A few years back I bought a Hobart 120v. -140 Amp mig machine.
I got an electronic helmet with the purchase.
I had a terrible time welding with the machine. I just could not see the
work at all. I could sometimes see the puddle but when welding a butt
joint, I just wandered off the line.
I hardly ever used the machine after alot of experimenting with it and the
...just last week when I needed the mig for a 'finer' job than 3/32 rod, I
rolled my work up to the mig 'shack' and started welding. 3/16" to 3/16"
steel and the work was in the direct sunlight. That made all the difference
it the world. I could see the work and the puddle and was amazed at how
well the machine worked once the vision thing was eliminated.
Might be time to replace that helmet with something that works better.
Optrel makes Great helmets..but they are a bit..dear....
Mine was a gift from a pro welder whom I did some favors for. Gods but
I love it!!
Now that Harbor Freight helmet..the blue one..is a very nice helmet and
only $50..about $35 when they go on sale.
"Lenin called them "useful idiots," those people living in
liberal democracies who by giving moral and material support
to a totalitarian ideology in effect were braiding the rope that
would hang them. Why people who enjoyed freedom and prosperity worked
passionately to destroy both is a fascinating question, one still with us
today. Now the useful idiots can be found in the chorus of appeasement,
reflexive anti-Americanism, and sentimental idealism trying to inhibit
the necessary responses to another freedom-hating ideology, radical Islam"
Bruce C. Thornton, a professor of Classics at American University of Cal State
Yeah, being able to see makes all the difference in welding. You've got to
find a helmet that works for you, along with the correct glasses or
magnifying lenses if you have any vision problems. Every time I see
someone having problems welding, it's been because they couldn't see well
The higher end electronic helmets have darkness controls that normally
solve the problem of being able to see, but bright light really helps when
you can get it.
With stick welding, an important trick it took me some time to learn (I'm
slow at times) is to lift your rod to create a longer arc for a moment to
light up your path so you can make sure you know where you are going - then
lower it back into the weld and continue. When deep down in a grove, it
can be very hard to see where you are and for out of position welds, it's
all too easy to become disoriented and loose track of what direction you
are supposed to be heading in. There's nothing more embarrassing than
seeing you wandered an inch off the butt joint in the middle of the weld.
I get my eyes checked every so often and ask the doc to write me a prescription
for what is essentially reading glasses (all I need for correction) but with a
focal length of 18" instead of 12". Then I order glasses using this prescription
from optical4less.com where they are CHEAP. I wear these for general shop work
and especially for welding. I also order some regular readers at the same time.
They cost about the same as from the drugstore but are well made. I've done this
twice now over about 3 years, still have all 4 pairs of glasses, all in good
That's a good idea Grant, I do essentially the same thing. I have had good
luck buying cheap three packs of reading glasses at Sam's for $19.95. Over
the years I have gone from 1.25 to 1.5 and now 1.75. I have found using
first my old 1.25s, and now my old 1.5s work good for my computer, shop and
welding. Right now I also keep a few 2.0s around for grinding tool bits,
reading really fine print on small bearings, and other really close work.
I learned that years ago. Its awesome isn't it. I also found that if you
put three or four of those dual head 500 watt halogen flood lamps on your
work piece you can do the work at night or indoors just as easily back when
I just had a cheap dark non-automatic hood.
Not sure what the issue was with your electronic helmet. Both of mine are
Harbor Freight hoods, and there are darkness ranges recommended based on the
type of welding you do. The only difference in performance between the
cheaper one and the more expensive one is the flimsyness of the "feel."
Well, the more expensive one has easily replaceable batteries, and goes
clear slower. I noticed I can weld better if I set the hood in the range
for the technique I am using rather than just setting it to max dark like my
old standard hood.
Bob La Londe
A major factor in welding vision is cleanliness of the filter and clear
covers in the helmet. If you have a clear shield in front of your filter
and one behind, along with a diopter correction in the helmet, you have a
total of 8 surfaces that can collect dust, smoke and scratches. When these
are a little dirty, you can still see the work pretty well when you're not
welding, but the bright light from the ark scatters on the way to your eyes,
and you wind up with a foggy view of what is really going on.
Wandering off course embarrassing? I once welded the bearing in a caster
when I was tryig to weld the caster to a frame.
I was going to add a note about CLEAN shields but Leo beat me to it! It
works wonders. If I am going to do something critical, I put in NEW
clear shields and clean the the filter lens carefully.
I also have filters in 9, 10, and 11, depends on what I'm doing. Tack
welding and fitup is so much easier with a lighter lens.
I have trifocals, the auto dark helmets have the view port in the wrong
spot. Unless I want to get a specialty prescription, I am stuck with a
regular helmet, large lens.
Leo Lichtman wrote:
...just last week when I needed the mig for a 'finer' job than 3/32 rod, I
Has anyone tried putting a typical 500W halogen shop worklight nexto the
I havent fired up my Hobart 140 yet (honeydo job list is ahead of the
welder) but was wondering if it would throw enough light to make the work
more easily visible thru the helmet window/lens
Maybe it's just me, but if I can't see the weld seam, even at night or with
room light - I have either neglected to put on my reading glasses, or by
clear lens needs to be changed. I wouldn't think under normal conditions,
seeing the weld seam should be a problem.
Also on practice passes, always try to brace at least the elbow of your
opposite hand/arm on something solid, and check to make sure you can move
your hands the length of each continuous weld without moving your elbow, or
binding the weld cable, before you drop your hood and begin welding. Comfort
and bracing is very important if you are having problems and your situation
allows it. Yes, I often weld free hand with one hand today, but I have been
doing this a long time. But even today, if I'm in a difficult position or
want most attractive bead possible, I still do these things today.
Putting anything from a 60 watt trouble light to a 500 watt worklight is
helpful to a newbie. You can put the trouble light closer to the work,
you want the light to shine sideways (like a sunset) to create clear
This is likely the right track. without glasses I can see much better in
the sunlight than in artificial light.
If you get a bigger welder big fat rods like 7024 or even fat 7018 you
really don't have to see what you are doing the flux crumbles away as the
rod gets shorter.
One doesn't need a MIG or TIG helmet for plasma cutting
unless you cut sideways. I cut downward and the beam is behind
my glove and torch. I also - as you should - get the metal
deflector that mounts on the torch - if you have a Hypertherm
and I suspect others have them. They keep the hand from
getting roasted. It is a double layer that has air between.
I use brazing goggles or hood and at the very least glasses / goggles
If I have to do a lot of horizontal cutting I might consider a hood.
I use brazing goggle when looking at my CNC table cutting - from 6' away.
I have progressive lenses and had the same problem at first. To see close
up, I have to look out the bottom of my glasses, but there was no way to
adjust the helmet enough so I could do that. And I have a bad enough
astigmatism that using simply magnifiers alone wouldn't let me see well
enough to weld.
But them I figured out how the bifocal prescription worked and how the
optics of glasses work. If you have an astigmatism, it means you need
different strength lenses in one axis vs another. But when you get
bifocals, the only difference in the reading part of the lens, is a simply
addition of magnification. A prescription might be written as +2.00 add
for the near vision or bifocal part of the prescription. What that means,
is that to turn your distance prescription, into a reading perspiration,
you simply have to add a 2.00 diopter magnifier.
When lens strength is measured in diopters, they simply add when you
combine lenses (or close enough). If you look though a 1.00 diopter lens
and a 2.00 diopter lens at the same time, the effect is basically the same
as using a single 3.00 diopter lens.
And that's how the reading prescription works as well. If your reading
prescription is written as +2 add, then that means you can turn you
distance prescription, into your reading prescription, simply by adding a
+2.00 diopter magnifying lens to your helmet. Which is exactly what I
did. Which means I can wear my normal progressive bifocals, and look
straight out with the distance part of the glasses, but because of the
combined effect of the magnifiers, I'm effectively getting my reading
prescription that way, and can see the weld just fine.
It seems to me that this trick should work for anyone that needs glasses.
Adding a magnifier to your helmet will turn you distance prescription, into
a close up "welding" prescription, and allow you to use the distant part of
your bifocals (or trifocals) to see at a welding distance - so that you
don't have to buy a very expensive large window helmet. It certainly works
well for me.
The drawback is that you can't see far away - so if you want to walk around
and do distance work with your helmet down, or do grinding with your helmet
down, that won't work. I never do that however, I flip the helmet up for
everything except for close up welding so only being able to see well close
up when the helmet is down works fine for me.