This weekend was an interesting one for me. I didn’t get challenged to build anything particularly awesome or anything like that. But I did get challenged to pick a good welder on a budget. Actually to assemble a whole welding kit on a budget.
A kit you say?
Yep. Everything a new welder would need: a welder, clamps, safety gear, an awesome hood… basically the works. And the challenge got a bit more interesting. I had to get everything together for under $500.
So you might be wondering why I am including more information about welding and safety gear in this article. That’s a great question and I’ll tell you why. The Forney 299 Flux is a welder strictly for the beginner or light hobby user…. The guy who welds once a month to make an awesome fire pit or to fix a broken rig on the farm.
So.. if you new, I want to give you all the information you need to hit the ground running in this article.
If you’re more of a seasoned pro, then I want to give you a roadmap for gear on a budget. That way, when your buddy asks ” How can I begin to weld on the cheap”… you can just hand him this article.
So, let’s jump right in…
Forney 299 capabilities
As a beginner, I want to let you know what this machine can and cannot do and exactly who would be happiest with this machine.
What can the Forney 299 Do?
This little guy ( comes in at 42 lbs) can only flux weld. Yes, you read that right. There is no gas hookup for gas MIG welding on this machine. It is a pure wire fed 125 AMP flux welder. Right there you know the market. We are going for new welders and hobbyist with this machine.
Inside the machine, we have plastic rollers and a plastic feed… so it’s definitely a machine for the budget minded.
Ok, So what can the 299 weld?
Well, it will hook up to home electric at 115v, and with 125 amp capabilities you can weld up to 24 gauge material – about ¼ inch thick. Basically, you can weld mild steel and it will get hot enough for your home projects, like a table and chairs, a bbq pit, or even a cool table.
In fact, here is a list of all cool beginner projects you can do as a new welder.
What I like about the Forney is it’s not intimidating to use for a new welder. It’s simple to set up and ready to go out of the box. Also, you don’t have to worry about using gas just yet. And gas can also get expensive to maintain ( or purchase a tank) if you really don’t weld much.
What can the Forney 299 not do?
The 299 cannot handle anything outside of Flux welding. So the fancy aluminum project that you want to weld? You would need this welder. That heavy duty tractor repair that you want to complete? Well, this welder would be necessary. Basically, you’re locked into mild steel.
Wait a minute…. Why would I purchase this welder then?
I’ll tell you:
Who the Forney 299 is made for
This machine is excellent for people who use welding infrequently like :
And even a professional welder could use this in their shop. Yes – I know you wonder how that would be possible. But – if you have a big production fabrication shop and have a station just to tack weld., then this machine would be perfect for those small welds to hold a project together.
Let’s get this out of the way right now: The Forney is not a Miller or a Lincoln. It cannot handle anything heavy duty or near a pro shop level. With that said, it’s so much better than the cheaper no-name brand welders on the market. Just prep your metals with a grinder, remove the dirt and make sure you’re not more then ¼ thick and this machine will be great for the occasional welder.
Read the original testimonial from Mike Here
I usually TIG weld and I needed a small machine for little jobs. This fit the bill nicely and I made some legs for a smoker BBQ. It does create a lot of splatter, so be sure to get an angle grinder and have a good set of gloves.
Read the original testimonial from Livefirecook Here
Gear for the Beginner
I promised you an article that you can hand to a buddy who asks “ what do I need to weld on a budget” and we already spoke about the Forney 299 a bit and you know what it can do and it cannot do. Since you learned it’s good for new welders on a budget, I want to cover good safety gear you would need to purchase.
Let’s start with the main thing you’ll need – a good hood. This will be friendly to your wallet, last a long time and help protect your eyes. I have these in my shop and the new guys love them. And I love the cost.
Now let’s cover some gear. A good coat will protect you from splatter. And the Forney will have plenty as a flux core welder. I use this one all the time and love it. If you wanted to upgrade a bit you could even spend a bit more on this one
Let’s now forget about a good set of gloves… Flux core can get hot, so I recommend these heavy duty gloves, they are a great price and mine are just beginning to wear out after 6 months of heavy use.
Oh, and don’t forget the steel toe boots. You don’t want to drop some angle iron on your foot and end up in the ER.
Remember the challenge was to get a new welder set up on a budget. You’ll need some items to help you work with your mild steel. One of the many essential tools is clamps. All kinds of clamp actually. But to begin, I would buy these and these. These basic styles will help you grip the steel on your workbench to cut and weld it.
Now, you will also need a way to cut your steel down to size, so at the very minimum you’ll need a decent angle grinder, some cut off wheels and a few 36 grit pads. You can now cut and deburr your steel.
You are now set up with a new welder, all the gear you need and you’re still on your budget.
We covered the basics of the Forney 299 and gave you a roadmap for all the gear you’ll need to set yourself up as a new welder. I like the Forney 299 for the beginner better than any value machine (read: cheap Chinese knockoff brand like this) because it’s simple, it’s made by a trusted American company and it’s at the right price.