It takes time, effort and energy to learn how to do something new. A recent post prompted reader, Sylvia, to write in and ask if I could do some posts on simple welding projects and share a few tips. Sylvia has taken on the task of learning to weld at the wonderful age of 58. Females actually make better welders than their male counterparts at times. I thought I’d begin with a post outlining some of the simple tools one might need to get started in a new hobby of welding.
I would suggest that if you are looking at starting with small garage projects, you might want to look at investing in a good mig or wire feed welder. When you find a brand you like, it is good to look online and search the welder by its specific name to find the best price. Most online outlets will include free shipping. Look for a make that is ready for shielding gas. These can be used with a solid wire and shielding gas. Your end result weld will come out without slag, less splatter and an overall better appearance. The other route is to go with a flux-cored wire. As you weld using this wire, the flux in the core of the welding wire produces a slag and protects the weld bead from the atmosphere. This would require you to clean the slag off of your final weld.
A minimum of a 165 welder would be one of the best to begin with.
If you choose to use shielding gas then a cylinder will be needed. Welding cylinders can either be purchased or leased from a local welding supply outlet. Also, the recommended safety equipment should be on your shopping list as well, like gloves and a welding helmet. Auto darkening helmets are a bit pricey, but might be worth the upfront expense. Another safety precaution would be to purchase a welding mask that fits on your face and under your helmet to help alleviate welding fumes and grinding dust to your lungs.
Along with these suggestions, a few small power tools will complete your start up welding shop. I would suggest a 4 1/2″ grinder with grinding wheels, cut off wheels and flap wheels. Flap wheels are great to use when blending in welds and rounding corners. An abrasive cut off saw or chop saw is a good addition as well.
It is a good idea to connect with a local welder or supply shop to find the best deal on steel.