If you’d like to get started with welding, there are several essential tools you’ll want to buy right away to ensure good results and save yourself time and frustration.
To help you get off to a great start, we’ve put together the following list of welding tools that every welder should have.
With these affordable and effective welding tools in your workshop, you’ll be well-prepared for countless hours of successful welding!
Please note that we are not including welding safety equipment in this list. To learn about must-have safety gear for welding, check out our Welding Safety Equipment (PPE) Guide.
You may have heard this classic adage before... “Measure twice, cut once!” This is, of course, to prevent mistakes.
It is also critical, however, to make sure you have the right tools for the job.
Measuring twice won’t help you at all if you don’t have good measuring instruments in the first place!
Here are the essential measuring tools you will want to have on hand for just about any welding project that you may encounter.
For quick measurements and layout on your workpieces, the speed square will often be your most useful tool.
A standard speed square has many functional markings and cut-outs for use as a straight-edge, ruler, protractor, square, or scribing/marking guide.
For welding, we recommend a magnetic speed square with high-contrast markings, like the Milwaukee MLSQM070 7-inch Magnetic Rafter Square.
Sheet Metal Gauge:
A standard sheet metal gauge is a great time-saving tool, and more affordable than other measuring tools such as calipers or micrometers.
You can very quickly determine the thickness of your material with one of these handy devices. It also can be used to measure wire sizes.
Tape measures come in all shapes and sizes.
For welding, we recommend a magnetic tape measure such as the Komelon 7125 Magnetic Monster MagGrip Tape Measure.
It has a magnetic, double-ended hook, and a nylon-coated blade that’s printed on both sides.
This makes it far more versatile than your average tape measure.
When welding, it’s common to encounter situations where things need to be ‘square’.
This might be an inside square corner or an outside one.
Depending on the workpiece size and the accuracy required, you may need several different tools at your disposal for marking or verifying those 90-degree angles.
Three highly versatile squaring tools to consider for such tasks are:
Framing Square – For marking and checking squareness on large workpieces.
Machinist Square – For more accurate marking and checking of squareness.
Combination Square – Can be used on its own or in conjunction with other layout tools.
Like tape measures, there’s a different level available for every situation. For welding, it’s nice to have levels that are both magnetic AND durable.
Our top pick for a versatile welding level is Empire Level’s 8-inch True Blue Magnetic Billet Torpedo Level.
It’s competitively priced, accurate, and very tough.
For situations requiring a longer level, you really can’t go wrong with the 48-inch Magnetic I-Beam Level, also from Empire Level.
The combination square mentioned earlier has a built-in level as well.
Keep in mind, however, that the small bubble level built into any combination square will typically be less accurate than a high-quality level like those mentioned above.
It’s not enough to merely have good measurement and layout tools.
You will also need something to actually create markings on the metal, obviously.
And no, the typical office pens and pencils just aren’t going to work!
A soapstone is essentially a thin, rectangular stick of high-quality chalk used for marking your workpiece.
This affordable material holds up well to heat/flame and has good visibility when welding.
It also cleans off easily.
This marking tool will likely be your first choice for quick welding layouts.
And for your first soapstone purchase, we recommend the Hobart 770087 Soapstone Holder with 4 included Refills.
A scribe is simply a sharp-pointed metal tool that is used to scratch, or scribe, a permanent marking into the surface of a metal workpiece.
If you need to do accurate and precise layout work, this tool can create extremely fine markings that will not get cooked off or wiped away.
When working with steel, you’ll want to use a carbide scribe like the General Tools 88CM Tungsten Carbide Scribe and Magnet.
Tungsten carbide is an incredibly hard metal commonly used for cutting tools in metalworking.
If used properly, a carbide scribe will last through countless jobs, even when marking on steel.
Permanent markers are not all created equal.
Like many items on this list, if your intent is to use it for welding, you will want to choose a permanent marker that is well-suited for this demanding application.
The Sharpie Industrial Permanent Markers are specially designed for industrial use and can withstand temperatures up to 500° F.
We recommend an ultra-fine point for the most precise markings.
As with most metal-working projects, there will be times during your welding projects where you will need to cut, file, deburr, or grind on your workpiece.
With a few carefully selected tools, you’ll be able to make quick work of these tasks!
Oxy-Acetylene Torch Setup:
For more serious cutting, you’ll want to set up an oxy-acetylene torch.
Not only can this type of tool cut through steel up to 6” thick, but it can also be used for brazing, heating, and... welding!
For more information on oxy-acetylene kits, as well as their set up and use, please give this article a read: Best Oxy Acetylene Cutting Torch Kit.
Another frequent-use item for any welder is the angle grinder.
And once again, today’s busy marketplace has a massive range of products to offer!
For the grinder itself, you will want something that is powerful, reliable, and comfortable to use.
However, you don’t need to break the bank to get a really great tool.
The perfect balance between price and quality is the Makita GA4030K 4” Angle Grinder with Tool Case.
It’s 11,000-RPM, 6-amp motor and additional comfort features make it an excellent value!
There are several materials of grinding wheels to choose from.
A good general-purpose selection is a coarse (24-32 grit) aluminum-oxide wheel for high stock removal at a low price.
An angle grinder can also be fitted with a cutoff wheel to effectively cut metal.
To learn more about cutting with an angle grinder, take a look at this article: Best Angle Grinder Wheel for Cutting Metal.
Also, keep in mind that grinding metal is particularly dangerous, and you should ALWAYS wear a good face shield.
For recommendations, check out this list: Best Face Shield for Grinding.
Portable Band Saw:
This next tool may not be 100% necessary, but it is such a great time-saver that it might as well be regarded as essential!
We’re talking about a portable bandsaw.
The 7-amp Milwaukee 6242-6 Compact Band Saw Kit is an entry-level option.
With variable speed and 3-1/4” cut capacity, it works great for cutting tubing, angle iron, bar stock, and more.
There are more expensive models available that can perform an even wider or deeper cut.
There are also cordless models available for added mobility or remote/outdoor use.
Sheet Metal Nibbler:
A nibbler is made for cutting thin sheet metal quickly and cleanly.
It may not be the cheapest tool you’ll ever buy, but if there’s room in your budget for one, they are worth their weight in gold!
If you want to know which nibblers you should consider buying, we’ve got a helpful article for you on those as well!
Here’s the link: Best Sheet Metal Nibber.
Like the speed square and soapstone, a good metal file is another tool you will likely use on every welding project.
And once again, that means you’ll want to choose a good product!
A high-quality metal file is made from heat-treated steel and has precisely-ground cutting edges that will hold up well for many projects, even against the toughest steel workpieces.
Cheap files will go dull quickly when working with steel.
There are also many different types of metal files available, varying in shape, cut pattern, and fineness.
We won’t be covering all of these variations today, however.
An excellent, general-purpose metal file for welding is the Nicholson Mill Hand File with Ergonomic Handle, offering a coarse, single-cut American pattern and rubber-coated handle.
Like the metal file, this is a low-tech tool that has been in use for ages.
And It’s a good idea to keep one on hand for those situations where other tools might not fit.
A high-quality hacksaw has a rigid body and maintains good blade tension. Cheap and flimsy hacksaws are just a headache to use.
We recommend the Lenox Tools 12132HT50 12” High-Tension Hacksaw for its incredible rigidity and ergonomic design.
And for even tighter spaces, another great saw to have in your workshop is the Lenox 20975-975 Mini Hacksaw.
One challenging aspect of welding is setting up good work-holding.
Strong clamps, jigs, and magnets are used to hold heavy steel workpieces in place and prevent them from moving while being welded together.
Magnets are incredibly versatile for holding steel workpieces together.
They come in many shapes and sizes and are very affordable.
This Weldflame 8-piece Magnet Welding Holder Value Pack from DARKX is an excellent starter kit for both large and small projects.
Welding Framing Jig:
Also known as a right-angle clamp, these work-holding tools are common in woodworking as well.
But beware, you don’t want to use a woodworking clamp for welding.
You will want something more durable and rigid.
Hobart makes great welding supplies, which is why we recommend their 770565 Two Welding Clamp.
It’s affordable, well-made, and the floating head adjusts to meet the workpieces.
You might want to purchase several of these handy clamps.
If you’ve got the need for it, and room in your budget, another huge timesaver for welding right-angle framing is the Strong Hand 3-Axis Fixture Vise, model #WAC35-SW.
Welding perfectly square 3-axis corners has never been easier!
Having a variety of clamps at your disposal will make setting up your work much less frustrating.
Standard C-clamps, locking-plier-type clamps, and F-clamps are all great choices to include on your welding tools checklist.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money on your clamps.
I mean, let’s face it... a clamp just needs to be able to clamp!
So, with that in mind, here are some recommendations for the different types of clamps commonly used for welding:
C-Clamps – Affordable, strong, durable, and versatile all-purpose clamps. Buy 2 sets to start.
Locking-Plier-Type Clamps – Very quick to re-apply once adjusted, light-weight, and can fit in tight spaces. Buy 2 sets of these as well, to start.
F-Clamps – Also known as bar clamps, these are great for larger workpieces.
Available in lengths up to 48 inches, but the bigger ones get very pricey!
Ground Clamp – For MIG welding, you’ll need to clamp a ground strap to your workpiece or table.
The Lincoln Electric KH525 Ground Work Clamp is a safe choice at an affordable price.
Pipe-Welding Clamp – If you anticipate needing to butt-weld pipes together, you may want to add one of these nifty pipe alignment clamps to your welding tool list as well.
The next tool you simply can’t go without when MIG welding is a set of MIG pliers.
This is basically a welding multi-tool that has several useful functions.
MIG pliers can be used to quickly cut your wire to a proper 1/4” stick-out length, remove the nozzle from your gun, replace the contact tip, and clean spatter out of the nozzle.
The Hobart 770150 MIG Multi-Function Welding Pliers are a great choice to add to your welding tool kit.
Welding can be a messy job.
After laying down a bead, you may often need to clean off some flux and/or spatter.
The following essential tools will help you keep your work clean and neat.
A chipping hammer is exactly as it sounds... a hammer used for chipping away the flux left on top of a weld.
It’s a simple tool and doesn’t need to be expensive or fancy.
We recommend the Pit Bull CHIH058 Chipping Hammer because it’s very affordable, has a classic, functional design, and gets the job done well, over and over.
Another tool that you’ll use on every job is your wire brush.
Cheap wire brushes flatten out quickly, so this is one item where it makes sense to spend just a couple dollars more for a better product that will last through many projects.
Hobart wins our vote here with their Long-Handled Wire Brush with Stainless Steel (model 770100).
Both affordable and durable, it’s simply the perfect tool for cleaning up your welds!
MIG Nozzle Reaming Tool:
A more effective tool for removing the slag or spatter from your MIG welding nozzle is a MIG nozzle reaming tool (also known as a nozzle cleaner).
This can clean hard-to-reach areas more effectively than the MIG pliers.
K-T Industries’ 5-1150 MIG Nozzle Cleaner works great and is priced right.
We recommend picking up one of these convenient tools, as well.
These items may not technically be tools, but we thought they were worth mentioning.
After all, you need a place to put all your gear, and you need a place to actually weld, too!
A welding cart is essentially a giant mobile toolbox for your MIG welder, supplies, and tools.
We recommend getting a cart that’s built stronger than the very cheapest carts on the market.
You’ll spend slightly more, but you’ll thank yourself years later when it’s still working well for you.
Eastwood’s MIG TIG Plasma Welding Durable Cart has a maximum capacity of 350 pounds, heavy-duty casters, side hooks, a TIG rod holder, and plenty of storage space.
A great bargain!
A good welding table can help maximize your productivity, stability, and safety.
Especially for MIG welding, you’ll want a table with a steel work-surface for grounding and durability.
As you progress with welding, you’ll likely want to save up a big chunk of change for a larger, more heavy-duty steel welding table.
But for beginners, there are also a few lower-priced tables available offering decent functionality.
We suggest starting out with this 36” x 24” Steel Welding Table with Tool Kit made by Klutch.
It’s affordable, reasonably rigid, and comes with a bunch of handy clamping accessories!
Welding metal can be a lot of fun, and the sky’s the limit with what you can create!
With the right set of tools, you can save yourself time and avoid costly mistakes on your projects.
We hope you’ve found this list of essential welding tools helpful and informative.
Remember to always use the right tools for the job, stay safe, and enjoy yourself!