Buying Your First Welder: A Practical, Informative Guide for Do-It-Yourselfers

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Are you finally taking your do-it-yourself skills to the next level? Do you think it’s about time to get that project car that’s been sitting in your garage up and running? To start any DIY project involving metal, you will need a  good welder.

As a novice welder, it’s understandable to feel overwhelmed with all the welding machines available in the market that help complicate your selection process. If you have come across this page, you’re probably in dire need of help to guide you through the welder buying process. Well, sit back and relax as you read on. You have come to the right place!

We have an informative guide to help you pick the best welding machine for your next DIY project! If you need more guides and tips regarding anything related to welding, go to

What are the welding processes?

For starters, before heading to the store, it’s important to know the different welding processes to help you determine which process is best for your project needs and what type of welder it requires. Three common welding processes–Stick, MIG, and TIG–require a specific welder.

Stick or shielded metal arc

Stick welding has been the most popular method for home and shops welding over the years. This method requires a stick welder, which provides an effective technique that fuses joints or alloys, and can be done indoors and outdoors. 

This welding method is also popular among operators working on dirty and rusty metals by creating effective bonds. Stick welding is useful when fusing metals of 18-gauge sheets and above. It requires rod changing in order to weld different materials such as cast metals and stainless steel.

It also produces a lot of spatter, requiring the operator to clean the finished weld. Stick welders are available in AC or DC, with the former being the most cost-effective.

MIG or gas metal arc

For this welding process, a wire welding electrode on a spool is used, which is automatically fed at a speed you set. The electric arc is created between the wire electrode and the workpiece, which causes the two to melt and join or in welding terms, fuse.

The shielding gas feeds through the welding gun along with the wire electrode. It shields the process from any atmospheric contamination and creates a strong, clean weld that requires almost no cleanup.

Another welding process similar to MIG is the Flux-Cored Arc welding or FCAW. They are both wire-fed but what makes FCAW different is that it doesn’t use a shielding gas but rather a Flux-Cored wire. This makes it efficient in welding outdoors, especially in windy conditions and on dirty materials. And because it can perform at high speed, FCAW is ideal for construction.

Overall, both welding processes create a cleaner weld, are easier to learn than Stick welding, and are more suitable for various metal thicknesses.

TIG or gas tungsten arc

To create the weld, this welding process uses a non-consumable tungsten electrode. A shielding gas shields the workpiece from atmospheric contamination along with the filler metal or autogenous welds. The energy that is carried out across the arc, through a column of gas and plasma, is generated by a welding power supply with a continuous current.

TIG welding is generally used in welding thin parts of alloy, stainless steel, and other non-ferrous metals like copper. Although a TIG welder offers more control to the operator over the weld as opposed to other welding methods, it is more difficult to use and requires a lot of practice. But, once you master it, the TIG welder allows you to create high-quality welds.

How to choose the right welder?

Now that you know the types of welding processes, you need to consider a few things when buying a welder.

First, the type of work or project you will be working on.

What are your specific needs? Are you going to use the welder for all your DIY projects? Be sure to identify the kind of projects you will work on and what materials you will use. Of course, the type of welder you want to purchase should be suited for the type of materials you will use. Depending on its thickness, each metal type requires a different welding machine.

If you use a welder frequently, you may want to choose a welder that works with more power and offers a long duty cycle. So, between MIG and TIG, the former may be your best choice because it’s easier to learn and use. If you use a wide range of applications on different projects, you may want to give TIG a go, although it’s more difficult to learn.

Ultimately, your specific DIY needs should help you determine the type of welder you will want to purchase.

Second is the budget.

Of course, you want to be cost-effective. But, you can’t deny the fact that good quality products don’t come cheap. And you can say the same for welding machines. Remember, a good weld suggests a good welding machine. You may want to choose a versatile welder that is suitable for the projects you will work on the most.

Aside from your welder, don’t forget to weigh in some additional costs. You will also need protective gear such as a helmet, jacket, and gloves.


The three types of welders mentioned have advantages and shortcomings. The best choice of welder should suit all your DIY needs. With the right welder, you will be able to take your DIY skills to the next level!