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.
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 are 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 of 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. C 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.
They can apply pressure from above and below at the same time and are very common for a wide variety of hardware projects, not just welding.
C clamps also allow for a greater amount of pressure than pinch clamps or even some welding clamps, allowing for a much more solid hold on whatever you need to clamp.
5. Handheld Grinders
If you welding regularly, then an angle grinder can be a very useful tool to have in your toolbox.
Firstly, it can cut metal. You will always find yourself needs to cut down some metal stock. With a cut wheel, you can easily cut anything from sheet metal to bar stock with surprising ease.
Angle grinders are also useful for preparing metal before you weld. To avoid defects like porosity and cracking, you will want to clean the base metal. While this can be done with a wire brush, an angle grinder can save you a lot of time.
Lastly, a welding angle grinder is a great tool for cleaning up and finishing welds. When there is a lot of slags left over, using an angle grinder is one effective way of cleaning it up. Also, if you need to polish up the metal you are working with, an angle grinder can do that too!
6. Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet
The most basic and most recognizable piece of welding equipment you can get, the welding helmet is a staple of the craft and a safety necessity.
The primary purpose of any type of welding helmet is to prevent sparks and flames from scarring your face while you work and prevent damage to the skin and eyes from the heat.
Auto-darkening helmets have the added feature of protecting your eyes from the harsh lights emitted from other welding tools and from the heated metal itself.
The glass covering the eyes is shaded to only allow a certain amount of light through at a time, allowing you to see without damaging your eyes.
7. Welding Gloves
Gloves are pretty self-explanatory. Welding gloves consist of layers of robust fabrics and insulation, preventing injuries from heat and stray sparks. Welding gloves are easy to find anywhere you buy gloves, but they are essential to any form of welding you might do.
There are usually 2 types you need to be aware of:
- MIG Welding Gloves: Are generally thicker and have padding on the back of the hand to protect your resting hand while bracing the dominant hand during a weld. If the glove becomes too hot, the looser fitting design allows you to throw them off easily.
- TIG Welding Gloves: These are thinner and softer gloves where precision is vital. Dexterity is key when TIG welding and the gloves will have a tighter fit to allow precise movement while holding the rod and torch. Make sure you have the right gloves for the job.
8. Welding Magnets
Welding magnets are one of the most versatile tools you will have in your kit. That is what makes them so useful while welding.
With a welding magnet, you can hold pieces of metal in place without the use of clamps and manipulate them easily.
They also allow you to mount pieces of metal and weld them at an angle to one another.
In short, they allow for pieces of sheet metal to be welded in ways that clamps would not allow. The longer you use these, the more uses you will find for them.
9. Welding Framing Jig
A welding framing jig is not on the same level of necessity as many of the other items on this list, but it is still a nice piece of equipment to have.
What a welding framing jig does is provide an apparatus for welding at 90-degree angles. While you could use a welding magnet for this, a framing jig allows for a much greater degree of support while welding and allows for heavier metal pieces to be used.
Unlike magnets, it also allows for multiple layers or multiple components to be tack welded together at the same time, all at a perfect 90-degree angle.
10. Speed Square
A speed square may be the tool you use the most out of any of the things listed here. You can measure any piece either perpendicular to another for a 90-degree cut or at any other angle with your speed square.
A speed square is an angular measuring device shaped like a right triangle, allowing for multiple forms of measuring at different angles. Of all the welding tools at your disposal, this is the one you will find yourself reaching for the most. You can’t do much if you can’t measure.
11. Metal Brush
Like a chipping hammer, a metal brush is something that you don’t think about often but constantly use while welding.
A metal brush removes slag and charring from the top of cooled welds and leaves the whole thing looking nice and clean.
Not every welding process creates slag, but the ones that do require both chipping hammers and metal brushes to do the work properly.
12. Sheet Metal Gauge
To weld effectively, you will need to know how thick the metal you are working with is.
A steel metal gauge is a wheel with teeth spaced different widths apart corresponding to sheet metal’s various standard widths. As a tool, the sheet metal gauge is indispensable for welders of any skill level.
Knowing how thick the sheet metal you will be working with can determine a lot of other things about your project in general.
Most professional welders have a chart that says what settings they should use for what thickness of sheet metal.
It can also be hard to distinguish one piece of sheet metal from another just by looking at it, meaning the gauge will come in handy constantly.
The soapstone is not made of soap, but its marking implement is a similar consistency.
You use soapstone as a marking implement that is easily removed after you are done. Think of it as a piece of chalk made specifically for writing on metal.
Soapstone is superior to something like graphite because it can withstand the high heat and assault of flames from torches and other welding tools.
It allows you to draw complex shapes, curved lines, and other designs in addition to writing things directly on the metal.
14. Metal File
Similar to the angular grinder, the metal file’s primary use is to remove rough edges and burrs from the metal that you cut.
Metal files are also commonly used for all kinds of other metalworking projects; you have probably used them before at some point.
While angular grinders are good at the rougher removal process, files are for finishing and making a project look nice.
15. Welding Boots
Foot injuries are one of the most common and least discussed work-related accidents. An estimated 25 percent of all disability applications are the result of foot injuries on the job.
Knowing all of this, you should protect your feet from the hot metal and heavy equipment you will be working with while welding.
Any pair of welding boots need to be as robust as possible. Stout leather and steel-reinforced toes are a must. The intent is to protect your feet from molten metal falling on them.
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 and 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. Welding Sleeves
Welding sleeves are in the same category as welding boots in that they are vital to your safety while welding but are not commonly discussed.
Welding sleeves are detachable sleeves, usually made from leather or other non-flammable and robust fabric, that protect your clothes and skin from damage.
Most welding sleeves attach to an apron or have suspenders to hold them in place while welding. Others are something closer to a woman’s crop top, with a partial chest and collar attached to the sleeves both for comfort and added protection.
When sparks of burning metal are flying around, the last thing you want is for your shirt to catch on fire because of it, so more coverage is always better.
18. Safety Glasses
You can’t always have your welding helmet on, and sometimes it is a bit overkill.
For times like these, a reliable pair of safety glasses are perfect.
Safety glasses are made from durable plastic and stop sparks off of something like an angle grinder from flying into your eyes.
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.