Here’s What You Need to Know About MIG Welding: Pros, Cons, Cost and More

Buy quality. The wire feed mechanisms on a cheap MIG welder will frustrate you forever.

mig welding

Whom It’s For

A MIG welder is the most user-friendly type of welder. If you’re looking for a general welding system that’s easy to learn and good for most welding needs, this is it. MIG welders have an automatic wire feed system.

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COST

  • $250 and up.

PROS

  • Welds steel, aluminum and stainless.
  • Can weld materials as thin as 26 gauge.
  • Good for materials up to 5/16 in. thick.
  • Relatively easy to learn.
  • Nice-looking welds (with practice).
  • Fast to lay down a finished weld.
  • Doesn’t produce lots of spatter.
  • Little need to clean up the bead after welding.

CONS

  • Materials must be very clean.
  • The wire feed mechanism on cheap machines can be troublesome.

MIG Setup

A MIG machine has an automatic wire feed with a bottle of inert gas to shield the weld. With MIG welding, the wire is the electrode as well as the filler material.

Flux-Core Setup

A MIG machine can also run flux-core wire. Flux inside the wire creates the protective gas shield, so you don’t need bottled gas. Flux core works well outdoors, where bottled gas can blow away. It’s the fastest and deepest penetrating pro-cess, perfect for production and thick material. Dual-shield flux-core wire, used mainly for very thick material, does require bottled gas.

mig welding illustration

Brad Holden
Brad Holden, an associate editor at The Family Handyman, has been building cabinets and furniture for 30 years. In that time, he has absorbed so many slivers and ingested so much sawdust that he's practically made of wood.