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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

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.


Fast, Efficient Flux-Cored Welding with Semi-Automatic Wirefeeders

29 January, 18 2:43 pm · Leave a comment · reddarc

Flux cored welding with semi-automatic wirefeedersBy guest blogger David H.

Some years back I was working in a shipyard in San Francisco. The yard had several small repair jobs going, plus a fairly large project building six ocean-going barges. The supervisor who was in charge of the barge-building project was looking for volunteers to operate semi-automatic wire feeders, using flux-cored wire, to weld stiffeners to the skin of the barges. I had never used a wire feeder before, so I volunteered out of curiosity.

After a very short training period, possibly all of 30 minutes but I think a bit less, I was off and running. I was impressed by the quality of the welds and the speed at which they were deposited. Without question I was outpacing anything that could be done by stick welding, and I felt it was easier to maintain a uniform weld size too. The machine itself was light enough and small enough to move without difficulty, and the spools of wire lasted long and were quick and easy to replace when the spool of welding wire was finished.

Red-D-Arc has nearly a dozen semi-automatic wire feeders available for almost any application. We also carry fully automatic wire feeders, which are faster still and appropriate in certain circumstances – like building storage tanks –  especially for large-deposition welds.

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

Winter Deals on Used Welding Equipment: January 1 – March 31

19 January, 16 3:12 pm · Leave a comment ·

We’re currently running a special offer on used welding equipment. Our Quality Checked pre-owned welders are thoroughly checked over and maintained to ensure that you’ll get a reliable machine that  is in excellent condition. Select Rated machines run and weld to the manufacturer’s specifications are operationally safe and load bank tested. These machines come with warranties which vary depending on status of the machine. 90 day warranty on Select Rated machines 12 months for Quality Checked. See the flyer for details in your area.

PDF Used Equipment Flyer – USA
PDF Used Equipment Flyer – Canada


Used Lincoln DC600 Welder for Sale Used-Miller-Dimension-452-For-Sale


Offers Valid Until March 31, 2016

The DC600 and the Milller Dimension 452 are just a few of the used welders we have available.


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