Becoming a proficient welder can really broaden your DIY skill set and open up more opportunities down the road. While welding can be intimidating at first, there are certain tools that every welder should have on hand that will make things easier. From clamps to metal files, here is everything you need for a well-stocked welding toolbox.
Wire-feed welders are heavy and can reach weights of 75 pounds. Investing or building your own welding cart will help your mobility and save your back in the long run.
A good weld is all about preparing the metal surface. For rougher materials, a right-angle grinder can help smooth, flatten, and bevel welds. Just remember to purchase an angle grinder that has enough power to clean the materials you are working.
You will always need to properly measure and cut metal workpieces before welding. A quality tape measure is great for this purpose, though you should consider adding a steel rule and straight edge for maximum accuracy.
Clamps and Squares
When welding two pieces of metal together, a set of quality miter clamps will help keep everything secure. If the piece shifts during the weld you will lose a lot of time realigning and grinding down the metal for a new weld. Further, use a magnet square to ensure the angles are straight.
Grounding clamps will help protect you from unwanted electric shocks. These types of clamps will also protect your welder from electric surges and make arc welding easier to start up. The highest quality clamps are copper and should be kept in contact with the work piece at all times.
A wire brush is great for cleaning up spatter and slag when your weld is finished. You can also use a chipping hammer for bigger cleanup jobs.
Welding pliers are used to trim wire from the gun. You can also use them to remove spatter accumulation from the nozzle of the welding gun.
Shielding your eyes is important when arc-welding as the light can burn your eyes and do some permanent damage. In the past, welders relied on permanently darkened helmets. The only problem with the old setup is that you couldn’t see anything with the visor down. Auto-darkening helmets fix this issue by darkening only when harmful light is detected.
Welding produces a lot of heat that will burn your hands without proper safety equipment. You should also consider adding an old long sleeve shirt to help protect your arms from spatter. Pick out a shirt you don’t wear anymore as it will get damaged when welding.
You never know when an emergency will strike and it’s always better to be prepared for the worst. Include a small fire extinguisher in your welding toolbox just in case a spark ignites a problem. Not only will this help protect your home from fire damage, but it could also save your life.
Carbide Scribe or Awl
Making cut lines is an important part of the welding process. Depending on the material you are welding, this can be done with an awl or carbide scribe. A good cut line will help you weld straighter and cleaner lines.
You will need to use different electrodes depending on the material being welded. If you are MIG welding, then you should have a range of wire thickness on hand for different jobs. Thicker wire is used for heavier materials.
Protecting exposed skin is a critical safety measure in welding. It’s never fun having to deal with stray sparks and spatter, and certain types of clothing is more susceptible to catching fire. To avoid fire issues, leather clothing is the best option. This includes leather aprons, sleeves, bibs, and gloves.
A good torpedo level or standard level will help make sure the workpiece is plumb and level. Small levels are great for most situations, though you will get more accuracy from a larger level.
A set of metal files are handy for places that your angle grinder can't reach. These files can deburr surfaces and flatten sharp metal metals.