Metalworking: What Tools Do You Need to Get Started?

A man wearing coveralls and metalworking safety gear using an axle grinder. He is grinding the weld on a pipe sending a stream of sparks toward the camera.
source: pxfuel.com

Thanks to the widespread information online, the metalworking hobbyist community has been growing. Metalworking can be a fun and rewarding hobby to get into where you can learn many valuable skills. It’s also a hobby that can end up saving you a lot of money.

Now I know that when you first start on your adventure into metalworking it can be overwhelming. All the different tools available, and the price tags attached to some of them can be intimidating.

That’s why in this post I want to take a look at some of the first tools you’ll likely want to buy when joining the hobby. Now while this might be a selection of starting tools, they still form the core of any metalworker’s arsenal, even the pros. This list provides you with a solid core to build-up your tool collection from.

Safety Equipment

The most important thing you’ll need to buy is some safety gear. I’m sure you’ve heard it plenty of times before but honestly just think about it. The moment you’re cutting some metal and a stray chip sparks toward your eye you’ll be glad you spent the $5 on safety goggles.

Invest in a good pair of goggles. Pick up some safety gloves to help to protect your hands too. Make sure to get ones rated for the right kind of work. For example; if you are welding, then opt for welding gloves. They will be able to cope with the heat.

Metal-Cutting Saws

Now that you aren’t a safety liability let’s look at actual tools starting with saws. Now it’s important to make clear is that not all saws are created equal and a woodworking saw is not “just as good”. See woodcutting saws spin their blades much faster than a metal cutting saw. All that extra speed means more friction and a hotter blade, and at best you’re looking at a shower of sparks that’ll wear your blade down in no time.

Learn more about metal cutting saws in our buyer’s guide to the best metal cutting saws

What kind of saw you should buy comes down to what material you want to work with, and what you intend to do with it. If you aren’t sure yet, then we’d suggest a circular saw which is a very versatile option.

When you’re picking out a saw, we’d also recommend against going for a bargain model like you’d find at harbor freight. It may be cheaper to go with a bargain item in the short term, but a quality tool is an investment.

Remember; you can also look into metal cutting bandsaws and fretsaws too. These are fantastic if you are planning to do the more intricate cutting. If you are just doing straight cuts in larger bits of metal, then the metal cutting saw and angle grinder are where you need to be setting your sights.

Saw Blades or Cutting Discs

This does tie into the previous tool, but we feel it deserves its own section. You will need to choose your saw blades or cutting discs based on the type of metal that you are cutting.

There are a lot of options to choose from here and a few things to keep in mind. When it comes to price abrasive cutting discs are the cheaper of the two options, but they also don’t last near as long as a saw blade. Metal cutting saw blades are more durable and offer a much better cost per cut over time. because of this and in the long term you can end up saving money by using them instead.

Whichever you choose just be sure that it is the correct size for your tool and rated to cut the material you want to work with

Welders

You won’t get far working with metal without you have a welder. There are a few options here, but for a beginner, opt for an arc welder. There are plenty of entry-level ones to choose from available at a fair price. You will need some arc welding rods to go with it too. This will help take your metalworking hobby to the next level.

Chipping hammers

Finally, you are going to need a chipping hammer. This goes hand-in-hand with the welder. The purpose of the chipping hammer is to remove any residue leftover from the welding.

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