What You Need to Weld at Home: A Checklist
Whether you are looking to fabricate a simple set of stairs or restore an old vehicle, you can get started on home welding with the best machine, the right products, and a complete understanding of how to weld safely.
As you do your research, you will discover some items on a typical welding tools list that might not be worth considering, while others are essential welding tools. Here is the straight scoop compiled from experts in the field of welding. So, give this basic welding tools list serious consideration as you set up to start welding at home.
Choose your welder
Assuming that your garage or home shop can handle the electrical current a welder requires, you are ready to choose a machine. Many home welders pick a MIG welder because it's a more straightforward process to learn and offers a versatile and precise weld. The welder is your most significant expense, so choose wisely.
You don't need to go overboard on the price to get excellent quality, but a cheaply-made welder will only lead to frustration and a longer learning curve. Wire-feed welders use ordinary household current and a small motor-driven spool of welding wire. The wire is fed to a trigger-activated welding gun. When the operator touches the wire to the metal, an arc melts the wire and some of the metal.
PrimeWeld's MIG140 140-Amp MIG Welder (above) meets all the criteria for do-it-yourself home users or seasoned professionals, providing industrial quality at an affordable price.
Stock up on welding wire
You'll have two options for filler wire in the MIG process: flux-cored wires and solid wires. Flux-cored wires don't require shielding gas since they use the flux to create a protective barrier around the weld as it cools. Using this type of wire avoids the cost of shielding gas and storing it in a home shop. However, keep in mind that the flux creates slag, which is a glass-like byproduct of molten material that must be chipped away, so the weld may not be as clean as it would with shielding gas.
The owner's manual for the welding machine will tell you what diameter your wire should be, so buy plenty of this relatively inexpensive product to have on hand.
Invest in an auto-darkening helmet
Any arc-welding process generates exceptionally bright light, which will burn your eyes unless you protect them. In the past, welding helmets had a permanently darkened viewing shade requiring the operator to flip the mask up whenever they stopped welding.
Today, auto-darkening helmets automatically darken their clear lens to a preselected shade in milliseconds with the help of LCD technology in the glass. These helmets have controls for the operator to personalize the settings.
An auto-darkening helmet on the job—Photo Credit: EHS Today
A right-angle grinder is indispensable
When you are joining two metal pieces, you'll need to grind a 45-degree bevel on the edges that you will be welding. Also known as chamfering, creating the bevel will be quick and easy with a right-angle grinder. The grinder is one of the most versatile tools you will own. In addition to chamfering, you can flatten welds and use it to prepare surfaces for welding. And, with the right type of disc, you can even cut material to length.
Adding a chamfer with a right-angle grinder—Photo Credit: Compact Equipment
Buy or build a welding cart
Wire-feed welders are light-weight and portable, but you should have a welding cart to enhance portability. Carts are sometimes included with the welder, but, in most cases, you will need to make one or purchase it separately. Building a cart could be your first project as a home welder, and it will come in handy for both storing your machine and taking it (and any accessories) where they are needed.
DIY Welding Cart—Photo Credit: CromWeld.com
Clamps to secure joints
Work clamps keep the materials in place, ensuring the weld is straight and neat. Have a variety of clamps on hand. Every welder has come to a stage in a project where they cannot proceed without additional clamps. Clamps are relatively inexpensive items, but they can play a significant role in completing a weld.
Don't forget your hand tools
Here are a few hand tools that will help make your welding project go more smoothly:
- Carbide scriber to make your layout lines
- Chipping hammer for cleaning up slag and spatter
- Wire brush to remove oils and dirt before welding
- Welding pliers to trim welding wire and remove spatter from the welding-gun nozzle
Safety-first during home welding
No welding tools list would be complete without including personal protective equipment (PPE). People who weld at home are often lax about safety. They put themselves in unnecessary danger by not wearing the right PPE. Welding produces sparks and spatter while emitting rays that can cause injury to unprotected skin and eyes.
Since short sleeves, open collars, and shorts, can leave you exposed and vulnerable to burns, flame-resistant clothing covering your skin is a must. High-top leather boots (with steel-tipped toes if you're working with heavy metal parts) are your best option. Welding gloves protect your hands from burns and cuts, while safety glasses keep small particles from your eyes if you grind without a helmet.
Use this basic welding tools list to get started welding at home. You can add to it as you gain experience and begin to tackle more complicated projects. Take a look at PrimeWeld's welding accessories, along with our lineup of welding equipment, to help you become a well-equipped welder.