The first step in welding preparation is deciding which method of welding to use. This will depend on the skill level of the welder and the equipment available. If welding outdoors, you will need to consider the weather – it’s not a good idea to perform MIG or TIG welding in windy conditions, which could blow away the protective gases that shield the weld from oxidation.
Before firing up a welding torch, it’s important to be fully prepared with all the necessary welding materials and equipment, along with the metal pieces to be welded.
Preparing metal for welding should include inspection and removal of any rust or paint using steel wool or a grinder with a wire brush. You also may need to remove an old or bad weld with a grinder. Some types of welding can be accomplished even with rusty or dirty metal parts, or on painted metal. However, without cleaning off contaminants such as coatings, dust or debris from the metal surface, the final weld may be weak or defective.
Materials for welding include not only the welding machines themselves, but all sorts of equipment and supplies. Consumables include welding wire, solder, brazing rods, flux, anti-spatter, and stick electrodes. You will need MIG wire contact tips for the welding torch, and replacement gas nozzles and diffusers. Soapstone can be used to visibly mark the desired welding path so that it can be seen even through a darkened face shield. Various metal weld-on tabs may be necessary to create handles, holes, or flanges welded onto pipes or other objects.
To protect skin from sparks you will need to wear personal protective equipment, including leather welding bibs, overalls or aprons, leather gloves, long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and leather shoes. An auto-darkening welding helmet allows the welder to see as clearly as possible without eye damage, even in the strong light of the welding flame. Fiberglass welding blankets can also be used to prevent the spread of sparks.
You may need a variety of welding magnets for holding the metal pieces in different configurations or for welding thin pieces of sheet metal. Projects of various sizes and shapes require different types of magnets, including squares with various angles options, Adjust-O magnets that turn on and off, sheet metal magnets, corner magnets, and snake magnets. Clamps, adjustable welding tables and workstands can also help hold parts in the necessary position.