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Thread: Which welding lens shade?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
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    Default Which welding lens shade?

    I'm having an issue with which shaded lens to use.
    First let me say I'm 60 yrs old. I recently took a night class to learn how to weld. I bought a small Miller MIG to use in my shop. This is only a hobby. I recently had an eye exam and passed with flying colors. I do not need or wear corrected lenses of any type. That said, adding light to any situation allows me to see better. I could read almost every line on the chart with added light. So here's my problem.
    I have a Hobart helmet with a #10 shaded lens. Its so dark I can't see where I'm welding. So I went with a #5, I can see much better but soon as start to weld, the flash is so bright I can't see what I'm welding. So, back to tractor supply and I purchased a #8 and #9. Both still seem too dark. I just can't see the material. I haven't been able to find a #6 or #7.
    What's the solution? Some type of external light?
    What do you guys do that have similar eyesight issues?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    2,068

    Default

    I don’t want to argue with your eye doctor but when you see better with more light that tells me you need reading glasses. You can get a 3 or 4 diopter lens to mount in your welding hood at the welding supply store. Ask them about the lens shading you should use based on the power of your welder. With a 50 amp machine you can get by with a lighter filter than if you were welding with a 300 amp machine. For sheet metal the welding amperage is probably less than 50 amps. I just picked that number out of the air but it’s relative to the thickness of the metal you are welding.

    You can get an auto darkening helmet too. I like that because as soon as you let the trigger go you can see clear as day, and you see clear as day until you pull the trigger to start so your wire is where it needs to be at the beginning of every pass. You can also set the shade of the darkening but try not to get that wrong so you don’t damage your eyes.

    Back to seeing better with more light, that’s because in poor light the pupils of your eyes are wide open and in bright light the pupils are small. The small pupils cause the light entering your eye to pass through only the center of the lens. When the pupils are wide open, light comes through a much larger area of the lens. The depth of field of the wide open lens is much shallower than the depth of field of a restricted lens. To compensate for that shallow depth of field the muscles in your eye must distort the lens to focus the image on the retina. With high intensity light the pupil closes down and the depth of field increases and objects focus on the retina without the lens needing to distort as much. As we get older our lens gets stiff and doesn’t change focus as easily as they did when we were young.

    Edit: Tractor Supply may have welding supplies but the people working there may not be trained to select popper eye protection. A full service welding supply shop is likely to have people better trained to use these machines safely.

    Bob K

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
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    12

    Default

    Thank you for the reply and info. I think you're right.
    I should have described my visit in a little more detail. He did suggest reading glasses and actually recorded a prescription, but I thought I'd be ok with extra light for now. I was already spending too much for my wife's glasses and contact lenses.
    It wasn't till I started welding that this has really come into play.
    I had to see Dr. Google for the explanation of diopter.
    I'll visit my local supply store for their suggestion on a diopter lens. I had originally tried a auto-darkening helmet, but again cheaped out since this is not my profession, and it didn't last or work very well. Sometimes it darkened and sometimes it didn't. Not good.
    I really appreciate your response. I'll update this as I get this figured out. Maybe it will help someone else too.
    Thanks again Bob K!

  4. #4
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    Nov 2006
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    Just a note about my auto darkening welding hood. Before I put it on my face if I’ve had it stored for a long time between uses I point it toward the sun or a bright light bulb for a few minutes to charge the battery. If yours doesn’t have a small recharging window above the lens then look for a battery that needs replacement (I’ve never seen one with a battery that doesn’t recharge). Also. that window needs to be in direct line with the welding gun tip. If there is something obstructing the light from hitting that window then the lens won’t know to darken. I’ve had that happen when welding the backside of something where the object is in front of the sensor but I still have a line of sight to the tip. I would have to move my head to get it to work.

    Bob K

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
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    olympia,wa
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    for the safety of your eyes please don't use anything lighter than a number 8 shade. try to get used to using the number 9 or 10 if you can. for light duty welding i might use a number 9, aluminum work gets a number 11.
    if you're just doing light sheet metal work try the 9 with some light reading glasses or as bob k says install a magnifying lens in your hood. i prefer just using reading glasses as i can change the magnification easy and fast. small magnification for mig/stick, more powerful for tig work where i need to see close up.
    b marler

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
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    42,038

    Default

    These auto darkening helmets work well.


    • Durable lightweight material is corrosion resistant and flame retardant
    • Clear vision both prior to and during welding for safety and higher work efficiency and quality
    • Protects against ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) radiation
    • Automatic shut-off saves batteries
    • Complies with DIN, ISO EN379 and ANSI Z87.1 standard
    • 3.5” x 1.5” viewing area

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
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    Default

    Thanks everyone. Here's where I'm at so far. I visited local welding shop. Talked to owner there and looked at the different lenses for my helmet. He also showed me safety glasses which he carries in the same type of lenses. I tried several and picked the 2.5x version. Figured I could get double duty out of glasses with grinding etc.. It may be a little strong for me MIG welding, but it seemed to help quite a bit last night when I tried them out. I welded outside in the daylight so it may be false hope. In the next day or so I'll be under the car welding in subframe connectors and we'll see how that goes.
    Also have the #8 shade in my helmet.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2020
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    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by KCG View Post
    Thanks everyone. Here's where I'm at so far. I visited local welding shop. Talked to owner there and looked at the different lenses for my helmet. He also showed me safety glasses which he carries in the same type of lenses. I tried several and picked the 2.5x version. Figured I could get double duty out of glasses with grinding etc.. It may be a little strong for me MIG welding, but it seemed to help quite a bit last night when I tried them out. I welded outside in the daylight so it may be false hope. In the next day or so I'll be under the car welding in subframe connectors and we'll see how that goes.
    Also have the #8 shade in my helmet.
    So how was it?
    I want to buy this helmet https://www.amazon.com/Antra-AH6-260...dp/B00BWAEYV8/ for my MIG
    Last edited by roughride; 04-24-2020 at 03:11 AM.

  9. #9
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    Mar 2017
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    Default

    Not as well as I hoped for. Welding outside with my project in the sun went pretty well, but under the car was another story.
    I tried switching to the#5 lens and as others have said, that's just too light for MIG. Switched back to the #8 and just can't see the material and spot I'm trying to weld. Very frustrating to say the least.
    I finished by holding a drop light close.
    All this with the 2.5x glasses on under my helmet.

  10. #10
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    Nov 2013
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    olympia,wa
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    sorry to hear it's been so much trouble for you. it takes time to get the hang of welding, that's for sure. and learning how to see the weld area is probably about the most important thing. mig is about the easiest of all the weld processes, but it still takes practice and experimentation to develop your skills. i hope you're not giving up on it, as it's a really useful skill.
    has anyone ever given you any guidance on how to get set up? like how to hold the torch and position yourself? direction of travel and angle of the nozzle? or maybe using different contact tips can put the arc out further and make it more visible?
    all of these things play a part in being successful at welding.
    b marler

  11. #11
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    Mar 2017
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    Oh no, I'm not giving up. I know I have to keep trying different things to get it done. I was just hoping someone here had the magic answer.
    I did take evening classes at a local community college. Probably only 20hrs or so. But on all types of welding. Seemed like a good instructor. I have the books. Maybe I should read them again.

  12. #12
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    Nov 2013
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    olympia,wa
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    Default

    books and classes certainly help. they give some general guidelines and valuable troubleshooting information. but there's a lot of conflicting information about hoe to set up the torch, direction of travel, etc...
    you posted that you're using a miller. what is the torch like? stock miller 150 amp or similar? consider the contact tip you're using. your doing a short arc process with that machine. there are different length contact tips available that will vary the amount of tip exposed from the nozzle. for short arc i like to use a tip that protrudes about 3/16-1/4 inch from the nozzle. this puts the arc directly in your line of sight if you position your body right. then make sure you weld forehand and keep yourself in front of the nozzle so you can get a good look.
    if you can't find the right contact tips, just shorten the nozzle. some guys disagree with this method, but the shielding gas will do the work of protecting the weld zone. it's a lot easier to see and maintain your arc length as well.
    good luck.

    actually it's probably 1/8-3/16 stickout of the contact tip. 1/4 would be a bit much.
    b marler

  13. #13

    Default

    I had originally tried a auto-darkening helmet, but again cheaped out since this is not my profession, and it didn't last or work very well. Sometimes it darkened and sometimes it didn't. Not good.
    I purchased a auto darkening way back when they first came out(not cheap). If worked well but it needed a lot of light on the work or you couldn't see what you where doing(non adjustable shade). Also do not store them in the box they came in for long periods of time. It lets the battery go dead and mine started doing the same thing"Sometimes it darkened and sometimes it didn't" The battery was about dead and wouldn't recharge. It was not replaceable so it became useless. Store them somewhere it can be charged and ready for use like in the garage where sunlight can hit it. Best to keep batteries charged up for storage.

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