Best Welding Machines for Beginners
Beginners Guide to Buying a Welder: 3 Simple Rules to Follow
A welder is an investment into your true earning potential. Find the perfect beginners welder with three simple rules.
Rule 1: Understand Your First Welder is an Investment
There are plenty of affordable welders on the market, but understand your first welder is an investment. Like any investment, you should do your research to find the right welder for the job and learn what’s best for you. Don’t start on the wrong foot because you got the wrong tool.
Rule 2: Figure Out What Type of Welding You’re Doing
There are three main types of welding: Stick, TIG, and MIG/Flux cored. Each form of welding has pros and cons and is best suited for certain work. In short, there’s no one size fits all welder, even for beginners (though we do recommend MIG welding for those who are still learning).
Stick Welders – Stick welders are ideal for hobbyists, home repair projects, and DIYers. Those who learned to weld years ago probably learned on a stick welder. Looking to repair that antique cast iron wheelbarrow, dirty tractor, or rusty farm equipment? The Miller Thunderbolt might be perfect for you.
The Miller Thunderbolt XL 225 is our top stick welder pick. Infinite amperage control and selectable DC or AC output make the Miller Thunderbolt a perfect choice for beginners.
TIG Welding – TIG welders are ideal for more experienced welders. If you’ve worked with welding equipment extensively and want to use more materials and create beautiful beads, a TIG welder like the Miller CST-280 might be for you. TIG welders have a steep learning curve, but are still popular thanks to their versatility.
The Miller CST-280 might not be the best idea for novice welders, but is a great entry level TIG welder for those with more experience. Ideal for rack mounting and light enough to be carried around, the CST-280 is our top TIG welder pick.
MIG Welding – Perfect for those still learning to weld, MIG welders are easy to use, can create fast welds, and offer the versatility of use with flux cored tubes. They also create great learning opportunities, as they will force you to minimize slag. With a relatively low cost of entry, MIG welders like the Millermatic 125 are a great place to start.
The Millermatic 125 Hobby is easily our top MIG welder pick. Easy to use on stainless steel and aluminum alloys, this MIG welder is simple to use, and can use flux core tubing.
Flux Cored Welding – Entry level flux-cored MIG welders, like the Millermatic 190, are easy to find since most MIG welders support flux cored wires. Flux cored welding is similar to MIG welding since it automatically feeds in material, but uses a tubular wire filled with flux instead of solid wire. This can create stronger welds, and is more forgiving when working with dirty or rusty metal; but it also creates a decent amount of slag.
The Millermatic 190, with its smooth start and spool gun compatibility, is our top flux cored MIG welder pick. Most welders who use flux cored wire are more experienced and are likely looking for a more versatile machine. The Millermatic 190 is a perfect entry level model.
Rule 3: Choose the Welder that Fits Your Needs
Like we said earlier, there’s no one size fits all welder. You need to figure out what you’re going to be welding, then find what fits your needs. We can’t tell you which welder is perfect for you, but we can give you some suggestions. Take a look at our top staff picks.
Stick Welders: Staff Picks
Stick welders are perfect for outdoor applications since they aren’t affected by the wind. Best suited for thicker metals, you should avoid stick welding aluminum alloys. Stick welding is also more forgiving when working with dirty and rusty metal. Because stick welders use a large stick for the material, they’re great for heavy metals like cast iron.
TIG Welders: Staff Picks
TIG welding isn’t normally practiced by beginners. TIG welding creates a “molten weld puddle,” which enables you to lay down beautiful and precise weld beads with minimal slag (if any). Because you can easily adjust the heat output on a TIG welder, it’s ideal for exotic metals like magnesium and titanium, as well as copper and brass.
MIG Welders: Staff Picks
Because MIG welders work by automatically feeding in material, you can weld quickly-- a real plus for novice welders. MIG welding is extremely easy to control on thinner metals and produces minimal slag. MIG welders can also use Flux Cored spools, negating the need for costly gas. If you see yourself working primarily with thinner metals like aluminum alloys, steel and stainless steel.