Hello, future welding students! Welcome back to the second part of the series. If you haven't read the previous blog about PPE for the first-time welding student, you can find that here. In this feature, we are going to spend some time covering the essential tools you'll need for class.
Before diving in, it is important to note that most training programs or instructors will provide students a list of essential tools that are needed, and depending on the course the tools that will be required may vary in some capacity. For first time students, in this blog, we'll cover a basic set of tools that will get you through a class that includes training on the four major welding processes: SMAW, GMAW, GTAW, & OFC/OFW.
Please keep in mind, if you have received a list of items or tools from the institution or instructor that is needed for class be sure to reference and acquire the necessary items. If you haven't received any information about tools required for your course(s), don't worry- most likely, all that information will be shared on the first day of class or during orientation. If desired, you can contact the instructor before the course begins to ask what items will be needed. Of course, it's best to do your research before making any purchases- especially if cash is tight or if you aren't sure what is required for the course.
Part 2: The Welding Tools
There are many approaches, preferences, and routes you can take when purchasing tools, so feel free to make any changes along the way, as this list is meant to be a good starting point. Additionally, this list only includes 13 items- as these tools are considered to be common and useful for completing course activities within an introductory welding environment:
- Welding Pliers, or sometimes called welpers or MIG pliers, are a great tool that is used extensively with the GMAW & FCAW processes. Ultimately this tool is a multifunctional plier and great to have in your box when learning to weld with wire fed processes.
- The combination square has a variety of features and uses that provide a great amount of value for a new welding student when making measurements or fitting weldments and material. Depending on your likes and needs, combination squares can be found in kits with a variety of interchangeable heads that prove to be handy in many welding-related situations.
- Keeping all your tools for class in a box or bag is not to be overlooked. Many options are available. When deciding, make sure that all your tools will comfortably fit inside and that it can hold up to the sparks and heat in the welding environment.
- Soapstone, or welders chalk, is great for marking on a variety of materials. It is cheap and can be found in round or square shapes. Be sure to add a few sticks to your box for plenty of use in class.
- Locking pliers, or sometimes known better by the brand name ViceGrips, are a great tool for any welding student. Locking pliers are available in a variety of designs for different materials and uses. When learning to weld, these are a great tool to utilize when handling hot metal after welding or simply holding the material in place when tack welding.
- When using the oxy-fuel welding or cutting processes, the flint striker is used to ignite the torch safely and properly. This tool is necessary to have in your box if course work includes any welding and cutting with the oxy-fuel processes.
Torch Tip Cleaners
- Torch tip cleaners, or files, are a great addition to your arsenal of tools and are used to maintain the torch tip during normal use. This tool is necessary to have in your box if your course work includes any welding and cutting with the oxy-fuel processes.
- A chipping hammer, or slag hammer, is utilized to remove the slag coating that is left on top of a completed weld. When welding with processes that generate slag, a chipping hammer will be needed. These hammers are available in a few different styles and are a must for the first-time welding student.
- The standard steel or stainless-steel bristle wire brush is needed for pre or post-cleaning of welds or material. Most likely you will be utilizing this tool frequently throughout your course(s) across different welding processes. In most cases, a simple shoe handle wire brush works great.
- The adjustable wrench, or sometimes known by the brand name Crescent, is a great tool for the first-time welder. The adjustable wrench provides a lot of versatility and use in the welding environment. A 10" adjustable wrench is recommended as it will have a great amount of adjustability for most student applications.
Ball Pein Hammer
- The ball pein hammer, sometimes called a machinist hammer, is used widely in the metalworking environment. These hammers, like all, come in a variety of weights/sizes- usually identified in ounces. For most students, a 24oz ball pein typically works best in most welding scenarios.
- Combination pliers, sometimes called lineman's pliers, are a decent hand tool that can be utilized frequently for many tasks. Primarily, the lineman's pliers are great to have when you need to cut large diameter filler wire as the longer handles provide great leverage for an easier cut. 9"- high leverage pliers are great, but not always necessary.
- A classic 12' tape measure will usually suffice for most welding students. Many different styles are available, but in most cases, a simple fractional scale tape measure will do just fine.
Pictured are a few of the tools mentioned above.
Remember that these items showcased are commonly required and used by students attending class within welding programs, but specific tool requirements or needs for class may vary. Always be sure to reference any information supplied by your instructor or school first. Good luck on your journey to a welding career and stay tuned for the next part of our series that will be covering tips about how to be a successful student and get the most out of class/shop time. For more information about popular welding tools, checkout this AWS ARCademy video.