The process of welding is heating metal so hot that it fuses with another metal.  This takes some serious heat and power.  It emits UV rays which can sunburn you really fast and if you’re not careful you can burn down your shop!   Here are some safety items that you should have before you start welding:

Helmet:  This is the most important item you will need when you weld. It is crucial to be able to clearly see your work and protect your eyes from the blinding arc.  Helmets come in many different styles, it is ultimately up to you which one you choose, but remember, a good helmet will increase your productivity and quality of your welds.  Auto darkening helmets eliminate the need to pull the helmet up to inspect the work, it automatically shades for you when you strike the ARC.  These helmets usually run on batteries and are assisted by solar power.  They are completely adjustable,  The best way a newbie to figure out the helmet is to go out and look directly at the sun and mess with the dials,  this will give you an idea of what the settings do.  We went with the Miller Performance Series ’64 Custom, it has a good viewing area, is light and includes a 2 year warranty. For general all around welding this is a great choice.  Check out the specs here.  You may also look into getting a cotton hat or a beanie for your head, especially if you will be working under your project. Ear plugs are not a bad idea either, as molten metal in the ear drum does not sound pleasant.

Gloves:  When you have a 2500+ degree heat source within inches of your fingers, gloves are mandatory.  Not just any gloves, fire resistant gloves.  They can be made from a variety of materials and I suggest going to a welding store and trying them on for comfort.  We went with the Mig Gloves from Miller, they are under $20, offer a lot of protection and are comfortable.  I might also get a pair of the Metal Worker HD Gloves.  Remember Welding is an art that you must master.  A steady, safely protected, comfortable hand is a must have.

Next you will need some sort of non-flammable clothing.  Leather or cotton works well for this.  I recommend looking at Aprons and jackets that were designed for welders. Miller Sent us a Miller Indura Cloth Jacket, it fit well and offers quite a lot of protection and maneuverability.  We also got some Miller Welding Sleeves which add even more protection.  If you are totally confused at this point, just get something like this.  You always want to wear non flammable long pants and boots if possible,  Jeans usually work out well.  You need to be protected.  If any of your skin exposed you will get a suntan and or burned really fast.

Work Area:  You want a big work area away from any flammable materials, a clean work space where you won’t trip.  You should also have shade curtains if other people are going to be walking by and have an extra helmet when you have a partner on the project.  It is always a good idea to have someone around when you weld, just in case.  Next week we will start welding.