Welding Equipment - Basic Equipment, Protective Gear

Welding Equipment - Basic Equipment, Protective Gear

Getting started with welding can be quite intimidating for anyone who is new to the field. For experienced welders, there is always another tool to buy for each new project that comes along. The selection can be staggering with so many choices out there. Baker's Gas and Welding offers top of the line products from leading companies so that welders don't have to wonder about the quality of their purchases.

For welders who are either just starting out or looking to add a new tool to their shops, here is a guide about some basic welding equipment and protective gear.

A Guide to Selecting Welding Equipment

Welders

The voltage power, AC/DC settings, and duty cycle are some of the most important factors to consider when choosing a welder. The welder will need both the power and a sufficient operating time (the duty cycle) in order to complete every project. Choosing between stick, MIG, and TIG welders is a matter of balancing cost, skill, portability, convenience, and the nature of the project. MIG welding is simple to use, but it is costly and not as portable as the simple stick welding process. TIG welding creates high quality, clean welds, but it is much more difficult to learn.
Read Baker's Guide to Choosing a Welder

Electrodes

There are specific electrodes that match each of the three main welding processes. Stick welding uses a consumable electrode that is melted in order to create the weld joint. The E6010 electrode is one of the most popular electrodes, though the  E6011, E6013, and E7018 are frequently listed by welders as excellent choices.

MIG welding uses a consumable electrode wire that is fed through the welding torch. Most projects use wire in the following range of thickness: .023, .030, .035, and .045, though a thicker wire may be needed for larger projects.

TIG welders use non-consumable electrodes that come in five main varieties. Ceriated and lanthanated electrodes are both good choices for most TIG welding applications. Avoid thoriated electrodes since they emit radiation when used and require a respirator. 
Read Baker's Guide to Choosing the Best Electrode

Clamps

Clamps are a small part of the welding process, but they are critically important for keeping a weld joint lined up properly. If a workpiece shifts, the weld could be crooked and result in the loss of significant time if it has to be ground down and welded again.

The more clamps, the better. Some welders have stopped in the middle of their projects in order to buy more clamps, which shows just how important  clamps are for welding.
Find Clamps for Your Project

Angle Grinders

Angle grinders are critical for preparing metal prior to welding, especially for MIG and TIG welding. An angle grinder is a portable tool that has the arbor at 90 degrees in relation to the tool. Depending on their size, grinders vary from 500 to 2500 watts. Pick an angle grinder with enough power to clean the metal sufficiently prior to welding. Every welding project is different, so choosing a grinder with more power and durability can make a significant difference when planning for future projects.
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A Guide to Welding Safety Gear

Helmets

Welding emits ultraviolet light rays that are generated by the electric arc. The extreme brightness generated by welding can cause inflammation of the cornea and burn the retinas of your eyes. Some people even go blind because they do not use the right welding equipment. Dark face plates are good for preventing exposure to the ultraviolet rays.

Welding helmets are a critical piece of equipment because they protect your face from sparks and your eyes from harmful rays. The best choice for a welding helmet is an auto-darkening helmet that allows welders to keep both hands on task without having to reach up to put on the darkening visor.

A good weld can go bad if a torch shifts even an inch. Therefore experienced welders recommend the auto-darkening helmets since they can position their torch right where it belongs and start working immediately. The time it takes to darken a helmet is plenty of time to shift the position of a weld torch.
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Gloves

The best welding gloves are made from top-grain leather, which is the high-quality outer layer of an animal's hide. Welding gloves balance flexibility with heat protection and will vary depending on the welding process used. Stick welding creates the highest heat and requires stiff, heavy-duty gloves that can withstand high temperatures, while TIG welding produces the least amount of heat and can use a lighter and flexible glove.

Goatskin leather gloves are quite popular and are typically ideal for TIG and MIG welding. Deerskin gloves offer the advantage of shaping themselves to a welder's hand over time and make for an extremely comfortable fit. The best glove options for stick welding include top-grain pigskin, elk skin, and cowhide.
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Grounding Clamps

Grounding clamps are a critical safety measure that protect welders from electric shocks. In addition, a good grounding clamp will make it easier to start an arc and will protect your welder. The best ground clamps are made of copper, not just lined with copper on the edges of the clamp.

Grounding clamps will be most effective if they maintain constant contact with the work piece. Some welders modify their set ups by adding a large piece of copper cable to their clamps in order to improve the amount of contact with the surface.
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Clothing

No one wants to work on a welding project and discover sparks and flames on his/her shirt. Synthetic shirts that aren't specifically made for welding work can be particularly dangerous for welders when the sparks begin to fly.

Long sleeves are especially important for welding work since the rays from welding can cause sunburn on exposed skin. There are many solutions for welding clothing, but oftentimes the temperature of a work site or shop will determine what a welder wears.

Leather clothing is the safest choice, but it is also the warmest. Therefore, many welders wear leather sleeves, longer gauntlet gloves, a leather apron, or a kind of modified welding bib with long sleeves and an open back. Usually a cotton shirt is the best choice to wear under protective gear since it's not as flammable as synthetic clothing.
Explore Safety Apparel and Baker's Work Wear

Safety Products

Depending on the nature of your work and your shop set up, your safety needs will vary. At the very least every shop needs a fire extinguisher and some form of ventilation. Fume extraction systems represent the best option, but many home welders can get by with an open garage door or a simple ventilation system set up in a window. However, ventilation is not optional since certain welding processes can give off toxic fumes depending on the materials being welded. 

If welding at home, it's important to set up welding screens to protect passing pedestrians or fire retardant barriers to prevent sparks from catching on any cloth, cardboard, or saw dust in the garage. For particularly messy welding projects, these screens also save on clean up.

For shops or garages that have lots of fuel cannisters on hand, Baker's offers fuel storage solutions that will keep them upright and safe. In a garage or shop where the unexpected can happen, securing fuel and shielding everything from sparks is critical.
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The gear and products in this article are just some of the basics for welding, but welders will need to purcahse shielding gas and other materials depending on their work. To find more of what you need to weld, shop by category.

Additional Articles and Resources

Written for BakersGas.com by Ed Cyzewski



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