Welding is a useful skill for working in fabrication shops or on small DIY projects. Beginning welders need a lot of equipment to do the job properly. The welder is just the start, but safety gear, supplies, and additional tools are all important for quality welding jobs.
The primary piece of welding equipment is the welder. There are three different types of welders: the MIG welder, TIG welder, and stick welder. A stick welder is the most common for DIYers. It uses an electrical current to melt the metal. However, MIG welders are actually easier to learn to use compared to both the stick and the TIG welder. MIG welders use an inert gas to shield the arc, and create a very attractive weld, even for beginners. TIG welders use Tungsten Inert gas and do not melt the current wire during the welding process.
Both the MIG and TIG welders use an inert gas to help shield the arc and welding area from naturally occurring gases in the atmosphere, such as oxygen and water vapour. This added protection creates a smoother, stronger weld. TIG welding uses exclusively Tungston Inert gas due to the Tungston electrode. However, MIG welders can use a mix of Argon, CO2, or both gases for the shield. Mixes containing a high Argon content tend to produce smoother, more consistent welds, but may be more expensive. Pure Argon is intended for aluminium welding only.
Extremely high temperatures involved in welding mean that safety gear is a must. A sturdy welding mask protects the face from sparks, but also includes UV protection for the eyes. A pyrovatex FR, Kevlar, and leather welding jacket and trousers are fire and heat resistant. Welding gloves cover not only the hands, but also extend up the forearm and are usually made of leather. Properly fitted gloves make it easier to control the welder to reduce potential mistakes. Sturdy boots, knee pads, and a welding respirator are recommended for further protection.
Additional Welding Tools
Welders require a number of additional tools for different projects. Clamps, vises, magnets, and welder's tongs hold hot metal in place during work. A hammer and wire brush are used for cleaning off equipment and brushing welds clean. Angle grinders cut through metal for welding projects. A set of welding curtains and a frame are useful for protecting others in a busy workplace when working. Do not forget the flux cored wire, or the anti-spatter gel for the welder tips.