videos focusing in on the details and getting started, if you have a friend that can guide you along the way that will help as well. Even just posting up your results here will get you some great tips and feedback as you go. Don't be afraid of the 120V Inverter based MIG machines, my little Everlast has been awesome and has handled everything I've done on my car (thin sheet metal to 3/16" wall DOM tubing for the roll bar). If the budget and garage infrastructure allows 240V great, but don't let that stop you if it's too far out of reach.

LopRacer
LopRacer Dork
4/18/22 10:24 a.m.

I'll second/third the find a local vo-tech or college that offers adult education or continuing ed classes. I took a single semester intro class designed for Diesel technicians and it was a great help in learning the basics of torch, mig, tig and stick in one class. I know they offer con-ed courses in several types of welding that I can take for each specific discipline. 

yupididit
yupididit GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
4/18/22 10:32 a.m.

I've been meaning to do this for about 10 years now. 

stuart in mn
stuart in mn MegaDork
4/18/22 10:50 a.m.

Another vote for an adult ed class at the local vo-tech or technical college.  That's what I did.  It was one night a week for 12 weeks, was quite affordable, we got to use quality welding equipment, and the teacher was excellent.  

A 401 CJ
A 401 CJ SuperDork
4/18/22 11:29 a.m.

The right answer is to find a good community college program as has been said.  I'm pretty proficient at it now but I didn't take that route.  Back in the ´90s I bought a "Century Wire-Feed Welder" from Tractor Supply plus a helmet, gloves, and roll of flux-core wire.  I took it home and just started doing it.  I was pretty darn awful at first.  One of my first projects was to put "lift hooks" on my dad's old front-end loader.  I made about 5 passes per side and my box went into thermal shutdown for the first time.  It was a pretty awful runny snot looking job and my dad said it would never hold.  When he threw a chain around it and hooked it to a tree to break it off, he raised the rear of the tractor instead.  Could not break it off.  Flux core is ugly but effective.

jwagner (Forum Supporter)
jwagner (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand Reader
4/18/22 3:05 p.m.

My local community college wasn't interesting in enrolling an old guy who wasn't in the welding program so I used youtube university to get started - that that's about as far as I have gotten.  Have welded some stuff together and while the results aren't pretty, it has worked.

earlybroncoguy1
earlybroncoguy1 Reader
4/18/22 9:07 p.m.

1. Never weld in sandals.

Also, if you ever say any of these to yourself, just set down the electrode holder and walk away: 

2. "It's had plenty of time to cool off, I can pick it up with my bare hands now."

3. "It's a quick tack weld, I'll just squint."

4. "I can't get the damn arc started on this rusted quarter panel, I'll just turn up the amperage a little".

5. "This thing is too heavy to drag all the way over next to the outlet, I'll just use a couple of extension cords".

6. "I'll clamp the ground cable to the other side of the axle housing while I weld this bracket on".

7. "I want this thin sheetmetal patch to be nice and strong, I'll weld a continuous bead all the way around it."

8. "The grass is dry and brown, plus it's pretty windy today, I'll think I'll go weld on the fence."

9. "The gas tank just has a small hole in it, I can weld that up easy."

10. "It's too much trouble to disconnect the battery before I weld on this new car, it won't hurt anything." 

 

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
4/18/22 9:27 p.m.

In reply to earlybroncoguy1 :

#3 

A 401 CJ
A 401 CJ SuperDork
4/18/22 9:43 p.m.

I don't know about sandals but I've welded plenty in Crocs.  Just know where your feet are.  Never been burnt in the foot.  Now plasma cutting...that's a whole other game

Evanuel9
Evanuel9 Reader
4/18/22 9:51 p.m.

Thanks everyone! I'll find a local community/tech college class and after I've got that under my belt I'll get a cheap welder to practice with. And I will take every safety precaution possible. (who welds a gas tank without completely draining and cleaning it?)

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy MegaDork
4/18/22 10:02 p.m.

In reply to jwagner (Forum Supporter) :

Our local college books up really fast - it's hard to get classes.  Joliet Junior College.  

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
4/18/22 10:57 p.m.

In reply to Evanuel9 :

In Ontario there are no such classes.  Wish there were as I would love to polish up the TIG welding since I never did experience its full potential even though I have a nice machine.

fasted58
fasted58 MegaDork
4/18/22 11:46 p.m.

Also check your area's adult education vo-tech classes (high school). They will use red or blue machines, so good stuff. Community colleges may require additional related classes just to get into the welding classes.

I went to the next county over for my classes. Had to complete the stick welding class before getting into MIG/ TIG. Most are like this, complete residential electricity before industrial electricity etc. 

Prices were pretty reasonable then, been years ago now, but IIRC $230 / class. I bought new and kept the text books, around $120 then, they were keepers. 

Bring your own steel. If you rely on their supplied steel you could spend half the class time cleaning the material from their bins before you even weld. Hit the scrapper or your collection for 1/8, 3/16, 1/4" and clean it at home. 3/16" is good for a beginner. Auto body sheet metal is good too if you wanna go there. Old hoods, door skins etc.

Pays to have a good machine at home to practice with. I bought a Millermatic 185 MIG before I went to school and dabbled in my spare time. I welded cold, I welded hot and punched through, all part of the learning process.

School did help but it's not the end all. Practice is where it's at. Many other learning resources available online. Miller and Lincoln have sites online as well as Weld.com. on YouTube, and many others.

Good luck.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Preferred Partners
4j7ogYv8YSPqQ6gnBvfLG3cN7iFpA6LUNxiWiGXdX9bYsBqNp0UiLc69YDRfxX2Q