Dan C
I've developed an interest in blacksmithing over the last 2 years and have a natural gas forge.  I do somewhat small stuff like hooks for the wall or larger garden hooks, tools, railroad spike creations, etc.  I'm small time and don't sell stuff at this point.  It's just part-time and for my enjoyment.

I'm moving into a more ambitious project which will be to build some ornate doors for my fireplace which has an opening of 2 1/2' high and 4' wide.  Maybe an outdoor garden gate after that.

I've gotten to the point where it has become clear to me that I need to get a MIG welder.  I've talked to a few blacksmiths and I think I want a Miller or Lincoln.  How big a machine to get is my problem, which is why I explained a little about the kind of work I'm into, above.

I was told by a blacksmith with some good MIG welding experience, that the Miller 170 was a little too small for the kind of work I was doing.  She suggested a unit with a number in the low 200s.

The Millermatic 211 is one I was looking at.  It's for steel up to 3/8".  There is another unit with a number 252 (I think).  This one is for steel up to 1/2".  This larger unit would cost me about 2 1/2 times as much, and is probably out of my price range.

So my questions are:

How big a unit do I need for the kind of work I'm doing?
Are there other smiths out there using the Millermatic 211?  How do you like it?  Is it getting the job done?  What are some of the bigger jobs you are using it for successfully?  Do I need to think about the 252 unit?

Thanks for any and all input!



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jmccustomknives
My mig is a older Lincoln 135 (110v).  It does everything I need it to do, well just about.  I do have a stick welder for those other jobs.  Ok, so when I have a customer come in and ask me these questions the first thing I'll ask is what power does he have.  Sounds like you have 230V so that opens you up to larger machines.  The next thing is how thick of material are you planning on welding normally?  How much are you planning to weld (time wise)? 
So the two Millers you listed, the 211 is a dual voltage machine (110 or 230V) while the 252 is a 230V machine.
The time spent welding is important.  Machines are rated in duty cycle, which is the time that can be spent welding in a 10 minute period.  So the 211 has a 30% duty cycle @ 150amps plugged into 230V (I'm working off memory so I could be off on the #'s) means in a 10 minute period you can weld 3.  Any time you stop that adds time back.
Most blacksmiths don't need a machine as big as a 252 which is an industrial grade machine.  Perhaps a 212 would work well.
Also check out the Esab Rebel and Lincoln 210mp.  Both of those are multiprocess machines.  The Lincoln 210mp base unit comes with a mig gun and a stick lead and can also DC tig (tig for carbon steel, not aluminum).  The Esab Rebel can also do those things and is a little more advanced.  Its base unit comes with a tig torch.  If you check with your local welding supply the Esab has a special were you get a Victor torch kit.  At least they are running that in our area.
I've had good feedback on the Miller 211 and the Lincoln 210mp from users.  The Esab Rebel is so new I've only sold 1 since it was introduced.  
If you think you are going to be welding a lot more than gates and fences and doing stuff heavier than 1/4 regularly than the larger machine may be required.  I've got customers using the 211 and 210mps in construction and trailer building and they love them.

Rule #10;  "I can make that" translates to; "I'm to cheap to buy it new."

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Dan C
Thanks James!  Interesting that you mentioned the Miller 212.  The 211 and 212 are next to each other in the Miller catalog.  As far as I could tell, the 212 didn't have that much more to offer than the 211, but cost half again as much?  They both specify 3/8" steel, for instance.  Is that correct in your view?  The duty cycle, by the way, is not a concern for me.  
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jmccustomknives
The difference between the 211 and 212 is duty cycle. The latter is a much heavier machine. Also note that inverter bases machines (the light weight ones) have an average life expectancy of 5 years.

Rule #10;  "I can make that" translates to; "I'm to cheap to buy it new."

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mtforge
I bought the 252 for its duty cycle. Sometimes it gets a lot of use and it is nice to know I don't have to wait on it.
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jmccustomknives
Good machine, don't forget about the rebate on it, $200 I think. 

Rule #10;  "I can make that" translates to; "I'm to cheap to buy it new."

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Rickardo
I use a Lincoln PowerMIG 210, the output power is 20A to 220A. It is versatile and has enough power for mild industrial metal fabrication.The best thing about MIG welders is that they are user friendly.I have been using them right from my novice days when I was attending a welding certification course in weldtech training. The Lincoln PowerMIG 210 can weld steel up to ⅜ inch thick and aluminum up to 3/16 inch.This type of welding is good for hobbyist and people just starting out. But the duty cycle of the Lincoln PowerMIG 210 is the least. You can choose this if you need a powerful and a versatile welder for irregular basis. The two main features that you could highlight from this is the versatility and the portability. You could just reffer this article for more information http://pickwelder.com/compare-top-3-best-mig-welder-210amvp.html .
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jmccustomknives
Rickardo wrote:
I use a Lincoln PowerMIG 210, the output power is 20A to 220A. It is versatile and has enough power for mild industrial metal fabrication.The best thing about MIG welders is that they are user friendly.I have been using them right from my novice days when I was attending a welding certification course in weldtech training. The Lincoln PowerMIG 210 can weld steel up to ⅜ inch thick and aluminum up to 3/16 inch.This type of welding is good for hobbyist and people just starting out. But the duty cycle of the Lincoln PowerMIG 210 is the least. You can choose this if you need a powerful and a versatile welder for irregular basis. The two main features that you could highlight from this is the versatility and the portability. You could just reffer this article for more information http://pickwelder.com/compare-top-3-best-mig-welder-210amvp.html .


I've had great feedback on the 210mp.  The guys who like it the most are the ones who use it for its portability.

Rule #10;  "I can make that" translates to; "I'm to cheap to buy it new."

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