Welding is the permanent joining of two metals. In contrast to bonding or soldering -- which joins metals with a third substance -- welding actually melts two pieces of metal together to make a very strong singular piece. There are different welding systems that use electricity and gases; each has its particular purpose and required basic materials.
Arc Welding Materials
Using an electric arc welder is probably what most of us imagine when we think of welding -- bright light and lots of sparks. This type of welding uses high-voltage electricity to generate the heat needed for welding. The basic arc welding materials include an electric arc welding machine, handheld welding rods that melt and are used to help join the metals, grounding wire and clamp and electric power cords to deliver the electricity to the welding site.
Gas Welding Materials
TIG and MIG styles of gas welding use electricity and stored pressurized gas. TIG uses a welding rod; MIG uses a continuously feeding wire instead of a handheld rod. Oxyacetylene welding uses a high temperature gas torch and welding rods, but no electricity. The basic gas welding materials include torches, pressurized gases stored in tanks, TIG and MIG welding machines and welding rods or wire. Each type of gas welder has commercial, household and hobby uses.
Personal Protective Equipment for Welding
Welding produces harmful bright light, heat, sparks, sharp pieces of metal and noxious gases. Some basic protective materials are a hood with a dark protective eyeglass to prevent injury to the eyes and upper body, a particle mask to filter breathing air, leather gloves, nonflammable long-sleeved shirt, leather shoes and jeans. Some people opt for a leather apron to protect skin from being burned by flying metal shavings.
Basic Tools for Welding
Hammers are used to help align materials being welded and to break off frayed pieces of metal. Sandpaper or an electric grinder is used to properly fit mitered joints and smooth out a rough weld joint. Large pliers are important to move and adjust hot metals. A square is used to align metal into square corners. A hacksaw, power saber saw or miter saw with an abrasive cutting wheel can be used for cutting metal to the proper size.
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