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Welding Basics - Melting Metal
Buy your first welder and start building your next project
01. You can get a welder pretty cheaply these days, but you may find that the less expensive ones don’t quite work as well as more moderately priced machines. Consider testing the welding waters using someone else’s machine to decide whether or not you want to make a long-term investment in a quality product. Lincoln Electric has been in the welding game for over 100 years, and the company has products for the beginner as well and the professional. After discussing our needs with them, we opted for the Power Mig 180 Dual, and outfitted ourselves with a Viking 3350 auto-darkening helmet, MIG Welding Gloves (PN K2980-M) and Lincoln’s Shadow Grain leather-sleeved jacket (PN K2987-L), as well as the company’s Leather Steel Worker Gloves (PN K2977-M). The optional utility cart makes the welder portable and easier to reach for adjustments.
02. As we were in the market for a welder that the average DIY’er might use at home, we opted for Lincoln’s Power Mig 180 Dual wire welder. The Dual refers to the welder’s ability to operate on either 120- or 208/230-volt input power. The machine also features an industrial cast aluminum drive for positive traction, split wire guides that ensure optimal wire alignment, and a brass-to-brass gun connection for better conductivity. The 180 Dual also uses Lincoln’s Diamond Core Technology, which delivers a forgiving arc, excellent out-of-position arc action, low spatter, and a wide voltage sweet spot at a given wire feed speed. It’s also spool-gun ready for when you want to try your hand at welding aluminum.
03. The 180 Dual welder comes with a number of supplies so you can get to welding right away. Inside the case you’ll find two spools of wire, a ground clamp, a small assortment of contact tips and drive rolls, and a tool bag. Included with the welder are 120- and 230-volt power cables, gas feed line and regulator with gauges, welding torch, work cable, and a Learn-To-Use DVD and instruction manual.
04. The included instructions are easy to follow, and the welder is very easy to set up. We start by connecting the polarity wires. MIG welding requires positive polarity, so the short cable inside the machine is connected to the positive terminal. The work cable, which has the clamp on one end and the eyelet on the other, is inserted through the hole and then connected to the negative output terminal.
05. The gun cable has two connections that are made on the front of the machine. The electrical connection is made and then the wire cable is inserted into the machine. Inside, you’ll need to loosen the setscrew, slide the cable all the way in, and then tighten the screw.
06. The work cable clamp comes separate and needs to be connected to the cable. Simple enough, right?
07. The Lincoln 180 Dual comes with two types of welding wire. The one on the left is Innershield NR-211-MP flux-cored wire. It requires no shielding gas, as the core produces it’s own. This comes in handy when welding outside and in windy locations. We opted to begin with the solid SuperArc L15.025 wire on the right, which requires a shielding gas.
08. The 180 Dual can accommodate both 4- and 8-inch spools of wire. As we’re going with the included 4-inch spool, we need to remove the spool adapter to mount it.
09. As delivered, the welder was set up for 0.035 wire. To utilize the 0.025 solid wire, we need to switch out the tip, the drive rolls, and the wire guide.
10. With the necessary guide and drive rolls in place, you can now feed the wire through the guide and into the gun cable.