The Best Welding Tools When You’re Just Starting Out
When you first step into the world of welding, it’s important to begin with the right set of tools.
But how do you know where to start?
Whether you’re a hobbyist or starting your career as a welder, check out our list of must-have welding tools.
Welders are exposed to several dangers, some immediate and others long-term.
Taking the time to invest in the right safety equipment ahead of time will save your health later down the line.
Helmet: Don’t start welding without one.
During the welding process, UV lights are emitted from the electricity. Plus, the extreme light can cause severe damage to your eyes.
Then there are the sparks flying from the metal at intense heat, which can cause irreparable damage.
Plain and simple: You need to protect your face and head.
Most of your employers will require you to invest in an auto darkening helmet, which knows when you begin welding and adjusts the light accordingly. A computer inside the helmet protects your eyes during the welding process and adjusts back to normal when you’re done.
For full reviews on welding helmets, click here.
Gloves: Always protect your hands.
Without your hands, you can’t weld. So you need to protect them from hot metal, sharp edges, fire and more.
Make sure you find a pair that is thick enough for protection but keep in mind you still need to be able to feel the weld.
Looking for suggestions? Check out our reviews on welding gloves to find the pair that fits you best.
Boots: Watch your feet
You’re going to be on your feet, so make sure they’re covered and comfortable.
Boots for welding should come with a guard to prevent burns, and you may want to invest in a steel toe for added safety.
When you’re looking for welding boots, also make sure there’s a thick rubber sole for protection, but make sure it’s light enough that you’ll be able to walk comfortably in them all day.
For a full review of work boots for welders, click here.
Fire Extinguisher: Always be prepared.
You’re going to be working with flames and heated metal. You need to be ready in case an accident happens.
Make sure the fire extinguisher you choose isn’t too small and it’s capable of covering your work area.
It needs to be mounted where you can reach it easily — and make sure you know how to use it.
You should also invest in a first aid kit made for welders.
Welding Tools You Can’t Do Without
Welding involves more metal preparation than actual welding. You’ll need to cut material, bevel, miter and more — which means you’re going to need a lot of tools.
Here are your must-haves:
MIG pliers will be one of your go-to welding tools. They have several uses, including removing spatter, cleaning nozzles, clipping wire and replacing tips.
When you weld, wire feeds through your welding machine and torch cable and then clogs. With a good pair of MIG pliers, you’ll be quickly working your way through this.
Eventually, you’ll build a collection of hammers, but when you’re beginning, two or three will get the job done.
Hammers are used for removing stuck metal but also for chipping, shaping, straitening and several other functions.
Make sure to invest in quality hammers. Stay away from wood handles, which can slip and break easier.
If you’re gas welding, invest in an adjustable wrench that’s a minimum of 10 inches so you can tighten the regulator. You can also use it to pry apart metal.
Tools for Metal
Metal is a welder’s clay, so it’s important you have the right tools to work with it.
Clamps, clamps and more clamps.
In the world of welding, clamps will always be on your shopping list.
Be sure to pick up a variety of clamps, but primarily C clamps and welding clamps. You’ll use them to secure your metal in place before working with it.
After all, if you take the time to measure and cut your pieces and have nothing to hold them down when you start welding them, you’re going to end up with a warped mess of a project.
Bessey Rapid Action Clamps are highly rated for their ease of use and durability. However, you may be able to find used clamps online or at garage sales.
Saws: Chop saw and/or Portaband
As a welder, you’re going to need to make some cuts. Whether you choose the chop saw or Portaband saw is up to you.
If you’re a hobbyist, you might opt for the Portaband because the chop saw tends to be much louder and it throws a lot of sparks. However, both make clean cuts.
The grinder is a necessity and one you’ll use a lot, but it’s also dangerous, so it’s important to keep safety in mind.
Grinders are used for several functions, including:
- Preparing metal
Because they’re so useful, it’s important to invest in a good grinder. Check out this one by Milwaukee for starters.
We mentioned grinders are versatile, and the die grinder is a step up from the regular version.
This welding tool is used for beveling and feathering but on a finer scale.
Have you ever had an itch you can’t scratch? How about a cut you can’t get with a Portaband?
That’s where the Sawzall comes in. It gets into those hard-to-reach places where the Portaband can’t go.
A Sawzall may not be one of the welding tools you need every day, but when you do there’s no substitute.
Eventually, you’ll want to invest in a plasma torch, but if you’re a hobbyist or just beginning your welding career, the price of this welding tool can be overwhelming.
A Jigsaw with a bimetal blade is a good option for beginners. It will get the job done and won’t leave your wallet so light.
Acetylene Cutting torch.
This tool is useful for cutting plates and bending and heating metal.
You can even cut circles with this setup or bend plates to 90 degrees.
Plus, if you’re into Oxy-Acetylene welding, switch the torch from cutting to welding, get your filler metal and you’re ready to weld.
Tools for Measuring
As the saying goes, “Measure twice, cut once.”
And when it comes to welding, measuring correctly saves you time and money — so having the right welding tools is essential.
You probably already have a tape measure of four lying around, but be sure you always have one with your welding tools.
A 25- or 30-foot tape measure works best with welding projects because you always know you’ll have enough tape.
Squares help you make 45 and 90-degree cuts quickly and accurately, so they’re a must-have welding tool.
Invest in a small and a large square. If all you have on hand is a small square and you start work on a large project you’ll be out of luck.
Soapstone or pen.
You need to have something to make clear, crisp lines to mark your measurements for cutting.
Soapstone is a rock mineral that shows up white on metal and withstands the intense heat of torches and welding tools, which is why it’s often found in welding shops.
You can also use the soapstone to draw shapes in the metal and create cutouts.
Depending on the type of metal being cut, some welders will make their mark using a Sharpie or scriber. A scriber makes a small groove in the metal so you can see where to cut.
This is one of the most important welding tools you’ll buy.
Make sure you have plenty of surface area as well as storage for your tools.
You may even be tempted to weld one yourself!
Some welders like to have an extra rolling cart to make it easier to move welding tools and supplies around the room. After all, it’s not very practical to put casters on a workbench.
Do You Need a Welder?
To buy or not to buy?
Although some people don’t need an excuse to buy a new tool, others don’t have the money to invest right away in a purchase as big as a welder.
If you’re not ready to take the full plunge just yet, that’s OK. You can rent welders from as little as four hours to weeks at a time.
That means no maintenance or cleaning on your part.
However, there are times when buying a welder makes sense.
Many people who repair cars or tools invest in welders to save time and money, and others like the convenience of not having to take parts to a shop.
Tools of the Trade
When you’re first learning how to weld, having the right tools can make all the difference.
When you’re prepared with the right equipment, the process moves smoother and quicker.
What were the first welding tools you bought when you started? Do you still have them today? Tell us in the comments!