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Cheap welding supplies

Tom Kitta

Active Member
#1
Since there is no welding forum or at least I could not find it I am posting this here.

Where do you get the cheap stuff for welding?

I am getting into welding and I am having some issues getting cheap consumables from LWS - local welding supply. A lot of consumables can be gotten from China at less than half of say Princess Auto or KMS Tools but things such as shielding gas and filler metal cannot be gotten from China. BTW China stuff is exactly the same thing as local - minus local logo.

For stick welding - my dads old school way I am quite well set - electrodes start at around $3 per Lbs - just touch under the price of MIG wire at around 27/11 per Lbs (latest KMS price).

But no one sells TIG wire in larger boxes that I know of :( They want at least $6 per lbs. I can get MIG wire instead - which is my plan but I need to play around and straighten it.

Welding gas seems super expensive as well - refills of 244 cuft of argon is almost $150. This is around $110USD so California prices. In many parts of the US the price hovers around 30 - 60 - so why are we paying double here?

Princess auto has some gas exchange program as well but its even more money - small cylinder 83cuft costs 360CAD and refils are around 90 - which is even more than I paid.

So anyone knows a cheap LWS?

While at it I know Federal Metals no longer lets you buy their scrap (probably insurance reasons) but is there alternative place for scrap? Fresh metal costs around $2 per kg. Scrap costs around 60 cents / kg. Makes a big difference if you want to by a piece of thick plate. Also they sell plate by 8x4 chunks which is not exactly what I want for say base of my mini mill.
 

Tom O

Active Member
#3
tig wire and mig wire is not the same composition the tig has more additives for porosity reasons if you go to welding tips and tricks have a look at the forum they cover all this.
 

Tom Kitta

Active Member
#4
Well, the suggestion to use MIG wire for TIG purposes comes from welding tips and tricks, for example:
http://www.weldingtipsandtricks.com/tig-welding-tips-part2.html

Other people have developed special techniques for making the wire straight - usually some twisting method.

Where did you find the information about different composition of the wires? I am trying to google it but anything that mentions tig & mig just gets me process differences no matter how much emphasis I try to put on "wire".
 
#5
I use the mig wire I save every time I come to the end of the roll, 15 feet in my whip that is usually the throw away length. I have been using the mig wire for smaller beads for years and never had any problems with it oxidizing on me. The wire is usually coated with silicon which acts as a deoxidizer. As long as you're using the same type of wire as the base metal all is good.
 

Janger

(John)
Administrator
Premium Member
#6
There's another thread, Sourcing metal, with some additional info. Also for welding I have found a little OxyPro store on 58th and just west of Blackfoot. It's hiding North side of the street partway back in a strip mall. He's got supplies, seems to be a little less. Gases though seem to have gone up a lot with the dollar decline. I paid $105 I think on my last 155ft2 exchange for Argon.
 

Tom Kitta

Active Member
#7
Don't exchange gas at OxyPro - they wanted like 150 for my 250.

Go with KMS tools - its cheaper at 100. Still a lot but not as much as 150.
For tiny bottle of 20 - its $47 vs. $25. So OxyPro definitely doesn't have "cheapest prices in town" contrary to their advertising.
 

PeterT

Ultra Member
Premium Member
#8
Some good info here. At some point I see myself getting a mini Oxyacetylene torch. I think a common recommended tank size for typical hobbyist was 'B' (hopefully have that right, the half-heighters?). Is it recommended to get in a rotating exchange bottle program, or buy tanks & fill up when needed, or? Seems to me when I called around town few years back there were significant cost differences.
 

Tom Kitta

Active Member
#9
Most people seem to get out of renting their cylinders and just get their own. If you don't swap every 10 years it needs to be tested at $70. Or just swap one that is expired or about to expire and pay a bit more for gas.
I am unsure of rental prices per year but I do know if you rent from X you cannot swap cylinders => may not get best price for gas as you are limited. Most places AFAIK don't re-fill on site.

So extra rental per year of say $70 for 122 + say 6 refills at inflated price of $20 each due to lock in => $190 extra.... buying would imply getting a return on your money in under 2 years.

If for some reason you don't like your tank you can always sell it - I doubt you get less than 80% of what you paid for it.
 

Tom Kitta

Active Member
#11
Just note that you cannot switch all gasses to all other gases - oxygen bottle has to be just that & Co2 is also different. But argon or triplex mixes can all be changed. That is if you are using same bottle. Sometimes you can trade bottles.
 

Tom O

Active Member
#14
You mean they allow you to trade for free an argon bottle for say oxygen bottle or Co2 bottle? They are different types of bottles.
I've traded co2 for argon but haven't had any use for oxygen yet. when I need oxygen I'll just buy another bottle I have a old acetiline bottle that may need to be tested before I go that route.
 

PeterT

Ultra Member
Premium Member
#15
I just got a KMS flyer in the mail. In the welding section (pg-42 specifically) they have a little ad blurb that says "Why Lease Gas Cylinders?". Buy your brand new gas cylinders at KMS, we will fill YOUR cylinder while you wait or shop & return it to you. O2, Ar, Ar/CO2, Acetylene all locations, TriMix Coquitlam, Abbotsford... {actually I'm not 100% sure the way its printed - certain gasses at certain locations?. Anybody bought tanks & oxy/acetylene off Calgary store in this manner? The little pic looks like B tanks & maybe half-B's.
 

Tom Kitta

Active Member
#16
KMS tanks are expensive and they don't include the first fill. But their gas prices are the lowest in Calgary as far as I know.

So a good deal seems to buy gas cylinder with first free fill someplace else like oxyPro & then use KMS to get cheap gas. That saves me like $80 on a 250 of argon.

250 of argon at KMS is 100. This is expensive compared to many places in the US but so far it seems cheapest in Calgary. For comparison Liquid Air that princess auto has deal with costs like 60 to refill 83.

If anyone knows of argon << 100 CAD per 250 cylinder I would like to know the place.
 
#17
So I went to oxypro today to get some simple consumables, some tips and such. What doesn't really matter the total was $60 which was I thought very high, I was going to just say never mind and walk out but I decided to make a stink about how they are ripping people off. They pulled up my file and saw how much I have spent there in the past year and all of a sudden the total was $30...

Conclusion oxypro has a lot of room to work with so make a fuss and get the price down
 

PeterT

Ultra Member
Premium Member
#18
How do you active welder types find Air Liquide? I went there primarily to utilize the SAIT student discount (TIG night class) got a Miller mask for quite a bit less than what KMS was selling same model on their Feb super-duper welder sale. Could be the planets aligned & what I was after happened to be on sale, he said Retail x Discount was about the same anyway. I just assumed KMS would be 'nobody beats us' BestBuy type policy, but that wasn't the case. Now that I have the CHMW discount card with KMS, will be worth confirming.

Related to Kris story, when I bought my compressor at KMS, somewhere else I was looking had it on sale for a bit cheaper & nice lady matched it plus a few more points. They said it had to be a walk-in store, no internet type deals like bay or Amazon even with confirmed address CDN shipping quote.
 
#19
Air Liquide is great if you run a bigger shop with employees, they come to your shop and fill your consumables and what not. But as for the little guys I haven't dealt with them as an individual much. I did get some warranty stuff resolved there with their Miller reps and the service was great.
 

Tom Kitta

Active Member
#20
I find KMS expensive for welding supplies except welding gas. For TIG welding supplies it was cheaper to buy from the US, with shipping - it was over 50% discount vs. KMS price.

As for negotiating price at KMS / Busy Bee - they have too much red tape around it. Just walk and get it for less online. Amazon.ca does sell welders, usually at reasonable cost.