When learning to weld, the progression cycle enables you to handle small to medium-sized projects quite quickly. However, it takes a considerable amount of time to master the skill necessary to take on large and complicated tasks.
Whether you’re embarking on a career as a welder or you enjoy welding as a pastime, it’s difficult to know what equipment is right for you. While the price is an important consideration, you must consider other crucial aspects as a beginner. The following guide can help ensure you find the essential kit for your needs.
What Type of Welding Are You Learning?
The first step is to determine what method of welding you’re learning so you can purchase the correct type of welder. As a beginner, you'll likely need a welder suitable for Metal Inert Gas (MIG), Stick, or Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding projects.
MIG welders are the most common type of machines used in industrial work and popular among hobby welders. MIG welding is one of the easiest types to learn, meaning a MIG kit is an excellent option as a welding kit for beginners. These welders operate using a continuous wire feed, eliminating the need to pause your work to replace electrodes.
MIG welding is a combination of two different welding types: bare wire and flux core. Bare wire welding is generally used to join small, thin lengths of metal. Flux core welding doesn’t need a flow meter or gas supply, meaning it is suitable to be carried out outdoors. If you're interested in flux core, check out our full procedural guide.
Stick welding, often referred to as arc welding, is a more traditional welding style. It is a more difficult skill to learn and involves using a stick electrode welding rod.
Learning the fundamentals of stick welding can help you with MIG and TIG. It can also provide you with the necessary skills to weld heavy materials.
The drawback with this technique is that the end product isn’t as neat or tidy as other methods. There is often molten splatter, meaning you must clean and sand continuously.
TIG welding is a versatile technique but is more challenging to learn than MIG or Stick. It involves using both your hands. One controls the torch, while the other hand feeds the rod.
TIG welding can be used with most standard metals, such as aluminum, nickel alloys, magnesium, copper, bronze, cobalt, and titanium. This versatility makes it ideal for welding bike frames, car parts, lawnmowers, and other everyday devices.
MIG and TIG welders are generally more expensive than stick machines. Depending on your budget and needs, one of these welders might be an ideal addition to your welding kit for beginners. The most crucial factor is to choose a welder that is up to the task. Without the right tools, you will be unable to complete your welding projects.
Do You Intend to Weld Indoors or Outdoors?
Not all welders are suitable for both indoors and outdoors. Depending on where you want to work and what type of welding projects you undertake, you may need a welder specifically designed for indoors or outdoors.
For MIG, flux-core welding doesn’t require the use of a flow meter or gas supply. This makes it suitable for welding projects that are done outside. However, in high wind or unfavorable conditions, it is recommended to erect a windbreak or barrier.
MIG welding can also be performed indoors and effectively tackles high-strength welds on a range of metal surfaces.
Stick welders can operate effectively, inside and outside. However, they are particularly suited for outdoor use. Where high winds will blow away shielding gas during outdoor MIG welding, stick welding can withstand very strong breezes.
TIG welding is commonly practiced indoors. Due to the cleanliness and lack of sparks, it is as much of a fire hazard as other welding forms. It also doesn’t require a large space to operate in, and it runs quite efficiently, making it perfect for home projects.
Despite it being safe and clean, you must take caution with all welding. Keep the work area clean and ensure there are no potential fire hazards. TIG welders heat steel very quickly, so avoid using wood or plastic work tables.
While possible, TIG welding outside is difficult. In mild weather conditions with minimal wind, you may not encounter many issues. However, even a slight breeze may require you to create a windbreak barrier.
Deciding what type of welder best suits your needs is the most important task for a beginner. However, you must have all the necessary accessories to ensure you weld safely.
While you don’t need to break the bank, investing in a quality helmet early on in your career is well worth it.
The most important considerations are the shading range and the viewing area. Lenses are available in fixed or variable shades. If you plan on welding a variety of materials, you may need a variable shade lens to protect your eyes. Some helmets come with an electronic filter lens that contains auto-darkening features.
Welding gloves are typically made from leather and must be durable and long-lasting. Look for a well-made pair manufactured from quality materials that boast good insulation, such as genuine leather, goatskin, Kevlar, and silicone.
Once you’re content with the quality, focus on the fit. Remember, you will need a certain amount of dexterity and finger maneuverability to perform your work properly. Manual flexibility is especially important for TIG welding.
Flame Resistant Clothing
Covering your face and hands is essential when welding. However, it’s also important to protect other parts of your body. Sparks, material splatter, and UV radiation from the welding arc rays can cause serious injury if your skin is exposed.
Wear fire-resistant cotton clothing and ensure your entire body is covered. If your budget allows it, consider purchasing a welding apron or jacket for maximum protection.
Whether you put together your own custom welding kit or you purchase one that’s been pre-assembled, it is crucial to ensure that you have the right tools for the job.
Choosing the right welder is the most essential step, but you should never start a welding project without taking the necessary safety precautions. Invest in quality flame-resistant clothing and gloves, and opt for the best welding mask your budget allows. Do your research and approach welding work with knowledge, skill, and care for safety.