You can learn most of the basics of welding in a single day.
Simple to learn, but it takes years to truly master those skills. And you’ll still spend a lifetime learning the little things that make an artist. As a beginning welder, you need a machine that’s easy to set up and use, to minimize mistakes and build your confidence.
But you still need enough power to do useful work, along with a decent set of features that will let you grow your skill over the years. We’ve rounded up a nice selection of welders suitable for beginners.
Choosing Your Welding Process
Check your needs in the table below and you’ll know right away which direction to go in your search for the perfect machine.
|TIG||Precision, strong, heat control, beauty||Exposed welds, bodywork, aviation|
|MIG||Easy to learn, versatile, rapid production||Equipment repair, fabrication, fast work|
|Stick||Cheap, most materials, fast||Wind, rusty steel, high strength|
|Flux Core||Cheap, easy to learn, no gas, high volume||DIY, wind, sheet metal, fabrication, repairs|
|Multi-Process||Space and Cost savings||Complex projects|
A Quick Comparison
Hobart Handler 140
Metal feed mechanism
Eastwood TIG 200
Pro features for the money
Popular with auto mechanics
120v or 240v input
2T/4T trigger lock
Hobart Stickmate 160i
Weighs under 20 pounds
Dual 120/240v power
Welds up to 3/8-inch steel
Forney Easy Weld 140FC-I
Variable wire speed
Dual 120/240 volt input
2T/4T trigger lock
The Best Machines for Beginning Welders
This list of the best beginner machines will have newbies welding in no time.
1. Hobart Handler 140 MIG Welder
- 110v Input
- 24 gauge sheet to 1/4-inch steel
- Generator friendly
- 20 percent duty cycle at 90 Amps
- MIG and flux core
- 25–140 amps
- Only weighs 65 pounds
- Industrial-grade ground clamp
- Aluminum wire drive
- Miller brand regulator
- High quality MIG torch
- Inconsistent quality
- Wrench needed to adjust tension
One of the most popular MIG welders for beginners. The Hobart Handler 140 can run on a 4000-watt generator, allowing you to get out of the house or shop and get work done on your property where there’s no 110/115/120 input available.
The Hobart Handler 140 MIG 110v Welder features a three-groove drive system, allowing the selection of two different size solid MIG wires or a flux core wire. This machine can mount either 4 inch or 8 inch wire spools. Hobart builds industrial machines for professional welders, and it shows in the build quality of this machine.
The Handler 140 provides 25 to 140 amp power, a range that will weld from 24 gauge sheet metal all the way up to 1/4-inch steel. The duty cycle is 20 percent at 90 amps. Some users mentioned minor quality issues such as disconnected wires. Other users didn’t like having to use a wrench to adjust the spool tension instead of a wing nut like other welders.
Hobart includes a high-quality Miller brand gas regulator for the MIG process, and the Hobart Handler 140 MIG 110v Welder comes with a 3-year warranty.
2. Eastwood 200 AC/DC TIG Welder
- Dual 120/240 input
- AC/DC TIG/stick processes
- Useful 10 to 200-amp output
- Welds ¼-inch thick steel
- Square-wave inverter
- 3 year warranty
- Preflow-postflow adjustment
- 60 percent duty cycle at 90 amps
- Industry-standard flex head WP-17 torch
- High-frequency no touch arc starts
- No 2T/4T trigger lock
- Lacks pulse modulation
This already-good machine was just upgraded recently in July 2021, making it even better. The Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC TIG Welder now has a flex-head CK-17 torch, a new foot pedal design with a rocker action for fine work. The gas flow meter is now a higher-quality unit, handling an often seen owner complaint.
The Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC TIG Welder is a true square-wave TIG machine, providing better arc quality with an extra touch for cleaning aluminum weld puddles. This machine welds 16-gauge sheet metal up to 1/4-inch plate. This machine is the perfect tool to repair broken engine brackets, fix trim, and weld aluminum transmission cases.
Eastwood equipped this welder with a much tougher duty cycle, and now you’ve got a 60 percent duty cycle at 190 amps when running 240 volts and 60 percent at 143 amps on 120. Not only does the WP-17 style torch now have a flex head, now it’s got gas lenses. The Eastwood TIG 200 AC/DC TIG Welder comes with collets for electrodes up to 1/8-inch diameter.
With this update to a machine that was pretty good already, Eastwood has proven it listens to what the customers are saying.
3. YesWelder MIG-205DS MIG/flux core/TIG/stick Welder
- Synergically controlled MIG mode
- 2T/4T trigger lock
- 110V/220V input
- Mounts 2- and 10-pound spools
- MIG/Flux core/TIG/stick
- Front panel cover
- Lift-type TIG starts
- LCD digital display
- One button selects function
- Lightweight at 33 pounds
- Only takes 2-pound wire spools
- Needs additional gear for TIG/MIG
The YesWelder MIG-205DS MIG/flux core/TIG/stick Welder offers MIG/flux, TIG and stick welding. Featuring either 120 or 240 volt input, the YesWelder MIG-205DS MIG/flux core/TIG/stick Welder features an LCD digital display and synergic arc control for MIG mode. You can choose one of four welding processes easily by switching with a single digital button.
With a flip-up plastic dust cover, the YesWelder MIG-205DS MIG/flux core/TIG/stick Welder effectively protects its LCD screen and digital buttons from dust, smoke and grinding debris. One drawback of this machine is that it doesn’t include a TIG torch as shipped, so you’ll need to buy one separately if you’re interested in TIG welding.
The YesWelder MIG-205DS MIG/flux core/TIG/stick Welder mounts both 2-pound and 10-pound wire spools. It’s equipped with a 2T/4T trigger lock, letting you make long welding runs without needing to keep the trigger pressed. This machine is a DC-only TIG, not suitable for welding aluminum and the MIG/flux core side isn’t able to use a spool gun. You can probably manage aluminum welding by going with aluminum electrodes on the stick arc welding mode. You can weld steel up to ⅜-inch thick with this machine.
4. Hobart 500570 Stickmate 160i Arc Welder
- Welds up to 3/8-inch steel plate
- Runs on 120 and 240 volt input
- 160 amp output power
- DC arc welding
- 5-year warranty
- Weighs less than 20 pounds
- Hot start technology
- Infinitely adjustable amperage control
- Wide 20-160 amps output range
- Adjustable shoulder strap
- Designed in the USA, but made in China
- Tops out at 80 amps on 120 volts
As one of the oldest, most innovative and respected of American welding brands, many users buy the machines because Hobart is an American legend. However it bears pointing out that the Hobart Stickmate 160i Arc Welder is actually made in China. It’s a high quality machine, but if “Made in USA” matters to you, that’s one feature this machine doesn’t offer. Having said that, owners overwhelmingly give it good reviews and Hobart backs it with the same 5-year warranty offered on American-made models.
Advanced design makes the Hobart Stickmate 160i Arc Welder powerful enough to weld up to 1/4-inch thick steel while weighing less than 20 pounds. This machine features an infinitely adjustable amps control with 1-amp increments. There are reports by owners that the machine trips breakers when exceeding 80 amps on 120-volt power. This is not a consistent issue, and can be addressed with a higher-rated breaker on the circuit.
The Hobart Stickmate 160i Arc Welder is a dual-input machine, able to run either 120 or 240 volts. Running this welder on 240-volt input is another way to avoid the breaker issue mentioned above. When running 240 volt power, this machine can weld steel up to 3/8-inch thick at 160 amps. This is a convenient and powerful machine featuring industrial build quality and simple operation.
5. Forney Easy Weld 140FC-I Flux Core Welder For Beginners
- Live exhaust fan
- 20 amp to 15 amp adapter
- 45 percent duty cycle at 60 amps
- 24 gauge sheet to 1/4-inch plate
- 30-140 amp range
- Wide adjustment range
- Infinitely adjustable feed
- 8-foot MIG gun ground lead
- Weighs just 19 pounds
- Takes 2-pound and 10-pound spools
- No gas MIG capability
- Hard wire won't feed well
Even without gas MIG, we like the Forney Easy 140FC-I Flux Core Welder For Beginners. This machine is very light, tipping the scale at 19 pounds. This machine incorporates a live exhaust fan that keeps the box cool and improves longevity. When the temperatures aren’t tto hot or the machine is idle, the fan shuts off until it’s needed again.
Forney has good reputation for high build quality. The Forney Easy 140FC-I Flux Core Welder For Beginners features a duty cycle of 30 percent at 90 amps. The output range is 30-140 amps, pretty wide for a beginner welder running on 120 volts. You can weld 24 gauge sheet metal at 30 amps and 1/4-inch plate at 140 amps.
With Forney’s reputation for quality and its extensive dealer network, the 1-year warranty, small footprint and great performance, you’re not likely to be disappointed by the Forney Easy 140FC-I Flux Core Welder For Beginners. This machine is at the top of its price range for quality, durability and ease of use.
6. Weldpro MIG155Gsv Beginner MIG/Stick Arc Welder
- Dual input power 120/240 volt
- 30 to 155 amps output range
- 24 gauge sheet up to 3/8-inch plate
- Offers DC stick, MIG and flux core processes
- Electromagnetic noise free
- 2T/4T trigger lock
- Optional parts will run TIG
- Infinitely adjustable wire speed and heat
- Includes a gas regulator
- Comes with a stick arc electrode clamp
- Some users complain of poor wire feeding
- This machine only mounts 2-pound wire spools
The WeldPro MIG155Gsv is a powerful, 3-in-1 machine that can run gas MIG, flux core and stick processes right out of the box which is ideal for beginners to start practicing with. You can also order optional parts from WeldPro to make this box DC TIG capable. This welder comes with dual voltage 120 and 240 volt input power, meaning you can plug it into standard household current and weld up to140 amps, or plug it into a 240 utility circuit like dryer service or commercial power at a business location for up to 155 amps output power.
Weldpro equips the MIG155Gsv with an electronic reaction circuit that monitors the arc and adjusts settings dynamically to achieve the optimum performance at the point of weld. Owners love the infinitely adjustable speed and heat controls, which are much better than stepped or tapped type settings for fine-tuning to meet specific conditions.
This machine comes with a gas regulator, hose, MIG torch and a stick arc electrode holder. There are some reports of erratic wire feeding and occasional quality control problems. WeldPro has an excellent reputation for customer service and backs the MIG155Gsv with a 2-year warranty.
Beginner’s Buying Guide
For any beginner who’s looking for a new welder, there are several things you need to ask yourself before making a decision.
How Much Can You Spend?
There are two schools of thought here.
One says find the cheapest machine possible because as a beginner you will make mistakes. You’ll also be unaware of how to take advantage of any advanced features so you would be wasting money buying a machine with lots of technology.
The other approach is to spend money on quality and features. The reasoning here is that a good quality machine can take the abuse and will produce more improvement as you learn its advanced features.
As in most things, the real answer lies somewhere in between. You should always buy the best quality you can afford. These are complex technical machines. The case for features is a little different.
Flux core welding may be the easiest process to learn for beginners from the standpoint of technique. It’s easy to get good results with a small amount of practice and the machines don’t cost a lot.
Stick welding takes a little more work to get good at, but is very versatile, is one of very few processes that work on cast iron and the machines are the cheapest available.
Multi-process welders allow quick learning at first, with growth and versatility for later. That’s not the “cheapest” approach but focuses on cost-effective ideas.
What Processes Interest You?
You should concentrate and practice repeatedly in one process, for the most part, until your skills are well developed in that process, so you can transfer that knowledge to other processes.
Many machines will do gas MIG and flux core, so there’s a built-in upgrade path.
TIG welding is similar to MIG and provides a further upgrade path for the skills you learned with flux core.
Interestingly, many stick welders can be equipped to run TIG.
Think about the number of extra accessories you get with a welder that adds to its value.
Portability can be important. You may want to buy a big name brand so you have nearby service and parts.
You may prefer to forego those benefits in favor of a Chinese welder with a nice feature list at a good price.
Wrapping Our List of Beginner Welders
Best TIG Welder for Beginners
We decided the Eastwood 200 AC/DC TIG Welder, already our Top Pick, is now an even better welder. This machine hits a sweet spot with price, features and quality for any beginning welder. It’s a reasonable compromise between ease of use and features that will raise your skills a few steps
Best MIG Welder for Beginners
The Hobart Handler 140 MIG Welder was our choice as the Best MIG Welder for Beginners because it’s the industry-leading choice, offering industrial build quality and unquestionable performance credentials at a reasonable price. This machine has real value, runs on a generator and it’s simple to use as well. If it’s good enough for professionals throughout the industry, it’s good enough for you.
Best Stick Welder for Beginners
We liked the Hobart Stickmate 160i Arc Welder as our selection for the Best Stick Welder for Beginners because it brings serious power, modern technology, simple operation and dual 120/240-volt power to the table. Hobart backs this machine with a 5-year warranty and the company is known for both quality and customer service.
Best Multi-Process Welder for Beginners
The YesWelder MIG-205DS is a great choice for beginners who haven’t made up their mind on a single process or who want to reserve the ability to choose from multiple options when undertaking different types of work. This machine has automatic setup and a synergic welding processor that dynamically modifies settings while you weld, optimizing your arc quality. The front cover is a nice touch as well.
Best Flux Core Welder for Beginners
The Forney Easy 140FC-I Flux Core Welder topped our list for Best Flux Core Welder for Beginners with ease, due to its inexpensive price range, ability to weld up to 1/4-inch of steel as well as 24-gauge sheet metal, built-in storage and Forney’s industrial build quality.
Take your time and consider what welding process you want to learn and the type of projects you want to work on. These are the main factors in your decision. Everything else will fall into line behind these two decisions.