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What Tools Are Needed for Gas Welding?

Gas welding, also known as oxyacetylene welding, is popular among welders due to its versatility, speed and ability to produce high-quality welds on various metals, like aluminum and steel. It involves using heat from burning fuels like acetylene to cut and join metals. This guide will discuss the essential gas welding tools and equipment welders should use on a daily basis, along with oxyacetylene welding best practices.

Oxyacetylene Welding Equipment 

Here are four pieces of equipment you need for oxyacetylene welding:

1. Oxy-Fuel Welding Torch

An oxy-fuel welding torch has many functions. First, it’s used to produce a controlled flame when welding. You can also use it to mix acetylene and oxygen properly before release. Finally, it can prevent flashbacks and help welders obtain a specific flame.

There are two types of oxy-fuel welding torches. The first is the equal-pressure torch, also known as a medium- or balanced-pressure torch. The second is the injector torch, also known as a low-pressure torch.

Equal-pressure torches keep the fuel gas and oxygen pressure equal. The general operating pressure can vary depending on the torch you use. Injection pressure torches typically have a fuel-gas pressure of 1 pound per square inch or less. The oxygen pressure can range between 10-40 pounds per square inch, depending on the size of the torch’s tip. A high-pressured oxygen torch can generate enough suction to draw the fuel gas into the mixing head.

2. Gas Cylinders

Gas cylinders are made of heat-treated drawn steel and are used to store gas at high pressure. They have high-pressure valves and valve protector caps located at the top. There are acetylene and oxygen cylinders, which are identified by their colors, markings or size. Acetylene cylinders are maroon-colored and short in size. Oxygen cylinders are often painted black.

3. Regulators and Pressure Gauges

Regulators are used to reduce and maintain constant pressure from the cylinders, regardless of pressure variation at the source. Regulators also help you adjust the gas pressure to the torch. You can change the pressure by turning the handle on the regulator. There are typically two types of pressure regulators ‚ÄĒ single-stage and double-stage.

In single-stage regulators, the gas pressure from the source is directly reduced to the torch’s working pressure in one stage. It usually has a floating valve, balancing springs and a diaphragm enclosed in a suitable housing. Double-stage regulators reduce pressure in two stages. There are two independent diaphragms and valve assemblies that ensure a more constant pressure delivery.

Pressure gauges are also crucial on gas cylinders. They register the gauge pressure, which is the difference between the interior and exterior pressure.

4. Hoses and Fittings

Hoses help transport gas from the cylinder regulator to the torch. Two hoses are required to carry acetylene and oxygen separately. Just like gas cylinders, they are usually color-coded. Fittings ensure the hoses are well-secured. You must ensure your fittings are free from grease or oil to avoid explosions or other hazards.

Oxyacetylene Welding Tools

Here are four essential oxyacetylene welding tools:

1. Strikers or Igniters

Strikers or igniters create a spark to ignite a gas torch or burner. There are different types of strikers, including flint lighters, electronic lighters and piezo lighters. Flint lighters use pieces of flint scraped against a metal wheel to produce sparks. Electronic strikers rely on battery-powered circuits to generate high-voltage arcs between two electrodes. Piezo lighters use a spring-loaded hammer to strike a piezoelectric crystal to create an electric spark.

2. Wire Brushes

The primary purpose of a welding brush is to clean metal surfaces. You can use it before welding to remove rust, mill scale, paint and other contaminants that can interfere with welding. After welding, you can use wire brushes to clean slag off the weld’s surface. Slag is layers of impurities created from the weld flux that protect the weld from atmospheric contamination.

Wire brushes may be used by hand or attached to a power tool. Different materials are used to make the bristles of wire brushes. Common examples include:

  • Stainless steel: These bristles are ideal for clearing impurities on steel and aluminum surfaces. It’s best to have different brushes for the various surface types to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Nylon: This material is ideal for simple tasks, like clearing light rust and dust. You can also use them to polish the material after welding, but they are less effective than stainless steel bristles. Also, nylon bristles are unsuitable for hot surfaces.
  • Bronze and brass: These brushes are ideal for softer materials such as copper and brass.

3. Pipe and Tube Cutters

Cutters use a rotating cutting wheel or blade to separate long pieces of tubes or pipes. They can be powered manually, electrically, hydraulically or pneumatically. The type of cutter you use depends on the pipe or tube’s material, thickness or diameter.

Technically, there is a difference between pipe and tube cutters. Tube cutters have a set of jaws with a blade, and pipes have a cutting wheel. Tube cutters are used for cutting through soft materials, such as PVC, while pipe cutters are ideal for cutting hard materials, like iron and steel.

4. Spanners and Pliers

Spanners are handheld tools used to provide grip and tighten or loosen fasteners. They offer a mechanical advantage in applying torque to turn objects. Spanners are made of a metal shaft with a profile opening at one end. The jaw or profile head fits around or into the fasteners to grip it. There are different types of spanners:

  1. Open-end spanners
  2. Ring spanners
  3. Double end spanners
  4. Box spanner
  5. Socket spanner
  6. Hook spanner
  7. Combination spanner
  8. Adjustable spanner

Welding pliers are also essential tools for welders. They are versatile and used to perform functions like:

  • Cutting welding wire.
  • Removing and installing nozzle.
  • Removing and installing contact tips.
  • Cleaning spatter.
  • Manipulating hot metal.
  • Removing weld scale.

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Oxyacetylene Welding Support Equipment

When gas welding, you need equipment to support or hold the material. Here are two common examples:

1. Workbenches or Welding Tables

Welding tables provide welders with a stable working surface. They are typically made of steel to prevent fire hazards and provide the best surface for metal and welding fabrications. Welding tables are available in different dimensions, so you can choose one depending on your space.

Besides size, there are two critical points to consider when choosing a workbench:

  • Accessories: Choosing a workbench that supports other tools and equipment you’ll need to perform your daily tasks is vital. Pick a table that easily fits your clamp and keeps cables out of the way. You may also consider tables with trays, magnets and angled rails to make things easier.
  • Portability: Welders engaged in heavy-duty projects or those with large shops may consider buying tables with fixed legs. Otherwise, you can purchase a portable or adjustable model.

2. Clamps or Vises

Clamps and vises provide support, stability and precision when welding. There are different options available depending on your needs. Examples of welding clamps you may need include c-clamps and bar clamps.

C-clamps have a wide opening and are adjustable to accommodate various workpiece sizes. Bar clamps have long bars with a fixed jaw on one end and a flexible jaw on the other.

There are also different vices, including bench and pipe vices. Like bar clamps, bench vices have two jaws, one being fixed and the other being adjustable. Pipe vices have v-shaped jaws designed to hold pipes and other round objects.

Oxyacetylene Welding Accessories

There are several welding accessories you need to perform optimally.

1. Welding Tips and Nozzles

The nozzle directs gas into the weld puddle and protects the contact tip from molten metal. Nozzles can be thread-on or slip-on, depending on the welding gun. Threaded nozzles connect more securely to the torch and help prevent leaking, but they can be hard to remove. Slip-on welding nozzles are easier to remove but can sometimes be displaced. They are ideal for overhead welds.

Some are also designed for heavy-duty use. Heavy-duty nozzles are thicker and have better insulation than standard nozzles. They suit jobs involving 400-600 amperages. Standard nozzles are best for 100-300 amperage applications because they have thinner walls.

2. Flashback Arrestors

Flashbacks cause the flame to burn rapidly upstream, resulting in loud explosions. With time, it can travel through the torch into the hoses, regulators and cylinders. There are many causes of flashbacks, including improperly maintained equipment, the incorrect monitoring of cylinder pressure, leaks in the gas system and operator error.

Flashback arrestors are designed to contain flashbacks and prevent them from penetrating other areas. They are safety devices that shut off gas flow in the event of a flashback. Flashback arrestors are highly recommended when working with gases like acetylene, oxygen, hydrogen, methane and propane.

3. Welding Carts and Stands

Welding carts are used to transport and store welding equipment. They come in different sizes and with various features. Therefore, it’s essential to consider the nature of your work before choosing a cart. You should check the load capacity, storage capacity, cart material, assemblage and price.

Oxyacetylene Welding Consumables

Here are examples of gas welding consumables:

1. Filler Rods or Welding Wires

Filler metals or welding wires are used to secure metal joints. They are available in different configurations, such as rods and reels. Filler rods require heat exposure to melt. As the electrical arc generates heat, it causes the filler metal to pool into a puddle or beads and warms the surface of the workpiece. Once melted, the liquefied filler metal flows between the cracks and edges, filling the gaps. As it cools down, the joints bond and form a stronghold.

2. Fluxes

Flux is a composition of organic and inorganic materials that perform different functions. Here are a few examples:

  • Lime and silica remove iron and impurities during steel production.
  • Limestone, wood flour and cellulose produce gas to shield the weld from atmospheric gas.
  • Resin acids, ammonium chloride, zinc chloride, borax and hydrochloric acid enhance specific properties in the mixture.

3. Anti-Spatter Spray

Anti-spatter spray prevents spatter from sticking to the welding table. This spray contains silicone or similar ingredients, typically water- or petroleum-based solutions. Anit-spatter spray makes cleaning easier and saves time.

4. Cleaning Agents

There are various cleaning agents you can use to improve your work. One example is chemical welding cleaning agents like pickling paste, which effectively removes surface impurities like rust stains and heat tint scale. Mechanical weld cleaning is an inexpensive way of eliminating heat tint from stainless steel workpieces. Electrochemical weld cleaning is a relatively new technique, but is safe and effective.

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Oxyacetylene Personal Protective Equipment

It’s crucial to assess the potential hazards before starting any welding activity. There are standard types of equipment you need for almost every task. Here are some examples:

  • Welding helmet or goggles: Welding helmets and goggles protect your face and eyes from injuries from flying or dropping materials, radiation, hot slags and sparks, irritation and chemical burns, and intense light.
  • Flame-resistant clothing: Heat-resistant clothing protects your body against heat, fires and radiation.
  • Welding gloves: Gas welding gloves protect you against electric shock, heat, fires and burns.
  • Ear muffs and plugs: Ear protection equipment protects against noise. It’s best to use fire-resistant ear muffs rather than plugs where splatter and sparks can enter the ear.
  • Proper footwear: Footwear such as rubber-soled safety boots protect your feet against harm.

Ventilation is also essential to remove air contaminants and prevent the accumulation of flammable gases and oxygen-rich or -deficient atmospheres. You can use several ventilation strategies, including mechanical dilution, natural dilution and local exhaust ventilation.

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Oxyacetylene Maintenance and Safety Tools

Here are some vital safety tools you need when gas welding:

1. Heat-Resistant Mats or Blankets

Gas welding blankets are heat-resistant materials that protect other materials against sparks and spatter. A molten spark of spatter can damage furniture around the welding area and cause injury. You can avoid significant damage and keep workers safe with a good welding blanket.

There are different welding blanket materials, such as:

  • Black slag: This is a suitable fabric material for tougher welding jobs. It can resist spatter with temperatures of up to 3000 degrees Fahrenheit. This material also resists abrasions easily.
  • Vermiculite: Vermiculite is ideal for vertical applications since it provides the most protection against sparks, heat and minimum levels of grinding and sandblasting. Vermiculite can continuously withstand temperatures between 1500-2000 degrees Fahrenheit for short durations.
  • Silica: Silicia works well for protecting the workspace from slags and molten spatters. You can use them for heavy-duty jobs since they have a high molten point of 2300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Acrylic: This is ideal for light welding materials. It’s fire-resistant and can also be used as a welding barrier.
  • Aluminum fiberglass: Aluminum fiberglass is reflective. It can withstand abrasions and temperatures of up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are necessary on every welding site to quench fires. There are different types depending on the kind of fire. The most common in welding shops are water-based fire extinguishers. They work by cooling the burning material and stopping the chemical reaction causing the fire.

Other fire extinguishers welders use are foam and dry chemical extinguishers. Foam extinguishers work similarly to water-based extinguishers but provide more insulation against heat, while dry chemical extinguishers smother the flames with a powered substance.

Other essential items include:

  • Gas leak detectors or soapy water solution: Soapy water is a simple yet effective way to test for gas leaks. Gas leak detectors also provide accurate readings, which can help you stay safe and comply with the regulations.
  • Cylinder caps: Cylinder caps are metal covers that enclose valves. They are often used when transporting gas cylinders or for long-term storage.
  • First aid kits: First aid kits allow you to treat accidents on the field. A well-stocked first aid kit is necessary for OSHA compliance under 29 CFR 1901.151.

Learn More From Meritus Gas Partners

Meritus Gas Partners supplies high-quality welding supplies and equipment for various applications. We help customers stock inventory according to their needs and hold it locally for them. We also set up and repair equipment, giving you the convenience and time to focus on other essential parts of your welding process. We partner with top organizations to bring you the best products and services. Contact us now to learn more.

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