Tag Archives: eastwood welders

  • How to Select a MIG Welder

    So you are ready to get serious about your metal work, and you want to add a wire feed welder to your shop’s arsenal. Good for you, a welder is one of the most useful pieces of shop equipment. Below, we take a look at the features and specifications you need to think about before deciding which one is right for you.

    Flux Core VS MIG

    Wire feed welders actually consist of 2 different welding types: Metal Inert Gas (MIG) and Flux Core. Flux core uses wire with a hollow core that releases a shielding gas as it melts. MIG uses a solid core wire and a tank of inert gas which shields the weld from contamination. Nearly every MIG machine can do flux core welding, but not every wire feed welder set up for flux core can be converted.

    Flux 90


    Eastwood Flux Core 90

    Besides the lower cost, flux core welding does have other advantages. The flux does a better job of shielding in windy or dirty environments, so it’s great for field work. No gas and no tank – That means one less consumable to buy, and a smaller lighter unit to carry around if you take it to the job site or race track. Plus, flux core actually burns hotter, so it is actually better for welding thicker material.

    There are several disadvantages of getting the lower cost, flux core only machine. First, flux core produces sloppy looking welds with lots of splatter, even in the hands of a pro. Second, because it burns hotter it is hard to weld thinner sheet metal without a lot of burn through.

    Wire feed chart

    So there's lots you can accomplish with just flux core wire, but, except for the lower initial purchase price, there is no reason to get just a flux core wire feed welder, when every MIG machine can do both. above you will see the suggested settings for the Eastwood MIG 135.  The bottom two lines of the top chart show the suggested settings if using Flux core wire.

    Choosing a MIG Welder

    MIG 175

    MIG welding (Metal Inert Gas) takes the basic method of wire fed flux core welding, and uses a solid wire instead, plus a tank of gas which provides the shielding. Many basic flux core welding set ups can be converted to do MIG welding with just a few parts. Typically, you need to add a gas solenoid, a regulator, and a tank of shielding gas, though some already come equipped with the solenoid.

    MIG works just like flux core: you pull the trigger, wire is fed, and gas comes out the tip to shield the weld. MIG welding produces cleaner, neater, more consistent welds, especially at lower heats on thinner metal. MIG is also the preferred way to weld aluminum, though you will need a special aluminum spool gun, and a tank of argon.

    110v VS 220v

    This choice may be dictated strictly by where you are planning on using it; if your shop isn’t wired for 220v, or you plan on using it on the go, 110v is the choice for you. But there are some welding units out there that run on either voltage, with just an adapter plug. This is a great compromise if you are planning on rewiring your shop in the future, or already have 220v in the shop, but want to be able to weld anywhere and everywhere.

    The Eastwood MIG 135 is our entry level MIG welder.  It is perfect for the home user that wants a shielded welder but only has 110V power source.  This welder is rated to 3/16" which is perfect for auto body and basic structural repair.

    Moving on to the next level is the Eastwood MIG 175.  This is a 220V only unit which means it will be able to weld thicker metal up to 5/16" steel.  You may think that there is not much difference between the two but the big difference is the duty cycle.  With the MIG 175 you will be able to weld on a higher setting for longer periods of time.

    Lastly we offer the Eastwood MIG 250, this is a dual voltage unit and is internally controlled.  This means that you don't need to change any settings when going from 110V to 220V, just simply plug it into the desired power source and the welder will adjust accordingly.  On 220V this welder is rated to 1/2" steel, making it great for heavy structural welding.

    But what are the advantages of the higher voltage? Obviously a higher voltage unit is more powerful than a lower voltage one; they typically can put out more heat and weld thicker materials. This is also important for welding aluminum, which requires more amperage compared to welding steel of the same thickness. If working with a lower amperage within the range of most 110v units, like 90 amps for instance, a 220v unit is going to have a much higher duty cycle. So, you’ll be able to get more done faster, with less down time.

    Duty Cycle

    Screenshot 2015-11-11 16.17.57

    The duty cycle for a welder is usually expressed as a percentage at a given amperage, 20% at 90 amps for instance. That is a typical rating for a home use 110v MIG welder, it means with the power set to 90 amps, you should only be welding continuously for 2 out of every 10 minutes to avoid overloading the welder. You could see how that would be an issue if you were building a bridge, or a tube famed chassis. A 220v machine is often rated at 30% at 135 amps, and something like 60% at a lower 90 amp setting. That means you can weld much longer without overheating the machine and having to take a rest.

    Transformer VS Inverter

    Years ago all MIG welders were transformer welders. They all used windings of wire to transform the 60hz AC voltage coming out of the wall into much higher voltage at the end of the welding torch, but still at 60hz. In the 21st century, there are now welders that use solid state inverters to step up the wave frequency of the electricity to much more than 60 cycles per second. Because of this, they can produce higher voltages with much smaller transformers. Since transformers are just windings of copper wire, the smaller they can be, the more portable the welding unit can be. The inverter technology also allows machines like the Eastwood 200 Amp MIG/Stick to exist because they can switch internally to the different electrical requirements of flux core, MIG welding and stick welding, and produce different shaped waves if need be.

    Inverter based units also need much less energy to run. If you are planning on running your welder off of a generator the inverter is the way to go. Transformer-based units require a much larger generator in order to work. The extra money you spend to move up to the inverter unit is money you will save by buying a smaller generator. The lower current draw of an inverter unit typically means you can run it on an extension cord for easier use around the shop. Your electric bill will be lower too.


    Photo Nov 11, 4 28 28 PM

    Some machines these days can practically set themselves up, while on the low end some just have “high” or “low” heat settings. Like all things, if you can’t adjust it to suit you, you are going to have to adjust to suit it. MIG machines usually have 2 important settings: wire feed speed and power. Most times the more power you use the faster you want the wire to be fed, but not always. The more basic machines usually have fewer settings, and typically are “stepped” or “notched” meaning you can’t choose a setting between 1 and 2. The better machines are infinitely adjustable; you can choose any setting between anywhere on the dial, not just the numbers 1-10. If you can’t find a setting that works with the speed you want to weld on the material you are working with, then you have the change your speed to suit the output you can get. This is where the fine adjustments can come in handy.

    Parts and Serviceability

    A welder ought to be a lasting investment, but buy a unit from a low cost generic brand that hasn’t been around for long, and you may find parts and consumables impossible to find in a few years. At Eastwood we have been here since the late 1970s and we plan on being here a long time, standing behind our products. Not only do we have quality welding units at an attractive price, but we also carry all the parts and supplies you will ever need for them, except for the gas, but if it was possible we would sell that as well. We sell replacement tips, wire, torches and more for our MIG welders. We also have technical support for you by phone and email.

    We are committed to providing professional quality welding machines at a price the home hobbyist can enjoy. You can buy more powerful welders from other brands, and you can buy less expensive welders, but we don’t think you will find a better welder for less.

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  • If You're Welding an Auto Darkening Helmet is NEEDED!

    The key to good welding is being able to see the metal.  Ditch those old standard lens helmets and get yourself an Auto-Darkening Helmet. You'll see light!, but not too much.  I remember when I learned to weld all I had was an old ARC welding helmet which was like trying to see through a black piece of paper.   The only time I was able to see what I was doing was after the arc was started but at that point it was too late if the weld was not in the right place.

    old helmet

    Auto-Darkening helmets are not new technology but many people are unaware of the benefits of using one.  Almost all welders on the market today come with a small fixed lens mask but thats only to get you started in case you don't already have an auto-darkening helmet.

    These masks are great because they only go dark when you are welding, as soon as the arc stops the lens isn't any darker than a pair of sunglasses.  Many of you know the struggle of having to constantly flip your mask up after every weld just to make sure its right.  Now you wont have to even touch the mask keeping your hands free to continue working.  An Auto-Darkening helmet also gives you the ability to adjust the level of lens shade.  This feature comes in handy if you do multiple types of welding since each requires a different level of shade to protect your eyes.




    Would you believe that both of these pictures were taken under the same conditions.  On the left is a view through a standard fixed lens helmet.  All you can see is the faint outlines of the LED Work Light.  Imagine trying to see where to weld once your mask is on.  The view through an Auto-Darkening Helmet (right) is clear and bright, you can even read the side of the Eastwood MIG 250 on the other side of the bench.  Once your helmet is down rarely will you need to take it off in order to make small adjustments or to change position.



    You wont even need to take it off to change the settings on your welder.  Making current and wire speed adjustments just became so much easier and far less time consuming.  If you've ever used and Auto-Darkening Helmet its near impossible to weld again without one.

    Eastwood offers three different Auto Darkening Helmets that will bring your welding to a whole new level.  For a beginner welder these are a must have, you will find yourself making perfect welds in no time.  Click the pictures below to find out more info on each of Eastwood's Helmets

    Auto-Darkening Helmet

    auto dark


    Large View Auto-Darkening Helmet

    large auto dark


    Extra Large View Auto-Darkening Helmet

    extra large auto dark



    Check out the Eastwood Blog and Tech Archive for more How-To's, Tips and Tricks to help you with all your automotive projects.  If you have a recommendation for future articles or have a project you want explained don't hesitate to leave a comment.

    - James R/EW

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  • How to Prep Metal For Welding - Quick Tip


    The key to any good weld is clean metal, but what is the best way to clean metal before you start welding? Depending on the tools you have and the overall goal of the project there are a few ways to prep your metal to get a nice clean weld every time.

    The best welds come from pure clean metal to metal contact,  any foreign materials in the welding area can cause welding imperfections.  Even brand new metal must be prepped before it can be welded because there is usually a coating put on new metal so it does not rust or oxidize during the shipping process.  This is a factor that is often overlooked and will always result in a weak and ugly weld.  Be mindful, once you remove this coating the metal is exposed to the elements,  if left out unprotected steel will begin to rust, even indoors.

    To start, the type of welding you are doing will determine how you prep the metal. Inherently MIG welding steel does not need the metal to be perfectly clean. On the other extreme, TIG welding aluminum requires contaminant free metal to create a strong clean weld.  In all of the examples below you can see the difference the dull color of the "new metal" (left) compared to how it looks after it is properly prepped (right).


    Angle Grinder with Flap Disc

    Using an angle grinder with a flap disc works great to prep steel for MIG or TIG welding.  Mild steel does not require the surface to be super clean to get a good weld.  In the picture above you can see the left side is brand new untouched steel, it may look clean but it has a thin coating like stated earlier.  Once you remove the coating with the flap disc, all it takes is a quick wipe down with Low VOC PRE or Acetone and you will be able to make clean and effective welds. This method works great for heavy welding on chassis parts, this area is always exposed to the elements which will build up contamination over time.  Take the time and clean the metal, you'll thank yourself later.

    Be careful a flap disc will remove a lot of material so don't use this on thin sheet metal, it may compromise the metals strength.



    Sand Paper

    Similar to using a grinder this method will work great for MIG and TIG welding steel or stainless, but it can be time consuming and does not always remove all of the coatings. Like using a grinder, you must wipe the metal down with Low VOC PRE or Acetone before welding.  In the picture above I used 80 Grit sandpaper,  it worked well by removing the coating but also left deep scratches that may not look good.



    Abrasive blasting

    If the metal you will be welding is very rusty and is not suitable to be sanded or removed with a grinder another option to prep the metal is to blast it.  After blasting the metal may look clean but it will still need to be wiped down with Low VOC PRE or acetone to remove and chemical contaminants.  The abrasive material can sometimes trap pieces of other metals that can cause the metal you are welding to rust or corrode.  Never rely on a blaster to prep aluminum for welding, it is very sensitive to contaminants that can get trapped even after wiping it down.



    Cleaning for aluminum TIG Welding

    When prepping aluminum there is a slightly different process that you will need to be mindful of.  Aluminum is very susceptible to contaminants therefore the cleaning process must be done in reverse to produce clean welds.

    First you must wipe down the metal with Low VOC PRE or acetone, this will remove any oils or grease on the surface.  The next step is to remove any oxides on the surface of the metal.  To do this use stainless steel wool or a stainless wire brush on the area to be welded.  Make sure that the Steel wool or wire brush is used exclusively for aluminum to avoid contaminants from other metals.  Once these tools come in contact with mild steel they can transfer steel bits into the aluminum which will eventually create rust.  Finally wipe down the metal with Low VOC PRE or acetone with a clean cloth or rag, from here you are ready to weld.


    It doesn't matter what kind of welding you are doing its always important to take the time to clean your metal before welding.  Not only will your welds look amazing they will be a lot stronger which is always an added bonus.


    Check out the Eastwood Blog and Tech Archive for more How-To's, Tips and Tricks to help you with all your automotive projects.  If you have a recommendation for future articles or have a project you want explained don't hesitate to leave a comment.

    - James R/EW


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  • Learning how to Tig Weld, The Eastwood Way!

    Here at Eastwood, a lot goes into launching a new product. I often times cover the "exciting" parts of the process where we are testing the product, or when we get the product perfected. Another piece to the puzzle when launching a new Eastwood product, is the training to use the product. We believe hands-on learning with our products is best. This better helps everyone in the company relate to customers, and better help answer questions.

    As some of you may have noticed, I have hinted at a new welder due to hit our welding product line in the near future. We have been working on an Eastwood TIG welder to compliment our already successful MIG welders. Unfortunately due to the cost, and difficulty of TIG welding, some of our employees have little or no experience when it comes to TIG. This is why we borrowed the time of a certified welding instructor to give a small group of us a crash course in TIG welding. Now I have to admit, none of us came out of the class a master welder...( I'd like to brag that my first 2 beads were the best of the group that had never TIG welded before!). But, we did come out with a better understanding of how a TIG welder works, what some of the common errors beginners make are, as well as what to look for in a good weld. Throughout the day I spent some time snapping off photos of our class. We had a few people from almost every department of Eastwood, from marketing, to retail, customer service, warehouse, to directors.. we all got some time under the helmet!

    Check out some of the pictures I snapped off during the day, as well as the plates of aluminum we welded (or tried to at least). Keep your eyes open for some more sneak peaks of our new TIG!

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