Many of us associate welding with heavy-duty fabrication industries. On the contrary, many individuals engage in some type of welding at home. And these are not just hobbyists that we are talking about.
A lot of creative individuals practice welding at home for repairs and DIY projects very successfully. And in these unpredictable times, having a side hustle such as is a way to earn extra cash.
However, starting welding does throw up a lot of essential questions. Everything from the working space to the cost of the machine and safety can be overwhelming. But as you will see, the equipment selection is not that complicated. On the contrary, if you know what you are searching for, it can be fun and effortless. This comprehensive post attempts to breakdown the intricacies of starting welding from the comfort of your house.
For convenience, we will tackle the different points in a question and answer format. Let’s start right away.
- 1 What Space Do I Need to Start Welding at Home?
- 1.1 Indoor Welding Space
- 1.2 Outdoor Welding Space
- 1.3 What Experience is Needed to Start Welding at Home?
- 1.4 What is the Cost of Buying all the Welding Equipment?
- 1.5 Equipment Needed for Welding at Home.
- 1.5.1 Welding Machines
- 1.5.2 Electrodes and Filler Metal
- 1.5.3 Shielding Gas and Regulators
- 1.5.4 Welding Curtains
- 1.5.5 Ventilation Equipment
- 1.5.6 Fire extinguishers
- 1.5.7 Other Safety Equipment
- 1.5.8 Electrode Ovens
- 1.5.9 Other Essential Tools
- 1.6 What Projects Can I Do As A Home Welder
- 1.7 Additional Tips for Home Welders
- 2 Conclusion
What Space Do I Need to Start Welding at Home?
The right space is among the first considerations to start welding. The ideal space for welding indoors and outdoors is elaborated below.
Indoor Welding Space
The first important factor for welding indoors is to ensure that the space has adequate ventilation with a couple of windows.
Ventilation while welding is critical because most welding types emit some degree of fumes, which can be toxic when inhaled by the welder. Also, ventilation in an indoor welding space is required by the American National Standards Institute and other international safety standards.
Proper ventilation serves three purposes while welding indoors at home.
- Getting rid of combustible or flammable vapors and gases
- Remove contaminants from the work area
- Prevent the working area from becoming oxygen-deficient or oxygen-rich
Outdoor Welding Space
For outdoor welding projects, ventilation occurs naturally. However, welding should be done in a well-protected space with a roof and walls. It is because welding materials need to be shielded from the rain and as well as the dust.
Contamination on the surface of the welding material affects the overall outcome of the weld joint. In addition to paint, oil, and grime, moisture and dust on a workpiece are not ideal for welding. Furthermore, contamination can also cause sparking, which can be dangerous.
Most home welders prefer to work in a shed or a garage, which is a good choice. Some folks also like to work at a friend’s or an acquaintance’s working space. Although this is very convenient to start welding, it can cost you in rental fees.
What Experience is Needed to Start Welding at Home?
One of the best things about home welding procedures is that you do not need any special training. Some of the most skillful home welders do not have any formal training. They picked up on how to weld by watching a friend or a parent do it. Of course, it also involved some impromptu lessons on safety measures.
The best way to start is to practice with someone who knows the basics of welding. He can show you how to work with welding equipment safely, the different types of welding, and so on. So, learning how to use safety equipment while welding at home becomes more effortless.
If you don’t have a professional welder to show you the tricks, don’t worry. There are numerous welding tutorial videos and instructions available free on the internet. Some of these tutorials are from welding professionals who are the top names in the industry. So you can easily pick up the trades without any problem.
These online welding tutorials also cover the basics of personal safety and correctly using the equipment. In this regard, YouTube is a goldmine of information on how to start welding.
The bottom line about how to start welding at home is practice. A bit of creativity and implementation can speed up the process. However, you should be willing to invest in some time and effort as well. Even if you train under the best professional welder’s tutelage, you will not be successful if you don’t practice welding. On the other hand, you can become the most proficient welder very quickly by watching online videos if you practice consistently.
What is the Cost of Buying all the Welding Equipment?
The general assumption for starting a welding project at home is that it is costly. However, this is not entirely correct.
The entire welding setup for professionals can, indeed, be costly. It is because they need to invest in high-end equipment that can run into thousands of dollars. In addition, professional welders also have to account for other variables like insurance and rent, which can add up to the overall cost. Another variable that kicks up the overall cost for professional welders is the labor costs, which can be a substantial amount.
But for homeowners and welding hobbyists, you can get a decent welding setup without spending a lot. In my opinion, anywhere between 500 and 1000$ is enough money to start advanced welding projects. The cost becomes higher if you want high-end professional equipment or multiple welding machines. At most, you can expect to shell out about $2,000 for starting a welding unit at home. With this much money, you can perform all the basic methods (TIG, MIG, Stick, Flux-core) and be the owner of some high-quality equipment. The overall cost of home welding equipment will also depend on the type of welding you decide to pick up.
In addition, since you would already have a working space and don’t have to worry about labor costs, the total price would be significantly lower.
However, if you decide to splurge and invest in high-end welding equipment, it is worth it. Welding is a profitable business, and you can charge your customers at an hourly rate. A welder with a decent amount of skills typically charges up to $70 per hour, which is a significant amount. Of course, as your welding skills get better and you become more confident, you can earn more while welding at home.
Equipment Needed for Welding at Home.
The needed equipment has to do a lot with the welding projects that you are planning to do. However, basic welding equipment remains the same. So if you are planning to start welding at home, here are the types of equipment you will need.
Let’s get to the most exciting part, which is selecting your welding machine. It will also be the most expensive part of the entire setup. Of course, you don’t have to buy all these types of welding machines at once. Pick the type of welding that you are most comfortable with, and choose the machine accordingly.
Most beginner welders like to start with MIG welding, but it is totally up to you. Additionally, modern welding machines have dual functionality meaning one machine has both TIG and MIG functionalities, and so on. This is a fantastic feature, as you don’t have to invest in separate welding machines. Furthermore, a welding machine supporting multiple methods allows you to work on different welding types, thereby expanding your skills.
Below are some of the best welding machines that we love. These machines are a good combination of beginner-friendly features; ease of use, versatility, and of course, affordability.
TIG welding machine – TIG welding setups are generally the priciest among all the machine setups. However, for beginners, an entry-level TIG machine such as this one is a good choice. Another affordable TIG machine that we love is this one from Lotos. Keep in mind that those machines are also stick welders. So, you can use both methods with these machines.
Oxy-Acetylene welding setup – Oxy-acetylene welding is not the first choice for most beginners. However, here are two of our favorite picks if you choose to foray into welding with oxy-acetylene welding. The US Forge Oxygen Acetylene Pro Flame Pak Kit is one of the most budget-friendly kits for welding at home. Our second pick is from Ameriflame and is ideal for heavy-duty welding. However, this welding kit does not include the gas cylinders, so you need to purchase them separately.
Stick welding machine – Stick welding machines are the preferred ones for outdoor spaces with exposure to wind. Most experts will agree that you can stick weld in a condition where the winds are up to 35mph.
But of course, you can also weld indoors with the same setup. A stick welding machine that we love is the Stickmate 160i from Hobart. It is an industrial quality stick machine that has a budget-friendly price tag. Another one of our favorite stick welding machines is this one from WeldPro. It has beginner-friendly features, and you can MIG weld with it, which is a bonus.
Flux core welding setup – Flux core welding is also great for outdoor welding. The main reason is that flux-core welding uses a wire fed electrode for welding. As the name implies, this electrode has a flux core that protects the molten metal and provides the gas. Therefore, in addition to ease of portability, a flux welding setup is ideal for outdoor use as well.
For welding at home, this flux core machine is a great choice. The Forney Easy Weld 261 140FC is easy to use and comes at an unbeatable price. Also, the Hobart Handler 210 is also an amazing beginner-friendly welding machine. Apart from its fantastic features, it also comes with a MIG gun with substantial length.
Electrodes and Filler Metal
The requirement for electrodes and filler metals will primarily depend on the type of welding you choose. Not every welding session will require an electrode. That being said, electrodes are among the essential equipment for welding.
Bear in mind that different types of electrodes correspond to various applications and current. However, some electrodes will work for most welds in a metal variety.
Note: Getting the right filler and base metal compatibility is paramount in welding. If you don’t choose a suitable combination of filler and base metal, there is a risk that the weld will be weak. Also, it might compromise the quality of the weld joint. Each scenario is different, but in most cases, the filler and the base metal must have similar strength and chemical composition.
The different types of welding electrodes are detailed below:
Essentially, there are two types of welding electrodes. These are consumable and non-consumable electrodes.
The welding electrodes have the advantage of being effortless to use. However, the need to replace the electrodes frequently puts them at a disadvantage. In addition, the number of applications that require consumable electrodes is also limited.
Under consumable welding electrodes, these are the main categories:
Covered electrodes are the most common types of welding electrodes. The electrode is typically a metal core with a cover. The cover is a mixture of alloy powders, organic materials, and other metals.
These electrodes are used in shielded metal arc welding, also known as stick welding. Here are the most common stick electrodes.
Each of these numbers in the electrode indicates a different meaning. According to the American Welding Society, the letter E denotes electrode. The first two digits denote the tensile strength, and the third digit is for the welding position. The last digit signifies the type of coating on the electrode.
Furthermore, there are three subcategories of covered electrodes. This classification is based on the coating factor, which is the ratio between the electrode’s diameter and the rod wire.
- Light-coated electrodes – These electrodes have a coating factor of 1.25. Light-colored electrodes are also very stable, which makes them very beginner-friendly.
- Medium coated electrodes – Electrodes that have a coating factor of 1.45 falls in this subcategory.
- Heavy coated electrodes – These electrodes have a coating factor between 1.6 and 2.2. The coating on these electrodes is well defined with either cellulose or mineral coating or both. The other name of these electrodes is shielded arc electrodes.
Heavy coated electrodes are best for welding hard surface metals such as steel and cast iron.
The other name of tubular electrodes is flux-cored electrodes. These types of electrodes have a core of fluxing and alloying compounds surrounded by a metal sheath. The alloying compounds have a similar function as the coating factor of a covered electrode.
Furthermore, tubular electrodes are of the following types:
- Self-shielding flux-cored electrode
- Mild Steel Electrodes
- Stainless Steel Tubular Wires
You can check out these electrodes from Saker.
Filler Metal For TIG
Non-consumable electrodes do not need frequent replacing as they do not get consumed while welding. They are primarily used in TIG welding and carbon arc welding. Also, these electrodes are made from metals with very high melting points, such as tungsten and graphite. In some cases, carbon-coated with copper is also used.
Under non-consumable electrodes, there are two subcategories of electrodes.
- Tungsten electrodes – This is a non-filler metal electrode that consists of tungsten. A couple of our favorite tungsten electrodes are available the purple ones and the blue ones. Those two electrodes contain special oxides that make TIG welding easy for beginners. For TIG welds on aluminum try these ones.
- Graphite or carbon electrodes – You can check out a couple of the best graphite and carbon electrodes through this link.
Shielding Gas and Regulators
Shielding gas cylinders and regulators are a necessary part of the welding setup at home. For TIG welding and MIG welding, shielding gas cylinders can be either argon or Co2. These shielding gas cylinders come in different volumes marked as ‘cf’ or cubic feet.
However, shielding gas cylinders with a cf of 40, 80, or 125 will suffice. The different tanks have their advantages and disadvantages.
A large size tank has the advantage of being lasting longer. In addition, shielding gas tanks that have 125 cf or larger are also cheaper to refill. However, shielding gas tanks that are this big are not very portable and can take up a substantial amount of floor space.
On the other hand, smaller gas tanks are effortless to carry around. Besides, shielding small gas tanks is very affordable, making them ideal for home welders. However, the downside is that the smaller sized tanks need frequent refilling.
One of our favorite argon and Co2 mix shielding gas tanks is this tank one (here is a smaller tank that contains the same gas). If you are looking for 100% pure argon shielding gas cylinders, you can choose either this 80 cf cylinder or a 125 gas cylinder.
Pure Co2 shielding gas tanks are not for everyone. However, many welders, both professional and amateurs, use pure Co2 gas tanks for MIG welding. Furthermore, Co2 gas tanks do not have a rating like argon gas tanks. Co2 gas cylinders are measured in terms of weight.
If you want to try out a Co2 shielding gas, this 5 lbs cylinder is a good one to start with. Along with a shielding gas cylinder, a regulator is a necessary component. It is through these gas regulators that you can adjust the right pressure, among others. Keeping track of how much gas is left in the cylinder is also possible with a regulator.
For MIG and TIG shielding gas regulators, there were a couple that stood out for us. They include this one from Betool, which is a very affordable option. For a more premium option, this welding shielding gas regulator is an excellent choice.
Welding curtains reduce the level of noise from the area of welding. A welder is protected by safety equipment such as an earmuff. Also, the curtain blocks some of the harmful rays coming out of the weld. You don’t want your loved ones accidentally to watch the weld pool without a mask. Therefore, a welding curtain can come in very handy.
Natural ventilation in the form of windows is not enough for indoor welding, especially if you engage in welding more frequently or run it as a business.
In this case, other effective ways of ventilation also become necessary. The two other forms of ventilation used in indoor welding are mechanical ventilation and local exhaust ventilation or LEV. Mechanical ventilation includes exhaust fans and wall fans. Here are a couple of exhaust fans from Ventisol and Aoyue.
On the other hand, local exhaust ventilation includes downward draft, fume extraction guns, and flexible hoods. I recommend this affordable fume extractor for optimal performance.
Welding is one of those projects that involve the risk of fire. The sparks from welding, along with molten metal, slag, and hot work surfaces, can all contribute to a fire hazard. In addition, the use of shielding gas cylinders can even result in an explosion.
Fire extinguishers come in a rating of A, B, C, and D. For welding at home, fire extinguishers that fall under the first three ratings is a good choice. If you are not sure which fire extinguisher to pick, we have two favorites. First is this Kidde extinguisher, which has a pro-quality and a reasonable price tag. If you’re looking for a fire extinguisher with a larger capacity, this 5 lbs from Amerex is a great pick.
However, if there is a fire incident that involves magnesium or titanium, know that the above fire extinguishers will not work. You will need a labeled Class D. This dry fire extinguisher from Amerex is a good one. For a larger capacity tank, this 10 lbs dry fire extinguisher should serve you well.
These fire extinguishers also come in a dry powder form. This dry powder extinguisher is also a great choice. Another alternative to putting out such types of fires is by using sand.
Other Safety Equipment
Whether you are welding at home or at a commercial level, personal safety equipment or PPE is non-negotiable. These seemingly small gears can protect you from burns, radiation, and electric shock, which is inherent to welding. Furthermore, there are chances of severe injury and even death from not wearing PPE while welding.
Therefore, before you start welding, here are the necessary personal safety equipment.
Welding helmets protect the head, face, and eyes while welding. The best helmet for welding is ANSI Z87 compliant and will protect you from flying sparks and radiant energy.
This affordable and versatile welding helmet is a top seller and our favorite. For a more premium option, this welding helmet is fantastic. Both of these helmets come in different sizes and are excellent in quality.
Respirators and Masks
Some types of welding produce a lot of fumes, which can be very toxic when inhaled. So a respirator or a mask can be useful in keeping you from inhaling these fumes.
This reusable respirator is soft, comfortable and NIOSH approved. Another excellent pick for welding respirator is this one from 3M. The first respirator comes in a large size, while the second pick comes in a small size, so you should find the right size without any problem.
For hand protection, welding gloves are a must. The best welding gloves are those that are dry, without any tears, and well insulated for optimum protection. In addition to keeping your hands safe from cuts, welding gloves shield from heat, sparks, and electrical shocks.
The best shirts for welding are long-sleeved shirts. You need to button the cuffs as well as the collar to get full protection from skin burns and radiation exposure. This way, every exposed part of your body is covered and safe.
If you can invest in a flame-resistant and long-sleeved shirt, that is fantastic. This denim shirt checks all the right boxes for the best welding shirt. Another great shirt for welding at home is this one, which is practical and trendy as well. These are heavy-duty shirts that are designed to keep your arms safe from the possible damages of welding.
Coats and Aprons
For full-body protection, coats and aprons are the best choices. The best materials for welding coats and aprons are flame resistant. These heavy-duty materials are treated with special chemicals, which reduce their combustibility. However, with repeated washing, the fire-resistant property can get reduced. So a careful consideration of the manufacturer’s instructions can be a great help.
Here is a couple of welding coats that we love. The first is a heavy-duty one from LeaSeek and is also pocket friendly. Our second pick is a welding cape with a detachable apron and long sleeves. It has a premium price, but it functions as a welding shirt and an apron making it very versatile. This welding cape/jacket is available in different sizes, so it is suitable for everyone.
The best pants for welding are heavy-duty long pants. In addition, the pants should overlap the top of your work boots for optimum protection. During welding, those pants will gradually wear. So, we are looking for pants made out of a heavy fabric like denim or leather.
Of course, if you can get a flame-resistant long pant, that is the best. Here is a flame-resistant long pant that we like. For those looking for affordable welding pants, you can’t go wrong with this one.
Another piece of equipment that is not an absolute necessity but can come in handy is an electrode oven. These ovens are mainly for drying and treating weld joints to make the weld exceptionally strong.
Electrode drying ovens have the capacity to draw energy from welding machines. In cases where the welding electrode is compromised by moisture, baking the weld joint is the preferred way to make the weld stronger.
There are different types of electrode ovens. These include:
- Welding Electrode Rebake Oven
- Welding Flux Storage and Rebake Oven
- Filler Rod Holding Ovens
- Portable Welding Electrode Ovens
- Custom Preheating Ovens
Electrode ovens are mostly used in industrial and commercial scenarios. Some of the common electrode applications are ship bearings, aerospace, shipbuilding, and oil industries.
However, serious home welders can also invest in it. Electrode ovens can make your welding structures exceptionally strong and professional. But these ovens are not cheap by any means. So unless you want to start a welding business or have the funds to splurge, they are not for everyone. Higher-end electrode ovens will carry a more premium price, and they also have higher capacities.
For a home welder or a small unit, a portable electrode oven like this one should suffice. In addition to portability, this electrode drying oven is also affordable. If you want a higher capacity, this one from Keen is a fantastic choice. Keen has some of the best electrode ovens on the market, and this one is no exception.
Other Essential Tools
There are additional tools required for the preparation of the weld. One of them which is absolutely necessary for welding preparation is a grinder. You can check out a grinder manufactured by Bosch. In my opinion, the most reliable one is the Dewalt grinder.
What Projects Can I Do As A Home Welder
Once you get the basics of welding, it can be a fun and rewarding experience. There are many projects that you can perform while welding at home. If you have some level of welding experience, there are limitless projects you can undertake. You can even weld your creations for clients.
However, it is good to weld small things before you can go for big projects. If you are looking for some inspiration, here are some suggestions.
- Fixing fences in the backyard
- Repairing works around the home and property.
- Storage racks in the welding shed or garage
- Building a BBQ smoke as a DIY
- Iron frame board for gym bench
- Receiver hitch for ATV or a truck
- Semi-trailer bumper repair
- Mower deck repair
- Putting up new cutting edges on an excavator
- Welding table legs
- Installing hooks in the garage or a workspace
- Welding or repairing a tree spade
- Repairing garden and farming equipment
- Truck saddle tank repair
These welding projects are by no means exhaustive. Once you get comfortable with welding and you get more confident, you can pretty much weld anything which needs fixing around the house. Gradually, you can begin taking orders from clients by undertaking welding repairs and move up from there.
Additional Tips for Home Welders
- Using personal safety equipment for welding is a non-negotiable issue as it concerns your safety. Your PPE and all materials of clothing on your body must be dry and clean to reduce the possibility of electric shock. In addition, choose clothing that allows free movement.
- Always perform welding on a flat surface. Additionally, before you start any welding project, make sure that the area is clean. Get rid of any moisture, traces of oil and gasoline, paper, and rags that can ignite a fire.
- All welding equipment should be in their proper and designated places. Shielding gas cylinders should be stored in an upright position or in a cart. Following the manufacture’s recommendation is a good place to start.
- Understand the metals that you plan to weld. For instance, aluminum needs careful handling because it is not easy as steel to weld.
- Examine your welding equipment regularly for loose connections or leaks. If you find any leakage problems, replace them immediately.
- Maintain a clutter-free welding environment by minimizing cables and wires minimal. These can become a tripping hazard.
Hopefully, you learned all the necessary actions to start welding in your house. Whether you are a hobbyist or someone who wants to become a professional welder, welding will reward you either financially or spiritually. Just keep practicing by following all the safety features, and you will do fine.