A basic guide to welding equipment
Whether you're a professional welder or a hobbyist whose creations occasionally require welding, investing in your own welding tools will save you money over the long run compared to the cost of renting them on an as-needed basis. If you get a lot of use out of common welding tools, it's worth buying at least the basics and supplementing your collection with rentals when necessary.
Basic Welding Tools
The essential metal fabrication and shaping tools you'll want to consider include:
- Torch kits. Standard torch kits typically include a regulator, a flame tip, at least one oxygen tank, at least one propane tank, safety goggles, brazing rods, sparks, strikers or flame starters and, of course, torches. Torches come in two main varieties: MIG welders and TIG welders. These respective torch types are used to make different types of welds; MIG welds are made with metal inert gas, and TIG welds use tungsten inert gas.
- Soldering irons and soldering guns. These items are an indispensible part of any welder's tool collection. Soldering irons are used to apply heat to the adjoining parts of two metal pieces which are going to be joined together. Soldering guns are favored when you need a higher welding temperature than a soldering iron is capable of producing.
- Plasma cutters. These specialized torches use inert gases to make clean cuts in metal. The gases are blown out of a nozzle at a controlled but high speed, which turns the gas to plasma. This plasma is hot enough to actually melt the metal it comes in contact with. Moving the metal through the cutter at steady rate ensures a clean cut is made before the metal actually melts.
A Note About Welding Safety
First, when welding, make sure to wear safety goggles, not safety glasses. Goggles completely surround your eyes, whereas the protection offered by glasses can be breached along the top, bottom and sides.
In addition, it is vital that you wear a welding mask as well. These masks have special ventilation capabilities that prevent you from inhaling the dangerous fumes and vapors that result from cutting and soldering metal. Even so, it is extremely important that you always work in a properly ventilated area.
Welding can be an enjoyable and rewarding pursuit, but it can also be hazardous. Always put safety first.