Additionally, the stick welder you get is definitely better than anycheap commercial welder you can buy.
Why is this homemade thing better than something you can buy? Because when you factor in shipping and labor and the little bit of retail markup - the companies that make typical cheap buzz boxes will skimp on copper as much as possible. Whereas you can use enough copper in this to make something really juicy, and still spend less, to nothing, compared to a store-bought arc welder.
So here's what you need to build a welder:
- Two beat up old microwaves
- Some 10 gauge wire
- Wire nuts
People throw out microwaves all the time, if you keep your eyes on the curbs.
Or, you can get microwaves at the local thrift store for $10 each.
Try the warehouse that processes donations - they have to pay to get rid of tons of broken ones.
Stuff you need for welding:
- Welding helmet ($16 and up)
- Welding rods ($6)
- Vice grip or purpose-built electrode holder ($6 for either)
- C clamp for grounding clamp
- Thick nonflammable (leather) clothing that will cover your arms
Disclaimer: High Voltage ELECTRICITY and lots of CURRENT! Heat, electrocution, and DANGER! You could die and you could go blind.
That said, try this at home!
See this for a lot of welding safety tips
Here are the really good how-tos that this project is informed by:
build a 70 amp welder
the tiny tim welder by tim williams
home made welding machine (via afrigadget)
Dan Hartman's how-to is good for reference, too.
And here's the quickest way to make a DC welder with a bunch of 12 volt batteries.
Step 1: Dissect the Microwaves
They'll love it. David Grosof donated one of these microwaves under the condition that we take it apart together.
Good safety tip:
You'll find a gigantic capacitor inside the microwave. It looks like a metal can with two tabs on top.
Short it out to make sure it doesn't have any leftover charge on it, before you poke your hands anywhere near. Just put a screwdriver or something metal you aren't connected to, across the two metal terminals shown here.