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I'm hoping this is the correct StackExchange for this question/request for advice.

I'm looking to buy a welder to introduce me a little to welding, my main use-case right now is the hobby projects I do with chainmail and soldering is just not good enough in my book. I'm working with stainless steel jump rings with a diameter ranging from 0.8mm to around 2mm.

I've seen on TheRingLord and Ganoksin that this can be done with an arc welder. As far as I've seen arc welders have the lowest prices and to me also seem like the least maintenance heavy since you don't need to stock up on gasses. So arc welders have my focus for now. My budged is around €200,- tops preferably from a dutch reseller, and I have no clue what to look for in a welder (my only clue so far is probably something that can be activated for short amounts). Would anyone be able to give me some advice on what would be a good welder and if I'm even looking in the right direction?

please do note that I'm not just looking for something fast and easy, I really don't mind getting my hands dirty learning how it works and getting some terrible welds in the process.

Some sites that are available for me (you might not be able to read the descriptions, but the welder device-names should still be the same):

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    $\begingroup$ If your goal is to learn, weird stainless shapes are not the place to start. Welding stainless is much harder than welding carbon steel, and straight lines are easiest. If your goal is just to weld those things, check out spot welders. $\endgroup$ – ericksonla Jun 26 '18 at 20:05
  • $\begingroup$ Whether or not I'm gonna be any good at it isn't really my biggest concern right now, that'll be all part of the learning experience. I'm just trying to get all the info I can get my hands on to make a decent choice on device. I'm pretty confident in my hardware skills and ability to learn. $\endgroup$ – Gelunox Jun 26 '18 at 20:52
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    $\begingroup$ I'll second the suggestion for spot welders if your focus is only the one type of project. You can find some very good DIY builds for a spot welder on Instructables. $\endgroup$ – fred_dot_u Jun 26 '18 at 20:52
  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, spotwelding looks interesting if I can build one myself cheaply, I'll look into it. But what about if I wanted to do more than just spotwelding? would arc welding be a more versatile option? $\endgroup$ – Gelunox Jun 26 '18 at 21:19
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    $\begingroup$ To be clear, requests for recommendations or products are off topic. $\endgroup$ – hazzey Jun 27 '18 at 12:31
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So from a fellow chain mail enthusiast (who uses split rings due to this), the spot welder is still the premier choice for this, and the ones on ring lord really are ideal for most carbon steels and even stainless steels.

However, if you want to get into aluminum, silver, or beyond, you'll want to invest into TIG welding. TIG welding setups can be found on say McMaster Carr for around $300 - $400, not sure on the conversion rates or if the british government allows you to have one of those without a license (you will also need a grinding wheel to grind down the tungsten electrode, plus a supply of inert gas). You'll find for ring welds, this will simply consist of heating up the ring at the gap, then tapping with weld rod like soldering. Unlike soldering, the inert gas keeps it sealed from oxidation, and the temperatures are hot enough to melt the base materials, so as a result you get a TIG weld.

When you get more advanced, you can use this method to weld large steel plates - simply chaining dots like this in a line until you get a full weld. It becomes quite satisfying to weld quite precious metals like aluminum and titanium.

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  • $\begingroup$ Spot-welder does indeed look more like what I need. I think I'm gonna look into building one. Thanks $\endgroup$ – Gelunox Jun 28 '18 at 16:01
  • $\begingroup$ Not a problem. Though please - consider safety when building a spot welder. You’re going to get high currents and hot temperatures, so be sure you know what you’re getting into. $\endgroup$ – Mark Jun 28 '18 at 16:30

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