whats an arc welder???



hey there. ive been looking into the northern-tool catalog and am seeing some great deals. i was planning on buying on buying this welder called and "arc" welder??? i have no clue what it is, but if it welds i dont care what it is.its only $150.00 so i cant complain. its 130 amps. it claims to weld 1/4" mild steel, but 1/4" is more than ill ever need to weld for a bike or a lawn tractor. i also plan on buying a 1000 watt generator for it for 130 bucks!

all i ask is, someone please tell me what it is before i buy it and might regret it...

the links:: http://www.northerntool.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_6970_200310823_200310823





Active Member
Local time
7:56 PM
Dec 15, 2006
Fountain Hills, AZ
IMHO, if you don't know what it is, you probaly shouldn't buy it
(that goes pretty much about buying anything doesn't it?)
if you are determined to do welding, take a course or at least research your subject


i know, but once again. i cant get a job, not old enough. so i have to make with my small budget. ill get some more info on it, but yes i should learn about things before i buy them. just like, if its too good to be true, it is.

ill try to get back on this after i learn more about it.



Welding classes are usually pretty cheap at the local community college. Next summer is the first time I'll have the time to take a welding class and I can't wait.


Self-shielded Flux-Cored Arc-Welding process

(FCAW), or flux-cored for short, is different in that it uses a wire which contains materials in its core that, when burned by the heat of the arc, produce shielding gases and fluxing agents to help produce a sound weld, without need for the external shielding gas. We achieve a sound weld, but in a very different way. The shielding is very positive and can endure a strong breeze. The arc is forceful, but has spatter. When finished, the weld is covered with a slag that usually needs to be removed. A "drag" angle for the gun is specified which improves operator visibility. The settings on the wirefeeder / power source are slightly more critical for this process. Improper technique will have results that are magnified. This type of welding is primarily performed on mild steel applications outdoors. .035" is often used for the 115 volt machines and the .045"is typically used in the 230 volt machines. Farmers have found that these products can save a planting or harvest by repairing a broken machine out in the middle of the field in record time.
Now for a little history lesson;
Arc welding roots go back to 1800's when an English scientist discovered that an electric current would form an "arc" when forced across a gap of steel plates. Electric was not used for "arc welding" until 1880's when DeMeritans, a French inventor, used it to join plates in a storage battery with a "carbon arc." The procedure was improved on and it was discovered that a bare metal rod, now named an "electrode," would melt off by the heat of the arc and act as filler metal in the weld.

Using the bare electrode was hard to control and caused a weld that is porous, brittle, and weak. By the early 1900's an important development was the discovery that welds are stronger and easier to make when a chemical coating was placed on the metal electrode. The coating was called "flux." The flux was baked on the electrode and was renamed."

World War I and II placed a high demand on manufactures and builders so the "arc welding" process was further developed and honed. For example, riveting used in the building industries was replaced with welding. Many companies sprang up in America to manufacture welding machines and electrodes to meet the new demands. The perfection of welding processes continued at a rapid rate.

Other techniques such as Gas Metal Arc Welding, aka "MIG," and Gas Tungsten Arc Welding aka "TIG" were perfected. An arc is struck between a "nonconsumable tungsten" rod and the base metal. The heat of the arc causes the edges of the plates to melt and flow together. A filler rod can be manually applied, if needed A patent was granted for a "TIG" process and was named "Heliarc®."

MIG welding is identified by the American Welding Society and uses a " . . . continuous solid wire electrode for filler metal and an externally supplied gas (typically from a high-pressure cylinder) for shielding. The wire is usually mild steel . . . " (Lincoln Electric). The wire is fed through a "gun." The MIG process is widely used in aircraft and automobile manufacturing. MIG is easy to learn, it speeds up production and produces high quality welded joints. One drawback is that it can't be used in vertical or overhead positions.

"Plasma arc welding" was introduced in the Unites States. The atomic/nuclear energy ushered in "electron beam" welding. Other systems such as "inertia friction welding" followed.

Laser welding or "fusion" is one of the newest processes. "Laser welding is a high production welding process that produces deep penetration welds with minimum heat effective zones" (Laser Fusion, www.laserfusionwelding.com.) Because of the tremendous concentration of energy in a small space, it proved to be a powerful heat source. The laser welding process is still finding welding applications in aircraft industry and other metalworking operations.
Now that being said Herrm; Please look into a small mig welder to start with; learn to make a strait beed frist them work on joining metals.....:p
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I started with gas brazing and moved on from there- you would be surprised what you can do with MAPP gas and some good rods. Some very high quality bicycle frames are brazed, not welded. Ultimately, the right welding done the right way is usually stronger, but brazing will be more than strong enough for many applications that we (as motorized bike guys) engage in.

I am no expert, a mere hobbyist, but a standard stick welder (arc welder- no shielding gas, using rods, not wire) will be overkill on bike sized materials and very hard to control...and will easily burn through the thickness of steel required in working on motorized bicycles...that is not to say that someone who really knows what they are doing could not do it. People who know their welding can do an awful lot with an awful little...but that takes years of practice.
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I am getting a lot more respect for my father who worked for 20 years as NDT and welding inspector working double triple shifts. He has retired now but his brother makes portable welding machines in NJ.

Awesome post Locowelder, shows us that welding isn't something you can just pick up and 'do' you need to learn and practice. and wear some welding glasses or you go blind.


....and wear some welding glasses or you go blind.

Excellect point and should always be mentioned in any "beginner welding" topic. About 12 years ago, the first time I was helping someone weld, I was holding a part for him and he told me to turn away and close my eyes...instead I watched closely for about 35 minutes. I woke up in the middle of the night in extreme pain and was temporarily blinded. My wife took me to the ER. For over 24 hours, I had to have my eyes completely covered with no light at all (eyedrops being given in a dark room) and dark glasses for an additional 3 days. I still have retinal scars- and that was one incident on one day.

Learn from my idiocy.