Joining two metal pieces together is best done by welding. Welding is a process that takes advantage of gasses and electricity, and is capable of joining together not only metal, but thermoplastics and wood as well. This simple, yet effective process comes in different forms which make it suitable across a wide range of applications in the automotive, aerospace, energy and construction industry. Heat, pressure, or sometimes both are used to fuse together parts in the shipbuilding industry, as well as for sheet metal welding, pressure vessels and in the home improvement industry. Welding requires you to have a constant focus on the pieces you’re welding together and the tip of the arc in order to make for a seamless merge. There are different welding processes suitable for different applications, but no matter which one you end up using you’ll almost always need the same welding tools and equipment, most of which is PPE (personal protective equipment).
What Equipment Is Used in Welding?
Welding helmets are the most popular piece of welding equipment outside the actual welding torch. The majority of welding helmets today are auto-darkening. These allow you to work seamlessly without having to pull down or push up a visor every time you need to use the welding machine. No welder can go without a helmet as this is a piece of essential welding equipment that keeps both your eyesight and face safe from sparks and the blinding light of the arc.
Welding jackets are another form of protection, whose purpose is to protect your upper body. You can’t get any type of jacket and expect it to provide sufficient protection. Welding jackets are made of fire retardant materials, and while they might feel a bit heavier than a typical jacket they protect your body from all the hazards that come with welding.
Your hands are the most exposed body part when welding, so wearing gloves should be a no-brainer. Like welding jackets, welding gloves are also thick and heavy, as you need proper insulation from the heat and flying sparks. Welding gloves are so thick you can pick up hot metal pieces without getting even a slight burn. If you’re a TIG welder, however, you might need thinner leather gloves as you need to be precise when holding the torch.
Welding clamps are used to securely hold the two workpieces you’re welding. You can get a couple of c-clamps, as they come in various shapes and sizes making for a more versatile solution. Welding clamps are mainly used to keep two pieces together and secure them onto the workbench.
Without an angle grinder, you probably won’t be able to finish a welding project. Why? Because when you weld two pieces together the weld itself is not smooth and sometimes you might need to cut a piece of it sticking out. Finessing a weld is best done with an angle grinder but there is another tool for this job too – a metal file.
A metal file might seem like you’re going to be wasting time smoothening out a weld but this hand tool can be useful when working on small pieces. Sometimes your angle grinder won’t be able to smoothen a small weld due to the size of its pad, so you have to use something smaller. A file is great for this not only because it’s smaller, but also because it gives you more control over the finer details, and they’re also quite affordable too. They might not be as convenient but they don’t require a power source.
A solid surface where you can do all your welds means a safe working space. Welding pieces on the ground put your safety at risk and it can get real uncomfortable real quick. No matter whether a table or a welding workbench, it is always better to weld standing rather than sitting or kneeling. Even if you change locations you can bring a workbench with you as there are portable versions of this type of welding equipment.
If you are using a MIG welder with a flux core wire, or do stick welding, you’ll often need to chip away stuff. This is usually the slag coating that needs to be removed to uncover the weld under it. To accomplish this, you’ll need a chipping hammer which is specifically made for this task.
Soapstone is one of those unique welding supplies that doesn’t look like it belongs in a welder’s toolbox but they do. When you want to put some markings on a piece of metal, a pencil or a marker won’t cut it. This is where you’ll need welding supplies such as soapstone. Soapstone is able to withstand high heat so the markings stay visible no matter what.
If your welding process of choice creates a lot of slag, you’ll need something to remove it. A chipping hammer is great for this but you won’t always use it. Slag that acts as a shielding agent needs to be removed using a metal brush in order to reveal the weld underneath.