Low Cost 120V Welders for Home Use
Most homeowners have certain standard tools for repair of household items, and a welder just wouldnt be on that list of what is "typical". Considering my experiences, I think a lot of homeowners should re-think that standard. Several years ago I bought a small 120 volt arc welder to fabricate parts for my 1936 Chevy Pick up. In spite of the fact that the cost was fairly affordable when I bought this welder to work on my hot rod pick up, I still wondered whether it would really be worth the expense. I had never owned or used a welder and I just didnt know much about such things. Boy was I surprised - What a great idea it turned out to be!
Sure, it did just what I expected in fabricating parts for my truck, but it has also helped me fix and repair dozens of things around the house. As an example, my wife had an old coat rack that was made of wood and cast iron - it originally belonged to her great grandmother, but the iron part had cracked and broken. I took it to a guy to fix it, and he wanted $300. I thought it was crazy to spend that kind of money, so I bought about $5 worth arc welding rod specially made for cast iron, a can of flat black paint and fixed it myself. A few weeks later the handle on my workshop vise broke - I would have had to throw it away, but with a bit of welding, and its as good as new. From my camp trailer, to hand tools, broken stuff for the family and friends - Ive used my welder a hundred times.
Thats why I recommend purchasing one so freely. Ive easily saved enough money to pay for the cost of my welder many times over. So many things around the house that I would have had to just throw away are practically good as new. Home workshop, arts and crafts, automotive repairs - all are applications that Ive used home welder to work on. It just opened a whole new world of potential projects I could complete. I admit Im kind of a tool junkie, but a welder is just something that most homeowners wouldnt think of.
Different types of welding equipment are available, some are powered by 220V wall power, some welders have their own generator to create their power. Different technologies include Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welders which feed a continuous wire into the welder, and use a flow of argon gas to keep the metal from burning or oxidizing too quickly. TIG welders (Tungsten Inert Gas) use a non consumable tungsten electrode and a bare uncoated hand held welding rod.
The type of welder I recommend for home use is a simple stick electrode - arc welding set up, which uses a rod covered in a flux to weld and can be plugged right into a standard wall outlet. During welding with this type of equipment, the vaporizing flux protects the metal. The arc is very high temperature and the metal virtually sprays off the end of the rod. The flux on the rod which does not vaporize, fuses into a molten glass which protects the metal from oxidation while it is cooling.
For the average home owner, a simple 120V unit, is probably best. No special modification to provide 220 V power is necessary, and the price is quite reasonable (I paid about $150 for mine).. The 120V unit is only good to weld up to about 3/16 inch steel. If you are doing heavy duty welding and heavy fabrication, you need a larger unit. However for 99% of the typical homeowner applications, I find the 120V unit is really sufficient. There are low cost MIG units that can run on 115V home power available for slightly more than the stick type arc welding units, but with MIG you also need a cylinder of compressed Argon to provide the inert gas, and that adds to the price a bit.
Welding supplies are available locally in most areas. These are the shops where you can purchase different types of welding rod (you can only use small diameter rod with a 120V unit). Different types of rods (or wire for MIG type units) are used for welding on different types of steel or iron. I also bought an upgraded welding mask at my local welding supply shop.
Anyway, I consider my little home arc welder one of the best purchases that I have ever made and I heartily recommend it to other homeowners. Im not a welding equipment dealer, but I like my tools and this has been a good one to own, not to mention that the cost was very affordable. If you want to consider fabricating home metal craft projects, doing home and auto repairs, metal arts and other similar types of projects, I really think that it is a very worthwhile purchase. I know I wouldnt be without one.
For More information on Using a welder around the home, check out the authors website at:
For More information on the authors recommendations on Tools for the Homeowner, check out his web page at:
Chris Ralph writes on small scale mining and prospecting for the ICMJ Mining Journal. He has a degree in Mining Engineering from the Mackay School of Mines in Reno, and has worked for precious metal mining companies conducting both surface and underground operations. After working in the mining industry, he has continued his interest in mining as an individual prospector. His information web page can be viewed at: