Hi all, I'm thinking of getting one or two welding helmets for X-mas.
I've got a Dayton welder in the barn that I've used a little,
with an old flip style helmet. My son (age 14) has gotten into metal working
and would like to try welding. There are a huge number of options.
Here's one review.
From which I'm thinking of the Antra for ~$50, or perhaps the
classic Miller for a bit more.
I may be the least qualified to respond on this. My welding helmet is about
5 years old, and cost $35. I had just read a review of both high and low e
nd helmets ands the bottom line was the reaction time/eye protection was th
e same, but the ergonomics was the difference.
Within a year of very occasional use, the headgear inside the helmet fell
apart. The fix is to buy a quality replacement for $30 or so. That puts t
he price range back in the total for a name-brand with the good parts.
So I think if I were buying today I'd be shopping in the $100 range just
to get decent hardware that will hold up.
I've had two HF automatic hoods. The cheaper one did not easily have a way
to change the batteries and I destroyed it trying to cut the compartment
open. The more expensive one ($10 or 15 difference) was easy to change
batteries, but I managed to break it after a couple years it was quick
enough to go dark, but was slow to go light when you shut off the arc. I
liked the cheaper one better for that because there are some thin metal
welding methods that really benefit from being able to see the weld
bead/spot very quickly ater the arc shuts off. I bought a Miller automatic
and I like it fairly well, but I bumped something with it welding under a
trailer, and broke the adjustment knob off. I still use it all the time,
but I can't lighten the shade easily anymore. LOL. Your mileage may vary.
Regardless of what you decide to use I truly believe an automatic wedling
helmet improved my welding more than anything else except maybe learning
what duty cycle means and that I just need to stop welding and let my
machine cool down when it starts throwing a bad bead whether it has shut
down or not.
I agree with Bob on the viewing area. I bought a Harbor Freight
automatic helmet several years ago and like it.
I also wear glasses and use safety glasses in the shop. If either of you
wear glasses, make sure there is room in the helmet for your glasses.
Take a look at the Kobalt Auto Darkening unit. I replaced an OLD HF unit
with it. (HF unit worked just fine, right up until I drove over it !!!)
Decided I wanted something a bit nicer. The Kobalt is a 4 sensor unit,
solar/Batt. with adjustable sensing, time to clear and shade tint. Also
has a grinding function that I don't use. MUCH lighter than the HF unit
with better headgear.
That's great, Thanks Bob,
(and Gunner, Rex, Paul, Steve.)
I'm pretty much a welding idiot.
My house came with a Dayton buzz box, (with a mis-wired plug.)
I made a few bad welds, and then two that are ugly,
but still holding, and haven't used it since.
(I guess I better make sure it's still working and
mice haven't made nests everywhere inside.)
Any other essential piece of kit I need?
Welding gauntlets (I buy 2-3 pairs of the HF ones a year, they hold up
just as good as the more expensive ones I've used)
Long sleeve treated cotton or leather shirt/jacket to keep you from
getting a burn from the UV and sparks. (I actually use wildland
firefighting shirts, they are either a treated cotton or Nomex type
material, and they are usually much cheaper than the same thing sold at
a welding supply.
Scrap steel and a solid table with a vice for practicing and testing
Grinder w/flap wheels (the great equalizer for the beginning welder)
For completeness, a chipping hammer and wire brush are essential for
stick and flux core welding. A cotton cap and leather shoes help
protect you from hot sparks. When I sit down to weld small delicate
stuff I wear a long leather apron and shoe spats.
Since I can't dedicate a space only for welding I use firebricks to
set up a temporary one shaped like a small barbecue pit. The sides
deflect the wind, conceal the arc flash from neighbors and help hold
pieces in place.
Magnetic angles and C-shaped Vise Grips are often very useful. Clamps
made for welding have copper-plated screws to keep molten spatter from
I got by with one 4-1/2" angle grinder until taking on larger
projects. Then I added a 7" one with dish wheels to remove metal fast
and a couple of cheapo 4" grinders permanently set up with a cup brush
for rust and a cutoff wheel to erase small mistakes. The original
4-1/2" grinder has a fairly fine disk for smoothing anything that
could snag skin or clothing. I don't use flap wheels much only because
the edge of a solid disk smoothes inside corners better.
Unless you are only repairing cracks the steel has to be cut to size
first. Either a chop saw or a 4" x 6" bandsaw will serve for that. I
prefer the bandsaw because it's more versatile and accurate. I use
mine a lot for woodworking, with a 6 TPI blade it will smoothly and
accurately cut 6x6 posts and landscaping timbers.
OK, I've been using my carhart cotton duck jacket, and "the boy" is now
big enough to not get lost in my old ones.
(Or are we liable to start it on fire?)
He's also taken my fire place gloves for his forging work...
I figured they would be fine for welding too.
Yeah I've got plenty of scrap steel :^)
My tool collection grew as projects demanded. The ones I listed were
enough to fabricate a sawmill, a log splitter, and a bucket loader for
The chop saw's advantage is that it will cut thinner or harder steel
better, though both of those are tricky to weld. Its disadvantage is
the shower of glowing sparks that may force you to use it outdoors.
Fortunately my biker neighbors don't mind its loud noise.
Hmm, We used borax to turn toilet paper into non-burnable wadding for
model rocket launches. Same idea.
Welding will be done out in the barn, (concrete floor) away from the house.
(neighbors are at least 1/4 mile away.) Is fire that much of a concern?
Maybe a fire extinguisher for the barn is in order... probably not a bad idea
even without the welding.
I bought my house from a very private man. He didn't want people
pawing through his stuff, so he left it all behind. My tool collection grew
by a factor of 10 or more. Lotsa wood working stuff, but all sorts of other
goodies too. (A list would only make you jealous.) I've been giving or
trading it away to friends and neighbors, but I still have more "toys"
than I have time to play with.
It's impossible for me to tell from here what your specific risks are.
I have an assortment of water-filled extinguishers around the property
and bring one nearby whenever I'm running an engine out beyond hose
range. So far I've only needed them once, when I saw the old man
across the road lying motionless beside his driveway with the grass
fire his acetylene torch had started creeping toward him.
You probably won't see, smell or hear a fire while you are welding.
You won't make -me- jealous, I have more toys than space to store
them. I wasted the morning digging around for wiring harnesses I made
to test a solar panel controller and then put away until time to
install it, which I've finally gotten to.
Its price was $19 when I ordered it, $29 on their website the next
Haybine and serious dump trailer went to the neighbor down
the road.. lots of help with various things.
Little cement mixer, planar and industrial size router table with many bits,
to the guy who put on a new roof.
1/2 a dozen other buckets/ box scrapers and rakes that I still
drag around with my tractor.
The coolest thing is 'my' John Deere 400 backhoe.
She is a tired old gal though. At the moment one of the
side arm cylinders has blown it's seal. I'm not sure
if that's something I can fix myself or not.