Tig vs Mig vs Stick?

I’m a hobbyist and I’ve been welding with stick all my life (dad taught me when I was 10) and I’m moving and taking a new job as general manager of a growing company. Some of the things that I’ll need to do will involve building metal framing and I’m thinking of selling and getting a new better welder. (Mine is from the early 90’s and kindof on its last leg)

Should I stick (pun intended) with stick or should I try and learn mig or tig? I’ve done a decent amount of copper braising which I’ve heard is similar to tig but everyone says mig is really quick to learn and easy to do if you’ve already learned stick.

I’ll primarily be welding 3” square tubing and occasionally doing smaller framework and the occasional hobby little project things here and there.

I also absolutely love learning new skills hence me wondering if I should switch to a different type of welder.

You can’t go wrong with a mig machine. You have a lot of flexibility with wire selection and shielding gas to weld any thickness of material. It’s fast and easy cleanup.

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This sounds like something that doesn’t depend on the technically best option as much as it depends on the (your) situation. If ‘general manager at growing company’ means that you’ll always be too busy chasing the latest seeming emergency to put time into exploring and practicing, then the answer is obvious.
Slightly muddy-ing the clarity of the above, is the fact that these days machines are available that can do mig, stick, and tig. You could get that, have the ability to fall back on what you already know, AND the capacity to work on learning, without needing to take up space etc with multiple machines. Which you do be wanting to do if possible, because mig is the go-to for the type of work you’re talking about doing.

I didn’t know that there was machines that can do all 3, I’ve seen combo mig tig but never all 3. That’s a good idea.

I’m not going to be manager of a metal fab company, the metal fabrication I’ll be doing will be to create tooling and fixtures for doing the work that our shop actually focuses on; piano total restoration. It takes a lot of specialty tools that have to be custom made and it is a lot cheaper for me to do it than pay $100-200 an hour for some shop to get it wrong because they didn’t understand or care about the end product’s purpose or tolerances. Less goes wrong if I can just do it how I know it will work.


“do it how I know it will work” - this is more important than we often give it credit for. Chasing the latest and greatest features, vs surety.
Pretty much, if a machine can do tig (we’re talking DC here), it can to stick.

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I recently bought a ESAB Rebel 205ic, it will run mig and flux core wire, AC/DC stick and AC/DC tig with variable frequency on AC tig. The whole machine weighs about 35 pounds and costs about $4000.

For what you will be doing, a multiprocess lincoln, esab, miller, AND Harbor freight vulcan or titanium will suit your needs for under $2,000.

I have a Lincoln 210 at home and use Miller at work. It’s Ford verses Chevy. ESAB (and a couple other brands) have great reputations. Harbor freight has upped their game significantly with their top two lines of welders.

Something to think about: My Lincoln simplifies a lot of brainwork for settings. You plug in metal thickness, wire thickness, and it goes to spot-on settings. It shows everything on a display. The other brands have similiar style machines. You can still easily tweak the settings.

Something to keep in mind: Whether you need a dual voltage welder.  Having the 110 volt option is handy.  

If someone doesn't weld for their career, The MP welders with simple displays are a great way for them to remove doubt on settings.  That's my advice.

All three have rebates going on. Sometimes welding ioc will have a helmet deal if you buy a welder, too. Again, there are other brands with good reputations. Prime weld is another brand, I believe. I just don’t have info on that.