Purchasing A Small, Affordable
120V Welder
For Home Use

Home built sluice under construction


If you are planning to fabricate your own projects made of metal, either simple or complex items, I am recommending that you seriously consider purchasing a small low cost welder. These things are reasonably priced and learning to weld is not all that hard. You may not be producing professional looking welds in an hour's practice, but you will be able to fix all sorts of things and save a lot of money; and that counts for a lot...... Homemade Dredge on the water

Several years ago I bought a small 120 volt arc welder to fabricate parts for my 1936 Chevy Pick up. In spite of the fact that the cost was fairly affordable when I bought this welder to work on my hot rod pick up, I still wondered whether it would really be worth the expense. I had never owned or used a welder and boy was I surprised - What a great idea it turned out to be!

Sure, it did just what I expected in fabricating parts for my truck, but it has also helped me fix and repair dozens of things around the house. As an example, my wife had an old coat rack that was made of wood and cast iron Ė the iron part had cracked and broken. I took it to a guy to fix it, and he wanted $300. I thought it was crazy to spend that kind of money, so I bought about $5 worth arc welding rod specially made for cast iron, a can of flat black paint and fixed it myself. From my camp trailer, to hand tools, broken stuff for the family and friends Ė Iíve used my welder a hundred times. The real reason I am bringing it up here is to note that I have also used my little welder to fabricate some nice homemade mining equipment that has saved me many hundreds of dollars. A dredge, a sluice and a number of specialized hand tools for digging have all been mining related projects that Iíve used my little 120V welder to complete.


Thatís why I recommend purchasing one so freely. Iíve easily saved enough money to pay for the cost of my welder many times over. So many things around the house that I would have had to just throw away are practically good as new. Home workshop, arts and crafts, automotive repairs (and of course mining equipment) Ė all are applications that I've used home welder to work on. It just opened a whole new world of potential projects I could complete.

Different types of welding equipment are available, some are powered by 220V wall power, some welders have their own generator to create their power. Different technologies include Metal Inert Gas (MIG) welders which feed a continuous wire into the welder, and use a flow of argon gas to keep the metal from burning or oxidizing too quickly. TIG welders (Tungsten Inert Gas) use a non consumable tungsten electrode and a bare uncoated hand held welding rod.  

The type of welder I recommend is a simple stick electrode - arc welding set up, which uses a rod covered in a flux to weld. The vaporizing flux protects the metal. The arc is very high temperature and the metal virtually sprays off the end of the rod. The flux on the rod which does not vaporize, fuses into a molten glass which protects the metal from oxidation while it is cooling.


Above are my Recommended Welding Handbooks for learning to welding methods and techniques.

Before I made my my purchase, I had always thought that you needed 220V power or a welder with its own 220V generator to arc weld - that was part of why I never bought one. Both of these options are pretty darn expensive, which is why I had not really given them any serious consideration. The 120 V welder was an option I didnít know existed and one that was a whole lot more affordable for me. I also thought that learning the basic skills of arc welding would be a whole lot harder than it turned out to be - it took some practice, but its just not that hard.

A number of well known makers produce welding equipment, including Lincoln, Miller, Century, Clarke, and Hobart. My particular little 120V welder was made by Clarke, but probably a number of the makers produce similar products. Sometimes it may be possible to get a used full size welder at a bargain price, but generally the 120V units I am recommending are cheaper than a used 220 V arc welder, especially if you have to install 220V power to your garage.

For the average home owner, a simple 120V unit, is probably best. No special modification to provide 220 V power is necessary, and the price is quite reasonable (even downright cheap). That is what I bought, and to be honest because it was affordable, that's why I was able to buy it. The 120V unit is only good to weld up to about 3/16 inch steel - its designed for homeowner use. If you are planning to be doing heavy duty welding and commercial industrial fabrication, you need one of those larger 220V units. However for 99% of the typical homeowner applications, I find the 120V unit is really sufficient Ė and this includes the small scale prospecting and mining equipment plus a whole lot of around the house miscellaneous repairs I have made. There are also some low cost MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding units that can still run on the typical 115V home power available for purchase. These are slightly more money than the stick type arc welding units like I own, but with MIG you also need a cylinder of compressed Argon to provide the inert gas, and that adds to the price a bit.

I bought my welder through the internet, it was easy and the delivery through UPS worked out just fine for me. No question the internet has some good bargains and I am sure that I saved some significant money by purchasing my welder that way. With a little internet research, you can find the best prices out there for the home welder you are looking for. If you want, however, at the bottom of this page I have made up a link to Amazon, a well known internet retailer, that will allow you to make a purchase directly from them, just as I did. They also have basic welding supplies that can be purchased on their site as well.

If you are like me, any purchase like this is going to require that you convince the wife that itís a good idea (my life is lived at the end of a very short leash). Let her know that you will be saving money and that there will be a lot more ďHoney DoĒ types of projects around the home that you will be able to complete. You will save money by repairing broken items that would other wise have to be tossed out. The repaired coat rack that had belonged to my wifeís great grandmother was all that was necessary to convince her what a good idea it was.

Learning to weld takes a bit of an effort, but itís not that difficult, it just takes a bit of practice. There is a certain trick to maintaining a bead of molten metal and keeping the rod close but not close enough to stick to the metal. It was described to me as ďticklingĒ the object to be welded with the rod. Again, with a couple hours practice, I had no trouble teaching myself. There are some dangers involved Ė this is a high voltage, high power system (so you donít want to be standing in a pool of water while welding). You just need to be aware and take the necessary safety precautions. Unless you are already an experienced welder, I recommend buying an introductory welding handbook with your welder. A link to purchase such books can be found along the edge of this page to the right.

Welding supplies are available locally in most areas. These are the shops where you can purchase different types of welding rod (you can only use small diameter rod with a 120V unit). Different types of rods (or wire for MIG type units) are used for welding on different types of steel or iron. I also bought an upgraded welding mask at my local welding supply shop.

Anyway, I consider my little home arc welder one of the best purchases that I have ever made and I heartily recommend it to other homeowners. Iím not a welding equipment dealer, but I like my tools and this has been a good one to own, not to mention that the cost was very affordable. If you want to consider fabricating homemade mining equipment or doing auto repairs, arts and crafts and other similar types of projects, I really think that it is almost a necessary purchase. I know I wouldn't be without one.

 Below on the left is a link to buy the exact type of low cost stick type arc welder that I use, as described in the article above. On the right is a link to the MIG type welder also mentioned above.

My home welding unit - its seen a lot of use.



Want to know a little bit more about this crazy prospector guy? Well, here's a little bit more about me, and how I got into prospecting: Chris' Prospecting Story  

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