Whether you’re a professional or a budding hobbyist, metalworking projects need some specialized tools to make your plans a reality.
For those just starting out, however, there’s a bewildering array of tools available.
That makes it hard to figure out what you need from the outset.
If you’re trying to find the essentials, then you’ll want to pay attention. We’ve put together a list of seven essential tools to make your metallic dreams a hard reality.
Hammers are one of the quintessential metalworking tools, but the carpenter’s hammer you use to tap in nails twice a year isn’t going to cut it.
There are a surprising number of hammers out there for metalworking, each with their own use. They range from lightweight finishing hammers for precious metals to heavy sledges designed to beat stubborn stainless steel into place.
A heavy club hammer is a good place to start for those who plan on working with steel, while those working with softer metals may find themselves looking for something like a ball-peen hammer.
Regardless of your intentions, if you’re planning on working with metal, you’ll need the right hammer.
Anvils aren’t just for the blacksmiths of old; they’re an essential part of any metalworker’s toolkits.
Anvils provide a smooth, hard surface to allow for hammering heated steel. The horns can be used for further forming and curving.
They’re heavy, often expensive, and an essential part of the metalworker’s toolkit. In the past, they were the primary tool used for forging and shaping metal, although modern tools have largely replaced them.
It’s still essential to have a nice flat space to handwork metal, and there’s nothing better for that than the good old-fashioned anvil.
Intricate cuts are made with a bandsaw. There’s really no other tool like them, and there are different variations for every material — from wood to metal to stone.
A bandsaw runs a blade which is… well, a band. Intricate cuts can be made easily due to the thin nature of the blade. If you’re looking for smooth, rounded curves or detailed cutouts, bandsaws will quickly become your best friend.
They can also be used for chopping down smaller stock, although you’ll want to be careful of which blade type you use. It’s all in the teeth, so make sure you’re using the right blade for the stock you’re working.
These are often expensive tools. Some people prefer to pick up a high-end bandsaw from an auction, rather than go with a cheapy. If that sounds right up your alley, you can learn more about equipment auctioning and get on your way to a cheaper saw.
Hacksaws are a hand saw, but with the right blade, they can make short work of tubing, sheet stock, and even smaller solid rods of material.
Hacksaws are simple to use, don’t require power, and as long as you have the metal in a solid hold, they make for easier cuts than most suspect.
Unlike chop saws and other larger power tools, they’re also quiet and relatively safe to use as long as you don’t try gripping the teeth and pulling.
Those who have time invested in their skills might find themselves using power tools more often, but a hacksaw remains an essential part of every would-be metalworker’s toolbox.
5. Flux Core Welder
Really, any welder will do, but flux core welding is the simplest for those who haven’t welded before. They operate in essentially the same fashion as a MIG welder but don’t require you to use an inert gas for shielding.
Flux core welding is remarkably forgiving due to the lack of extra gasses. You’ll still need to spend a lot of time learning how to manage your welds. But, in the end, flux core welders are suited to be used pretty much anywhere and are more newbie-friendly since you don’t have to work with the shielding gas.
The core of the electrode’s flux is enough to shield the metal and prevent oxidation during the whole process in almost all cases.
With the right technique, they can be used to weld most metals.
This is undoubtedly the most advanced tool on our list, but without some kind of welder, you’ll find yourself quite limited in the workshop.
6. Drill Press
Drilling holes should be a simple process, but when it comes to metal, nothing is simple.
You can use the right bits in the old drill sitting in your garage to drill through metal in most cases. But you won’t turn back once you’ve used a drill press for the first time.
Drill presses hold the bit entirely stationary, making clean holes through any flat surface. All you need to do is twist the wheel or levers and bring the bit into contact with the metal.
No messing with off-balance drills or the slight variance that occurs with the human wrist, just a solid connection that’ll drive the bit straight through any surface it will cut.
7. Die Grinder
Die grinders are essentially a more powerful, scaled-up rotary tool. Think “Dremel on steroids.”
They’re also something that you need to have around if you’re planning to do any kind of welding. Die grinders are primarily used to clean up welds after they’ve been made, leaving a smooth and even surface.
With the right attachments, they can also be used to polish, hone, and even machine.
Essentially anything you can’t manage with the other tools on this list will be accomplished easily with a die grinder.
Make Your Metalworking Projects a Reality
When it comes to metalworking projects, you’re always going to “need” more tools. That’s why it’s important to sort out the essentials as you get into the hobby.
The above list is enough to get any amateur on the way to a great finished project. With all seven in your shop, you’ll find metalworking much easier than you ever thought.
It still takes time to build the skills up, however. Why not browse around and see what you’ll need in a workbench while you’re waiting for your tools to arrive?