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Tips for the Hobby Welders

With more and more cable shows showing what can be done with welding, it is becoming more popular as a hobby. I've taught surgeons, engineers, airline pilots, business men and women, home makers, mechanics and all kinds of various career people and tradesmen in my community education welding class.

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is what do I need to get a shop started at home? The answer is a BUNCH of money…just kidding, you can actually start out pretty cheap. But one thing you gotta' remember is cheap is not always good when it comes to tools and welding equipment.

It used to be hard to find a place that sold welding equipment other than a welding supply store, but that has changed drastically over the last few years. Now there are paper catalogues, on-line catalogues, local hardware stores and big chain hardware stores such as Home Depot and Loews. I remember the welding equipment section at Home Depot and Loews barely taking any space on a shelf, and now they have their own section not only with welding equipment, but also machines.

Northern Tool and Harbor Freight come to mind for paper or on-line catalogues, and actual stores where you can obtain welding equipment. Most all of these have both top-of-the-line products, and cheaper not-so-top-of-the-line products. I bought a few grinding brushes for my high-school welding shop the other day at a fraction of the cost I usually pay. And they lasted a fraction of the time also!

At first I thought my students were messing them up, but then I remembered what I paid for them and the ol' saying…"You get what you pay for!"

I know better than to buy welding equipment that is way too cheap, or know nothing about, but I got suckered in by the low price. I "figured" a brush is a brush, but boy did I figure wrong. That's not to say there aren't some good deals out there. A lot of times stores will be over stocked in welding equipment and just like any product want to get it off their shelves. That's when you can find the real bargains if you keep on the lookout.

The more you check out the catalogues, and visit the stores, the more you'll get an idea of the costs of all the welding equipment out there. You'll also start becoming more familiar with all the different kinds of tools available, many that are very handy, and a lot that you can do without.

I once had a new student walk into my shop looking like something from outer space. The welding supply store had sold him about $250 bucks worth of stuff he didn't need. I sent him back for a refund for everything but his gloves, hood, chipping hammer and brush!

Next, a list and description of the welding equipment you'll want for a hobby shop.


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