A Beginner's Guide to At-Home Welding

If you're reading this article, it probably means one of two things, or perhaps even both: you're hoping to establish the foundation for a lucrative career, or you want to acquire the skills you need to do DIY projects or home repairs.

Whatever your reasons for pursuing the art of welding, this article provides welding tips for beginners, straight from the experts at PrimeWeld.

Well, there is some good news for those just starting. Over the years, welding has evolved to the point that practically anyone can learn the basics. And, for those starting from scratch, you can get set up for about $500 and be working on some smaller projects in a relatively short time.

Just keep in mind that you will need to be patient and put in the time it takes to gain more knowledge and hone your skills before you undertake those complicated jobs that might require a higher level of structural integrity. You won't develop the skills to lay down a professional-looking welding bead overnight.

If you're serious about learning to weld at home and are ready to get started, here are some welding tips for beginners:

Decide Which Type of Welding You Prefer

Welding for beginners starts with choosing the right welding method for your goals. While there are various welding methods from which to choose, the most common type of welding is electric arc welding. This discipline typically involves a welding wire or electrode that partially melts the metals that are to be fused. As the metals cool, the two items will be joined.

Although stick welding, which requires an electrode, is an option, MIG welding is an excellent choice to get into welding for beginners since wire-feed welding tends to be easier to learn. It's a matter of pulling the welding gun's trigger, which allows the wire to feed out continuously. The continuous wire feed keeps you from having to stop working to discard and replace a used-up electrode.

Other welding disciplines exist—TIG welding, for instance--but they will require more extensive training than MIG. So, choose the welding method that will get you up and running quickly, and you'll be ready to purchase a welder.

Choose A Welding Machine

Part of the welding basics for beginners includes  purchasing items to get started, the most expensive of which is going to be the welder itself. You don't have to overspend to get a quality welder but stay away from those cheap models (some are under $100) that will make it much harder to learn new skills.

The PrimeWeld MIG140 is perfect for beginners

The PrimeWeld MIG160 is perfect for beginners.

One professional-grade welder that is affordable and perfect for welding for beginners is the PrimeWeld MIG140. It's a 160-amp flux-core MIG welder that connects to your standard 110/120-volt wall socket. The welding package includes the torch, ground clamp cable, gas hose, argon regulator, welding mask, and wire.

If you are using a shielding gas (recommended for indoor MIG welding), you'll need to rent or purchase the gas. A welding tip for beginners is to use flux-cored wires to take the place of shielding gases and work better for outdoor welding.

An important consideration: One of the most significant advantages of buying your first welder through a professional welding dealer like PrimeWeld is that they can answer most of your questions and provide the basics for welding for beginners.. For example, you may not be clear on the difference between shielding gas and flux-core wire welding. You can contact any of the PrimeWeld pros, and they will set you on the right path.

After you have purchased the welder and have a good source of welding tips for beginners, you can look at the rest of the starter items:

Consider an Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet

PrimeWeld blog auto-darkening helmet

If you go online, you'll see some cheap flip-helmets that will protect your eyes and face during welding, but they probably won't give you the best protection. 

Remember that the light from arc-welding is very bright, and lengthy exposure to it can increase the risk of damage to your vision. And without enough darkening protection from your helmet, it's possible to burn your eyes.

If, for no other reason than those above, you need to consider an auto-darkening helmet that includes the newest technologies. While somewhat more expensive, these helmets can protect your eyes from these potentially harmful light emissions by darkening automatically to the proper protective shade within milliseconds.

LCD technology has been integrated into the viewing glass of these helmets, and the best of these will come with a feature that allows you to personalize your settings for the best possible protection.

Think of Welding Gloves as an Essential Item

PrimeWeld blog welding gloves

You might be tempted to wear a pair of standard leather work gloves when you start, but there are a few compelling reasons to buy specific welding gloves. 

  • Arc welding entails lots of heat, and the insulation in welding gloves allows you to tolerate that heat much longer
  • As opposed to regular work gloves, welding gloves usually extend past the hand toward the elbow. This feature will keep your gloves from acting as a funnel for spattering and sparks.
  • Welding gloves will be made from non-synthetic materials. Non-synthetics burn rather than melt, which is preferable to having your gloves melt into the skin on your hands!

As with helmets, the choices for welding gloves are plentiful. The gloves come in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors, leathers, and cuff lengths. Look for a glove with Kevlar stitching made with cowhide and a cotton liner. Unless you have exceptionally small or large hands, a sizeable fourteen-inch glove should do the trick.

Other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Safety is always foremost in any industrial setting, and welding at home is no exception. Before you start welding, be sure you have protected yourself against the three primary welding hazards: UV rays, hot sparks, and hot metal.

A quality welding helmet will protect your eyes and face from UV rays and hot sparks. And those 14″ welding gloves will save your hands and forearms from UV rays, hot sparks, and hot metal. Now, you need to protect your upper arms and chest.

The most practical items for your upper body will be a cotton t-shirt under a long-sleeved, flame-resistant welding shirt or jacket. The cotton undershirt helps to protect your upper chest from the UV rays and hot sparks, while the welding shirt will keep UV rays and hot sparks off your upper chest and lower neckline if you buy one with an extended collar.

Heavy denim jeans will protect you against those same hazards from the waist to the ankles. One word of caution: Don't have cuffs on your pants since they could catch some of those hot sparks!

Also, if you intend to work with heavy pieces of metal, you should wear steel-toed shoes or boots. A piece of steel falling on your toes from a welding table could have devastating results.

A Small Angle Grinder Will Come In Handy

PrimeWeld blog angle grinderYou'll need some medium to large metal files, along with a chipping hammer and a wire brush.

But sooner or later, you will want to buy a small, portable angle grinder as a part of your arsenal. Hand grinders are a must for preparing a surface, flattening a weld, or beveling an edge. Their versatility makes them a priority over a bench grinder.

Safety precautions: Buy a pair of high-quality safety glasses or a full-face shield for grinding, and be sure to use hearing protection since grinders can be quite noisy.

A few other items to consider include:

  • An assortment of clamps to secure your joints before welding
  • Welding pliers
  • Magnets
  • Extra wire spools in assorted sizes

You Should Be Ready to Weld!

Keep in mind that these are just your welding basics for beginners. There will be so much more to learn. You can make that happen by taking courses to refine your skills or watching the experts weld and give welding tips to beginners on various YouTube channels.

For now, you're off and running. Good luck and happy welding!

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