What are the essentials that every welder needs? Setting up a welding shop doesn't have to be prohibitively expensive, but there are a few things that you have to have. Let's start with protective clothing. Every welder needs a good jacket, a welding hat, gloves, your most important safety tool, foot protection. For cutting and oxy-acetylene welding, tinted safety goggles. And for arc welding a proper, well-fitting arc welding hood.
Let's talk equipment. Every welder needs a good oxygen-acetylene setup. Your oxygen bottles. Your acetylene bottles. These can be leased from your local welding supplier. Each bottle has its own gauge or regulator. You need hoses, the torch body, and your torch attachments. I set up my first oxy-acetylene setup for less than 500 dollars by visiting pawn shops, garage sales, and leaning on local suppliers.
Every shop needs a sturdy steel-top work table, preferably with a vice attached. Hand tools fall into two categories, for fabrication and finishing. Now the saying goes, "Whoever dies with the most tools wins." But here are a few essentials that we think that no metal shop should be without. Two or more good, sturdy hammers, clamps for securing work, vice grips for handling hot metal, a cold chisel for cleaning slag, a chipping hammer for cleaning slag off of metal as well, wire brushes for more detailed finishing work, and no shop should be without its own four-inch grinder with an assortment of finishing wheels and wire brushes. For that fine hand work, you can't beat a set of nice files.
Every shop needs a good arc welder. Now there are all kinds of arc welders from simple to fancy, but this little one here is referred to in the industry as a cracker box. It's an ideal welder for a first-timer. It's inexpensive, lightweight, and very versatile. You'll also need a selection of welding rods, depending on what kinds of materials, thickness, and welding you want to do.