It used to be that the cheapest way to get started tig welding was to get a stick welder, an air cooled torch with a valve, a tank of argon and regulator and boom …off to the races.
the cheapest way to dip your toe in the water these days is with a small inverter tig welder like the one in this video.
Right now it goes for less than 500 us dollars and it comes with stick stinger, regulator/flowmeter, and tig torch. but not foot pedal. that is extra.
This is an impressive little beast. The Everlast powerarc 160 sth stick welder/tig welder is capable of welding, thin stainless steel sheet for food service work, thin wall 4130 chromoly tubing, automotive body patches, brackets, stainless steel marine hardware, and more.
And when you need to weld on a trailer or fence, it turns into a portable stick welder in about 2 minutes and has a nice stable stick arc.
It will burn 3/32″ or 1/8″ 7018 rods without fuss.
A few weeks ago I shot a video comparing lincoln excalibur 7018 rods to hobart 7018 rods doing an outside corner joint to see how easy the slag peeled off.
Guess which machine I used.
Since the video was not about welding machines, I didnt mention it, but the Everlast powerarc 160 sth was the stick welder I used in that video.
Its a very simple stick welder/tig welder with very few knobs.
tig/stick selector button
lift arc/high freq selector
With its extreme light weight (the shipping weight is listed as 35 lbs. so machine by itself weighs considerably less because it comes with torch, stinger, regulator and carry case)
This machine would be easy to carry on the job site to make repair welds, stainless tube and pipe welds, and even some structural welds using 7018.
And for shop use, it wont do aluminum, but it will handle all kinds of other welding projects..like Steel DOM tubing, 4130 chromoly, stainless steel tubing and sheet, cast iron repairs, titanium sheet and tubing, and more.