Best Wire Feed Welder For DIY In 2021

aluminum wire feed welder spool

Of all the welding machines available the wire feed welder is no doubt the most versatile and easy to use. With a wire feed welder, you can weld different materials simply by changing the wire spool inside the machine. This lets you weld mild steel, galvanized metal, aluminum, or stainless steel all with one machine.

Wire-feed welders are more commonly known as MIG or MAG welders. A MIG welder is the same machine as a wire feed welder. Where MIG stands for Metal Inert Gas, and MAG stands for Metal Active Gas. This is a process where the machine uses a shielding gas (non-reactive) to protect the welding pool from atmospheric contaminants. The gas is fed through the welder’s cable along with the welding wire which is fed through the welding gun and arc area thus creating the weld.

What Is The Best Wire Feed Welder

A common question is which is the best wire feed welder? There are many different brands of MIG welder and for many people, It is a matter of preference. However, there are several wire feed MIG welders that stand out more than others and consistently get great reviews from previous customers.

Hobart Handler 140

The Hobart handler is a very popular DIY and small workshop wire feed MIG that has an entry-level price point and ticks all the boxes.

hobart handler 140 wire feed welder

Uses include;

  • Our best pick for DIY aluminum wire feed welder
  • DIY, home workshop Farm, ranch, and general fabrication and plant repairs.
  • Gates and iron fences, various brackets, DIY smokers and grilles
  • Iron, and aluminum furniture, security screens
  • Machinery repairs, light structural steel projects
  • Auto exhausts, auto rebuilds, general repair

Hobart Wire Feed MIG Features

  • 115 Volts, 25 to 140 Amps output
  • Rated Output 90 A, 18.5 Volts DC, 20% duty cycle
  • Stable arc performance
  • The Wire Drive system is cast aluminum
  • Five Settings for the voltage control
  • Drive roll adjustable to suit different wire thicknesses, 06.08.09 mm wires.
  • Light-weight at just 57 pounds
  • Easy voltage changeover (Aluminum and mild steel require different voltage settings)
  • Thermal overload protection with auto reset
  • Industrial warranty from Hobart
  • Hobart welders are designed and assembled in the USA, Troy Ohio

The Hobart Handler 140 wire feed welder is a top-quality machine that is not out of place in the home workshop. This machine will handle th majority of projects likely to be encountered around the home, small shop, or farm.

 

Lincoln Electric K2185 1 Handy Mig

Lincoln arent new to welding machines and have a great reputation for building top quality welders. This wire feed welder, the k2185 model is the perfect fit for the home workshop.

The machine is lightweight and is primarily designed to be used as a welder for mild steel. The machine supports gas welding  (MIG) plus the flexibility of using flux core wire.

Using flux core wire requires no gas cylinder, which makes the k2185 model really handy for those outside jobs where breezes are prone to blow away shielding gasses when using gas cylinders.

lincoln wire feed welder

Features of the Lincoln Wire Feed Welder

  • Uses, home DIY repairs, and hobbyists
  • Amperage output 35-88 20 duty cycle @ 70 Amps
  • Weldable Metals Mild steel, Gas or Gasless
  • Weld Thickness up to. 1/8, inch,
  • Welding Wire Diameter in. 0.035
  • Adjustable wire feed control

While the Lincoln k2185 seems like a basic welder, which it is, from the reviews of others this machine is a quality product and punches above its weight for this class of welder. Highly recommended for beginners and home repairs.

Weldpro 200 Multi Process Welder

The Weldpro 200 multi-process welder is similar to the Hobart handler but comes with extra features that many other welders don’t. This machine will cover any type of welding job in its variety of functions available. The Weldpro 200 Can operate as a Mig, Tig, and Arc welder, all in one box.

Weldpro 200 Multi Process Welder

 

Features Of The Weldpro 200

  • All in one wire feed MIG, TIG and Arc welding, MIG (DC)/ Flux Core/TIG(DC)/Stick(DC)
  • Powerful 200 amp, 115, and 200 input voltages.
  • The unit contains advanced DC lift TIG features
  • Digital display to easily set amperage and wire-speed
  • Mig 200 automatically adjusts voltage and wire feed speed, while also allowing the user to fine-tune the voltage if required
  • The Inductive settings give a cleaner and smoother welds with less weld spatter
  • Lift TIG welding also allows for the brazing of dissimilar metals using the TIG braising method.

The Wewldpro is a more expensive welder however the advantages are worth it, this is a high-quality welding unit capable of all the main welding processes. A top welding machine.

 

Types Of Welding Process

A standard MIG welder is normally capable of welding Aluminium, Mild steel, and Stainless steel. The different functions require the user to use different gasses and different welding wire for each process. Aluminum requires aluminum wire and pure argon gas, stainless steels require stainless wire and pure argon gas, whereas mild steels require steel wire and an argon mix gas.

The other option for welding mild steel is to use gasless or flux-core wires. This is only suitable to weld mild steel and requires no shielding gas. Flux-cored welding wire is great for those who require the welder to be moved around on-site work or farm equipment for example as there are no gas bottles to lug around. The other benefit of cored wire is that it can be used in windy conditions as opposed to using as the gas that is easily blown away by breezes and ruining the weld.

Types Of Welders

Therefore, we should determine what the MIG welder is going to be used for as there are several options and processes that some welders can and can’t do. Some machines can do all types of welding, some are more limited such as

  1. Simple Gasless feed welding – uses only gasless flux core wire, suitable for mild steel metals only.
  2. Standard Mig welder – Welds steel, aluminum, and stainless.
  3. All in one welding machine – Capable of doing all 3 types of welding, Mig welding, Tig and Arc welding welds steel, aluminum, stainless and can use gasless wire

How To Use A Wire Feed Welder

Using a MIG welder is a relatively easy task but there are processes you must go through to get started.

1. Determine The Base Metal To Be Welded

 

The first step is to determine what metal we are going to weld as this can be mild steel aluminum or stainless.

 

2. Change And Set the Wire Spool

 

wire feed spoolsStep number two is we must change the wire spool inside the welder to suit the metal that is to be welded, here we will need to set the wire type to either a mild steel wire to weld normal mild steel or aluminum wire to weld aluminum and stainless wire to weld stainless metals.

Fit the wire spool onto the spool holder and thread the wire through the feed mechanism into the welding cable it’s a good idea to then run the way through the cable manually until it comes out through the tip end. It’s also a good idea to remove the tip to stop the wire from jamming against the tip, once the wire is through we can replace the welding tip.

 

 

3. Set up The Gas Feed

Step 3 we need to change the gas to suit the material to be welded if we’re welding mild steel the gas will need to be in Argan gas mix, if we are welding stainless or aluminum we will need to use the pure Argon gas if we are using gasless flux-cored wire, no gas is required.  Attach the Gas bottle to Gas gauges and turn off the gas bottle.

Note that the type of gas to be used for various applications is normally specified in the welding machine’s operation instructions.

4. Set Up The Parts To Be Welded

Next, we need to position or pieces to be welded you will need to have a good size, preferably metal benchtop, and be able to either clamp your job to the bench or you may hold it within a vice. Make sure the parts are clean and free from grease and have no rust or other contaminants that will hinder the welding process.

Attach the welder’s earth cable directly to the parts to be welded, or if you have a metal worktable, this may be ok to clamp to if the parts are free of paint and any other material that won’t allow a good earth connection.

5. Adjust The Welder Settings

wire feed welder settingsThe next step is to adjust the welder to suit the material we are welding. In most cases, there will be a chart inside the wire spool door of the MIG welder giving the settings for different thickness of metals. Set the wire feed speed and the voltage according to the chart. Note that every job is different so this may take a little experimentation to get the power settings exactly right, only practice and using the machine will determine the final power settings, the guide chart is only a guide. It’s a good idea if you’re welding for the first time to use a practice piece of scrap to test the heat input power settings before you weld the proper job.

6. Get Safe and Comfortable

Finally, we must make sure we have the correct safety gear on, and in this case, you will need a good quality welding helmet, gloves, long trousers, and sleeves, or preferably a leather welding jacket and steel cap safety footwear and a welding cap will prevent sparks from landing on your head.

Get comfortable! This is the best way to get good welds and reduce the amount of any cleanup. It may help if you can rest your arm on something if needed, to get steady. Then it’s a matter of basically pulling the trigger start welding. For best results, auto-darkening welding helmets are the way to go, they allow the work to be visible until you pull the trigger and create the welding arc, whereas the helmet automatically darkens allowing the user to view the welding process.

What is the difference between a Mig and a Wire Feed Machine?

Nothing, they are the same animal. Mig just stands for Metal Inert Gas which is the process, feed wire is the method of delivery of the wire filler.

Do you Need Gas For Wire Feed Welding

You do need gas for welding specific metals, mainly stainless and aluminum. You can use both gas and gasless welding wire in wire feed machines to weld metals, great for welding galvanized metal and for site work where carrying gas is not an option.

 

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