If you're a beginner planning on taking up Metal Inert Gas (MIG) Welding as a hobby, you have to start with a few necessary accessories and equipment. Unfortunately, it's easy for you to fall into the trap of buying what you want instead of what you need. As a result, you tend to overlook important things, and you end up risking your safety.
Before you run to the shop and buy every shining MIG welding equipment that catches your attention, you must first consider safety. You have to start your welding hobby with the essential equipment needed for MIG welding—equipment that keeps you safe and worry-free. That's what this article is about.
If you're an absolute beginner at MIG welding, this helpful guide will introduce you to the different types of safety equipment needed. In this article, you'll find out what features you should be looking for on each safety accessory when you go out and buy them.
MIG welding is no doubt a risky endeavor to get into. Several things in your workspace could endanger you physically. That statement isn't meant to dissuade you, though. It is a fulfilling hobby to take on, especially when you reach the level wherein you're making valuable tools, repairs, or modifying objects. To do that, you need to have the proper safety equipment to make sure you're safe from start to finish. Take a look at this essential MIG welding accessories list and find out what you should put into your shopping cart.
The helmet's primary purpose is to protect your face and eyes from hot metal sparks that fly off during the welding activity. In addition, it also protects your face and eyes from the harmful Ultraviolet light (UV) emitted when the torch heats the workpiece. Therefore, we recommend you get a welding helmet worn on your head instead of held. Also, please choose the one with an auto-dim lens because it will protect your eyes from overexposure to light. An excellent entry-level welding helmet should have at least three and eleven shades.
Sparks and spatters can also go to your neck, arms, and torso and can cause burns. Metal spatters can have temperatures between 500 to 1200 degrees celsius, so it's no light matter to get burned by it. The intense heat could burn through any regular clothing you have on and get to your skin. When scouting for a welding jacket, consider the thickness of the fabric and the season. If it's summer, you might want to consider a jacket made of cotton. On the other hand, for colder seasons, leather would be ideal. Choose a jacket that covers the skin from your neck to your wrist.
If your welding jacket protects your upper body, your welding pants protect your lower half. When choosing welding pants, be sure to check if it is fire-resistant. In addition, it should be lightweight so that you can be comfortable moving around your workspace. You should also not forget to check if the zippers and the button on your welding pants are anti-static. Lastly, the pants should have a boot-cut opening so you can tuck them in your work boots, making sure there is no exposed skin.
Your hands are the most at risk when you're welding. The hands are the ones closest to the MIG welder that emits the heat and causes the spatter. To weld without gloves on is simply a no-no. Welding with the wrong gloves is also dangerous. Putting on a glove that doesn't support the type of welding you're doing could cause you to slip or lose your grip.
When you go out to buy a welding glove, ask the shop clerk for a MIG-specific welding glove. You have to get the one that's flame-retardant. That means it shouldn't catch fire when a spatter falls on it. Also, it should be thick enough to resist the spatter's heat until it dies down. The heat and the spatters could put your entire arm at risk, so be sure to get the MIG welding gloves that cover your lower arm and look like a gauntlet. In addition, it has to be comfortable to wear so you can weld longer.
Welding can emit loud noises when you fire up the torch towards the workpiece material. Prolonged exposure to this noise can damage your eardrums. There's also that risk of metal spatters going into your ultra-sensitive ear and can put you off. The best ear protection is the one that covers the entire ear and has a noise-canceling feature. When searching for ear protection, consider if it would also fit your ears when your welding helmet is on.
Even though your foot is far from where the action is, it's still at risk for burns due to the falling spatters. Your foot also has the most risk of getting injured from sharp or heavy objects when you cut pieces of metal sheets or tubes. Your foot is also at risk of stepping on wires lying on the ground; this can cause electrocution. To make sure you're fully protected from head to toe, you'll need work boots to protect your foot. When looking for work boots, you have to make sure they can cover your entire foot and ankle, as any exposed skin is a risk. The toe box should also be made of rigid material so it can protect your toes and deflect any falling objects. Lastly, the boots should be Electrical Hazard (EH) rated, which means the materials used for the boots are non-conductive.
The MIG welding accessories mentioned above are your Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)—these accessories will make sure you're covered from any potential hazards that come with MIG welding.
These accessories are non-negotiable. Don't go out and buy a welding machine and start welding until you have all these items beforehand. You are responsible for your safety and protection. Besides, you can only enjoy MIG welding fully if you know you're free from any potential dangers that come with it.