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As a welder over the last 20 years, I’ve used a bunch of different tools to fabricate and build various different projects for myself and customers alike. In this article, I’m going to share tools every welder needs
What tools does every welder need? Below is a list of tools every welder needs to have:
- Safety Glasses
- Marking Pencil
- Angle Grinder
- Chipping Hammer
- Wire Brush
- Tip Dip
- Tip Cleaners
- Vise grips
- Welding Blanket
- Plasma Cutter
- Welders Pocket Book
- Tape Measure
- Fillet Welding Inspection Gauge
- Drill Press
- Welding Table
In this article, I’m going to cover all of these tools and accessories in-depth and even share the one I like to use. Also, just remember you don’t need to have all of these tools to be a welder. These are just the tools I’ve found helpful to have.
One of the first things you’re going to need as a welder is a good set of gloves. After all, a MIG welder burns at around 2000 to 2500 degrees which would severally burn your hands and skin if left unprotected.
So no ordinary gloves will due here. In order to MIG weld, you will need a strong leather glove like the ones I talked about here.
These gloves are made for dealing with high temperatures. I like these gloves because they are heavy duty and have a longer sleeve to protect from spattering.
#2 Safty Classes
When it comes to safety glasses most people tend to forget this one. However, I’ve have had enough stuff in my eyes over the years to know that you should always wear them while working with metal.
I can remember one time in particular where I got a piece of metal in my eye right before a vacation. At first I thought it was a scratch but afterward, I ended up going to my eye doctor only to learn I had a piece of metal stuck in my eye. OUCH!
I don’t have a specific pair of safety glasses that I recommend but just that you wear them. Here are some basic safety glasses you can check out.
#3 Welding Helmet
One tool you’re definitely going to need is a welding helmet. A welding helmet is a must-have tool for every welder. Here are just a few things it can do for you.
- Protect your eyes from getting burnt.
- Protect the skin on your face from getting burnt.
- Allows you to move from weld to weld quickly.
- Let you grind without getting debris in your eyes.
When it comes to welding helmets there are two main types of helmets auto dark and non-auto dark helmets.
A non-autobraking helmet has a dark shield in it that always stays dark and the only way you can see through the helmet is when you are welding. This is the way I started welding.
The other option is to use an auto dark helmet. This helmet works based on light. This type of helmet has sensors on the front of the helmet and when you start to weld the light hits the sensor and the helmet goes dark.
When it comes to auto dark welding helmets this is the one I like.
#4 Welding Sleeves
Welding sleeves are another tool you’ll want to have with you. As you can tell a lot of these first few tools are mostly protection tools, but protection is a big part of welding.
Welding sleeves are designed to protect your arms from getting burnt from the heat and spatter produced from the weld.
They also protect your clothes from getting burned up since they are made out of cloth which is mostly fire retardant.
Here is some welding sleeve I like here.
#5 Welding Beanie
Like welding sleeves, a welding beanie is designed to protect your head from spattering burns.
I’ve dealt with my fair share of burns from welding without these protective tools and the best part is these things aren’t that expensive.
However, with it comes to welding beanies I like the ones that have a bill on them. A beanie with a bill is meant to be worn backward like a fire hat to protect you from spattering going down your back.
Here is a welding beanie that I like to use.
#6 Welding Jacket or Apron
The final protection tool is a welding jacket or welding apron. This tool is meant to protect your chest from welding. Your hands, face, and chest are going to be the closest to the weld.
To protect your chest a welding jacket or apron is the best option here. I’ve seen a lot of different kinds of these from leather to cloth jackets.
I personally like cloth jackets better than leather because its a lot heavier and much hotter in the summertime to wear.
Here is a welding jacket that I like to wear.
#7 Welding Pliers
Ok, now its time to get into the real tools every welder should have. And first on that list is a welding plier. This is a special tool that is meant to help you do a multitude of things from:
- Clean the spatter from your nozzle.
- Remove the weld tip or diffusor.
- And even clip your welding wire.
Of all the tools I have this is one you cannot live without because I use it every single day to manage my welder.
Here’s a welding plier that I use.
#8 Marking Pencil
Next, on the list of tools, every welder needs is a marking pencil. A marking pencil is a special pencil that is made for marking on steel. I use this tool to do everything from:
- Mark steel where I need to cut it.
- Mark where I need to weld an adjoining piece of metal too.
- Mark where you need to weld at and much more.
Here is the marking pencil that I use.
#9 Angle Grinder
The next tool you’ll want to have next to you is an angle grinder. An angle grinder also known as a hand grinder allows you to grind metal to smooth out cut metal.
Here are just a few things I use my angle grinder for:
- To smooth out fat welds
- Clean up spatter on metal
- Cut down metal
So if you do a lot of fabrication projects and you do a lot of shaping cutting with metal this one tool you’ll want with you.
Here is the angle grinder I like to use.
#10 Chipping Hammer
Another tool I use on a regular basis is a chipping hammer. Now a chipping hammer is typically used with stick welding to chipping slag away from the weld.
However, I like to use it for cleaning the spatter of metal. Depending on how your welder is set it could leave more spatter which can be hard to remove from the project you are welding.
As a result, I’ve found a chipping hammer to be the best solution here because it does minimal damage to the metal and doesn’t gouge the metal as an angle grind does.
Here is a chipping hammer that I like to use.
#11 Wire Brush
Along with a chipping hammer, I also like to use a wire brush. This tool works great for cleaning a weld surface before and after welding.
Here are just a couple of situations I’ve used a wire brush for:
- Cleaning rust off of metal before welding
- Removing paint from metal before welding
- Cleaning around a weld to give a more polished look
Overall this is an inexpensive tool all welders should have to improve their welding quality.
Here is a wire brush I like to use.
#12 Tip Dip
When it comes to cleaning your welder I also use something called tip dip. Tip dip is the grease that you dip the nozzle of your welder into to help protect it from spattering build-up.
Once your nozzle is coated and clean it will allow for the welding gas, and wire to properly flow from the welder.
#13 Tip Cleaner
Another simple tool I like to keep on hand is a set of tip cleaners. Tip cleaners are like small round files that are used to clean out the tip in your welder.
Welding is a fairly dirt job by nature and the dust and dirt it creates will tend to land on the wire spool. As that wire moves through the welder it will eventually bring enough dirt to the tip plugging it up.
To remove this dirt it a good set of tip cleaners works wonders here.
It also works well when the wire happens to burn back in the tip plugging the tip hole. Sometimes I can get them unplugged but if it’s too severe you may have to replace the tip.
These are the tip cleaners I use.
The next tools I’m going to cover are ones that will help you clamp down your work and the first one I like is a vise-grips. With a vise-grips it allows me to clamp to pieces of metal together and hold them in place.
Not only do they work well for holding things in place but they also work great for welding small parts together. Often times I find some parts to hard to handle since welding gloves can be big and bulky.
To solve this problem I like to use vise-grips to hold the part until I get it tact on.
When it comes to vise grips I like your typical standard vise-grips but I recommend getting a variety of vise-grips like these for various different situations like these.
Next, I also like having a good set of clamps around like the ones in the picture. These work great for holding bigger pieces of metal together.
At my shop, I have clamps the go up to 12″ wide. For bigger projects, I use something called a pipe clamp. This is a clamp that mounts on a pipe. I use a 3/4″ sch80 PST (Pipe Size Tubing)
The great thing about these clamps is that I can make them as big as I want. Again I recommend getting a variety of sizes like these.
#16 Welders Magnet
Another way to hold the metal in place without using a clamp is to use a welders magnet. To do this I have a set of magnets that will hold the metal in various positions.
So whether I want them held in a 90-degree position or a 45 degrees position these magnets will hold them in just the right spot.
They also work great when clamps just won’t work. For example, if I had to weld an 8″ IBeam onto another 8″ IBeam I could use a heavy magnet to hold them in place on each side.
As a result, this will prevent warping and keep the metal in the perfect spot until you get it welded solid. Here is the welding magnet I like to use.
#17 Welding Blanket
One tool I find great to have from time to time is a welding blanket. A welding blanket is a special material that doesn’t burn from weld spatter hitting it.
A welding blanket works great for two primary purposes:
- #1 Protecting stuff around the area you are welding in. For example, if you are welding on a car and you don’t want the weld spatter to mess up the paint job.
- #2 Protect the weld itself. A welding blanket also works great for covering you as you weld in an area that may blow away the welding gas. This works great if you are working outdoors in less than desirable conditions.
Here is a welding blanket I like to use.
This next tool can be a bit of a more expensive tool to have but a bandsaw is a great tool for cutting down metal fast. The good news is that you don’t need a big or expensive one starting out.
Back in the day, we used smaller bandsaws to cut parts but as my business grew we found the smaller hobby machines just didn’t hold up as well to the wear and tear on the barrings and gears.
Today we use much bigger saws that are meant to be used in more industrial situations. However, if you’re just getting started a smaller bandsaw will work just fine.
#19 Plasma Torch
Another expensive tool to have is a plasma torch. I’ve used several of these over the years and they work great for cutting down and shaping metal.
We used this to do everything from cutting lengths of metal down to cutting circles out of sheet metal.
Today I use a CNC plasma machine to cut out multiple different types of parts the products I’m building.
However, you don’t need something this big when you’re just starting out. A smaller 45 amp machine will work just fine as you’re getting started.
#20 Welding Pocket Book
If you’re someone who’s new to welding its good to have welding pocketbook on hand. This little handy book contains various things.
- Conversion charts,
- Safety guidelines
- How to work with certain metals
- Instructions and welding symbols
- How to do certain welds
- And a whole lot more
#21 Tape Measure
Now a simple tool a lot of people might not think about having is a good tape measure. This is probably the most important tool if you plan to cut any metal it would be good to know how long it should be.
Here are just a few things I use my tape measure for:
- Checking cut lengths
- Using it to square things up
- Measuring to see where I need to weld something
- And a whole lot more
I’ve found a Stanly 25 foot tape measure to be a great option and is usually the type of tape measure I use.
#22 Fillet Welding Inspection Gauge
Another little handy tool I like to have around is fillet welding gauge. This is a handy little tool that checks to see how big a weld should be.
For example, if a print calls for 1/4″ round weld, how would that look. You could guess but the best way to solve this is to have a fillet gauge that you set on top of the weld.
Doing this will give you a clearer idea of what kind of weld needs to be in the spot you are welding. Here is a fillet welding gauge that I use.
I also like to have a calculator around as a welder. This might seem odd but I find this be a handy tool for figuring out things like material usage or what a certain distance might be.
For example, if I am planning to build a project out of angle iron a calculator will tell me how many lengths of angle iron I will need to do the project.
This also works great for a situation where you’re also trying to get a quick number on a bid for a project you want to do.
Almost any calculator will do in this situation but if you’re looking for one that is used for an industrial situation you can check this one out.
#24 Drill Press
As we get down to these last few tools to have that tools that every welder needs one that I like to have around is a drill. In this case, I’m not talking about a hand drill but rather a drill press.
A hand drill takes a lot of work and pressure to drill a hole while a drill press makes this process a whole lot easier.
For example, if I have a block of steel that I’m trying to drill a hole into a drill press has a table to set it on and allows me to do it quick and easy. It also lets me apply more pressure to the steel and the hole will be perfectly straight when I do it.
When it comes down to it a drill press is not a tool you’ll need right away but it’s good to have around in any metal shop. At my shop, I have two of them and they get used nearly every day.
If you’re getting started here is the drill press that I recommend.
#25 Welding Table
Finally, last but not least as a welder you’ll want a nice welding table to work off of. You might be thinking why does this matter so much but a good welding table allows you to do so much more.
- Give you a flat surface to clamp down your projects.
- It has a clean surface to hook your ground clamp too.
- Sits at the right height for welding.
- Holds all of your tools and jigs in one nice place.
Over the years I’ve bought welding tables and I’ve even made my own and depending on what you want it can be costly or fairly cheap. Here is the one I like as a beginner.
As I’m wrapping things up here just remember you don’t need to have all these tools when getting started but they are nice over time as you buy them.
What kind of tools do you have that you can’t live without as welder?