It really doesn’t take that many tools to get started welding or repairing your own projects. I wanted to prove it, so I made up a quick list of everything you need to get started welding for < $250.
Here is the most basic set of tools and supplies you need to get started. Keep in mind, I didn’t say they were the best tools, but they are the best you can get for this budget. If your budget is bigger, you can always take my list and swap the welder and/or grinder out with better units. I will start with safety equipment because it is the MOST important.
Click the pictures for more information and reviews on Amazon. I sometimes learn as much or more from the reviews than the actual product listings.
Safety glasses – ALWAYS wear safety glasses when in the shop. I don’t care if you are just sweeping the floor, JUST DO IT. Also wear them under your welding and grinding shields. That way when you put the welding mask up and start grinding, you are still protected.
Ear plugs – There are two main benefits to ear plugs, one of which you might not have thought of.
1. Welders and Grinders are both pretty loud, so these protect your hearing.
2. These ear plugs also keep sparks OUT of your ear hole. You don’t want to be upside down welding on a car and have a hot spark burn inside of your ear (not fun).
So once again, just wear them! They aren’t expensive or inconvenient.
Welding Gloves – Another non-negotiable. Welding sparks are HOT, therefore you need thick leather welding gloves. They make it so you can also pick up hot pieces without getting burned (be careful though! They are thick but still let some heat through).
Welding mask – In my opinion an auto darkening welding mask is a must have. Yes you can buy one that is always dark that is cheaper, but with today’s technology the price difference is not big enough to matter. With the auto darkening welding mask, you can see through it up until you strike an arc, then 1the solar panel at the top detects the light and automatically dims the glass. The auto darkening mask below is the cheapest I have found with the best reviews. Click the picture for more information.
Mig Welder – I am going to suggest a MIG welder (instead of the old school stick welder) for an easy to learn on and portable beginner welder. This is one of the cheapest MIG Welders that I have found. It also has some pretty good reviews on Amazon. One of the few downfalls being it will have a lower duty cycle so during heavy duty welding you will have to stop every couple of minutes to let it cool off. This unit does not have an option for shielding gas so you will need to buy ‘flux core’ welding wire. Click the picture for more info.
Grinder– You will need a grinder to cut and shape metal pieces. I will be the first to tell you that you will also need it to grind out your welds when you mess up, and you WILL mess up. The unit below is pretty affordable at <$40 shipped. I don’t get the super cheap ones because usually they don’t have a trigger style switch. I have found that the trigger style is much easier to reach and use.
I added each of the items above to an Amazon shopping cart to prove that you can get into fabricating cheaper than you may have thought. There are some small trade offs with cheaper welders and grinders like shorter duty cycles, so you might have to take breaks more often to let them cool off. But with a little creativity you can make DIY projects yourself in no time.
Grand Total $248.98
With the tools above and some basic supplies that you probably already have like an old pair of jeans, denim / cotton jacket (no synthetic materials, they are flammable), and boots, you should have everything you need to get started. So get out there and start your DIY Welding Project already!
As a side note, this is really the bare necessities to get you started. If you are going to be welding a lot or often, check out my post about all of the Home Metal Fabrication Safety Equipment gear that you should have, and my other post My 10 Favorite Home Fabrication Tools