The NEW Harbor Freight Thread

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the bodj

1st post pg805
Mar 4, 2010
10,322
166
63
Moorpark
TIG definitely is harder to perfect, but in this day and age with a plethora of videos available online, it's not the "hands-on instruction required" process it used to be. I've coached quite a few people on open root pipe welding just through messaging, and watching thorough close-up videos are even better than that. I don't know if you've seen my other posts, but I'm a specialty code welder by trade. I was picked up to be a welding instructor, but turned down the job. I feel pretty confident that I can teach most people you TIG just through talking and referencing some good videos.

The other aspect is that you can tell if a TIG weld isn't sound just by looking at it. Even if its a little ugly, you can see if it's fused. The same can't be said for MIG, and when you are throwing in the beginner DIY factor with road-going vehicles, it's not really recommended. But people are going to want to try anyway.

And for the welds that are too dirty for TIG, every TIG welder is also a stick welder.
I learned TIG on my own through trial and error and youtube videos. If I only had tig, I would have hated building anything when starting out. Welding is half the battle. Fit-up is the other.
 

TheBFA

member
May 3, 2019
37
11
8
Las Vegas
All that talent wasted on hand rail.
It was probably my favorite work to do. I got to actually put in a lot of effort to make things look beautiful, and it was actually appreciated. I was the sole fabricator for a glass ballustrade company that did some really fancy and expensive stuff. But don't let that get you thinking that's all I do. I've been flown out to power plants to make one weld repair while shareholders are on the line waiting for the plant to get up and running again. Here are just some examples of the non-wasted welding talent. I even threw in the clam shell reinforcement I welded onto a live liquid butane line that had the wall thickness get below 1/16", and only 0.22" around the area I was welding to. There's a mix of mostly tig, some stick, and one example of my uphill fluxcore on 9 chrome for a lifting lug on a tube panel in the largest coal power plant in the US. I fabricated and built the entire subframe on the straight truck to mount the crane single handedly. I've pretty much done every kind of welding work there is.
 

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TheBFA

member
May 3, 2019
37
11
8
Las Vegas
I learned TIG on my own through trial and error and youtube videos. If I only had tig, I would have hated building anything when starting out. Welding is half the battle. Fit-up is the other.
If you have tig, you have stick. Stick can reach places you'll never get the mig gun to reach, and you need to prep the metal a lot less than with mig anyway. But I'm not saying go tig before mig if you want to get right in it. I'm saying I don't recommend buying a cheap ass wire feed machine under any circumstances. If money is that tight, and you absolutely want to weld, get a budget tig/stick machine, and save up to get a decent wire feed. You can stick weld anything all day long for far less cost than even the cheapest wire feed setup.
 
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SoupGFX

Member
Dec 6, 2013
101
6
18
San Diego
Shit... I appreciate all the response but now I'm more confused. I watched that video and I'm sold but then I looked on HF's website and saw that unit is $700+. Is it worth spending $700 for a HF welder?
 

JusSumGuoy

Old Skool Ford Freak
Feb 20, 2008
4,380
6
38
Huntington Beach, CA
Not if you can find a similar sized Miller, Lincoln or Esab in decent shape for less on Craigslist or elsewhere. Most guys, including me started with a smaller 110v machine. Granted I only used mine for a split second before saying fuck it & getting a big TIG, but I did run into the same thing many guys have which is the smaller 110 machines (meaning under like a 180) are under-powered for most of what we want to do. Bodywork - yes. Welding .120" wall tube? Well you better hope you have a clean/strong power source and a clean/strong ground. I still have my little Century 130 I bought on here or craigslist for like $300 20 or more years ago. I only use it when I HAVE to = I can't drag the TIG there to tack something (even then this thing boogers it up typically so I have to clean up the bird shit I temporarily glued the piece together with), or when I need to build a gate or fence or something at a buddy's house.

IMO if you're gonna spend $700 or more just watch CL, here, RDC, etc. for used machines and get a bigger, better one than the HF. If you want to spend less on a throw away to play with for a bit & learn on & then re-sell, grab one of the little Lincoln ones like they sell at HomeDepot and every one buys for their 1st forway into welding. They end up on CL all the time. Or just do as one guy says and like I did and say eff MIG and go straight to TIG.
 

TheBFA

member
May 3, 2019
37
11
8
Las Vegas
I would definitely look for a used machine if you are going to be in the $700 range already. I would say a reasonable price would be about 50-60% of the new price when you start pricing them out. Exactly like JumSum said, you can sell it and get your money back when you want to upgrade later.
 
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bullnerd

Senior Member
Feb 1, 2008
186
8
18
My friends and i built a ton of shit we had no business building with this thing. And with a suprisingly high success rate.

We'd pull all the sheetmetal off it and aim a box fan at it to increase the duty cycle. Constantly unpluging it and pluging it back in to try and fool the thermal overload.

Muhahahaha! That's it! Yup, use to have to wait for it to cool down. I put a small frame under it with casters and pulled it around by the gun lead! lol!
 
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