The Badass Welding Helmets I Recommend to Guys New to the Field

Today’s blog is about the best, most badass welding helmets you can buy when you’re starting out in welding. I have a lot of experience under my belt at this point, but I definitely remember how hard it was to figure out what I needed to get. Especially when welding helmets are so different in terms of money. Here’s my no-bullshit guide to what the best ones are and what you need to know about buying them.

 

First of all, let me make one thing totally clear: I never support people being cheap when it comes to safety equipment. Welding helmets are safety equipment, not a fashion statement, and it doesn’t matter how good a cheap helmet looks if it can’t actually keep you safe. Be prepared to spend some money, to buy it bluntly.

 

So here’s what you need to know. There are two types of welding helmets. One of them is called a fixed helmet, which has a window that’s a set level of darkness. They’re the cheapest, and they’re really reliable because the window is physically incapable of turning down the shading. But they’re harder to work with because you can’t see much once the helmet’s on, so you have to be ok with a bit of imprecision and be good at judging what you’re doing in the dark. The other kind of helmets are called auto-darkening, and what that means is basically there’s a similar window panel, but it actually changes its tint level depending on the brightness of your spark, and you don’t have to make any adjustments because the computer and sensor can do it in milliseconds. They’re what most people who do welding for a living or a lot of times in a year would use, since they’re just more convenient.

 

If you’re gonna be in this for the long haul, you just have to realize you’re gonna spend $200 or so on your helmet. You can’t trust any auto-darkening helmets under $200, and you should never, ever trust a Chinese brand. I think they’re dangerous and reckless for being able to sell things that have a known reputation for failing on people, which leaves permanent damage on your eyes. You should always get an American company like Lincoln or Miller.

if you’re just playing around or doing it on the side, you can probably start out with something really cheap. I have one big rule to tell you, though, which is never to buy a cheap auto-darkening helmet. If you’re gonna get a cheap helmet, just stick with something that has a set darkness panel in the window. The crappy Chinese auto features are just absolutely useless. They only kick in half the time from what I’ve seen, and even when they do there’s way more of a delay than is safe for your eyes. So I always tell people who are starting out and don’t know whether they’re going to stick with it or do a lot of  welding long-term to get a fixed window one. And you can always switch out the windows for different kinds of welds. So get a Honeywell–they make a really good plain helmet that’s solid and you can change out the windows super easily. Plus you can paint the helmet however you want to make it more personalized. I learned on a Honeywell and I still have one around the shop for dirty jobs where I don’t want all the spray to get on my nice helm.

 

Miller is always the best you can do for an auto-darkening helmet, and it shows because you look at any list, and they usually have almost all of the best rated welding helmet models. Miller helmets are way better than Andra and other crap-o brands because they’re made in the USA and they don’t cut corners. The plastic is hard but definitely not too heavy, and the auto-darkening features don’t have dangerous delays or glitches like the cheap brands. I mean, if you’re gonna take a chance on your eye safety, why the hell would you knowingly buy something that doesn’t work all the time? Just suck it up and spend the money for a Miller. I use one from them that’s called a Digital Elite. It’s pretty low-key as far as looks, since it’s all black but it looks like a suit of armor, with the curves and edges.


I also know people who use Lincoln ones, which are another professional-grade company from the USA. I would always go Miller, but as long as you know you should never cheap out on an auto-darkening helmet, you should be fine with any good American company. Alright, good luck, see you next time.

What You Need to Know to Start Welding

Hey guys, I get a lot of questions from people who are new to welding, and frankly a lot of people seem confused about what they’re getting into. That’s not an attack or anything, I know it can all be really overwhelming and it’s a lot to get your head around, so today I’m gonna talk about all the basic things you might not know before you get into welding, which you definitely should.

 

First off, I want to be super clear: welding is a fucking dangerous thing to do, even if you’re just dabbling in it as a hobby. It’s a huge fire risk for a start. Then you have to realize how incredibly bright the torch is. It can actually blind you, and that’s not an exaggeration at all. So you have to be prepared to be super cautious and buy the right safety equipment like really good gloves, a fireproof work shirt and a real helmet, no matter how casually you’re welding. I’ve seen too many things go wrong to even think about being lighter on the safety front. Seriously. You should be honest about what you’re working with, because it’s not something you want to treat lightly. You have to do it somewhere you have lots of ventilation, and you have to make sure all your gear is certified to safety standards. Remember that you might think you need a cool helmet, but code should always come before coolness, or you’re risking blindness.

 

You also have to know what you’re talking about with the different kinds of welding there are, because a lot of people don’t and they end up buying the wrong gear and suffering the consequences. There’s basically three different kinds you should know about.

The easiest and the cheapest kind of welding is wire welding, where you’re working off a spool and you have basically a constant stream of metal to work with. It’s good for newbies because it doesn’t leave lots of joints and it works really well for thin metal. You can get two kinds of wire, either what’s called MIG wire, which you have to use with a gas tank and indoors, or flux-core wire, which you can use without gas, and which works outdoors.

The middle kind of welding is stick welding, which is probably the most popular thing people do, because it’s really forgiving and it’s just convenient for short little things and patch-ups. It’s not very strong, though, so that’s a downside and it definitely doesn’t look as clean as using a wire.

 

The hardest type of welding is TIG, which is the cleanest as a finished piece. It’s what they use for cars and machinery where you have to get things to look seamless. I would say that TIG is definitely a lot to get used to, and it takes a lot of finesse, but I can personally say I taught myself, so it’s doable to get it right.

Once you know what kind of welding you’re going to start out with, you have to figure out which kind of torch you want to buy, since there’s an option for different voltages. Basically, it’s between standard household electricity and industrial power. Most people are gonna stick to household, but if you want to get serious, you have to stop pussyfooting around and get and industrial hookup. It’s gonna cost you, though, probably about a grand in my experience. But worth it if you work with a lot of big tools.

 

Welding torches aren’t a plug and play tool. You’re gonna have to do some research and read the manual when you get it so you can get a sense of what kinds of settings you need to deal with different materials. That’s for the metals you’re working on, and for the consumables (which is the metal you’re melting down and using as a kind of glue).

 

Same thing goes for figuring out what your torch will actually do. Not all torches can handle all materials, so you have to figure out what you want to weld and then go from there when you buy your setup.
Basically, what I’m saying is that welding isn’t as much of a crude, rugged process as it looks like from the outside. It’s technical, and it needs finesse, and it’s super dangerous to get wrong. So, do a lot of reading, watch a lot of tutorials, and don’t fuck around when it comes to safety. Let me know if you have any more specific questions I can answer.

Reason #22 I Didn’t Go to College: My Rant About College Textbooks

I never went to college, in case you didn’t guess that from the title or from my whole theme of going through the school of hard knocks. There are a lot of reasons why I didn’t think it was the right place for me, or the right thing to do, and I can honestly say that years later, it was definitely the right choice.

 

I personally never learned anything in a classroom. I’m not exaggerating at all. I remember jack-squat  from a teacher or a book I read in school. I remember loads of things I’ve been told by farmers and mechanics I’ve worked for, and from people I admired when I was a kid. I’ve picked up pretty much any skill I have now in a non-formal setting whether it’s how to change a tire or fix a hinge pin.

I learn from experience, and I think that’s true for most people. I don’t think you can learn anything practical from a book. You learn it from actually doing things and practicing over time. You learn from trial and error and good old fashioned blood sweat and tears. That’s how anything gets done in this world. Everybody I’ve ever admired, all the great men in my life, they never went to school. They figured things out for themselves.

 

So it seemed ridiculous that I’d spend 4 years of my life and end up in shitloads of debt just to go to college. I mean, what’s the point of paying to get a welding degree when you can get paid to work as an apprentice? Same thing with basically any degree. I think unless we’re talking about engineering or chemistry, your time’s spent better out doing stuff. If you want to be a writer, cool. Go write. You can’t learn it by studying literary theory.

The whole thing seems to be perfectly summed up by college textbooks. I’ve never seen a more ridiculous sham that nobody seems to stand up to. What a racket. You pay for books that are hundreds of dollars, and you’re gonna buy books you’ll never read again for what? No reason. Half of those books, you’ll read once and throw away. The other half, you won’t even read all the way through. I’ve had friends in college who complain to me about how their professor made them get the latest edition of whatever book, for $50 extra, when there was no actual differences, and when they didn’t even get to half the chapters in the class.
That, to me, is a fucking college degree in one concept. You pay to waste years of your life on knowledge you won’t use, facts you’re going to forget in a year at the most, and you’re just delaying the time when you actually have to start getting jobs and coming up with plans. My advice? Just get a job.