While many people have heard of or seen welding, they may not know that it is the most common practice for joining metals together. In essence, welding is the act of fusing or melding two similar metals together. At the connection point, these two pieces are actually stronger than before they were joined. There are many potentially harmful aspects of welding. Some of these include, radiation, inhalation of harmful fumes, smoke or dust, burn, and impact. It's due to these risks that proper welding safety equipment is essential.

There are three basic types of welding: Gas, Arc and Oxygen Arc Cutting.

The first, gas, focuses on melding the adjoining pieces of metal on the surface. To accomplish this, you take a gas flam and focus it on the metals until they melt and a putty is formed. The major driving force behind gas welding is the intense flame that is generally a result of oxygen and gas. Generally this is considered the most basic type of welding and is the technique used during soldering, maintenance, brazing and other general bonding needs.

The next is known as Arc welding. Unlike its cousin the gas weld, this type bonds two types of metals together by creating an electric arc between the the base of the metals. The extreme heat generated by the electric arc is used to melt the metals which is simultaneously coated with a mixture added in during the processes. The energy is provided by what amounts to an electrical generator that gives current. This current is carried to the form the arc which in turn produces a types of gas that protects and shields the arc from imperfections in the atmosphere.

When the electrical arc makes contact with an electrode, the blazing heat melts it, dripping on to the metal joint. If you're interested in arc welding you'll need something to generate the power, an electrode holder, plus a number of protective safety items.
When an arc is struck using a coated electrode, the intense heat melts the top of the electrode. The drops of metal from the electrode enter the arc stream and are deposited on the base metal.

If you're interested in cutting metal the most common practice is to use either oxygen or arc cutting. In the first, metal is cut using a gas flame (think blow torch). While the latter uses an electric arc (see above.)