Welding & Cutting
I'm sure that there are plenty of people out there that use 3D printers, CNCs, or machining equipment regularly that haven't even considered adding welding/cutting/brazing to their shop/maker space. When it is almost guaranteed to be the most efficient addition they could possibly make to their means of manufacturing. You can cut, gouge (punch holes), attach, repair, and even build up materials with these processes in ways that are significantly easier/faster/more accurate/stronger than any other option anywhere close to the same price range. Traditionally, these processes have been prohibitively expensive for the weekend warrior/home handyman type. But recently, due to new technologies and the ease of global commerce, it's become far more affordable. In some occasions, you can even build your own welder for extremely cheap, or even completely FREE. While I am building my own stick welder as well, I started with an Oxy Acetylene torch. So be SUPER CAREFUL if you're planning to add quick-connects to your lines, and be sure to use the proper kinds. If you choose to use any of my ideas, you do so at your own risk. Practice safe procedures and you'll have a great time without any troubles.
DIYShopTools.com - Welding Personal Protective Equipment

Personal Protective Equipment For Welding

When welding, the most important component is PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). Whether gas or electrical, you're playing with a dangerously high amount of explosive gasses or deadly high currents of electricity. You're going to want as many layers of protection as you can get - well, I do at least. Being fairly tall (6'4"), I didn't have very high hopes of finding equipment of decent quality that fit me properly without costing me in the neighborhood of a kidney. The most important piece of protective equipment is the helmet. Nobody wants to take a piece of molten metal to the face. But more than that, welding can destroy your eyes in short order. Oxy-Acetylene burns at about 6000*F, and will leave you seeing more spots than Cruella DeVille. And it only goes up from here. You only get one pair of eyes. Take care of them. Personally, my favorite helmet is the Esab Sentinel. But there's no way that I can afford it. At the risk of sounding too PC, every manufacturer makes at least one helmet that I would absolutely love to own. But the approach I decided on is to basically try to imitate the Esab hood. All I really needed was a helmet with a cosmetic outer lens that can be mirror tinted. Since my gloves and jacket are red and black, I figured that would be a good color scheme to replace the black and yellow it came with.

Second to the top would have to be gloves. I've gone through 3 or 4 pairs of the more expensive Harbor Freight gloves with my foundry. I have large hands and those gloves only come in one size that make me feel like a frog (webbed fingers). Which also limited my movement. So I decided that size would be my top priority. Lincoln Electric makes a pair that looked great, fit great, and looked super durable. After checking their reviews, which were fantastic, I picked up a pair and absolutely love them. And I'm quite confident that they will last longer than all of the HF pairs that I went through prior.

Finally, my last piece of weldingprotective apparel is my welding jacket from BSX. I have long arms, therefore typically need to buy a 2XT size for my jackets. But due to the long cuffs on the gloves, I'm not so worried with this one. But surprisingly, this jacket fits pretty well. It's fairy light - definitely lighter than I had expected, which is necessary in Arizona. All in all, I am very happy with it.

Safety Hardware

Not an item in a workshop, but an invaluable asset nonetheless. Luckily for me I have friends that are well respected in the construction industry, and my father is one of Honeywell Aerospace's top Electrical Engineers (Principal Engineer to be specific), so I have great people at my disposal that I'm able to nag for advice when looking for a new tool or need a second opinion to get past a roadblock. IMO, it's better to have someone that you personally know that you can ask because the internet is a strange place. Some people legitimately get a kick out of spreading misinformation. I'm hoping that my forums become the kind of place where people can goof off but still provide solid advice for the people asking. But I think you get my point. Not to mention there are times where you simply need a second pair of hands to move something, to mount something, etc. For example, a couple nights ago, I found a huge LCD DLP projector HDTV one street away from mine. I had never cannibalized a projection TV, but based on it's weight, I figured it would have some nice components regardless. Plus I had seen some videos of people using DLP projectors to make resin-based SLA 3d printers. So I REALLY wanted that TV. But there was no way it could fit in my car, and even if by some miracle it could, it was far too big and heavy for me to try and maneuver it in there by myself. Luckily a friend was with me and we rested one side on my trunk and he carried the other side while I drove it back to my house at like 1MPH. I couldn't have done that alone. The same friend actually was also the one to help me get the treadmill home in the back of his truck that I'm using for my lathe. Two items that could form the foundation of two of my most expensive tools (lathe + mill all-in-one with optional manual or automatic CNC operation added soon after. And then hopefully a DLP high-definition 3d printer as well) for the cost of a whopping $25 (an additional $6 for the 2.5hp motor I'm planning to use to power the mill side). He's even helping me to build my workbench by not only basically designing it and cutting it to size, but even providing the wood for it, plus gave me a pair of 48" dual bulb fluorescent light fixtures and even helped me hang them on the ceiling in my garage. Basically, my shop would be an empty shell of what it is now if not for his help. And that's just one person's help. Similar to tools, the more people I have that I can ask for help, the faster I get things done, the easier it is, and the better the results too. On the flip side, don't try force a square peg into a round hole. The friend that I mentioned is extremely talented when it comes to woodworking and home restoration/remodeling. So he's the ideal person to ask. But if I'm designing or troubleshooting a circuit, refining or casting metal, coding firmware, etc., not so much. While I am the total opposite. There are a ton of things that I'm interested in. As a result, there are many different kinds of projects that I've taken on in order to pursue these various fields of interest. Luckily for me, while he has definitely helped me the most, I do know other people that I can ask for help with projects of other types.Content

Oxy-Acetylene Torch

My first piece of welding equipment was an O-Acetylene torch. With not a clue as to what I was doing, I jumped into welding/cutting. I held onto a handful of scrap pieces of metal from Items I tore apart for inventory. I started cutting them apart and welding them back together. I've gotten much better compared to when I started. But welding (and cutting), at least Oxy-Acetylene, seems like it's one of those things that I will never be able to say that I've completely figured it out. I'll continue figuring it out for the rest of my life. But there's nothing wrong with that.

I'm planning on making a new foundry that can use pure O2 as an accelerant, as well as a glass blowing torch, not to mention cutting is probably the most common use of Oxy-Acetylene torches nowadays. I built an oxygen filling station for use with my foundry, as it seemed to be the easiest option to add when compared to regularly taking cylinders to a shop - that was the reason that I chose to add waste oil in the first place, filling/exchanging my propane cylinder every other time I use my foundry made it difficult to justify such a high cost to run my foundry as I was trying to learn how to melt metals aside from aluminum with any sort of efficiency. But now that I can use waste oil that I can acquire almost anywhere (I had something like a half dozen jugs just buried in my garage as I was cleaning it out) and can produce medical-grade O2 for just the cost of electricity gives me almost zero cost for fuel while producing much greater temperatures faster and even retaining the option to use high pressure propane just in case, I decided that it was time to step up my foundry. Since I was already adding the ability to fill infinite O2 cylinders, I decided that the Oxy Acetylene torch was a significant increase to my capabilities at a low cost comparatively. I found a HUGE acetylene cylinder that was already full for $100 (a quick search showed that it would have cost more just to fill this cylinder up if it was empty), so I picked it up. I then found a lot on OfferUp for 9 O2 cylinders (also already full, which was important to me at the time because while I had the filling station, I lacked the fittings to actually connect to cylinders), two mint medical regulators worth about $250 retail, and a cylinder cart for $150. Since my budget is so pathetic, I couldn't spring for a name brand torch/hoses/regulators (even used, people were asking about retail). Instead, I got a cheap Chinese clone kit As a result, I had complications that I've never heard of from name brand manufacturers. It took 5 total regulators to get a pair that worked correctly out of the box (One acetylene regulator seemed fine, but didn't display any flow pressure until it had already been open some of the way - it still showed 0 when there was actually like 3-5 PSI going through it - which is SUPER dangerous with such unstable explosive gas. If I hadn't been so careful, there's a good chance that this website never happened. My acetylene cylinder is the second largest consumer size available as far as I can tell - 225cu-ft - and totally full, My entire house, me included, would have been only a memory. But I was careful and followed every safe operating procedure. The seller was very helpful and ended up just refunding my entire purchase of the whole kit and told me to go ahead and keep it all, but asked if I could send them a video of the malfunction to fix the issue. Of course I obliged. I don't want anybody getting hurt as a result of my being lazy. I then bought the cheapest regulators with Prime shipping (about $20-25 each). It took two more tries to get the perfectly working regulator that is currently on my setup. The Acetylene regulator only needed one from a different seller to work perfectly. So now I had the torch (which has one cutting and 3 welding tips), 15'grade R hose, tip cleaners, and five defective regulators (still good for parts, plus tearing them down will greatly help me understand how they work) all completely for free. A set of working regulators for $40-50. I bought a set of flashback arrestors too - can't be too cautious when it comes to safety working with explosive gasses). Finally the cylinders (one massive acetylene, and 9 assorted O2) filled with their corresponding gasses for $250 (though I will be able to recoup some of that cost by selling the medical regulators and cylinder cart that came with the O2 cylinders. Not to mention, I don't need so many O2 cylinders in general, so I can recoup even more of the cost). But it was quite the inconvenience dealing with the whole regulator mess, and it could have been FAR worse than an inconvenience. So if you're in the market, I HIGHLY suggest you just buy a reputable brand and be done with it. Especially if you need it for work or a project on a tight time frame. Personally, I'm very drawn to the Victor EDGE line. I almost picked up a liquid propane EDGE regulator that was on a great sale, but was $0.82 short, and by the time I got that into my account the following day, the sale was gone... along with my dream of owning one of those sexy edge regulators (their actual function is even better than their form, but I guess I'm just a shallow guy - it was the looks that hooked me. I guess I can only hope that I'm ready the next time there's a sale on one that I want. Though there's plenty more than just the one that I need. Between my O2 filling/use stations, glass blowing torches, and using pure O2 with my foundry, there are plenty of applications where I still need regulators/fittings and would REALLY like some quick couple connections, but don't technically *need* them. Though they would save a good deal of time and effort in their use with the O2 station, foundry operation, glass blowing torch(es), I would like to add a mini (jeweler's) Oxy-Acetylene torch in as well - and quick connect couplings would be useful in every application. Especially on the ones with different thread types that could instead all be connected to universal plugs, especially so with O2 connections - using inappropriate couplings with fuel gas can lead to premature degradation of the seals, but improper couplings used in an O2 line can result in spontaneous combustion.

MIG/Flux Core Welder

I picked up the Flux 125 Wire-Feed Flux Core Welder from Harbor Freight for $99 with coupon in order to have a simple welder that can run on 110V anywhere I might need a welder before I finish my stick welder and that I can't lug my massive Acetylene cylinder to. It's super smoky and spatters all over the place. In reading about what people do with this welder, I found that a DC conversion is a popular modification. Since I already have the necessary components for my stick welder build, I decided to convert this one as well. After opening it up, I didn't like the power cord being on the front of the case. I also didn't like that the power cord is only 16AWG. So I added a longer 14AWG cord with panel-mount cord protector that I had in my stock already to the back panel. I like it a lot more. And then, to my delight, I found that the hole in the front of the case that the ground clamp is fed through is exactly the size of a 10-25 panel jack - only the little key slot on the plastic of the jack required slight modification to fit PERFECTLY. So I added the panel jacks that I already had for my stick welder build. Since I decided that I wanted my stick welder to use 240v, and more transformers, than my original plan, I was considering using 35-50 jacks but didn't want to waste the pair I already had. This was a great solution. I may try putting a switch in this welder to divert power from the wire gun to the second panel jack in the place of the original power cord for possible stick welding. That could be super convenient - a 110v stick/flux core/MIG/maybe even TIG welder to go with my soon-to-be 240v build. Maybe even try to add current control as well.

Stick + TIG Welder

Among my original projects that inspired this whole project/website. For one reason or another, it's taken forever to finish this one. In truth, I think it can be attributed to a lack of confidence. I didn't have perfectly matching transformers (and then even when I did, I still couldn't manage to match the output voltage completely

Spot Welder