21 Tools That Welders Use on the Job

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published March 11, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Welding is a skilled trade that requires numerous technical skills, including the use of various tools. Success as a welder largely depends on knowing what these implements and instruments are and how to use them optimally. If you're interested in pursuing welding as a career, it's important to understand what the role entails and what you can expect from the job in terms of tasks and tools. In this article, we define the role and duties of welders and introduce 21 important tools they use to perform their job.

Related: Learn About Being a Welder

What is a welder?

A welder is a skilled professional who joins materials through the use of high heat, melting the material and causing them to remain fused when cooled. Welding is primarily used to join metals but is also applicable to plastics and woods. This process is useful for fabricating materials, but it can also repair flaws or damages in products and constructions. Welding is an important process in many industries, but the primary employer of welders is the manufacturing sector.

There are also numerous types of welding processes. The most common are:

  • Gas metal arc welding (GMAW): Also known as metal inert gas (MIG) welding, GMAW involves a welding gun that uses a shielding gas around the arc electrode, the latter of which produces an intense heat that brings the fusible materials to their melting points.

  • Gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW): Also known as tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding, GTAW involves a tungsten electrode to create a molten weld pool.

  • Shielded metal arc welding (SMAW): Also known as stick welding, SMAW uses a protected electrode called a stick, which creates a current that can soften and shape metal.

  • Flux-cored arc welding (FCAW): This type of welding uses a hollow tube electrode filled with flux, a flowing agent. The welding is often faster, though it may produce larger volumes of smoke and fumes.

Related: 8 Types of Welding: Definitions and Career Outlook

What do welders do?

A welder's primary responsibility is to apply heat to metal, plastic or wood materials using tools called welding machines, which melt the targeted areas of the material and allow them to fuse with others. The additional duties of a welder may vary depending on their industry or employer, but generally involve:

  • Reviewing and studying technical drawings such as blueprints

  • Examining the materials to be welded, particularly to determine dimensions or detect flaws

  • Initiating power supply and igniting their welding torch

  • Controlling their power supply and welding flame to maintain safety and achieve the desired results

  • Monitoring the welding process to prevent overheating of materials or tools

  • Maintaining their tools, machinery and equipment as needed

Related: 37 Essential Skills You Need To Be a Welder

19 welder tools

Here are 19 tools and accessories that welders use to perform their duties, including information about each one's importance and function:

1. Welding machine

The most important of a welder's tools is the welding machine, which is the primary device they use to fuse materials. Also known as welding guns and welders, these machines provide the power and the parts to generate the heat that melts materials. There are different types of welding machines that correspond with different types of welding:

  • MIG and flux-cored welding machines

  • TIG welding machines

  • Stick welding machines

Each type of machine is suitable for a particular use, feature or material. MIG machines offer high welding speeds and ease of use for both thick and thin materials, TIG machines offer precision for thin materials and nonferrous metals and stick machines are good for thick metals in both indoor and outdoor areas.

2. Shielding gas and cylinder

Shielding gases protect the weld area from atmospheric gases, such as oxygen and water vapor, which can cause challenges to the welding process or compromise the quality of the weld. Shielding gases are a mix of other gases, including helium, carbon dioxide, argon, hydrogen and nitrogen. It's necessary to store the gas mixture in specialized cylinders that simplify use during welds and prevent leaks. Cylinders may come in various sizes and are typically refillable.

3. Consumable electrodes

All arc welding processes use electrodes, wires that produce the arc of electricity that generates the heat for melting materials together in a weld. Electrodes can be consumable or nonconsumable. The difference is that consumable electrodes melt with the metals, becoming an integral part of the weld bond. Such electrodes, necessary for certain types of welding, come in various sizes and materials.

4. Welding helmet

For welders, a welding helmet is essential. Its primary function is to protect the welder's face from fire and sparks, plus their skin and eyes from the heat emitted during the welding process. Some helmets have a darkening feature that automatically shades the visor covering the eyes, providing added protection against ultraviolet and infrared light.

Related: 15 Steps To Ensure Manufacturing Safety

5. Safety glasses

Some types of welding produce less sparking, making safety glasses a sensible and more comfortable form of protective equipment than a helmet. Depending on the structure and design of the welding helmet, it may be necessary to wear additional protective eyewear underneath. Safety glasses for welders provide significant protection against ultraviolet light, helping to prevent the burning of a welder's corneas.

6. Welding gloves

Gloves are another form of essential protective gear for welders. Composed of multiple layers of strong fabrics and insulating material, these specialized gloves protect welders' hands from sparks, flames and heat. When shopping for welding gloves, be aware of the different types available to you. The two main categories are MIG gloves and TIG gloves. The former are generally thicker and easier to cast off in case of overheating, while the latter are thinner, allowing for greater precision movement.

7. Welding boots

Welding boots protect the feet from welding-specific hazards such as metal spatter, molten metal and grinding debris, plus common manufacturing concerns such as heavy objects. Good welding boots are typically made of a strong material, such as leather, and have steel reinforcement in the toe. Some also offer electrical safety, slip resistance and Kevlar stitching.

8. Welding jacket

A welding jacket serves the same function as welding gloves, except for the entire torso. These durable jackets are often made of fire-resistant cotton, leather, nylon, a blend of nylon and Kevlar or specialized proprietary material. Regardless of its composition, a welding jacket offers protection against the common hazards of welding—sparks, flames, heat and metal splatter.

9. Welding sleeves

Welding sleeves are an alternative to a welding jacket, particularly for welding jobs that require a greater range of motion. Typically made of leather, Kevlar or flame-resistant cotton, these protective garments often come with adjustable straps for easy slip-on, though there are some worn much like a jacket with the bottom section for the torso removed. Aside from keeping the upper arms and forearms safe from debris and spatter, the sleeves can also prevent sparks from igniting the welder's clothing.

10. Welding apron

A welding apron is an external protective garment that protects the welder's entire front side or below the waist, depending on the type worn. Made of strong, durable material, these aprons keep welders safe from sparks and sharp pieces of metal. High-end aprons are often made of cowhide or pigskin leather, though there are others that are heavy cotton or denim.

11. MIG pliers

MIG pliers have various uses. Welders can use them to remove the hot nozzle from their welding gun to unscrew the contact tip of the gun and to clip the wire sticking out of the gun. In some cases, the pliers can function as a vice grip to hold hot pieces of metal.

12. Welding magnets

Welding magnets are very strong magnets used to hold pieces in place during the welding process. These magnets have varying strengths. The most commonly used types have pulls of 25, 50 or 75 pounds, and the strongest can pull up to 1,000 pounds. With such holding strength, welding magnets are capable of holding materials at 45-, 90- and 135-degree angles.

13. C clamps

C clamps, also known as G clamps, are large devices shaped like the letter "C" or "G." Welders can use these clamps to secure their work to a surface, such as a table. Clamping the material in this way can help to prevent the material from warping as it heats up from the welding process.

14. Angle grinder

An angle grinder is a type of handheld power tool that's useful in numerous ways. Welders use them to cut metal pieces, remove paint from materials and grind materials. It can also be useful for polishing and cleaning metals and sharpening bladed tools.

15. Chipping hammer

A chipping hammer is a hammer with a long, narrow head. One side of the head is pointed, and the other is flat. A chipping hammer is necessary for MIG welding, which leaves behind slag—a residue of flux coating. The purpose of the chipping hammer is to chip away the slag, producing a cleaner and easier-to-manage weld.

16. Speed square

A speed square is a triangular measuring tool. Because of its shape, welders can use it to measure materials at multiple angles for making cuts. There are also measuring and marking features on the inner areas of the speed square, allowing welders to use the tool as a sort of stencil for drawing straight lines parallel by a specific measurement to the edge of the material.

17. Sheet metal gauge

A sheet metal gauge is another type of measuring tool. Shaped like a gear with variable-size cogs or teeth, sheet metal gauges allow welders to measure the widths of different pieces of metal. The width between each tooth corresponds with a standard sheet metal width, and the welder can use that information to determine their welding settings.

18. Metal file

A metal file is a rod- or bar-shaped metal tool with an abrasive surface. Its function for welders is to remove rough edges from cut metal. Because it's a small tool that a welder can operate with one hand, it's useful for smoothing fine edges, whereas an angular grinder is better suited for larger, rougher burrs.

19. Soapstone

Soapstone is a relatively soft form of rock with a high talc content. Welders use rods of soapstone to mark their work materials. Because of its composition, it works like chalk on metallic surfaces. It's capable of withstanding the heat of the welding process.

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