This is part of the PowerMIG 180 Dual Complete Tutorial. This section deals with welding safety equipment, consumables and accessories.
PowerMIG 180 Dual Safety Equipment, Consumables and Accessories
First of all, if you purchase a PowerMIG before March 31, 2014 you are eligible for either a $100 rebate, or a huge package of gear worth over $250. So if you are new to welding, opt for the package which includes a nice helmet, gloves, a jacket and more. Fill out the online form here after you purchase.
Required Safety Equipment
The most important piece of equipment you can own as a welder is a nice helmet. There are two kinds: standard flip-up helmets, and auto-darkening helmets.
Non Automatic Helmets
The old fashioned type of helmet uses a dark lens which is impossible to see through in normal light. You’ve seen welders wearing a helmet who set up to weld and then flip the helmet down to begin. These helmets are extremely cheap, but they can also cause problems as the very act of flipping it down shakes your body which can cause you to move your hands and make a sloppy weld.
At times you will also forget to flip the helmet down while setting up because you’re concentrating, or you’ll squeeze the trigger just a second before the helmet is down – each of which are very bad for your eyes.
An auto-darkening helmet is one with a clear lens, which instantaneously turns black when a weld is detected. This allows a welder to put the helmet on, set up what they need to do, and then begin to work without worrying about anything.
By the way, there are different shades of lens darkness, and depending on what you are welding you need to make sure your helmet is set to the appropriate shade. Here’s a guide to setting for MIG, TIG, and stick welding.
All of the auto-darkening helmets can pretty much do the range of 9-13, which should be fine for most uses. For oxy-fuel welding (gas) shades should be in the range of 4-8.
The cheapest auto-darkening welding helmets you can buy are at harbor freight. I neither recommend them, or tell you to avoid them. They seem to get the job done, but I have no way of telling if they are more or less effective than more expensive helmets – so consider that if your eyes are damaged, it’s permanent.
The Lincoln Electric welding kit that I received included a 3350 series helmet. This helmet goes for $225 on Amazon, and its got a very large field of view – much bigger than the cheap Harbor Freight model as you can see. All that extra visibility helps in ways you can’t imagine until you use it.
Another helmet that I really love comes from Save Phace. They have a unique design that sandwiches a small auto-darkening lens inside a full 180 degree fixed lens, giving you tremendous visibility. Plus, Save Phace makes the coolest looking helmets around and can even make you one with a completely custom paint job like mine.
When you’re welding, the liquid metal puddle puts out tremendous radiation. We wear a face mask to protect our eyes from damage, but your arms and body are also exposed and will quickly burn if not covered (looks and feels like a sunburn, only worse).
The Lincoln Electric Red Line jacket that comes with the rebate kit is quite nice. It has leather sleeves, but the body is cotton which means its a lot cooler for welding in when its hot outside.
If you’re looking for more protection, or it’s cold outside, you might want to consider a full leather jacket. In this case, most of the ones you’ll find are brown leather, however Caiman makes a full black leather jacket that I love.
It’s vented in the back and under the arms, and all of the stitching is Kevlar. It’s also made of boar hide and pigskin leather which is a little lighter than cow. Finally, the jacket is fully lined, so it slips on nicely over anything else you are wearing. Heck, I could wear this thing all the time!
PROTECT YOUR HANDS! You are going to get burned. It’s the nature of welding. So buy a whole bunch of gloves, and learn to love wearing them. The ones that come in the Lincoln kit are just fine. Nice and soft so you can easily handle things. Although, if you’re going to be doing a LOT of welding, you might want some heavier gloves. Especially if you’re welding thick material. Here’s a whole bunch of options on Amazon.
Consumables for the PowerMIG 180 Dual
As you use the machine, certain parts are designed to wear out and be replaced or used up. I’ve detailed the parts you can expect to be replacing over time here. Other things might wear out, but generally speaking it would take a LOT of welding for that to happen, and by then you probably already know how to deal with say a drive roll or wire guide replacement.
Contact Tips are the little copper tips that stick out of the end of the torch. The wire is in contact with these tips as they move through the little hole, and this is where the current is supplied to the electrode. There are three sizes, though I can’t find a part number for the largest. .025 and .035 are available for flux-core or MIG. The largest .045 is for flux core only.
- .025 in. (0.6 mm) Contact Tips (Qty 3) (KH710)
- .035 in. (0.9 mm) Contact Tips (Qty 3) (KH712)
- .045 in. (1.1 mm) Contact Tip
The best way to get a hold of these tips is to check Google for your local Lincoln Electric dealer and give them a call and tell ’em what you need. No need to hunt everywhere. The pricing is going to basically all be the same.
If you are welding without any shielding gas, you are going to need plenty of Innershield Flux-core Wire. This is only good for welding mild steel (not stainless, aluminum or any other metal). It is essentially a hollow tube of steel containing material in the middle that turns to gas when heated, thereby creating its own shielding gas so you don’t have to buy a bottle.
MIG Shielding Gas
If you pick up a bottle of 75%/25% Argon/CO2 gas you can set your machine up for MIG welding. In that case you’ll need a plain mild steel weld spool. Again, this is only good for welding mild steel (not stainless, aluminum or any other metal).
A 55-60 cu/ft cylinder will generally cost around $250 filled with gas at a welding supply store. You can get a 40 cu/ft cylinder shipped full for $156 plus shipping.
Ok, you can’t really just carry the welder around, so you’ll need a small rolling cart to put it on eventually. You could make your own, but it’s probably not cost effective. I purchased this little Lincoln Welder cart, though I don’t love it.
There is another one on Amazon which is extremely highly rated and under $80 which I believe I would have gone with if I’d have known.
You absolutely must have a set of MIG welding pliers. You use them for snipping off the wire from the gun, and also for holding things you want to weld. If you spend a little more and get the US-made ones they are going to work a lot better and for a lot longer.
Metal Gauge Wheel
The only way to properly set up your machine for welding is to know the thickness of the material you are welding. This is where a measuring device like a metal gauge wheel or a set of digital calipers comes in handy. You can pick up a metal gauge thickness wheel on Amazon. They’ve also got digital calipers.
After you weld stuff, you often have to grind those welds down, either to inspect them, or for appearance purposes. So get a GOOD grinder because you’re going to use it a LOT.
I prefer the DeWalts. They are easier to use and last forever. I especially like the heavy duty one for $109, but even the normal $89 is fine (I have 3). I wouldn’t recommend anything below that price point for long-term use.
You also need a bunch of flap discs to use on the angle grinder. You can’t win with these. The really cheap ones wear down almost instantly. The expensive ones are… expensive. You’ll go through a lot. So get a few of each and see which you prefer.
There are MANY more accessories you can purchase for welding, but I concentrated on the basics. If you have questions, or need recommendations for other stuff, drop a comment below and I’ll point you in the right direction.
You may want to head back to the rest of the PowerMIG 180 Dual Complete Tutorial.