Are you thinking about getting into a career as a welder, trying to improve your skills, or looking to tackle a DIY welding project? There are a lot of methods to learn welding skills and fundamentals, but one of the best places to start is with books or reference guides. You can also find a lot of the deeper, more technical welding books on the American Welding Society publications library. While there is no substitute for trade school or hands-on experience, welding guide books give you access to a deep level of knowledge for an affordable price. Having a book written by an experienced welder gives you immediate access to the author’s years or decades of experience. Even after the first read, it’s nice to have it as a reference to answer any questions you may have moving forward.
Great…you’re sold on the value of welding books. Now how do you know which ones are worth the time and money? We’ve ranked our favorite welder book for each category including beginners, advanced, value and more. If you want to skip the explanation and just get to the answers, here is our quick list:
Welding Books by Category:
- Best Overall: Welding Essentials by William Galvery
- For Beginners: Welding for Dummies by Steven R. Farnsworth
- Best Welding Textbook: Modern Welding by Althouse, Turnquist & Bowditch
- For Do-It-Yourselfers: Learn to Weld by Stephen Christena
- Best Value: Welder’s Handbook by Richard Finch
- Top Welding Reference Book: Audel Welding Pocket Reference by James Brumbaugh
- Most Comprehensive: Welding Training Guides by NCCER
Our Top Choice: Best Welding Book
Welding Essentials by William Galvery
The title tells you what you need to know. This book provides the fundamentals to understand welding techniques and concepts. While it covers a lot of beginner material including welding methods and processes, safety procedures, and a lot of detail around project variables with illustrations to make it clear and easy. It’s written in an easy-to-understand voice and doesn’t include any unnecessary fluff. As an added bonus, it has a Kindle version in case you prefer digital books.
Best Welding Book for Beginners
Welding for Dummies by Steven R. Farnsworth
If you are familiar with any of the for Dummies books, you probably know what to expect. This is the most basic and straightforward welding guide and can take you from a total novice to having a good understanding of welding concepts. Like other beginner books, it will teach you the different types of welding, the basic steps, how to get certified, and the basics of approaching a project. It won’t go as deep as a lot of the classic guides, but is structured in a really simply format to find and digest information.
Best Welding Textbook
Modern Welding by Althouse, Turnquist, & Bowditch
This is one of the most highly recommended books for welders, but before purchasing, you should know that this definitely reads more like a textbook than a pocket manual or simple read. It correlates with the American Welding Society certification standards and is a pretty deep look into all of the elements of welding. With this book, you will learn processes for production and repair, ventilation and respiratory protection, information about testing welds and reading symbols. This will also give you some basic information about getting a job in the industry, so depending on what you’re looking for, there are sections that you can save for later, or skip around a bit. There are many editions of this book since it’s been around for decades, so you can sometimes find a cheaper version if you aren’t buying the most updated one.
Best Book for Do-It-Yourselfers
Learn to Weld by Stephen Christena
Learn to Weld is perfect for DIYers who want to learn how to tackle welding projects. It doesn’t cover a lot of the professional welding logistics that other texts get into, but it will walk you through MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding basics in an easy and logical way. It starts with setup, welding gear, equipment and materials, then walks you through project instructions and tools that will help you learn to weld at home. This is a perfect book for at home beginners who just need the basics to get going and aren’t as concerned about building their knowledge foundation to move to more advanced projects.
Best Value Welding Book
Welder’s Handbook by Richard Finch
The longer title, Welder’s Handbook: A Guide to Plasma Cutting, Oxyacetylene, ARC, MIG and TIG Welding gives a pretty clear description of what this book covers. Written by a consultant to NASA, Welder’s Handbook does not dive into the same level of detail that other books on this list do. It covers a lot of information on automotive welding, so it’s great for those who work on cars. It also applies to any high strength, light weight structural welding so it will cover a lot of different welding techniques for you. This won’t serve as your only book as a professional, but is great as part of a library for hobbyists or at-home welders who want to improve. It’s an easy read and will certainly make you a smarter welder, so it’s probably worth a read for any aspiring welder.
Best Welding Reference Guide
Audel Welding Pocket Reference by James E. Brumbaugh
The Audel Welding Pocket Reference will not serve as your only training material, but is essential for any welder to have in their workshop or on their shelf. This reference book includes charts for common project situations, symbols, definitions, types of joints and welds, configurations, metric measure charts and more. Any welder who owns a copy of this will find that they check it frequently and will hang onto their copy for decades. At a roughly $10 price point, it’s a no brainer to pick up a copy.
Most Comprehensive Welding Book
Welding Trainee Guides by NCCER
The updated NCCER Welding Trainee Guides include four levels starting with the basic welding skills for beginners, then moving all the way up to professional and advanced training. These are not cheap, but they include a level of detail and professionalism that is hard to find anywhere else. The guides include a lot of illustrated designs, technical instructions, test questions, and supplemental access cards for additional training. These guides cover all types of welding and will give you a deep dive on every technique that you will encounter on a project. While working through the guides will teach you everything you need to know, it is something you will have to work through over time as they are fairly dense material that is best used while experimenting with hands-on projects at the same time.
Other Top Welding Books
Farm and Workshop Welding by Andrew Pearce
Another very accessible guide to welding skills, Farm and Workshop welding is not limited to farm projects. The guide is great not just for an aspiring MIG welder, but also teaches arc welding, TIG welding, gas welding and other workshop skills like cutting and basic blacksmithing. The format is easy to read, giving a lot of examples and showing common mistakes and how to improve them. This is a great guide for beginners trying to get into the business as well as experienced welders looking for fast fixes to common problems.
Welding: Principles and Applications by Larry Jeffus
As the name suggests, this is a complete overview of welding principles and applications that reads like a text book. It’s pretty dense and gives you everything you need to crack the code on SENSE certification, which is important if you plan to go into the business of welding. It includes a lot more setup information for arc welding as well as less common types of welding. It’s a useful guide for both beginners to learn fundamentals and experienced welders looking to improve their skills and knowledge. It’s expensive, but you can actually rent the Kindle version, which is far cheaper.
Welding Book Comparison Chart
|Title||Author||Price Range||Skill Level||Pages||Kindle/Ebook?||Our Rating|
|Welding Essentials||William Galvery & Frank B. Marlow||$$||Beginner to Intermediate||450||Yes||93|
|Welding For Dummies||Steven Robert Farnsworth||$||Beginner||384||Yes||79|
|Modern Welding||Andrew Althouse et al.||$$$||Intermediate to Advanced||928||No||85|
|Welder’s Handbook||Richard Finch||$||Intermediate||160||Yes||82|
|Learn to Weld||Stephen Christena||$||Beginner||176||Yes||83|
|Audel Welding Pocket Reference||James E. Brumbaugh||$||Intermediate||448||Yes||92|
|Welding Trainee Guides||NCCER||$$$||Intermediate to Advanced||600||No||88|
|Farm and Workshop Welding||Andrew Pearce||$||Intermediate||160||Yes||79|
|Tig Welding Secrets||Shawn J McDonald||$||Beginner||68||Yes||68|
|Welding: Principles and Applications||Larry Jeffus||$$$||Intermediate||976||Yes||81|
|How to Weld||Todd Bridigum||$||Beginner to Intermediate||208||No||79|
We hope that our list of the best welding books in 2020 is helpful for you. Whether you are a beginner looking for a complete understanding of welding methods and process, or you have decades of experience and just want to improve or solve problems, these products are an inexpensive way to get the answers you need. When looking at which books to buy, you want to make sure that it lines up with what type of welding you will be doing (arc welding, stick welding, TIG, MIG, etc.), will cover the types of metals you will be welding (steel, aluminum, etc.) and fits with your time and budget that you have available. You could find the greatest welding book in the world on Amazon, but if you aren’t going to read it, or it’s too expensive to buy, it doesn’t go you any good. In addition to learning the theory from books, it’s key that you get some hands on experience in a shop or a class to help you bring it to life.