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Whats a decent cheap welder for welding aluminum 1/8" tube?

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Whats a decent cheap welder for welding aluminum 1/8" tube?

Old 11-18-2020, 05:11 PM
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Default Whats a decent cheap welder for welding aluminum 1/8" tube?

Im a fairly novice welder with some experience with a stick welder which I still have. I need to weld up some aluminum frames to support some granite for an outside kitchen. They will all be covered up and not visible so figured this may be a good time to give it a try. Also my welder for this type a project is booked until after Thanksgiving and i need it done beforehand

I was thinking of getting a flux core welder from harbor freight or similar but open to suggestions. Also assuming that would be a better option than the stick welder but could be wrong.
Old 11-18-2020, 05:17 PM
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Flux core and aluminum is no bueno.

aluminum is not hobbiest stuff.
Old 11-18-2020, 05:42 PM
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You won't be able to weld aluminum with a mig unless you use a spool gun. A cheap spool gun on a cheap welder will frustrate you to no end. You can try a cheap tig welder but you'll need to learn how to tig weld and it's not that easy.
Old 11-18-2020, 05:55 PM
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I dont know squat about this but what about “brazing”. Heat the rod up and fill it in!
Old 11-18-2020, 06:02 PM
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You got to mig or tig with argon or helium. Argon gives less spatter, cleaner welds. But helium gives better penetration.

Al is kinda difficult. It needs proper gap, heat, wire speed, etc.
It sucks the heat away like a vacuum. Then shrinks as it cools, introducing stress. You dont grind the welds...it will crack. So your welds need to be neat if they're going to be seen....

To me welding aluminum is like painting. 90% prep. Fixtures and backing plates to hold thin materials while weld. Then remove the supports and fixtures and weld up the holes from the little bolts that were used to hold everything in place. you don't just pull the trigger like welding steel with flux core......its much more nuanced.

I cant weld anything Al thats not horizontal. And that meant flipping a boat on its side and upside down once to access parts. Molten steel is kind of like a gel...... Molten aluminum is kind of like water......

And when the molten dingleberries fall in shoe around ankle....it burns

Last edited by mbb; 11-18-2020 at 06:14 PM.
Old 11-18-2020, 06:11 PM
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Cheap and aluminum welding don’t exactly go together. The easiest is a good mig welder with a push pull gun the best is tig but takes a lot of practice.
Old 11-18-2020, 06:18 PM
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Everlasting tig welder
Old 11-18-2020, 07:26 PM
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Why aluminum?
Old 11-18-2020, 08:07 PM
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Its 100 yards from the salt water. I know aluminum isnt easy but can it be that hard when looks dont matter?
Old 11-18-2020, 09:28 PM
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I'd go with tig, AC with gas. Otherwise fit it up (no gaps) and take it to your local weld shop, cheaper than buying a crap welder and finding out it doesn't do the job
Old 11-18-2020, 09:59 PM
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If you use stainless material you can stick weld that.
Aluminum is neither cheap or easy and you need to forget half of what you know about welding steel.
Old 11-19-2020, 12:28 AM
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Would it be ok to braze the parts together (tack), then take t to a welding shop?
Old 11-19-2020, 12:47 AM
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Originally Posted by nuffaredy View Post
Would it be ok to braze the parts together (tack), then take t to a welding shop?
No, the brazing material would make welding impossible. Aluminum needs to be very clean to weld well.

Don't use the brazing rod. I've used it to patch little pin holes in a jon boat. It worked for that but it's not for structural work and it is much harder to use than silver brazing rod or brass brazing rod (neither of those will work on aluminum).

Tig makes beautiful welds but it's slow. Mig makes pretty good welds (with a spool gun and AR or HE) and is faster. I have used mig on aluminum quite a bit. Pay attention to settings: gas flow rate matters more than it seems like it should. Get everything really, really clean and clamped tightly. With practice you'll get pretty good welds.
Old 11-19-2020, 03:06 AM
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What about masonry for support ? That's what the granite companies use here.
Old 11-19-2020, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by FishnDive View Post
I'd go with tig, AC with gas. Otherwise fit it up (no gaps) and take it to your local weld shop, cheaper than buying a crap welder and finding out it doesn't do the job
this is my vote! to buy a mig then a spool gun and all the needed accessories your going to be pushing a $1000 for a cheap crappy machine. you could possibly find a used miller with spool gun for sale still going to cost a pretty penny but at least it will last and you can get parts/replacements easily.

other option is to buy a decent tig like a everlast or esab. little cheaper than the miller stuff but seems to be pretty decent machines!


STAY AWAY FROM HARBOR FRIEGHT WELDERS!
Old 11-19-2020, 06:37 AM
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Save yourself a ton of grief and call a portable welder to do it for you.
Old 11-19-2020, 06:42 AM
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Have you tried stick electrodes for aluminum?
Old 11-19-2020, 06:46 AM
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Use iron. Treat it with a rust inhibitor, prime it good and paint it with a good enamel.
As a hobbyist, I've welded steel and tried aluminum. Aluminum sucks.
For MIG, you need a spool gun.
For TIG, you need an AC unit and LOTS of practice.



Old 11-19-2020, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Lu 1967 View Post
Have you tried stick electrodes for aluminum?
I have, you better have a sense of humor!
They make TIG look easy.
Old 11-19-2020, 06:08 PM
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I have an AHP tig welder that is a good beginner system I like

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