What We Thought (full review below!)
For new fabricators or hobbyists, the Flux 135 is an excellent starting point. It offers enough flexibility to experiment and learn various welding techniques without overwhelming beginners with overly complex features.
The welder’s simplicity and effectiveness make it a great tool for home projects and small-scale fabrications.
However, for those looking to undertake heavier projects, it’s important to recognize the limitations of the Flux 135. While it can handle materials up to 3/8 inch, the results might not be ideal for high-stress applications.
In such cases, a more powerful welder might be necessary to ensure the strength and durability of your welds.
The Flux 135, made by YesWelder, looks to be a promising welder for both novices and seasoned welders.
Our aim is to rigorously test its capabilities across different thicknesses of steel plates – specifically, 3/16, 1/4, and 3/8 inch.
This exercise is a demonstration and an informative review to help you understand the nuances of working with this particular welder to see if it’s the one for you!
So, who are YesWelder?
They’ve rapidly gained recognition in the welding community for producing affordable yet reliable welding equipment.
YesWelder caters to a diverse audience, ranging from DIY enthusiasts to professional fabricators. What sets them apart is their commitment to balancing cost-effectiveness with performance.
Their products, including the Flux 135 welder, are designed considering welders’ practical needs. This welder, in particular, is known for its versatility and user-friendliness, making it an appealing option for those who are just starting their journey in welding or looking for a reliable tool for home projects.
Today, as we test the Flux 135, we’ll assess its functionality, ease of use, and performance on various steel plates. This will not only give us a comprehensive understanding of this welder’s capabilities but also provide you with tangible insights to help decide if it’s the right tool for your welding needs.
Whether you’re a beginner eager to learn or an experienced welder keen on expanding your toolset, this article is for you.
Equipment and Setup
When it comes to welding, the right power source is crucial.
For our tests with the Flux 135 welder, we’ve chosen a 6500 watt generator.
Why a generator, you might ask?
Well, it’s all about versatility and mobility. A generator allows you to weld in locations where you might not have ready access to a power outlet, opening up a world of possibilities for fieldwork and outdoor projects.
However, the choice of a 6500 watt generator might raise some eyebrows.
Is it overkill? Perhaps.
The Flux 135 is a 110-volt welder, and in theory, you could comfortably run it on a 3500 watt generator. But we’re going for the extra power to ensure we don’t encounter any hiccups during our testing. It’s also a valuable insight for those of you wondering about the necessary generator size for smooth operation.
In the future, we’ll experiment with smaller generators to provide you with a more comprehensive guide.
What Do You Get?
When you purchase a YesWelder Flux 135, you can expect to find the following items in the box, along with a description of what each piece of equipment does:
|Flux 135 Welder Unit
|The main welding machine which is capable of flux core, MMA, and lift TIG welding.
|Used to complete the electrical circuit and ensure a stable arc by grounding the workpiece.
|A torch used for flux core welding, through which the welding wire is fed.
|Used in MMA (stick) welding to hold the electrode (welding rod).
|Allows the welder to be connected to various power sources, enhancing its versatility.
|Wire Brush/Chipping Hammer
|Tool for cleaning the weld area and removing slag after welding.
|Provides instructions on setup, operation, and maintenance of the welder.
These components together make the Flux 135 a versatile and user-friendly welding machine, suitable for a range of welding tasks and skill levels.
Material Preparation: Selection of Steel Plates
Selecting the right material is just as important as choosing the right tools. For this test, we’re using three different thicknesses of steel plates: 3/16, 1/4, and 3/8 inch.
This range will allow us to thoroughly evaluate the Flux 135’s performance across various scenarios. Each thickness presents its own challenges and learning opportunities, making our test both comprehensive and informative.
Preparation Tips Using a Cutoff Wheel
Before we start welding, proper preparation of these steel plates is essential.
Here’s where a good cutoff wheel comes into play.
I’m using an eighth-inch thick cutoff wheel, which is slightly thicker than the standard options. This choice is deliberate – thicker cutoff wheels are less prone to breaking, especially when you’re grinding rather than cutting.
But remember, safety is paramount. Always use face protection, preferably a full face shield, when working with cutoff wheels.
Even though thicker wheels are safer, they can still pose risks. They also tend to dig into the material effectively, so be cautious if you’re working on a project where the finish is crucial.
Avoid using these wheels on surfaces where grind marks would be undesirable.
Additional Equipment Recommendations
Having the right tools can make a significant difference in the quality and efficiency of your work.
This brings me to a piece of equipment that I highly recommend for any fabricator’s arsenal: the Anvil Portable and Stationary Bandsaw.
Why Choose the Anvil Bandsaw?
- Versatility: The Anvil bandsaw serves a dual purpose. It’s not just a portable tool that you can carry to different job sites; it also functions effectively as a stationary bandsaw. This versatility means you’re getting two tools for the price of one.
- Performance: When it comes to cutting materials, precision and reliability are key. The Anvil bandsaw delivers on both fronts. It runs smoothly, ensuring clean and accurate cuts, which is essential whether you’re prepping materials for welding or working on intricate fabrication projects.
- Cost-Effectiveness: One of the standout features of the Anvil bandsaw is its affordability, especially when compared to its competitors like Milwaukee and DeWalt. You get a high-quality tool without the hefty price tag, making it accessible for both professionals and hobbyists.
- Ease of Use: Whether you’re a seasoned fabricator or just starting out, you’ll find the Anvil bandsaw easy to operate. This ease of use, combined with its efficiency, makes it an excellent choice for a wide range of projects.
Applications in Welding and Fabrication
The Anvil bandsaw is ideal for prepping materials before welding, especially when dealing with intricate designs or when precision is non-negotiable.
Its ability to switch between a portable and stationary setup allows you to adapt to various working conditions, providing flexibility in your workflow.
Welder Setup and Wire Selection
The Flux 135 welder by YesWelder is designed with versatility and ease of use in mind, making it a suitable choice for a wide range of welding applications.
Let’s dive into the four key settings of this welder and how they can be utilized for different welding needs.
- Flex Core Wire Options (0.30 and 0.35): The Flux 135 offers settings for two sizes of flux core wire: 0.30 and 0.35 inches. These options cater to different thicknesses and types of materials. The 0.30 setting is typically used for thinner metals and provides a smoother weld with less spatter, while the 0.35 setting is better for thicker materials, offering deeper penetration.
- MMA (Manual Metal Arc) Welding: This setting transforms the Flux 135 into a stick welder, broadening its utility. MMA welding is ideal for outdoor conditions or for materials that are rusty or dirty. It’s a valuable feature for welders who need versatility in different working environments.
- Lift TIG Welding: This setting allows for TIG welding, where the welder has to touch the tungsten electrode to the material to initiate the arc. While this method requires more skill, it provides greater control and precision, especially for thinner metals and fine work.
Each setting on the Flux 135 is designed to optimize performance for specific welding styles and materials. Understanding these settings will help you leverage the full potential of this versatile welder.
Wire Choice and Amperage/Voltage Considerations
Selecting the right wire and adjusting the amperage and voltage is critical for achieving the best weld quality. Here are some tips:
- Choosing the Right Wire: The choice between 0.30 and 0.35 flux core wires depends on your material’s thickness and the type of job. For general use and thinner materials, the 0.30 wire is often sufficient. If you’re working with thicker materials, consider the 0.35 wire for better penetration.
- Adjusting Amperage and Voltage Based on Tack Welds: Before starting your main welding project, it’s wise to do some tack welds on scrap material. This will allow you to adjust the welder’s settings based on the material’s response. Look for a stable arc and good penetration without excessive spatter or burning through the material.
- Understanding the Flux 135’s Settings: The Flux 135 doesn’t specify its power settings in traditional amperage or voltage terms. Instead, it uses a scale from negative 5.0 to positive 5.0. As a general guideline, the higher the number, the higher the power output. Start with a mid-range setting and adjust based on your tack weld results.
- Experimentation is Key: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different settings on scrap pieces. Welding is as much an art as it is a science, and finding the perfect settings often requires a bit of trial and error.
Welding Process and Techniques
Tacking and Adjusting Settings
Tacking is an essential step in welding, serving as a preliminary bond that holds your workpieces in place.
Here’s how to effectively tack weld with the Flux 135 and adjust the machine settings for optimal results:
- Initial Tacking: Position your steel plates in the desired configuration, typically in a T-joint for this exercise. Use the Flux 135 to make small tack welds at key points to secure the plates together.
- Adjusting Settings After Tacking: After your initial tacks, assess the weld quality. Look for a stable arc and good metal fusion. If the tack is too weak or too strong, adjust the welder’s power settings. A good starting point is a mid-range setting, tweaking as necessary based on your observations.
- Finding the Right Balance: The key is to find a balance between enough heat to ensure good penetration and not so much that it warps the metal or burns through. This balance will vary based on the thickness of your material.
Welding Different Thickness Plates
Welding plates of varying thicknesses requires different techniques and settings:
- 3/16 Inch Plate: Start with a lower setting and increase the power as needed. This thickness is relatively easy to weld and a good starting point for warming up with the Flux 135.
- 1/4 Inch Plate: This thickness requires a bit more heat for proper penetration. Turn up the power setting slightly from where you had it for the 3/16 inch plate. Monitor the weld puddle closely to ensure it’s not too hot or too cold.
- 3/8 Inch Plate: This is where things get more challenging. You’ll need to increase the power setting significantly. The key here is heat management – ensuring enough heat for penetration without overheating and weakening the metal.
Reading the Weld Puddle
Understanding and reacting to the weld puddle is crucial for successful welding:
- Observation: Watch the puddle closely. It should be consistent and fluid, indicating that the metal is melting properly.
- Adjusting Technique Based on Puddle Behavior: If the puddle is too small or solidifies too quickly, you may need more heat. If it’s too runny or moves too quickly, reduce the heat.
- Puddle Shape and Size: The ideal puddle size is about the width of the metal you’re welding. Its shape should be controlled and consistent as you move along the weld.
Welding Patterns and Learning
Experimentation and learning from failures are key to mastering welding:
- Experiment with Welding Patterns: Instead of sticking to textbook patterns, experiment with different movements and speeds. Every welder develops a unique style that works best for them.
- Learning from Failures: Don’t be discouraged by unsuccessful welds. Each mistake is a learning opportunity. Adjust your technique, settings, and approach based on what the metal tells you.
- Practice: The most important aspect of welding is practice. Try different angles, speeds, and movements. Weld on scrap metal in various positions to gain confidence and skill.
Testing on Various Thicknesses
Evaluating the performance of the Flux 135 welder involves rigorous testing across different thicknesses of steel plates.
Here’s a breakdown of how the welder fared with 3/16, 1/4, and 3/8 inch plates:
- 3/16 Inch Plate: The Flux 135 handled this thickness with ease. The welds were consistent, showing good penetration and a stable arc. This indicates that for general home projects and light fabrications, the Flux 135 is more than capable.
- 1/4 Inch Plate: As the material thickness increased, the welder was pushed a bit more. However, it still performed admirably. The key was adjusting the power settings to ensure proper heat input for adequate penetration. The results were promising, with strong, clean welds.
- 3/8 Inch Plate: This was the real test of the welder’s limits. The Flux 135 could weld this thickness, but it required maxing out the power settings. While the welds were decent, they may not be as structurally sound as those made with a more powerful welder. This thickness is on the upper limit of what the Flux 135 can handle effectively.
Strength and Limitations
After testing the Flux 135 on various thicknesses, it’s clear that the welder has its strengths and limitations:
- Strengths: For light to medium fabrication work, the Flux 135 is a solid performer. It offers clean, strong welds on materials up to 1/4 inch thick, making it a great option for many DIY projects and smaller professional jobs.
- Limitations: When it comes to heavier materials, like the 3/8 inch plate, the Flux 135 reaches its limits. While it can perform the job, the welds might not be suitable for high-stress applications or where structural integrity is critical. This limitation should be kept in mind for projects involving heavier materials.
- Overall Assessment: The Flux 135 is a versatile and capable welder within its operating range. It’s an excellent tool for beginners and experienced welders working on light to medium-thickness materials. However, for heavy-duty, industrial-grade work or thick materials, a more powerful welder would be necessary to ensure the strength and reliability of the welds.
The Flux 135 welder offers impressive performance for its size and price range. It’s well-suited for a variety of projects, particularly those involving thinner materials.
While it has its limitations with heavier materials, its strengths make it a valuable tool for many welders, especially for those starting out or needing a reliable welder for home and light industrial applications.
Final Thoughts and Recommendations
After thoroughly testing the Flux 135 welder, my overall impression is overwhelmingly positive.
This welder stands out for its user-friendliness, versatility, and adequate performance for a range of thicknesses up to 1/4 inch.
Its ability to handle different welding modes, including flux core, MMA, and lift TIG, adds to its appeal for a broad spectrum of users.
Thank you for joining us in this review of the Flux 135 welder.
I hope this deep dive has provided valuable insights into its capabilities and limitations, helping you make an informed decision about whether it’s the right tool for your welding needs!