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Choosing The Right Welder For Building a BBQ Smoker

30 August, 19 3:58 pm · Leave a comment · reddarc

Best welder for building a bar-b-que smoker

There may only be one thing better than eating delicious barbecue cooked slow and low on a smoker, and that is eating some delicious barbecue that you cooked slow and low on the barbecue smoker that you made. Making barbecue smokers has long been a favorite hobby of backyard cooks and professional pitmasters alike.

While one may feel comfortable with procuring the material, cutting out the doors, and forming the metal of the smoke chimney, uncertainty may arise when it comes time to join these materials with a welding machine. Therefore, it is important to know at the start what type of welder will be required to make a BBQ smoker.

Shielded Metal Arc Welders (Stick or SMAW)

Shielded metal arc welders, colloquially known as stick welders, are an excellent way to weld together the components of many types of BBQ smokers. Stick welders, when compared with other welding power sources, are very simple. They do not require shielding gas, they do not require advanced electrical waveforms, and they don’t require a wire feeding system. All of this makes for a very robust and relatively portable welding system.

Inverter power sources, like the ES275i stick welder, are especially mobile because they do not have big, heavy transformers, making them much more carryable. This is nice if you have multiple projects ongoing. Another advantage of stick welders is that they can be used to join dirtier material because of the flux coating on the electrodes that the machines use. The reduced amount of time spent cleaning off mill scale and rust prior to welding allows one to get to that first slab of St. Louis spare ribs that much quicker. Stick welders such as the ES275i can also join very thick materials. Coming in with a maximum amperage of 275, the ES275i will be capable of welding BBQ smokers made of the thickest steels.


Stick welders are not the answer for all BBQ smoker welding activities though. If thin materials, especially those less than 1.5 mm, are to be welded, then stick welding could be troublesome because even the small electrodes are somewhat large when compared with other welding processes.

If weld spatter is a concern, which it may be if a paint or powder coating is going to applied after fabrication, then a stick welder may not be the best choice as the stick welding process can expel a lot of molten metal from the weld puddle. The weld spatter can be taken care of by proper post-weld cleaning though. Finally, if non-ferrous or stainless steels are being welded, it may be better to use an alternative welding process.

Gas Metal Arc Welders (MIG or GMAW)

Gas metal arc welders, less formally known as metal inert gas (MIG) welders, are another excellent category of welding machine to use when assembling a BBQ smoker. MIG welders are similar to stick welders in the sense that the electrode is also the weld filler metal, but MIG welders do come with other added complexities. For one, they require a wire feeding system. This wire feeding system could be internal like that of a Lincoln Power MIG 180C, or external such as an LN25 wire feeder combined with an EX360 welding power supply. MIG welders also require shielding gas, unlike stick welders.

MIG welders are excellent choices to build a BBQ smoker with because of the amount of skill it takes to learn how to make a MIG weld, which is arguably less than that required to stick weld or use other welding processes. Also, MIG welding is considered a fast travel speed process when compared with many other welding processes. If the BBQ smokers are getting made in large numbers in a production setting, then a MIG welder may be an excellent way to increase productivity. MIG welders are also better suited than stick welding to join materials other than carbon steel together.

If the BBQ smokers are getting made in large numbers in a production setting, then a MIG welder may be an excellent way to increase productivity.

MIG welding machines do come with several disadvantages though. In addition to the added complexities over stick welding mentioned above, MIG weld can also be a little more limited in the material thicknesses it can join together than stick welding because of its smaller electrode size. MIG welders, especially those without advanced pulse waveforms, can leave weld spatter on the BBQ smoker. A MIG welding machine like the Lincoln Power Wave 455M/STT has pulse welding waveforms that can alleviate this concern. Furthermore, MIG welding machines, while they can join materials other than carbon steel together, they are not as capable of doing so as the next type of welding machine this article highlights below.

home welded smoker

Gas Tungsten Arc Welders (TIG or GTAW)

Gas tungsten arc welding, often called tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding is a process that can also be used to manufacture BBQ smokers. Of the three welding machine types mentioned in this article, TIG welding machines are perhaps the most complex to use. They require the manipulation of a torch with a non-consumable tungsten electrode and a shielding gas in one hand, and in the other hand a filler metal rod in order to add weld metal reinforcement. The amperage can also be adjusted by the welder on the fly, typically by use of a foot pedal. TIG welders can be light and transportable like the Miller Maxstar 200 SD inverter power source or big and heavy like the Miller Syncrowave 250 DX transformer power source.

TIG welders provide many benefits when assembling a BBQ smoker. One of the greatest benefits is their ability to join materials other than carbon steel. Aluminum, stainless steel, even nickel superalloys can be joined using a TIG welding power source. Now, it’s unlikely that anyone will be using Inconel 625 to construct the smoky chamber that houses their prime cut of brisket, but one may want to make it out of stainless steel, or even simply add stainless steel grates to a carbon steel frame. This is where a TIG welder can really shine during the fabrication process. Another reason for selecting a TIG welder is cosmetic purposes. TIG welders, when operated by skilled welding personnel, can make very aesthetically pleasing welds. In addition, when it comes time to join extremely thin materials, TIG welders are very capable machines.

One of the greatest benefits of TIG welders is their ability to join materials other than carbon steel.

TIG welding machines may not always be the best choice, however. For one, they can be more expensive than MIG welders and barebones stick welders. Power sources like the Miller Dynasty 350 have a lot of bells and whistles that, while allowing for an incredible amount of operator control, can tend to come with a premium over the welding machines used solely for stick or MIG welding. TIG welding is also a relatively slow travel speed process, which may be fine for one-off smokers, but not necessarily suitable for a production environment. TIG welders also require a high degree of operator skill with respect to operating other types of welding machines.

…But Which One is the Best?

The best welder for building a BBQ smoker truly depends on the type of smoker being built. For most smokers, any one of these three types of welders will work just fine. Want speed? Go with MIG. Need portability? Give a stick welder a try. Welding non-ferrous or stainless steel? A TIG welder may be your best bet. Refer to the table below to see the advantages of each welder type to see which one may suit your needs best.

Stick Welder MIG Welder TIG Welder

Extremely portable Fast Very high-quality welds can be achieved
Affordable Relatively low skill required to operate Can be used to weld thinner materials than MIG or stick welders
Low Complexity Adequately suited to weld stainless steel and non-ferrous metals Superbly suited to weld stainless steel and non-ferrous alloys
Can be used to weld thick materials Can be used to weld thinner materials than a stick welder Virtually no spatter
Less skill required to operate than a TIG welder Can have less spatter than a stick welder Generally provides cosmetically superior welds when compared with stick or MIG


Advantages of Various Welding Methods For Building a Smoker or Barbecue Grill

Speed Slower than MIG welding because the electrode is typically larger, it is not semiautomatically fed via a wire feed system, and it has a flux coating Fast Slower than MIG welding because it requires manual additions of filler metal with a seperate hand
Portability Extremely portable Less portable than stick welding machines because it requires shielding gas and a wirefeed system Less portable than stick welding machines becauase it requires a shielding gas
Cost Affordable More expensive than stick because of the wire feed system, shielding gas, and potential proprietary pulse welding waveforms More expensive than stick welders because of a more complex torch system, shielding gases, and potential welding power source unit that has more complexity
Difficulty Low Complexity – Less skill required to operate than a TIG welder Relatively low skill required to operate Generally considered the more difficult than MIG or stick welding because of the use of two hands and the manual addition of filler metal
Materials Can be used to weld thick materials Adequately suited to weld stainless steel and non-ferrous metals “Can be used to weld thinner materials than MIG or stick welders
Superbly suited to weld stainless steel and non-ferrous alloys”
Weld Quality Stick welding machines can produce very high quality welds, but will generally produce more spatter than MIG or TIG machines. Stick welding also requires the removal of slag, which can be difficult in some circumstances Can provide less spatter than a stick welding machine Very high quality welds can be achieved – Generally provides cosmetically superior welds when compared with stick or MIG

New Welder Technology: ArcReach Technology

18 July, 19 9:36 am · Leave a comment · reddarc
ex360 fieldpro rental welder with arc reach

EX360 FieldPro Multi-process Welder

ArcReach® technology is an investment that results in a lot of time saved during welding operations.  With most welding equipment the operator needs to walk back and forth to adjust output voltage – sometimes over hundreds of feet – multiple times during a job. This results in hundreds of wasted hours and thousands of lost dollars over the course of a large project.

ArcReach technology enables welders to adjust the voltage settings right at the point of welding

ArcReach technology enables welders to adjust the voltage settings right at the point of welding instead of walking all the way to the power source and back.  Even worse, if the voltage settings are “just good enough”, the operator might not bother making the trip, resulting in lower quality welds.

How Does Arc Reach Work?

With ArcReach®, the digital signal carries voltage information via the weld cables. The connection happens automatically.   The ArcReach software in the power source receives the signals it receives from the remote accessory or wire feeder and adjusts the output as indicated by the operator.

New Red-D-Arc Welders With ArcReach®

Red-D-Arc is pleased to announce the launch of our own line of equipment enabled with ArcReach®technology.  The EX360 Fieldpro is an excellent machine for welding pipe in the field, working in shipyards or working across large distances and heights in the construction industry. Our D624K HO Diesel Engine Welder features infinite arc control which enables welding arc characteristics to be adapted for specific welding applications using stick welding, MIG and flux-cored welding techniques.

portable diesel generator rental unit

The Red-D-Arc D624K HO Portable Diesel Engine Welder

ArcReach Welding Accessories

We also carry the arc reach components needed to complete your ArcReach® enabled welding set up. The ArcReach® Suitcase 12 Wire Feeder is compatible with all ArcReach® enabled products and enables all the welding adjustments to be made at the point of welding.  The portable ArcReach® Stick-TIG Remote automatically changes to Stick mode if electrode positive polarity is detected or TIG mode when if electrode negative polarity is detected eliminating the need to walk back to the power supply.

Welders will benefit with more arc-on time and improved weld quality. Not only that, there won’t be extra control cables cluttering up the worksite, creating a trip hazard.  Faster, better, safer welding. ArcReach® technology is an investment you can’t afford to pass up.

Arc Reach Enabled Welding Equipment

EX360 FieldPro ArcReach Multiprocess Welder
D624K HO Diesel Welder with ArcReach
D325K 3+12 Diesel Engine Welder
Miller XMT 350 FieldPro Multiprocess
ArcReach Suitcase 12 Wirefeeder

Multi-Process Welders

27 February, 19 4:53 am · Leave a comment · reddarc

Most people who have been in a technical profession know the constant need for a variety of tools.  One minute you may need a pliers, then a knife, then a file, then a screwdriver, and once the day is all done, a bottle opener.  This is the reason why multi-tools have become so popular; they combine all of these tools into one. In the world of welding, there is something similar to a multi-tool.  It is known as a multi-process welder. Red-D-Arc carries multi-process welders because we know that one minute you might be self-shielded flux core welding some dirty, ½” thick steel and then the next minute be fitting up 18 gauge aluminum that you need to gas tungsten arc weld.


Stud Welders

27 February, 19 4:43 am · Leave a comment · reddarc

Some of the most difficult welds to make are those that require the welding of a small diameter to a plate. Gas tungsten arc welding or gas metal arc welding joints such as these require a high degree of operator skill, take a great deal of time, and can be a quality nightmare.  These factors become even more troublesome when the material with the small radius being welded is in the vertical or overhead position. Fortunately, Red-D-Arc provides stud welding equipment that increases productivity, decreases the required operator skill immensely relative to other welding processes, and allows for consistent, repeatable weld quality on materials with small radii.

What is Stud Welding?

Stud welding is a fusion welding process that is commonly used for the joining of small round stock to plate.  The process requires a power source, a stud welding gun, a ground clamp, and the materials that are to be welded.  To carry out the stud welding process, a solid, round piece of metal, also known as a stud, is placed into the stud welding gun.

Featured Product: Millermatic 252 – The welder that you can teach anyone to weld with

11 February, 16 4:10 pm · Leave a comment ·

Miller 252 Welder The Millermatic 252 —sometimes referred to as the Miller 252— is an extremely popular and easy to use welder. You only need to see the reviews quoted on Miller’s product site to see how much those who use this welder like it. It can be used for metal fabrication, maintenance and repair, farm and home use as well as light industrial applications.
Capable of MIG (GMAW), Wirefeed, and Flux-Cored Welding (FCAW),this machine employs Active Arc Stabilizer technology which creates consistent power output resulting in better quality welds. The push/pull gun connects directly to the unit with no extra module required in between.
Review - millermatic 252 welder
The unit detects the gun automatically and recalls the voltage, wire feed speed and timer of the active gun. There’s a panel on the front of the unit with a quick-reference parameter chart so you can quickly apply the correct settings for the consumables you are using. This welder has the highest output in its class (250 A at 28 VDC) allowing longer welding times on high-end applications. This is a very popular unit, praised for its ease of use by people who are learning to weld, hobbyists and others for whom welding is only one of many tasks they perform in a day. One user says that he taught his entire family to weld using this machine, including his 57 year old mother. Feature rich, well thought out, and easy to use, you would be hard pressed to find a better welder than the Millermatic 252.

Interested in renting one? Request a Quote.

See the Millermatic 252 in Action

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Airgas, an Air Liquide company, is the nation's leading single-source supplier of gases, welding and safety products. Known locally nationwide, our distribution network serves more than one million customers of all sizes with a broad offering of top-quality products and unmatched expertise.