If you're just starting out into welding, whether you are strictly going to be a hobbyist or plan to embark on a welding career, you may be a bit lost as to where to begin. While there are plenty of places you can go to learn how to weld there are some basic elements that you will want to consider before lighting that first torch. If you are going to be setting up your own welding workspace near your home there are some important aspects that you need to be aware of.
Firstly, no matter where you plan to be doing your welding you want to ensure that it is someplace that will obviously tolerate high heat levels and an abundance of smoke. So setting up shop near your propane tank is not advisable nor is doing so in a tightly sealed area. If you are going to be welding in say your garage you want to position your bench near the front of it or by an open doorway that will help eradicate fumes and you can also add a fan or two. And if you are near your home or another residence make sure those doorways and windows are shut tight so you aren't blowing your smoke into that enclosed area. Secondly you will need to make sure that where you are welding there is an adequate power supply, preferably one that is close enough that you won't need to use an extension cord. Your welder will be able to maximize its full amperage potential if it is plugged directly into the power supply, but if you have no other option but to plug it into an extension cord check that it is one that allows your welder to run at its highest level.
In terms of just how much electric power you will be needing for your welding projects you can expect your arc welders to use anywhere between 110 and 220 volts. If you are just beginning and planning on your welding being more of a hobby you can get by with a welder that is 110 volt and will be more than satisfied. These will then need to run off of a branch circuit with a total capability of 20 amps between the wiring, receptacle, and circuit breaker. Alright, so just what kind of welder should you be looking into? The most used types of welders for a work area at home are: wire-feed, stick, and oxy-acetylene. In fact it is common to actually have two of these with either one wire-feed or stick welder and then also an oxy-acetylene one that is then used in cutting and brazing.
Stick welders are significantly less expensive than wire-feeders, anywhere between four and five times cheaper, but they are more difficult to begin learning how to weld with. Stick welders, or rod welders, may be more simplistic in design but they do have a wider array of electrodes that enable them to weld with more varying materials and conditions such as dirty and rusted metals, overhead welding, and vertical welding. Wire-feed welders then are best for beginners because they can work with shielding gasses, ones that are noncombustible and inert, meaning that your welds on thin sheet metal will be sleeker and nearly ready to paint when the weld has been given time to cool. They work more compatibly with this thin sheet metal as well as other metals because you can switch the wires that you are using, making your welding tasks easier. Wire-feeders also produce significantly less smoky fumes than stick welders. Finally, the oxy-acetylene welders are actually able to be used for not only welding but cutting too as you are able to change tips, fluxes, and rods. These then are great to have in addition to one of the other two aforementioned welding tools.
Lastly, outside of the actual welders you will need a few other pieces of welding equipment. These include a chipping hammer/wire brush, drill bits, punches, ball-peen hammer, tap-and-die set, cold chisels, hacksaw frame and blades, marking tools, and metal-scribing. Many of these are things you would need for other metal related hobbies and may already have in your workshop. Also welding clamps and pliers are often a good idea to have on hand. And because welding will put you in very close contact with flames (no surprise there!) you need the proper safety equipment that includes: a welding helmet, welder's respirator, heavy-duty gloves, and also a fire extinguisher just in case. You may also want to get earplugs because while the welders may not generate much noise that may not be the case for the other metal tools. Welding for a hobby or career can bring you infinite pleasure (and even a nice paycheck to boot) but when you are just beginning it can be a bit daunting at first. This doesn't need to be the case and if you know the basics before getting started the journey will be all the easier!