Without the right instruments, you will have an impossible task clamping workpieces down, making accurate measurements, and making precision cuts in hardy materials. One of your first challenges as a metal enthusiast is to find high-quality products that get the job done and suit your budget.
What are Welding Tools?
When you carry out welding projects, your objective is to fuse metals in a particular manner, to form one solid object. As a beginner welder, you will need a basic set of tools to weld metals quickly, neatly, and safely.
Standard supplies consist of a welding machine, safety equipment such as a welding helmet, mask, gloves, and other accessories like clamps, hammers, adjustable wrenches, and MIG pliers. Additional gear includes cutting equipment such as handheld grinders, chop saws, and cutting torches.
As a beginner welder, you also need measuring equipment. The most common measuring devices include a tape measure and a metal scribe, gauge, and file. Most welders also have speed squares for measuring necessary angles. For more tips read the welding beginners guide article.
You also need equipment to maintain, clean, and store your gear. In this guide, we will provide you with a detailed discussion of all the essential tools you need to get started with your projects.
Why Welding Accessories are Necessary
Without tools, joining metal seamlessly is not possible. To ensure a clean and robust weld, you have to prepare the metal properly. Metal preparation involves, among other things, measuring, cutting, and cleaning. Before you start welding, you also need to ensure metals are firmly in place to prevent shifting.
Mill scale, inaccurate cutting lines, and shifting metal pieces can result in a welding process that yields undesirable results or that is lacking in terms of appearance and strength.
In addition to achieving the best possible results, welding instruments are also necessary for optimal convenience and efficient use of time. If you cut a thick piece of metal, for example, a chop saw can eliminate a lot of frustration.
Some welders also require tools like consumable electrodes and ground clamps to work. If you don’t have these accessories, you will not be able to carry out basic procedures.
Top 20 Essential Welding Tools And Equipment For Beginners
1. Welding Hammers
Welding hammers are essential accessories for chipping away slab-coating to reveal the weld. The chipping hammer has a spring handle to absorb shocks. It features a 1 and 1/16-inch tempered chisel and a point for cleaning slag and debris from any surface.
The chipping hammer is used for the removal of slag after arc welding. The hammer is of robust construction and well balanced. When working on stainless steel, a chipping hammer made of stainless steel must always be used.
2. MIG Pliers
Specially designed nose for efficient removal of welding spatter. Induction-hardened cutting edge stays sharp longer. Multiple jaws for drawing out wire and removing or installing tips and nozzles. Hammer designed for light welding gun maintenance.
Every MIG welder needs a good set of MIG pliers in the toolbox. Reliable MIG welding pliers will allow you to remove the nozzle, loosen the contact tip, remove weld spatter and cut wire with ease. Bad quality pliers will lease you frustrated having to replace them each time.
A single tool designed for six functions which include nozzle and tip installation, wire cutting, nozzle cleaning, slag hammer and spatter removal. The welding pliers are drop forged steel constructed and come with a form-fitting handle.
3. Adjustable Wrenches
The adjustable wrench is the perfect tool for tightening the regulator of a gas welder and prying metal apart. This wrench can open to 1.5 inches, and the jaws are thin for access to small openings.
People who bought this wrench were pleased with its wide opening adjustment and non-slip feel. On the downside, it was a bit heavy, but because of its weight, you don’t need to exert a lot of force to turn a bolt.
4. Welding Clamp
C clamps are clamps that look like the letter C. A C-clamp or G-clamp or G-cramp is a type of clamp device typically used to hold a wood or metal workpiece, and often used in, but are not limited to, carpentry and welding.
The C-clamp is used by turning the screw through the bottom of the clamp’s frame until the amount of pressure needed to hold the workpiece has been reached. If the clamp is being tightened, then the workpiece being secured is fixed between the flat end of the screw and the flat end of the frame.
This next basic welding tool is an absolute must-have. In fact, you need to get at least 10 welding clamps. You will need them. Imagine that you start a welding project, and you have to fit up the pieces tightly before tack welding them in place.
Without these clamps holding your workpieces tightly together, the metal warpage from welding will throw your project out of the square.
I’ve used as many as 10 clamps at one time on a single project. Here’s the order you want to follow.
- Cut your pieces to length
- Fit your pieces tightly together
- Clamp them in place
- Tack weld
- Remove clamps
- Lay final welds
5. Angle Grinder
Angle grinders are a necessity. Period.
I don’t think you can get by without having one. You can put a grinding disk on to smooth out your projects, put a cut-off wheel on to cut metal, put a wire brush on to remove paint or put a flap disk on for precise grinding.
I recommend always having at least 2 angle grinders. One for grinding and one for cutting.
6. Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet
This first basic welding tool is a must-have for anyone welding. It’s a welding helmet.
Not all welding helmets are created equal, but you don’t have to spend $350 to get a good one. The first piece of advice I would give you here is to choose an auto-darkening welding helmet. A welding helmet is the most important welding workshop tool you have, so you want something that’s user-friendly.
Your other option is to buy a welding helmet that has a solid shade, but here’s the problem with that. You can’t see your workpiece through the lens, and it could cause your welds to be placed improperly.
Auto-darkening welding helmets are great welding tools for beginners because they allow you to easily see the workpiece before starting your welds, which means more accuracy and less frustration.
7. Welding Gloves
Obviously, you have to have welding gloves, unless of course you already have nerve damage on your fingers. In that case, you won’t need them.
There are really thick welding gloves (which I recommend for beginners) that you can pick up hot pieces of metal with for a few seconds without getting burned.
Then there are the thin leather gloves. These are great for TIG welding where you need a more precise hold on the torch. I would recommend that you start with a thick pair like in the picture.
They will last you for a long time unless you pick up lots of hot metal with them. It’s important to note that the temperature at the arc is around 10,000 degrees, so you will definitely feel some heat coming off your welds.
8. Welding Magnets
Welding magnets are an essential welding fabrication tool because they are so versatile.
You can easily hold pieces in place, and create 90-degree angles with any of your projects. I love to use them when I’m building welding frames for tables, fire pit grates, and more. They come in several different sizes for small welding projects all the way up to large projects. But make sure you buy multiple magnets.
If you’re making a square frame, you’ll want to have 1 magnet on each corner of the workpiece holding it in place. Harbor Freight Tools is a great place to get welding magnets or any kind of welding tools for cheap.
9. Welding Framing Jig
A welding framing jig is NOT a required welding tool for beginners, but I put it in here because it’s so effective at helping you create frames that are square.
Basically, you just put the 2 end pieces of your workpiece into the framing jig, tighten it down, and make your tack welds. Now you have a perfect 90-degree angle. Pretty simple, right?
However, if you get creative with some C clamps you can make one of these and save yourself some money. Just like any welding fabrication tool, the welding framing jig will save you lots of time and frustration, especially when you consider that steel tends to warp when welded.
10. Speed Square
A speed square is a necessary tool, and here’s why… Let’s say you’re working with a long piece of square tubing, and you just want to cut off about 12 inches of it.
You set your speed square on the workpiece, make your mark across the tubing, and now you have a 90-degree cut ready to go. Plus, if you want to make that cut at a 45-degree angle across the steel tubing, you just slide your speed square across until it hits the 45 mark. It’s super easy to use, and a welding tool you can’t do without.
I’ve used mine on numerous welding projects.
11. Metal Brush
A metal brush is something you’ll need if you’re using a welding process that creates slag. For example, if you’re welding with a stick welder or flux core arc welder, you’ll have to scrape off the slag coating to reveal the final weld.
Chipping hammers and metal brushes are great for this. This slag coating is created during the welding process because it acts as a shielding agent. The weld puddle has to be protected from atmospheric contamination.
When using shielding gas, your welds will remain clean.
12. Sheet Metal Gauge
A sheet metal gauge (sometimes spelled “gage”) indicates the standard thickness of sheet metal for a specific material. As the gauge number increases, the material thickness decreases. Sheet metal thickness gauges for steel are based on a weight of 41.82 pounds per square foot per inch of thickness.
Soapstone is used as a marking tool when working with metal. It’s great because it withstands the high heat of welding and cutting torches.
There are also markers available that will do the same thing. It’s basically like chalk that you write on the metal with. If you have shapes you’d like to cut out with a torch, you would just draw your shape on the metal, and then cut away.
14. Metal File
You’ve probably used metal files before, if not on a welding project, then on your fingernails. They’re great to use when finishing a project. When you start cutting your projects (I’ll get to that in a second) you’ll have lots of metal burrs that you want to get rid of.
You could do this metal cleaning with your grinder for bigger stuff, but the files obviously work great on the fine detail stuff. A great investment and they’re cheap.
15. Welding Boots
Welding has fire sparks that fall in a range of areas. Your feet are the nearer thing that can get damaged by fire, and you may instantly get burn marks. Safety footwear can withstand fire sparks or molten metal splashes. So it helps to protect your skin from burning.
Welding includes transferring heavy metals from one place to another. So the falling object is a common hazard in this very dynamic workplace. Safety footwear like steel toe boots protects your feet from common injuries when a heavy piece of metal falls on your foot. This can be very painful and dangerous.
Electrical hazards are the most common in the welding workplace. Workers face electrical shocks like electrical sparks when they are welding metals or steel. So normal footwear like leather or rubber shoes can get warm and increase the chances of other risk factors.
Wear nonconductive footwear or anti-static boots that are best for working in such places. Safety footwears help to reduce the risk factors and save your feet from electric sparks.
16. Welding Cart
The welding cart is less of a tool and more a means of moving other tools around. Air tanks are heavy. Fans are heavy. Gas tanks are heavy.
A welding cart allows you to move all of these things more easily and efficiently. Some welding carts also have toolboxes attached to them, giving you a nice spot for everything else on this list.
17. Chipping Hammer
I mentioned earlier that if you’re MIG welding with flux core wire, or stick welding, you’ll have to chip away at the slag coating to reveal the weld underneath.
That’s what a chipping hammer is used for. To chip away the slag.
18. Safety Glasses
Safety glasses can be worn to protect the welder’s eyes from heat and optical radiation that is generated when welding. They may be used instead of a helmet for certain types of welding and/or cutting that doesn’t have severe sparking.
19. MIG Welding Nozzle Gel
Nozzle gel is another one of those things that are vitally important for welding but often overlooked. Nozzle gel prevents the metal nozzle of your torch from adhering to the metal you are welding.
As easy as it may seem to not let this situation occur, it is still always better to be safe than sorry. The proximity of a finer-tipped welding gun to the metal it is welding may also show how necessary something like this is.
Nozzle gel is easily applied as a sort of wax to the nozzle of your torch or welding gun. It will heat up and dissolve into more of a liquid coating as you work, maintaining a barrier between the two metal surfaces and preventing adhesion.
20. Cutting Torches
Gas cutting and welding torches, also known as oxy-fuel torches or oxy-acetylene torches, use fuel gas and oxygen to heat and cut through metal workpieces. Cutting torches efficiently cut through thick steel and stainless steel and are well suited for demolition tasks.
Welding torches heat the workpiece to fuse two adjacent surfaces and create a strong joint. Torch tips and nozzles direct the flow of gas from the torch for precise results and can be changed to adapt the torch for different workpieces.
Flameless flint lighters produce a spark for igniting gas torches. Flashback arrestors prevent safety hazards by stopping the flame from traveling from the torch tip back into the gas line. Fittings and couplings connect the gas and oxygen lines to the torch. Torch kits and torch outfits contain an assortment of parts that are used together for gas torch welding or cutting tasks.
Welding Gear Care
To ensure the gear has the longest possible life expectancy, you must take proper care when storing it. If your equipment is exposed to moisture or heat, it can result in corrosion. You also don’t want a heavyweight object lying on top of things like hoses or rods.
Unplug all your connections during storage, especially if you have a machine connected to AC or DC. To eliminate the risk of leaks, check the valves in your tanks to make sure they are switched off and fully closed.
Tools like gauges, files, pliers, cutting torches, and tape measures should be locked inside a toolbox to prevent theft and the accumulation of dust. Store your rods in an upright position in a waterproof container and keep the different rod types separate (so you don’t accidentally use the wrong process).
In storage, hoses should be loosely coiled and free of knots and kinks to prevent damage.
The best way to prolong the life expectancy and functionality of your equipment is to establish a routine maintenance schedule. Maintenance involves weekly, monthly, and yearly servicing that includes cleaning, the application of grease, and the replacement of tips and nozzles.
Clean your tools weekly with compressed air, especially if you also do woodworking in your shop. If you live in a humid climate, inspect all pliers, cutters, and other devices once a month for corrosion. If you notice traces of rust, apply a primer containing phosphoric acid that reacts with the rust to form iron sulfate, which is dark blue and resistant to the development of iron oxide.
The best way to maintain your gear is by using it in accordance with its specifications. Stick to the recommended processes, consumables, and projects. Also, store your accessories correctly to prevent damage.