We've all had that experience at the hardware store where you walk in with a list for two things and you leave with ten. In a field like welding, there are lots of fantastic supplies and tools you can pick up to improve your welding shop and to help you accomplish a wide variety of projects. However, most of us have limited bank accounts, and we can't afford to buy one of everything. If you visit an online welding store for welding supplies, you may get overwhelmed by all of the products available.
This checklist for welding supplies will provide a simple reference guide as you pick up supplies for your welding shop
General Welding Supplies
Angle Grinder: An essential tool for cleaning, cutting, and prepping metal, an angle grinder will save you a ton of time and make it possible to create cleaner, stronger welds in less time. If you're learning how to weld, an angle grinder will be essential for undoing all of your mistakes.
Chipping Hammer: Chipping hammers are especially important for stick welders who need to remove slag from their welds, but these hammers can also come in handy if you're MIG welding with flux core wire.
Knot Brush: A knot brush is an effective way to do heavy duty cleaning on a large surface. If you have a lot of mill scale to remove from metal, you may want to consider using a knot brush.
Ground Clamps: A good grounding clamp will help you weld with a smoother arc and, most importantly, keep you safe from electric shock.
Sand Paper: Sometimes a fine sandpaper is ideal for cleaning metal or smoothing off the rough bits of a weld without having to get an angle grinder going.
Wire Brush: A wire brush is great for both prepping metal and for removing slag when you're done welding.
Ventilation System: Depending on where you work and what you're working with, you will generally need some kind of ventilation system. A lot of home welders work with the garage door open and a fan blowing. If you're working in an indoor shop, you may need a ventilation system that will suck out any toxic fumes from the melting metal or from your cutting products. For example, a plasma cutter will create fumes that you don't want to inhale. Some welders use respirators, but however you do it, just make sure you aren't breathing in harmful toxins that may be emitted while welding.
Stick Welding Supplies
Electrode Holder: Most stick welders come with an electrode holder, but if your welder doesn't seem to be running smoothly, an electrode holder is one part of your set up that you may need to consider replacing.
Electrode Oven: You mainly need an oven for the larger electrodes used on structural welds or welds that will absorb a lot of impact and pressure. Most hobby welders won't need one of these.
Stick Electrodes: Stick electrodes are extremely convenient because you only need to change your electrode in order to work on a wide variety of metals and weld joints.
MIG Welding Supplies
Solid MIG Wire: Solid MIG wire comes in a variety of thicknesses. The solid wire must be shielded with gas in order to prevent impurities.
Flux Core MIG Wire: There are two kinds of flux core MIG wire. One can be used without shielding gas, as the flux in the wire melts into the weld and rises to the top in order to shield it. The other flux core wire is sued with shielding gas and provides an extra layer of protection. When used with shielding gas, flux core MIG wire chips off very easily and should generally create a relatively clean weld because of the shielding gas.
Shielding Gas: Depending on what you're welding, shielding gas can be a mixture of CO2 and Argon or straight Argon. You'll need to purchase cannisters of gas and a cart or rack that will safely store them.
Spool Gun: A spook gun is generally only used for feeding the lighter, thinner wire used for MIG welding aluminum, since the wire can easily jam in the gun without the spool gun attachment that feeds the wire right into the torch as you weld.
Torch: Also called a "MIG gun," a torch generally comes with a welder, but you can upgrade and purchase a different torch if your current one starts to wear out or fails to feed wire smoothly.
MIG Gun Liner: This liner inside of a MIG gun is what the wire in runs through, and it will need to be replaced periodically.
Tips and Consumables: The tips of your MIG gun will wear out, so plan on having a few around so that you're never stuck while working on a project.
Wire Feeder: If your MIG welder isn't an all-in-one unit, you'll need a wire feeder in order to create a smooth and steady flow of wire into the weld puddle.
TIG Welding Supplies
Acetone: You'll hear about welders using all kinds of cleaners in order to prep their metal for TIG welding, but acetone is consistently mentioned as the most effective way to clean metal after sanding or grinding it.
Filler Metal: In TIG welding you'll need to pick up filler metal that is separate from your tungsten electrode that provides the arc.
Foot Pedal: Most TIG welders, like the one we link to here, come with a foot pedal that allows you to control the amount of heat you add to your TIG weld. However, there are many specialized pedals available if you'd like to take your TIG welding set up to the next level.
Grinding Wheel: You'll use a grinding wheel in order to sharpen your electrode for TIG welding. This is both the fastest and most effective way to prep a TIG electrode for welding.
Respirator: If you're grinding down a thoriated electrode that has some radioactive elements in it, make sure you wear a respirator in order to protect yourself from the radioactive dust..
Thin TIG Gloves: Usually goat skin gloves are the best option for protecting your hands during TIG welding while also providing the flexibility you need to effectively feed your metal into the weld puddle.
TIG Accessories: If you have a water cooled TIG torch or need a kit with a TIG cup and other torch parts, you may want to pick up a TIG accessory kit.
TIG Gas Line Covers: Gas line covers are an important safety and money-saving measure that will guard your lines from anything that could puncture them and cause a safety hazard or at least drain the gas in your tanks.
TIG Finger: If you need an extra heat shield on your fingers while welding, you can add a TIG finger, which is a piece of heat resistant fabric you can slide on whichever finger is closest to the arc. This also enables you to prop a finger along the workpiece while you're welding.
TIG Cup: A TIG cup is a ceramic piece added to the end of the torch that is often used to provide stability for out of position welds.
TIG Torches: If you want to upgrade your torch, you have plenty of options.
Tungsten Electrode: There are five different kinds of electrodes used for TIG welding that provide different capabilities for welding projects. Most welders use ceriated and lanthanated electrodes, but pure tungsten and thoriated (note: thoriated has some radioactive elements in it) are also popular.
Water Cooler for TIG: This system isn't something you take with you on a picnic. This is a unit that you add to your TIG welding set up and use with a water-cooled torch in order to keep your torch cool. This is especially important if you want to TIG weld for any significant amount of time or if you're on the higher end of amperage.