Straight and uniform welds with no holes or cracks are the result of great skill, experience, and quality equipment. While the first two can be developed and improved with proper training and practice, without adequate equipment, all work will probably go down the drain. You can’t sew clothing with a crochet hook, can you?
Welding is quite similar to sewing, except the thread is fire, and the needle is a gas torch or electric welder, and instead of fabric, you’re fusing metals or thermoplastics together to create one solid piece.
Naturally, you need to approach the matter with caution and vigilance because, as they say, one shouldn’t play with fire. To ensure safe and effective operations, you need to choose the right equipment and know the ins and outs of every tool, part and feature.
First things first, what is the main tool for welding? It’s a professional-grade welder machine that complies with industry safety and quality standards. There’re many types of machines on the market to suit different welding processes.
Generally speaking, you can buy welding machines for MIG, TIG and stick techniques. Mind you, this covers only a small fraction of the machines available nowadays. There’re also multipurpose systems that can handle more than one welding operation.
MIG is a beginner-friendly type of welding and the machines are relatively easy to use and versatile. MIG welders are often employed in various industries, including automotive and construction because they can fuse large and thick materials quickly and efficiently. Some of the materials you can weld with a MIG machine are aluminium, nickel, steel and carbon steel.
This welding process uses a solid wire electrode to produce welds. The electrode is fed through the welding gun into the weld pool to join two materials together. MIG welders also use an external gas shield to protect the weld pool from contamination.
When it comes to TIG welding, you have more things to consider since it’s a bit more complex, requiring a high level of dexterity. The equipment is also more expensive, but it allows you to achieve high-precision welds in a wide variety of materials, including both ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Similarly to MIG, this welder also employs an arc process and external gas shield to protect the molten pool.
The difference is the use of a non-consumable tungsten electrode, and the way work is carried out. In TIG, you need both hands on the job—one to operate the torch and the other to feed the filler. You’ll also need to use a foot pedal or remote to control the amperage.
It’s worth mentioning that both MIG and TIG machines won’t produce good welds on dirty, rusty or painted surfaces. Of course, this issue can be easily resolved with sanding or cleaning before you start welding.
Another user and beginner-friendly machine that is commonly used in construction, plumbing, equipment repair and home applications. Stick welders don’t require an extra gas shield. Instead, they use flux-covered sticks that protect the weld pool from contaminants.
Stick welders are more affordable than other types of machines, which makes them a budget-friendly option. Other than that, they can save you time and effort because they can be used on painted and rusted surfaces.
Word of Advice: They don’t say there’s a tool for every job for nothing. There’s no such thing as the best type of welding machine, just a right or wrong choice for the application. That said, it doesn’t mean that all machines are created equal. To ensure long and trouble-free service life, stick to reputable and time-trusted brands in the industry.
Apart from the machine itself, you may also need additional tools for material prep, handling and measuring, such as:
The gas tanks and machines for welding can be difficult to carry around, so it might be a good idea to invest in a sturdy and durable welding trolley for safe and easy transportation of heavy equipment.
You often hear about welding being dangerous. Truth be told, there’re many risks involved in the process, but it’s only dangerous as you make it to be. With adequate personal safety equipment, you can minimise or completely eliminate some of the common welding hazards.
Buying a quality welding helmet is one of the most important safety steps you can take to prevent injuries and reduce health risks. The helmet, also called a hood, protects your eyes and skin from sparks, spatters, and toxic fumes from the welding process.
A respirator mask is also required in conditions with insufficient ventilation. The mask you choose should provide reliable protection against the fumes in question and be compatible with the rest of your equipment.
Fire-resistant clothes, aprons and shoes can help you strengthen your defence against sparks and spatters. To complete your welding ensemble, you’ll also need suitable gloves that protect against heat and electrocution without limiting your dexterity.