HOW TO MIG WELD: PREPARING AND WELDING BUTT JOINTS

170 Amp-DC, 240 Volt, MIG Flux Cored Welder

If you’re new to welding and don’t plan on joining the Olympic Golden Gate Bridge Repair Team right away, the 170 Amp-DC, 240 Volt, MIG/Flux Cored Welder (item #: 68885) from Harbor Freight Tools is the ideal welder for you. The hassle-free welder comes set up for flux core arc welding and only requires adding shielding gas with other necessary components for full MIG welding applications. The MIG flux wire welder features constant voltage, thermal overload protection and a welding cable with gun. Note: a 240-volt outlet is required.

There are a myriad of projects you can perform with this welder—and first learning some basic joints will put you well onto your way to venerable welding mastery. Today, we’ll focus on the basic butt joint. Stop snickering. This type of joint is best for joining two flat pieces of metal together to form a larger piece. Simple but effective. Below, we found these two videos that cover how to prepare your work pieces for a butt joint using an angle grinder and how to weld a butt joint using a MIG welder.

Please be sure to exercise all safety precautions and utilize all necessary safety equipment, including a welding helmet, before welding.

Videos:

How to MIG Weld : How to Prepare a Butt Joint for a MIG Welder

How to MIG Weld : How to MIG Weld a Butt Joint

 

Weld with Style and the Blue Flame Welding Helmet!

While safety and eye-protection is important, sometimes you want a little style with your welding helmet on top of the basic features. At Harbor Freight, we have a few cool options that will add some style and flair to any garage or welding shop. If you’re looking to pick out a welding helmet that stands out from the rest, take a look at the Auto Darkening Welding Helmet with Blue Flame Design (Item #: 91214)!

91214_zzz_500

For just $54.99, you get all the great features you’d expect with any top-of-the-line welding helmet, plus more. As soon as you start welding, the lens on this helmet darkens in just 1/25,000th of a second for optimal protection and safety while welding. Also, you can work in comfort with an adjustable head strap and padded interior. This helmet works so well, you might forget you have it on! That is, until you hear all the compliments you’re getting about how awesome it looks on you.

“This helmet has a quick flash response. It works just as good as any high $$$ helmet. I work with a 125AMP MIG/Flux welder and I have no problems with the flash rate. I was very hesitant on buying this one but, boy I’m glad I did. The settings are easy to control. Definitely one of my smartest purchases.” – by Big Ed’s Harley Repair from Phoenix, AZ

“I asked my wife to get this for me for Christmas last year. I just got a chance to use it. It works perfectly! The adjustments to speed and sensitivity are perfect. As a former professional welder I was amazed that something so low cost could work so good. The suspension is a bit less than desired, but for the money? This is a GREAT DEAL. So, 5 stars is valid. Thanks Harbor Feight for another great deal on a tool.” – by gliverson from Boise, ID

“Bought the 170 amp welder earlier and just as with that, I went a step up and got this helmet. Really pleased. Adjustable darkening works great. Tension adjusters allow the helmet to stay up with no fuss. On/Off in a flash allows much better results with MIG welding. Adjustable head strap is also comfortable. No problems so far so we’ll see but am very pleased for the money.” – by Mr Beam from Windham, NH

From professional welders to beginners in the field, this welding helmet satisfies the requirements for all skill levels. Whether you’ll be using the helmet constantly or intermittently, you’ll find that it helps you get the job done right without getting in your way. However, I can’t guarantee other customers won’t get in your way when you try to grab this hot item! So get down to your local Harbor Freight store today and grab one for yourself!

A Great Welder for Any Skill Level

Tackle small jobs while saving big money with the 90 Amp-AC, 120 Volt, Flux Cored Welder (Item #: 61849)! At just $109.99, this handy little welding unit is the perfect tool for handling minor repairs or other tasks that could cost double if you hired someone else to do them. And the best part of this welder is that no gas is needed so you get the functionality of a MIG welder without any of the usual hassle. Easy to set-up and easy to use, this Flux Cored Welder is a necessity for any home garage or professional shop!

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This Flux Core Arc Welder (FCAW) is specifically designed to use self-shielding flux-cored welding wire. That means one less step for you when getting a welding job done. While a normal MIG welder would require gas and regulators, this welder from Harbor Freight is a terrific way around that issue. Even if you’re a welding beginner, the Flux Core Welder is just the ticket for gaining the experience you need to become a welding expert. Just ask some of these satisfied customers:

“Great price. Seems to be a nice light duty welder and it is not meant for continuous welds. Instructions say 2 minutes weld time with 8 minutes cool down. It does do a decent job for small jobs. I built a fence panel using 1/8″ steel and this little welder did a good job. My welding skills need practice, but that’s a different story. Follow the instructions and stay within parameters. I have had no problems so far.” – by Dave from Las Vegas, NV

“I purchased this welder to install an axle on my work trailer. This welder was cheaper than the price I got to weld the axle by a pro. Anyways, this welder was even easier than I thought. After a few spools of practice I finally decided to give it a try on something useful. This welder worked great. It was so fun that I started making all kinds of things for my shop and trailer. I run it off a 20 amp outlet and it works great. I have owned it for about 5 months. I have gone through about ten spools of wire just messing around. You can’t beat the price. It does what it says it will and more. After a little practice, I can now weld and make it look OK. The only thing is the duty cycle is 20% so you can only weld on high for around 2 minutes out of every 10 minutes. If you need more than that maybe you need a bigger welder. This one is perfect for me.” – by Doug Welder from Lynn, MA

If anyone knows welding, it’s a guy named Doug Welder. And it gets his stamp of approval. Thanks, Mr. Welder! So, if you’re ready to start welding your own projects, get down to your local Harbor Freight store and pick one of these 90 Amp-AC, 120 Volt, Flux Cored Welders up today!

Harbor Freight’s 2015 Harby Awards

Harby-Award

The Academy Awards are fast upon us—who cares! What’s much more exciting is the Academy Awards of Harbor Freight Tools of which winners take home the coveted “Harby”!

Here are the nominees:

Best Sound

This year, three major contenders are vying for the Harby for Best Sound. All have delivered strong performances this past year. It’s Ooga vs. Bad Boy vs. Super-Loud for the ultimate sound-off during this year’s Harby Awards!

110 dB Old Fashioned Sound Ooga 12V Air Horn

110 dB Old Fashioned Sound “Ooga” 12V Air Horn
item #: 96291

Bad Boy 12V Air Horn

Bad Boy™ 12V Air Horn
item #: 94117

135 dB Super-Loud 12V Air Horn

135 dB Super-Loud 12V Air Horn
item #: 40134

 

Best Cinematography

The story is told through the eye of a lens. If the lens doesn’t see it, we don’t see it. This year’s nominees captured the movements and moments that compel led us to watch over and over again.

8 Channel Surveillance DVR with 4 Cameras and Mobile Monitoring Capabilities

8 Channel Surveillance DVR with 4 Cameras and Mobile Monitoring Capabilities
item #: 61229

Weatherproof Color Security Camera with Night Vision

Weatherproof Color Security Camera with Night Vision
item #: 95914

High Resolution Digital Inspection Camera with Recorder

High Resolution Digital Inspection Camera with Recorder
item #: 60695

 

Most Original Tool

Always a competitive category and this year is proving to be no different. Past winners include the Pneumatic Planishing Hammer and the always popular Chain Saw Chain Breaker/Spinner. This year though, the three contenders are promising to make this contest extremely close!

 

English Wheel Kit with Stand

English Wheel Kit with Stand
item #: 68385

 

Pipe Tubing Notcher

Pipe/Tubing Notcher
Item #: 42324

Throatless Shear

Throatless Shear
item #: 38413

 

Best Supporting Tool

A main tool’s performance is often enhanced by uplifting accessories. Sometimes, the primary tool simply couldn’t function without a strong supporting cast—or supporting cast iron depending on the tool. This year witnessed some noteworthy supporting roles…

Folding Tile Saw Stand with Wheels

Folding Tile Saw Stand with Wheels
item #: 69325

3 Ton Steel Jack Stands

3 Ton Steel Jack Stands
item #: 61196

Welding Cabinet

Welding Cabinet
item #: 61705

 

Best Director

Some tools are strongest when directing the way, whether it’s down to the ground, up to the stars or somewhere in between…

 

Plumb Bob With 15 Ft. Line

Plumb Bob With 15 Ft. Line
item #: 66271

Brass Sextant

Brass Sextant
item #: 66096

Self-Leveling Laser Level Kit

Self-Leveling Laser Level Kit
item #: 69243

 

Best Picture

Who knew how photogenic Harbor Freight’s tools could be? While every tool is beautiful in its own way, these nominees were captured at their very best… A picture says a thousand words—which one says “Winner” this year?

 

3 Ton Aluminum Racing Floor Jack with RapidPump

3 Ton Aluminum Racing Floor Jack with RapidPump®
item #: 61386

9000 lb. Off-Road Vehicle Electric Winch with Automatic Load-Holding Brake

9000 lb. Off-Road Vehicle Electric Winch with Automatic Load-Holding Brake
item #: 61346

72 in. 18 Drawer Glossy Red Industrial Roller Cabinet

72 in. 18 Drawer Glossy Red Industrial Roller Cabinet
item #: 61656

 

 

Best Score

We’re not talkin’ music here, we’re talking deals that are music to your ears! Whether it’s a Parking Lot Sale purchase, using a 20% off coupon or just cashing in on Harbor Freight’s everyday low prices, these three contenders are running neck and neck for this year’s Best Score Harby!

 

FireShot Screen Capture #197 - 'Harbor Freight Tools (@harborfreight) • Instagram photos and videos' - instagram_com_p_yLMY1qxhNm__modal=true

 

Jake “The Brawl” Baxter scores the 1000 lb. Capacity Motorcycle Lift, item #: 68892 using a 20% off coupon!

 

FireShot Screen Capture #198 - 'Harbor Freight Tools (@harborfreight) • Instagram photos and videos' - instagram_com_p_y7cewWRhLr__modal=true

Edge Creehole and his daughter Helen (a.k.a. Hell Bent) score dueling Pipe Wrenches, the 14″ and 48″, items #: 61350 and #: 60529 respectively, during a regular father/daughter weekend trip to Harbor Freight.

 

Kid with Light

And then there’s Petunia Parker with the beloved 27 LED Portable Worklight/Flashlight, item #: 67227. Start ’em young…

 

Cast your votes which will be counted along with our panel of esteemed judges. The winners will be announced on Monday, February 23rd. And congratulations to this year’s nominees!

10 Customer Reviews Of Harbor Freight Products That Might Surprise You

HFT mosaic sale pic

As is always the case, this coming weekend’s Parking Lot Sale— our January Blowout— is garnering a lot of interest, particularly from those who are looking to add to their shop and garage for the coming year. Customers will find a number of products on sale that they’re familiar with (maybe some not so much) and have already formed opinions about. However, since there’s nothing like getting it from the horse’s mouth, here are ten customer reviews for products that will be among those on sale, some of which may persuade you in ways you didn’t expect (Note: prices on the individual product pages will reflect the PLS during its run. To see PLS prices now, click on the above image):

 

tool cart 4 door black

U.S. General 26-in. 4-Drawer 580 lb. Capacity Glossy Black Roller Cart

Bought this box two years ago and work out of it almost daily. I use the heck out of this thing and it rides in the back of our box truck work truck strapped in everywhere we go. It is loaded to the max and the wheels and drawers have never failed, and I cannot believe how much stuff I can fit in this box. With four longer carriage bolts you can bolt a 2×4 wood bumper across the back just under the lid and the height elevation lines up perfectly for the lower E-track strap system inside most commercial trucks and trailers. This is a great tool box, worth five times as much in my opinion. Cant go wrong with this.”  B. Hill – Cameron Park, CA

 

motorcycle lift

Pittsburgh Motorcycle 1000 lb. Capacity Motorcycle Lift

I have own this lift for a year and love it! I lift my Harley Davidson Street Glide and Soft Tail with with no problem. Also, a couple of my friend’s Ultra Classics. I’ve used it for maintenance, and repair on my bikes. This lift has saved me a lot of cash and allows me to do all my own bike services. Not to mention all that free beer my buddies bring over to use my lift! Read all the info that comes with it. It will tell you to put hyd. oil in the lift. I’ve left bikes on it for weeks at a time and it holds firmly. Yes it’s heavy, but it works great.”  USMCVet – AZ

 

90 amp flux wire welder

Chicago Electric Welding 90 Amp-AC, 120 Volt, Flux Cored Welder

I have a nice Hobart MIG, but it’s heavy and requires 240V. I bought this welder for welding in areas I don’t have 240V, but since I bought it, the Hobart has barely been touched. This welder is light, works great, and could not be more convenient. I’ve had it for a year or so, and it’s been dragged to races, and probably has ten or so hours of welding on it. It hasn’t missed a beat. If it died tomorrow, I’d happily go buy another one without complaint. I’ve done a fair amount with it… made a coffee table out of wrought iron, made a pit-cart, and swapped the entire body of a Toyota Pickup onto a Mercedes. It’s gotten some use, needless to say. It lays down nice welds for flux-core, and while it probably won’t last forever, the quality is surprisingly good. Gun feels a little flimsy and can get hot, but it’s never really bothered me. It’s one of my favorite HF purchases. Also, they include a full spool of wire, which impressed me.”  Ted – Spartanburg, SC

 

welding cabinet

Chicago Electric Welding Cabinet

I own and run a busy sculptural blacksmith shop and now have 3 of these carts. I have my MIG, Tig and Plasma cutter on each cart and I use them everyday. I love the working height of these carts and that they have well-built heavy drawers for storing tools and consumables. I am very hard on my equipment and tend to overload my carts with no problems. My work are is now cleaner and more organized.This cart is mostly assembled.You have to screw on wheels,casters, handle, tanks brackets and hose hooks. This took me about 15 minutes on the first cart and maybe 10 minutes on the other two.”  Bender Dave – Maine

 

tile brick saw 10 inch

Chicago Electric 10-in. 2.5 HP Tile/Brick Saw

I am a patio installation professional, but I was working on a multifaceted concrete paver project on my own home. I wanted a low-cost saw that I could use exclusively for this purpose without slowing my crews down by borrowing their tools. One thing that I learned: this saw specifically states in the product manual that it is to be used with a CONTINUOUS RIM diamond blade, not segmented. However, I had already purchased a segmented diamond blade and it worked fine to cut my pavers.

I performed approximately 100 linear ft. of paver cuts on the first project, then another 50 linear ft. on the second project. Initially, the saw started up fine. This saw has a 15 amp draw, so make sure you size your extension cord properly as to not blow a fuse or trip a breaker. I used a 12-gauge 25′ extension cord to be safe. The pump worked great. I took special care to properly clean the pump and saw surface after each use. Plenty of power, smooth swift cuts that look great upon completion. Sliding guide plate was properly adjusted to make straight cuts, and saw arm can be used in a fixed or downward motion. Did many angled cuts. Used it on 2 3/8″ pavers and 4″ block, no problem.

In my experience a pump needs to be properly cleaned and no allowed to freeze or dry up after each use. I stored my pump in a bucket of water at room temperature between used and had no issues. Also, keep your slurry water changed regularly as to avoid it binding up your pump.

Next project planned is a tile project in bathrooms/kitchen. Most reviews say it works great. I am also planning to go ahead and buy the stand, as it will be more convenient.

I have owned and used many different wet saws during my career and one thing is for sure: these saws take a beating with brick dust, vibration, loading/unloading, etc. It’s my opinion that it’s ridiculous to invest $1k in a saw that lasts just as long as this one. I recommend this product to the novice because it’s safe if procedures are followed, and to the beginning professional who has knowledge enough to appreciate a good value on site.”  XMark – Indianapolis, IN

 

12K winch

Badlands 12000 lb. Off-Road Vehicle Electric Winch with Automatic Load-Holding Brake

I just used this with the HF hitch mount receiver. I pulled my 2500HD with 8-ft plow out from being buried in heavy snow to the frame on an incline (I was pulling UP hill!). I used a winch block to gain some extra pull, but the winch and mount had NO problems moving the truck. I attempted to pull the truck with other trucks and a loader with no luck. I couldn’t believe how easy it moved. I have used other name brand winches in the past, and yes they are faster and have a longer duty cycle (which I exceeded with the HF and had no signs of motor overheating) but they do come with a HEFTY price tag that I will no longer justify. If you don’t need it or use it everyday, you can’t afford NOT to buy this. Really, it would have cost me a few hundred for a tow. Overall its great product and well worth the money.”  Sierra – CT

 

 8750-7000 watt generator
Predator 8750 Peak/7000 Running Watts, 13 HP (420cc) Generator EPA III

I bought the generator because my uncle has this one,, and he swears by it..Sure enough this bad boy powers the house …I have the fridge ,, upright freezer,, central air,, big screen tv,,, electric water heater ,, ADT…and it runs it all.(.Dont get crazy ,, but run the essentials)..Just have an electrician wire it up 30amp style to your electric pannel , and your golden..I did load it a little heave once and it threw the breaker on the generator,, but I just pushed the button to reset and we were rolling again..Easy pull start too,, buy a battery , and it just starts with the push of a button..also buy the wheel kit,, , you will need it to move it around.”  Not-in-the-Dark, Crossville, TN

 

6.5 gas engine

 Predator 6.5 HP (212cc) OHV Horizontal Shaft Gas Engine EPA

 I put this motor on my roto-tiller last year and wanted to get a full year of service before writing a review. ‘Awesome’ is the word that comes to mind. WHAT AN EASY INSTALL!!! Fell right into the mounting bolts. The motor is easy to start and control, the most dependable I have ever used. Fuel use is great and it is pretty quiet for a 6 HP motor. I am buying another just to have a spare for any other projects that come up. Thanks, Harbor Freight, for a good price on a great product!”  Garden Man – Swedesboro, NJ

 

IR Temperature Gun

Cen-Tech Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer With Laser Targeting

I bought mine years ago to monitor the oil temperature in my turkey fryer, and it worked great! Then I used it to monitor the temp of my parts while powder coating (350 – 450 degrees), and it works great for that too. On performance engines with individual exhaust runners, I use it to spot a rich or lean cylinder. If you have a Weber kettle BBQ grill, it works good to monitor the cooking temp.”  Curt – IL

 

3-in-1 jump starter

Cen-Tech 3-in-1 Jump Starter and Power Supply

I bought this in the winter of 2005, and it has been a life saver every year. I don’t know how it has lasted as long as it has, but I plug it in for recharge any time I use it and just keep it in my truck the rest of the time. I have helped dozens of other drivers along the way as well as myself at each year among the 4 cars we own. This is going on 7 years, and I just used it again this morning, and it still charges to over 14 volts, and it will still crank a 350 over and over. I plugged a USB DC outlet into the jump starter to see if i could charge my phone with it and it worked.Get one!”  chefrick – CT

IF YOU ONLY HAD ONE WISH…

Adjustable Steel Welding TableIf you could be granted one wish, what would it be? World peace? We said “wish” not miracle… All the money on Earth? Well, if you had all the money on Earth, then that means no one else would have any money—there would be global anarchy and your money wouldn’t be worth anything. The ability to fly? You’d save money on airplane tickets but you’d have to be hooked up to a GPS satellite system, then there’re the permits, licensing… not worth it. Super strength? They have those jar openers now so super strength wouldn’t really amount to much. Telepathy? Like you don’t spend enough time on the couch already… Immortality? Well, someday the sun will implode and destroy the solar system as we know it, so you’d be left floating around in space with no friends and nothing to eat. That leaves super-model spouse and fat-free chocolate. But both of those pale in comparison to the Adjustable Steel Welding Table (item #: 61369) from Harbor Freight Tools.

The steel table is adjustable with five position stops and is zinc-plated to resist rust. Designed for conductivity, you can connect your welding clamp directly to the welding table safely. Four built-in slots provide clamping points as well as heat reduction. Plus, the retractable edge guides can be used as a fence or for clamping. Reinforced trestle-style legs provide maximum stability. The best news is that you don’t have to use up your one wish to get the Adjustable Steel Welding Table—just visit one of Harbor Freight’s 500+ stores nationwide. Now you can have a super-model spouse and weld with ease, or eat all the chocolate you want and weld with ease or wish you knew how to weld… and then weld with ease!

Adjustable Steel Welding Table
item #:  61369

Adjustable Shade Welding Helmets to Fit Any Job

Aside from a top-notch welder, the most important welding accessory you can have is a great, reliable welding helmet. At Harbor Freight Tools, we don’t just have the best in welding protection, but also a couple of stylish designs to choose from that will help you stick out from the pack!

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For the Do-It-Yourselfer just looking for a basic helmet without any fancy artwork, the Adjustable Shade Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet (SKU #: 46092) is all you need. At just $49.99, it’s the most affordable of the welder’s helmets available and features adjustable sizing for a comfortable fit. While it’s not recommended for TIG welding, this basic welding helmet is a perfect fit for the novice welder as well as the professional for handling a variety of welding tasks.

“Works just as good, if not better, than hoods costing 3x as much. It’s great for MIG and SMAW welding. Quick changeover filter makes this a pleasure to use. I have no problem with purchasing another if this one should ever fail.” – by Phil from Louisville, KY

91214_zzz_500

If you’re the type that likes a little extra flair on their equipment, maybe step up to the Auto Darkening Welding Helmet with Blue Flame Design (SKU #: 91214) for only $54.99. This welder’s helmet is suitable for TIG welding as well as MIG/flux, plasma arc welding and cutting, air carbon cutting, and stick welding. And all with the cool blue flames emblazoned on your helmet, you’ll look just as hot as the metal you’re welding!

“I asked my wife to get this for me for Christmas last year. I just got a chance to use it. It works perfectly! The adjustments to speed and sensitivity are perfect. As a former professional welder I was amazed that something so low cost could work so good. The suspension is a bit less than desired, but for the money? This is a GREAT DEAL. So, 5 stars is valid. Thanks Harbor Freight for another great deal on a tool.” – by gliverson from Boise, ID

image_11491

Need a little more flash on your gear? Then check out the Auto Darkening Welding Helmet with Racing Stripe Design (SKU #: 67854). This handsomely designed welder’s helmet is available for $59.99 and comes with a grind mode feature as well. With this mode engaged, the helmet becomes a grind shield with no shade flickering. And along with battery assistance, the helmet includes a solar powered component for added efficiency.

“Bought this at the same time when I bought the 90 amp HF flux core welder. It worked just fine and has good features. I’m glad I bought it and I’m sure I will get plenty of use out of it AND the welder. Thanks HF once again for making tools affordable for the do-it-yourselfer!!” – by Dewart Lake Tackle Company from Syracuse, IN

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For the top-of-the-line in welding helmets, you’ll want the Variable Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet with Metal Head Design (SKU #: 68782). This versatile welder’s helmet features variable sensitivity as well as adjustable delay time that can be fine-tuned for each individual project. And even this advanced helmet with its cool metallic look is only $69.99.

“A little more money but I think it’s worth it because it’s more comfortable. It looks like a more expensive helmet. The sensitivity is higher too. Had the basic helmet (the black one) 49 years . Worked great, then the batteries died but I got my money’s worth out of it. Hope this one lasts that long!” – by Dom the excavator from Pensacola, FL

Lucky for Dom, these durable helmets are made to last. So head over to your local Harbor Freight Tools store today and pick up the welder’s helmet that best suits your needs and experience! Each one of them comes with tons of features and a ridiculously low price that you’ll find only at Harbor Freight.

Pick Up a Handy Welding Spoon without Forking Over a Lot of Cash!

For any serious welder out there, a Welding Spoon is a must-have accessory for making your work just a little easier.  And if you’re a welding novice who has never heard of a Welding Spoon before then here’s your introduction to a great tool that will help you in filling holes while welding!  If you’re looking to create a smooth, flat surface when filling a hole in metal, you’ll need this reliable welding accessory to ensure professional results.

weldingspoon

Even though it may not be used in every project, the Welding Spoon is a tool that many professional welders consider essential.  By placing the curved copper plate behind the hole you’re trying to fill, the Spoon not only supports the weld but also absorbs the heat, allowing for a cleaner finish.  In fact, with this tool in your arsenal, you’ll be able to fill holes without leaving any evidence at all that there was a hole there in the first place.  And best of all, at just $9.49, this inexpensive item won’t leave too big a hole in your tool budget either.

And what do our customers think?

“Made welding thin sheet metal easier. Just getting back into welding and this really works well.” – by SOCAL SCOUT from Irvine, CA

Thanks, SOCAL, for that review.   Short and sweet, just like your next project will be when you have this great Welding Spoon from Harbor Freight Tools in your Welding Cabinet.  With a dimpled vinyl grip, this welding accessory is both easy and comfortable to use.  And while you may not use it often, when the time comes to fill holes in metal, you’ll be glad you filled your tool box with this simple welding accessory!

It’s a Nice Day for a Wire Welding

Been thinking about getting into welding this year? Maybe you’ve had a run-in  or two with a repair job where you thought a welder would be just the ticket. Or maybe a buddy recently modded a grill or trailer– or made a cool metal rack on the cheap– with his handy-dandy welder, and you thought, ‘Dang… I’d like to do something like that.” Well, join the club. But before you go out and get the coolest, top-of-the-line welder, you first need to understand a few things.

  • Practice

Welding–like any craft– is a skill . It takes a lot of practice to get even close to being competent. When you first take hold of that welder, for heaven’s sake, don’t use it on something you don’t want ruined. Practice on LOTS of scrap metal– preferably around the same thickness as what your first project is going to be. You should be able to find some good stuff at your local metal or welding shop. Get used to the action and the way the metal reacts. Work on avoiding “bird poops” (the unsightly metal globs you sometimes see on rough welding jobs), and start feeling comfortable with your developing “technique.” Then, use some scrap to make something you don’t care about, like a homemade grill for a fire pit, or bookends out of 350 engine pistons. Only after you’ve gotten a handle on that kind of stuff should you attempt a project that does matter.

  • Start Small

You wouldn’t learn how to ride a motorcycle on a Harley Fat Boy or start target shooting with a Desert Eagle .50. The same goes with your first welder. Welding is not a low-cost activity, so before you know you it’s something you want to get into, start smaller and cheaper. An ideal model with which to “get your feet wet” is the popular Chicago Electric 90 Amp Flux Wire Welder. It’s easy to set up, can weld metal up to 3/16″ thick and is perfect for small projects around the house and garage. A quick browse through the 90 amp’s customer reviews will give you an idea of what it’s capable of. Here are a few comments:

“I’m a former auto technician and have welded hundreds of times over the years using various machines. I was hesitant to purchase this item… but after doing so I am thoroughly pleased. It’s was very easy to set up. Made numerous repairs to an existing metal decorative fence. It handled the 12 ga metal without hesitation and I decided to attempt it on another project that was heavier metal. It worked flawlessly producing strong welds on 3/16 metal… Overall a great machine at a great price. I’m completely pleased!”  DennisF – Temple, TX

“Very easy and fun to use. Fabricate anything I need to my (on) trucks and machinery. Very happy!”  Landscape Designer – NJ

“Wow, this is nice. How could you go wrong with the price, well worth the money. I’m going to buy one for my boy who has never welded before. Thanks for a great product.”  Boonie – Mt. Vernon, IL

“I needed to do some light welding on my car. I figured it was either hire someone or get my own welder and teach myself. I bought this with a 25′ #12 gauge extension cord and an auto dark helmet. I had never used a welder before, I don’t even have a book except the book that came with this welder.”  Mike – Hollywood, FL

“I run this welder for tons of different jobs. Its best for minor projects, although I have put mine to the test. I was on a budget so I bought this welder to get me from town to town for on-the-move jobs. I worked 12-hour days for about a month-and-a-half, the welder was in use for 6-8 hours most of the time. It ran great, ran beautiful beads with lincoln wire and never quit on me. I use it strictly on tubing as I build fences and doors, but with a little practice you can get good heat control on thin metals, and good penetration on thicker materials. Those that say u cant run nice beads with flux core are liars. I can run beads just as nice as my lincoln mig welders. Get some good wire and practice, practice, practice. Great little shop welder, perfect little learners welder!  Garcia Welding – New Mexico

Once you’ve mastered your 90 Amp Flux Wire Welder, you can expand to bigger projects and maybe move up to a Chicago Electric 170 Amp MIG/Flux Wire Welder or 180 Amp MIG/Flux Wire Feed Welder for more power and thicker metal.

  • Safety

Obviously, the foremost thing to keep in mind about welding is safety first. Most of it is common sense, but for the sake of health and property, keep in mind that welding can be dangerous. Welders throw sparks, they can cause fire. Be sure to remove anything flammable from the area you’re working in, and if you’re welding on the grass or near bushes, it’s probably a good idea to wet down the ground. Also, wear a long-sleeve shirt, pants without cuffs, and long Welders Gloves. Of course, also get yourself face and eye protection. I particularly like the Chicago Electric Auto-Darkening Helmet with Blue Flame Design.

Once you get the hang of it, working on welding projects can be a blast– for the home, the car and all kinds of hobby projects. And Harbor Freight’s got the perfect, low-cost way to start!

Auto Darkening Helmet, World Kindness Day and the Chupacabra from Space!

Welding HelmetThe Auto Darkening Welding Helmet with Blue Flame Design from Harbor Freight Tools is a must-have for any serious welding job.

The solar powered welding helmet gives you a full view of your welding area with an ample 3-7/8″ x 1-5/8″ viewing lens as well as complete UV/IR protection. Plus, the auto darkening lens on this solar powered helmet darkens in 1/25,000 of a second—as soon as you begin welding.

Other features include variable shade control adjusting from #9 to #13 with a resting shade of #14, high/low light sensitivity adjustment, grind mode which transforms the helmet into a grind shield without shade flickering, and a customizable fit made possible by a ratcheting headband and padded interior.

And in light of World Kindness Day, you can use the Auto Darkening Helmet to do something nice for someone special, like your sweet, adorable yet frail grandmother. Simply wait until she’s in the middle of her afternoon nap and then don the Auto Darkening Welding Helmet with Blue Flame Design. Bust into her room and scream at the top of your lungs “I’M THE CHUPACABRA FROM SPACE! GIVE ME YOUR LIVESTOCK, PREFERABLY A GOAT, SO I MAY FEED!

Just think how delighted Grandma will be thanks to your creativity and caring! Just make sure her nitroglycerin pills are close by in case she’s overcome by your kindness…