Lincoln Handy MIG, the Super Useful Facts

By Ben Norton / May 19, 2019
Lincoln Handy MIG

The Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy MIG Wire Welder. to give the handy MIG its full name.

I promised you the super useful facts in this Lincoln Handy MIG review, and now you’re here, welcome.

Pros of the K2185 Handy MIG

  • Quick set up - should not take you more than ten to fifteen minutes
  • check
    ​​The duty cycle rating at 20% is cracking compared to the usual 10% you get from less expensive MIG welders
  • Reasonably portable and easy to move around
  • ​Additional accessories: The included spools of welding wire - flux core and solid wire, the hand held face shield, chipping hammer and brush, and gas regulator positions this at those users looking for a beginners MIG welding kit
  • check
    ​​The Handy MIG welder has proven itself to be robust and hard wearing

Cons of the K2185 Handy MIG

  • ​​No Gas Gauge on the supplied regulator is a disappointment, as you wont know when you are running out of gas in your cylinder till you get poor welds
  • Times
    ​The Handy MIG is only able to take the 2lb smaller spools which can be frustrating as the larger spools can work out more economical to use. Particularly when buying more expensive flux core welding wire.
  • Times
    ​Some users have complained that the cord to the torch and grounding clamp has a short length at eight feet. This means that you have plan your work area more carefully.

​Verdict on the K2185 Handy MIG

Priced around the middle of the market for MIG welders, the Lincoln Electric Handy MIG Wire Welder with it's shiny red distinctive Lincoln Electric covering has been around a long time and the reason for that is?

 It has a great reputation, people love it and no doubt it will be around for a lot longer.

Lincoln Handy MIG K2185-1

Lincoln Electric Handy MIG

​Check out what you can get this Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy MIG for on Amazon. As your starter Lincoln welder and as a great MIG welder for those welding jobs around the home, yard and small workshop.

​​​​​Time to Get To The Super Useful Facts

If you are evaluating suitable MIG options more widely,

I thought it would be really useful to put in this Lincoln Handy MIG review a head to head comparison against another comparable MIG.

The Lotos MIG 140 is in touch pricewise, not as well known - true but it could wet your taste buds for what else is out there.

You can always take a look at the write up I have on it here, where's the harm?

You might as well look fully at the market before making your choice.

Compare The Lincoln Handy MIG Welder V Lotos 140

Handy MIG Welder Versus Lotos 140 MIG Welder
12.8″ H x 8.8″ W x 18″ L Size 9.5″ H x 14.5″ W x 16″ L
46 lbs. Weight 54 lbs.
20% at 70 amp Duty Cycle 20% at 90 amp
88 amp Max Amp Output 140 amp
Yes Normal Household Power Yes
Yes Thermal Overload Protection Yes
No Weld Aluminum Yes with separate spool gun
Yes Flux Core Wire and Shielding Gas Yes
1/8 th Max Steel Weld Width 3/16 ths
Yes, but no gas gauge Gas Regulator Yes, with Gas Gauge
1 year parts and labor Warranty 30 day satisfaction guarantee, 1 year Limited Warranty

Want a wider view of the MIG welder market? You can always take a peek at my document that evaluates the top MIG welders for home use when you only have 120v at home​.

Or if you're simply unsure how to go about picking the right one take a read of my article on how to choose a MIG welder.

The Lincoln Electric Handy MIG has some pleasing features for the price, Let us take a look at them.

Where is Lincoln Handy MIG Targeted?

  • Hobbyists wanting to create projects in their small workshops or garages
  • DIY'ers fixing up equipment around the home or yard
  • Beginner welders keen to learn the skill of welding and want a MIG to practice on and some starter kit to get them going
  • Farmers or ranchers needs a practical, reliable, portable MIG for when you have got to take it there
  • Professionals after a second or third MIG that's convenient to use and will do a job

The Lincoln Electric Handy MIG K2185-1 hands you the choice of using flux core wire or solid wire and shielding gas …

Making this Lincoln welder super flexible

YouTube Video Describing the Lincoln Electric K2185-1

Here is an informative YouTube Video that dives into some but not too much detail about the Handy MIG welder. I think it's well worth watching as you think about which MIG welder to buy.

Lincoln Electric Handy MIG Flux-Core/MIG Welder with Face Shield - 115V, 70 Amp, Model# K2185-1

Video Credit: Northern Tool

Where can I get my hands on the Handy MIG?

The handy MIG is sold through a variety of outlets - Amazon.com of course the one I would recommend, Lowes, Home Depot, your local good welder outlet store.

I suggest Amazon Why?

Always a good price, you can buy using your Amazon prime account and instead of carting the welder home in your car you can have it conveniently delivered.

​And when you are new to welding you will need to get yourself a welding helmet and gloves and my personal favorites to go with the Lincoln Electric Handy MIG are the ​Antra AH6 Welding Helmet​  coupled with the ​US Forge 400 Welding Gloves​.

​Let's Review the Highlights of the Lincoln Handy MIG Welder

Handy MIG 101

The Handy MIG is fan cooled. A true MIG that supports the use of either flux-core wire or solid wire with shielding gas. .

Which is a blessing for beginners who may want to start off using flux-core wire as it means you need less equipment (no gas cylinder to source) before you can get on with welding.

You have the convenience of starting welding right out of the box.

And when you are ready to produce prettier welds and are done with the extra slag clean up needed with flux core wire. You have a welder capable of feeding solid wire and can get yourself a gas cylinder and start running some shielding gas.

It may be useful for you to see where the Lincoln Electric Handy MIG appears on the best MIG welder for beginners list. You can view that here.

Lincoln Electric Handy MIG

The Handy MIG Welder Duty Cycle

It's super essential to know the duty cycle rating of any welder you want to buy. It tells you what the welder is capable of and how long you can use it before heading into trouble.

The Lincoln Electric Handy MIG has a duty cycle of 20% at 70 Amp. So at the 70 Amp setting, over a ten minute welding period you will be able to do uninterrupted welding for two minutes, then this Lincoln welder will need to be rested for a minimum of eight minutes or until the welder has cooled enough so before you can start it back up again.

This is quite reasonable for a welder that's aimed at light duty welding tasks. And is better than many entry level model welders.

As the welder is fan cooled be sure to leave 12 - 18 inches clearance back and front to allow the fan to cool the welder.

Time for another YouTube Video?

This YouTube by Farmboy shows how he switches his Lincoln Electric from flux core wire welding to solid wire and shielding gas.  Funny, that he made a mistake on feeding through the wire and the Handy MIG still welded ok showing how sturdy this welder is. 

Lincoln Handy MIG Gas Conversion

Video Credit: farmboy30117

Always interesting to see when things are not quite done perfect the first time.  Well lets face it, that how most of us do things. Though it's best to feed the wire the right way round!

The Lincoln K2185's Cold Contractor

Lincoln Electric makes a thing out of the feature. Why?

It's easy to forget that MIG welding is a process that generates high electrical output and the risk of shock is a real danger if you don't take the right safety precautions.

A number of MIG guns and torches on the market are live as soon as the power is switched on to the unit. And means that should you put your welder down anywhere near a metal surface you get lots or pretty sparks and arcs you weren't counting on.

Risking electrical shock or arc eye.

This is not the case with the Handy MIG.

This key safety feature keeps the welding wire electrically 'cold' until you press the trigger of the welding gun. You wont get an arc till you want one.

Overload Protection

If the duty cycle is exceeded the Overload Protection protects the welder thermally from damage due to over heating.

Handy MIG Over Temperature Light and Wire Feed Dial

Handy MIG Over Temperature Light and Wire Feed Dial

That tell tale smell of warm electrics.

The torch is prevented from welding to protect the welder. Be sure to wait the required rest period. The Handy MIG is fan cooled so do not switch of the power as this will switch off the fan and the fan will not be able to cool the internals of the MIG.

And you'll get more funky smells

Doing that will seriously decrease the life of this Lincoln welder.

Also make sure there is clearance for air to circulate to the welder.

The K2185 has Four Voltage Output Settings

The welding power of a MIG welder is measured by its voltage output settings. Lincoln Electric Handy MIG has a welding output range between 35 to 88 Amp.

The settings are achieved through two switches, one that can be set to 1 or 2 and the other switch that can be set to high or low so combining the different positions of the two switches is how you get your four settings.

Lincoln Handy MIG Front Dials

Lincoln Handy MIG Front Dials and Switches

It's worth bearing in mind the duty cycle of 20% at 70 Amp when you're thinking about using this MIG to its maximum. Setting the Handy MIG to its maximum will mean you get much less the two minutes welding time so keep an eye on the over temperature light.

Though not as flexible as welders with an infinitely variable voltage output settings​ it does make setting this MIG easier for beginners.

To further help beginners and those new to this Lincoln welder there is;

The Lincoln Handy MIGs Welding Amps to Wire Thickness Chart

There is a welding chart on the inside of the wire drive compartment door which lists the gauges of steel and the recommended switch setting for whether you are using flux cored wire or steel wire with Argon/Carbon Dioxide mix or pure Carbon Dioxide.

Lincoln Handy MIG Welding Parameters Chart

Lincoln Handy MIG Welding Parameters Chart

The chart will certainly get you started with your welding project.

YouTube Video Showing the Lincoln Handy MIG Welding

A short YouTube video of Steve Medsker doing a little welding with the Handy MIG.  He loves it and you could too.

Lincoln Electric Handy MIG

Video Credit: Steve Medsker

What Can the Lincoln Handy MIG Weld?

For DIY, hobby or light car repairs, this welder is capable of welding mild steel of 24 gauge up to 1/8 of an inch.

Using flux core or solid wire and shielding gas

Can I use the Handy MIG welder at Home?

Yes, the welder is supplied with a 15 Amp three prong plug suitable for plugging into a normal house socket.  The Lincoln Electric Handy MIG needs a minimum of 115 volts with a 20 Amp fused circuit with a good ground connection.

Preferably with little else plugged into the same circuit as your K2185 welder. That way you will ensure you can supply the maximum power to get the stated Amp voltage output for your welding.

Using the Lincoln K2185-1 Handy MIG on an Extension Lead

Should you need to transport this welder to a welding job or need an extension lead, get one that's rated 14 AWG or larger and if using outside make sure your extension lead is rated for outdoor use.

 
Lincoln Handy MIG

What Welding Wires Can I Use in the Handy MIG?

The Lincoln Handy MIG can handle wire reels up to 2 lbs. in weight (also known as 4 inch spools).

So you won't be able to put inside the larger 10 lb. spools of wire.

The Lincoln Electric Handy MIG uses 0.025 inch solid steel wire, and 0.035 inch flux cored wire.

Should you be looking for welding wire as well take a look at my documents where I have researched the market to find the best flux core welding wire and the best solid wire for mild steel​.

The wire feed speed range is 0 - 300 inches per minute and you have an advantage of continuous wire feed adjustment.  This means that you can adjust the wire as you work.

YouTube Video Showing How to Correctly Feed The Lincoln K2185-1 Welding Wire

Feeding the welding wire through correctly is something that can cause frustrations and poor welds. Take a look at this YouTube video and see how to do it on the Handy MIG.

Setting up and feeding Wire in Portable MIG Welders

Credit: LincolnElectricTV

What Shielding Gas Can the Handy MIG Use?

The Handy MIG is supplied with a gas regulator for use with a standard welding mixture of 75% Argon, 25% Carbon Dioxide. The welder is capable of using pure Carbon Dioxide but you will need to get a different regulator as the one supplied as standard isn't suitable. 

To be fair this is probably not a concern for a beginner as you'll probably start off with flux core wire, just bear this in mind for later.

It is disappointing the gas regulator provided has no gas gauge as this makes it difficult to see when you are running out of gas. It would be a nice thing to have had.

Also be sure to change to polarity when you move from welding with flux core wire to solid wire with shielding gas, this is one thing that commonly causes welding frustrations for beginner welders.

Lincoln Handy MIG and Aluminum

So can it?

can the Handy MIG weld Aluminum? 

Lincoln Electric makes no claim it can.

The Handy MIG doesn't have spool gun capability which is the best way for welding Aluminum. And lets face it is a bit under powered for that particular job.

Diehards have put in a Teflon liner running up to the MIG gun and have run Aluminum solid wire and shielding gas.

Aluminum is a soft metal and you do risk getting a snakes nest of tangled wire.

Should you want to try read my article all about the subject 'Lincoln Handy MIG weld Aluminum? Can it?'

You may even be thinking about using Aluminum flux core wire in your Handy MIG Find out why this is not really an option by reading my blog post on Aluminum flux core wire on the site.

Personally I'd say if you want to weld Aluminum then do yourself a favor and get a more powerful welder that can use a spool gun and you'll be happier.

If you want to stick with Lincoln Electric then the Weld pack 140.

is certainly capable of  using a spool gun and doing light occasional Aluminum welding.

Or check out the Lotos MIG 140 or the Hobart Handler MIG 140.​

Lincoln Handy MIG Hose Connnection

Lincoln Handy MIG Hose Connnection

Who Makes The Lincoln Handy MIG Welders?

Founded in 1895 Lincoln Electric based in Cleveland Ohio has not only been around a long time it has a long and well regarded reputation. The company has 63 manufacturing locations and operates in 23 countries.

This particular MIG is designed by Lincoln Electric a US company and is manufactured in Poland.

So what you have here is a US company who has been in the MIG market for a long time designing and overseeing the product quality of a MIG manufactured abroad.  It's a sign of the times that many MIG's are manufactured outside of the US.

The Lincoln Electric Handy MIG K2185-1 has been around quite a while and was originally let loose onto the market in 2004.

If you'd like to find out more about the Lincoln Electric Company you can take a look at their Wikipedia Company page.

The Lincoln Handy MIG Manual

The Lincoln Handy MIG Manual seems pretty good and will tell you how to set up and run this welder.  Though for the right settings for the job you want to do, I would say as with many welders be prepared to experiment a bit.

I've provided a link to the Lincoln Electric K2185-1 Handy MIG Welder welding Manual so you can take a look at it.

PDF ​Credit: Lincoln Electric site:

What do Users of the Lincoln Handy MIG think?

I've provided a link here to the Amazon sales page for the Lincoln Electric Handy MIG so that you can see the Reviews on Amazon of the Lincoln Electric Handy MIG. The majority appear delighted with this Lincoln welder

whether bought for themselves or a gift for a loved one.

Scroll down the bottom of the sales page to view the latest reviews.

​What do you get in the Box When you Buy?

Essentially a starter package.

  • The Lincoln Electric Handy MIG welder
  • A welding face mask that is hand held,
  • 1 lb. spool of 0.035 inch Inner Shield Flux Core Wire
  • 2 lbs. spool of 0.025 inch Super Arc L-56 solid MIG Wire
  • 8 foot cord to the welding gun
  • A Gas-Less Nozzle for Flux Core Welding
  • 3 of 0.025 inch contact tips
  • 3 of 0.035 inch contact tips
  • 8 foot length ground clamp cable
  • Gas regulator for Argon/Carbon Dioxide gas
  • A hose for the shielding gas
  • Chipping Hammer and Brush

As you can see you get a lot in the package.  Lots of extras, contact tips and sample wire from the Lincoln Electric brand not the cheap wire seen in some MIG welder packages.

Things to stop and note;

The face mask is basic and really only for the occasional weld.

You will definitely want to invest in a welding helmet as you will want your hands free and available for use when you are welding.

Is the Lincoln Electric Handy MIG Portable?

Sure, it is classed as a Lincoln portable welder. Weighing 46 pounds and with dimensions of 12.8 inches height, 8.8 inches width and 18 inches depth. For sure this Lincoln is a portable welder.

The Lincoln Electric Provided Warranty

You get a reasonable warranty deal with this Handy MIG. There is a 1 Year Limited Warranty, parts and labor. There is a 90 day warranty on the gun and cable.

Lincoln Handy MIG Projects

Lincoln Handy MIG Projects

What Kind of projects Do you Want to Do?

And is this particular Lincoln Handy MIG up to it?

Body panels on your car - best done with solid wire and shielding gas for a fine looking weld.

Build or Repair a car trailer - cars are heavy and the reason I state the obvious is that a car trailer uses heavy thicker metal to support a car.  This welder is low powered and able to weld a maximum 1/8th.  Too low in voltage to weld something like that.  Save your pennies and get a higher voltage, heavier duty welder.

Roll cages - another structural type of weld. This welder's sweet spot is for thinner metals.  Again - get yourself a stronger welder.

Household projects - yes, absolutely up to 1/8th inch thick steel

Can I learn on it as my first time welder - yes definitely, easy to use and set up. Go ahead.

Last Words On the Lincoln Electric Handy MIG

And now you are at the end of my Lincoln Handy MIG review.

There you have it, the super useful facts. A fine brand and a solid welder. Expect to have this little red welder around a long time. The Lincoln Electric Handy MIG has proven to be durable and popular in the market.  It may be a little underpowered compared to its newer competition though if you bought this welder I would expect the Handy MIG to do an excellent job for you.