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Welding Wisdom for Beginners

by Alecia Joubert

In this series we will discuss all the tips and tricks you need to know to get started on your arc welding project. First things first, what equipment will you need?

A welding helmet

The most important thing to look for when buying a welding helmet is the auto-darkening function. Yes, this is sometimes a little more expensive, but you need to be able to see your welding project even when there is no welding spark. In addition, you also want your helmet to be adjustable so it will fit comfortably on your head. Helmets, like hats are not one size fits all.

A welding helmet is an absolute must-have. It
protects your eyes, face and neck.
A welding helmet with an auto-darkening
function and adjustable strap is ideal.

Inverter welder

This is the machine that does the welding. There are hundreds of different welding machines (inverters) on the market. Here’s what to look for when buying yours:

• As a beginner look for an inverter 200. This means that the inverter can generate a current up to 200 A. You can get one that generates more but make sure you have one that can at least reach 200 A.

• Make sure your inverter has adjustable dials, one for arc force and one for current.

• Check that the power cable and the welding clamps cable are included. Both must be sturdy, well insulated and should not be damaged in any way.

Make sure your inverter welder has dials for adjusting arc force and current.

Arc welding rods

Basic beginners guide to arc welding rods – the thicker the metal you want to weld, the thicker the welding rod and the thinner the metal you want to weld, the thinner the welding rod. For practice use 2,5 mm welding rods.

Your power source should have a working earth leakage circuit breaker to prevent
shock-related injuries.

Protective clothing

When welding you are working with very hot metal. These are some things you need to keep yourself safe.

• Leather apron: A simple cotton/polyester apron will not work as it is too flammable and not heat resistant.

• Closed toe shoes, with rubber soles: Your shoes must cover your toes to keep them safe from burns. Rubber soles will add another layer of protection against electric shock.

• Thick leather gloves: These are necessary for picking up hot metal. Keep in mind that for the actual welding you will not use them. They make it too difficult to maintain control over your welding rod.

• Long sleeved shirt and full-length trousers: This is to protect your arms and legs from burns. Make sure to wear a material that is nice and thick and not very flammable like jeans or overalls.

Make sure that welding cables are included and not damaged in any way.

Pinch pliers

Look for nice sturdy pinch pliers to handle the hot metal. Rubber- or plastic-coated handles are best.

Chipping hammer

A chipping hammer is necessary for chipping away the protective coating on your welding work known as slag.

Welding bench / table

Make sure you have a nice sturdy table or bench to do your welding projects on. This table or bench should be made of steel not wood as it will burn.

It is a good idea to practice on some scrap pieces of metal before trying to weld your on
project. Make sure that your practice plates are clean and rust-free.

Welding area

Your welding area should be well ventilated as welding releases a gas that should not be inhaled in high concentrations. Your area should also have a reliable power source. All power cables should be well insulated and out of the way. Your power source should also have an Earth Leakage Circuit Breaker. This will ensure that there are no shock related accidents.

A thick leather apron and thick leather gloves
protect you from burns.

Practice steel plate

The best steel to practice on would be 3 mm thick mild steel. It should be 3 mm thick as this should prevent you from burning holes straight through the steel; something beginners are prone to do. Mild steel is the best steel to practice on as it is the most common steel used in arc welding projects, and you are most likely to work with it in the future. Congratulations! You are now ready to move on to the practice part of learning to weld. In the next article we will tell you all you need to know to get practicing and become a proficient welder. We thank Dirk Steyn for providing the information used in this article.

This article was brought to you by Kamcare Social and Training Services.

Safety is always the most important part when it comes to welding. Always make
sure that you wear a welding helmet, closed shoes, thick clothing such as overalls, a
leather apron and thick leather gloves.

We offer Welding and other training courses. For more information please contact us on 012-756-4223 or send an e-mail to Also visit our website at

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