I was recently hanging out with my buddy – he just bought a sweet house with a massive garage – and he dropped the question: “Since I want to learn about metalworking, what are the tools needed for welding?” Bam. My mind started racing a million miles per hour and I started scrolling through the best welder, goods and gloves to tell my buddy about. But then it hit me like a ton of bricks: Did I really need the best equipment to start welding? Actually, I didn’t.
Here are the basic tools needed for welding: A tape measure, a hood, solid leather gloves, safety glasses, an adjustable wrench, a cotton jacket, a welder, several clamps, a square, a scribe, a good file, and an angle grinder.
Now, although these are the basic items, you need to know which items to buy. Spending a few more dollars on a better-made item will save you money in the long term.
With all of this information, we have a lot to cover!
So – Let’s explore our tools in detail!
Tools For Welding: The 10 Essentials
In just a few words I am going to give you a list of the basic tools you’ll need to begin your metalworking journey. But keep in mind – metalworking is just that, a journey. As your skill increases and you become better and more proficient, you’ll upgrade tools, replace tools and add more of the same tools to your toolbox.
#1 Gloves and Hood
Gloves are essential because in metalworking there are little burs created when drilling, cutting, grinding and working with the material. Your hands will be in constant contact with the material, so you’ll want to make sure you’re protected.
#2 Tape Measure
In order to build anything effectively, you’ll need to measure it accurately. I would suggest you don’t skimp on a good measure tape – the ones you buy at value stores can be off by ⅛” or more. Why risk ruining all of your hard work on a cheap tape measure? It’s just not worth it.
Also, I would suggest one between 25 and 30 feet. You can use a smaller one in the field, but a good 30’ tape measure is essential in your home shop.
#4 C – Clamps
This is the one tool you will never have enough of. Ever. I promise that you will use every C clamp you own and then some more. Buy these often and replace them if they ever bend or break on you. You will use these to clamp your work as you weld or secure it to a work table.
#5 Adjustable Wrench
There are many uses for the adjustable wrench, but if your welding with gas the most important thing is turning on your regulator so you gas flows! It will also come in handy as you may need to create mechanical joints within your work – so securing things will be easy.
Just as important as making sure all your measurements are exact and cut to the right length, you want to make sure your welds are finished on square pieces – this will ensure your project does not come out unlevel or odd shaped.
Now there are two types of squares I want to mention here: a speed square and a larger fixed square.
A speed square is good for small projects and is super handy to keep around the shop. It’s only a few bucks and worth every penny.
A larger square, also known as a framing square is good because it will ensure your corners and layouts are true on larger projects like tables, banisters, shelving, etc.
#7 Wire Snips
You’ll definitely need a pair of wire snips if your MIG welding. There are just two requirements for a good wire snipper: 1) make sure it’s sharp and 2) Don’t forget #1. A sharp snipper will ensure you have a clean cut on your wire every time. This is important because you don’t want your arc to stay off – it will cause your bead to be all over the place.
A good grinder is necessary for cutting, beveling and finishing your metal projects. A good grinder will come with several attachments and will have enough power to work with heavier gauge metals. If your working with softer metals like aluminum or you just want to save some money, a good file will work.
#9 Marking Tool
There are two schools of thought here: if your only doing rough fabrication and nothing that needs to be specific, a sharpie will work well to mark your metal for cutting.
I disagree. A sharpie can make an error of ⅛” or so – imagine if you’re assembling a chair and one leg is just a bit longer then all the others – or shorter – that’s going to be one chair I don’t want to sit on! Instead, practice using a scribe and a machinist square. You’ll get a more precise line – and a more precise cut and fit for your projects.
#10 Fire Extinguisher
Safety first! When your welding your working with fire, and sparks are known to go everywhere. An extinguisher only costs a few bucks and could save your life. Don’t skimp on this tool.
Doesn’t Welding Require A Welder?
Yes! There is a good reason why I left this off my list. First, you may want to Stick Weld, TIG Weld or MIG weld – I have no idea what your preference would be, but I can recommend a good welder to start off with!
Also, your budget might be super tight, and in order to learn to weld and build your skill, the best thing would be to rent a welder, and that means you’ll only be able to select whatever machine is in stock.
I would recommend if you have the budget, buy an entry-level welder. You can always upgrade later – or keep your welder as a backup in case your new one is giving you trouble or needs repair.
In this article, we explored the tools needed for welding. I gave you a basic outline that will fill your shopping cart and get your ready for your first project. As you increase your skill in general metalworking and begin to specialize in fine finishing or structural welding you’ll find a need for more advanced or specialized tools for your specific job and your tools box will grow with you.
Just remember a good set of basic tools will last a lifetime and take care of you if you take care of them!