What You Need to Weld at Home
started on home welding or modifying your home welding set up will lead
to many questions about safety, cost, and the best machines and
products. There are many factors to consider and even more opinions
about which ones are worth following.
purchasing a welder to use at home for the first time or upgrading to a
new machine, welders need to know how they can safely operate it and
what they'll need to have on hand to weld. The following guide will
outline some of the essential guidelines for welding at home in order
avoid tripping a breaker, damaging a home/shop, or stopping mid-project
in order to run to the store for an unexpected tool.
Electrical Set Up for Welding at Home
purchasing a welder and especially before running it the first time,
it's critical to first learn whether a garage or shop can handle the
electrical current a welder requires. Presuming the lights will be on
while working, make sure the breaker isn't overloaded. Lower voltage
welders are designed to work in a home outlet, while the higher voltage
models need higher capacity plugs such as the kind used for electric
Many welders recommend starting home projects with a Millermatic 135 or
MIG welder since it doesn't require more than 120V and runs fine on
most home electrical outlets. However, always consult the welder's
manual and an experienced welder or electrician before starting. There
are so many different exceptions to take into account that no one
online article can take all of them into account. (While TIG welders
are popular among skilled welders, home welders, especially those just
starting out, tend avoid TIG welders because they require more
time to learn. Therefore this article resource will focus on the basic
use of MIG and stick welders at home, though there are exceptions.)
welder such as a Millermatic 140 MIG welder is typically able to handle
most household projects, but some welders prefer to use a 220V welder
at home so that they can weld thicker steel on heavy-duty projects and
achieve sufficient heat to create a strong weld. Less power means less
heat, and welding thicker metal requires a lot of heat.
For a 220V welder, an electrician will have to install a plug that can
handle the extra amperages it requires.
the case of welders who can't modify their home set ups or want a
little more portability, there are generators and welder/generator
combinations that may cause some extra noise but will put out 3000,
4300, or even 4500 watts of power. Welders renting a home may find that
this is the best solution if they can't plug their welders into wall
Learn More About Choosing
a Welder: Baker's
Welder Buying Guide
The Gas Set Up for Home Welding
selecting a welder, gas may or may not be required for shielding the
weld pool. Stick welders create a weld with a flux-coated electrode
that protects the weld pool instead of a shielding gas. The flux-coated
electrode makes stick welding a cheap and simple process, but it's
quite messy and requires more skill than MIG welding. However, for the
occasional home welder, stick welding offers an affordable way to make
simple repairs around the house.
MIG welding is an easier
process to learn, and it offers two options for its filler wire. There
are flux cored filler wires and solid filler wires that are used to
make welds during the MIG process. The flux cored MIG wires don't
require shielding gas. Much like stick welding electrodes, they provide
welding filler material and use the flux to create a protective barrier
around the weld as it cools. This saves on both the cost of shielding
gas and the need to store it in the garage, but the slag created by the
protective flux needs to be chipped away and therefore does not create
as clean a weld.
Many home welders pick up a MIG welder
because it's simple to learn and offers a versatile and neat weld. MIG
welding with solid core wire requires a shielding gas in order to
protect the weld that is typically a mixture of argon and CO2 or
sometimes simply argon depending on the material being welded. Without
slag to chip away, MIG welding with solid wire and a shielding gas is a
very neat process that is particularly useful for automotive repair.
may be tempting to buy a smaller 20-cf fuel cylinder, but consider the
potential cost savings of a large bottle. An 80
or 125-cf tank will save on refill costs and saves a trip to
store. Smaller cannisters are useful to have on hand if the shielding
gas runs out on the weekend, but buying more fuel at once will save
both time and money.
storing gas in your home workshop or garage, make sure the gas
cannisters are upright and secure so that they cannot fall over. Make
sure gas and fuel containers are stored a safe distance away from all
welding work and sparks.
Gas can also present problems with
some home insurance and rental policies. Before making a purchase,
learn about the restrictions at your property and take extra care with
your gas storage by having them inspected and serviced properly. Some
home insurance policies have limits and
exclusions that get invoked if a home contains pressure vessels,
including pressurized gas tanks.
Explore Gas Options: Gas
Cylinders and storage at Baker's.
Essential Home Welding Products
a welder, electrode, and shielding gas, welders will need to consider a
metal cutting product, which may be anything from a chop saw to an
acetylene torch setup or plasma cutter. Acetylene is quite flammable
and should only be used by those who are aware of the safety issues it
presents. A chop saw with a strong base and solid rear hinge pin will
serve most welders very well for many of their cutting needs.
angle grinder is also essential for prepping metals prior to
welding--something that is critically important for creating a clean,
strong, safe weld for MIG welding. Some welders suggest ultra thin
cutting discs for grinders in order to minimize the amount of material
wasted during the grinding process. Flap discs in an angle grinder are
useful for smoothing out metal prior to painting.
welders can be purchased with a cart included, welders have been known
to pursue any number of creative solutions from adapting a tool cart to
building their own. Whether purchased or built, a welding cart is
particularly useful in both safely storing a welder and allowing
welders to work in the safest and most convenient location.
clamps will keep the welding materials in place and ensure
the weld is straight and neat. Welders have hit points in their
projects where they could not proceed without additional clamps. Clamps
are small items that can make a huge difference in successfully
completing a weld.
An auto-darkening welding helmet, gloves,
leather shoes, and protective clothing are critically important safety
gear that every welder needs. These are all explained in detail in
Baker's guide: Basic
Welding Equipment and Gear.
Safety for Home Welding Projects
is the most important aspect of welding at home since a tiny spark can
burn down a garage or shop. Remove flammable materials such as rugs out
of the vicinity of
the welder as well as any other fuels or gases that arenít in use.
For the greatest possible safety in your welding space,
create a welding "shield" with hooks in the ceiling, hanging specially
designed flame-resistant blankets. This will protect the garage from
sparks and also prevent spatter from ruining items stored in the garage
or shop. For welders who want to work with the
garage door open but fear exposing passersby with UV rays, there are
clear screens that can be put up across the garage opening that allow
in light but block the rays.
Keep at least two fire
extinguishers on hand, not tucked away in a corner. If possible,
only do metal working in one space and wood working in another. The
accumulated saw dust in cracks and gaps in the walls only need one
spark to begin smoldering.
with mixed use spaces use air
blowers to clean their work spaces and frequently check for any smoke
or smoldering after completing their projects, but any cardboard boxes,
scraps of wood or sawdust can catch fire, so check back an hour or two
after finishing a project.
In the case of
attached garages, take into consideration the ventilation needs,
especially for the winter. Usually an open window with a box fan will
be enough to ventilate a welding area, but check with a welding
professional before starting a project.
Typical welding safety
includes being sure a welder is appropriately grounded and that the
work area is free from clutter such as unnecessary hoses and power
cords. In addition, check the hoses routinely for leaks and kinks. The
best welding set up is one that minimizes distractions and hazards that
can get in the way while working on a project.
Learn More About Welding
Safety and Equipment: Basic
Welding Equipment and Gear
More Home Welding Articles and Resources
Written Exclusively for Baker's Gas by Ed Cyzewski