Pancake welding hood

I was surfing around the internet a while back looking for some custom welding helmets when I stumbled across pancake welding hood for the first time. It immediately grabbed my attention so I did a little research to find out more about it.

What’s Pancake Welding Hood and Who Should Own One?  

The name „pancake“ simply refers to the design of the welding mask, and as you probably already guessed, it looks like a pancake from the front side – fairly thin and round. The reason that you probably have never heard about them before is the simple fact that they are mainly used outdoors by pipe welders. With that said, let’s take a look at some of the features that this helmet has and why it is an irreplaceable part of your safety equipment if you are working outside.

What is Pancake Welding Mask Made of?

As you already know, the only thing related to the pancakes with this hood is the design itself. The original pancake welding hoods were made out of balsa wood, pine and from polymmer called phenolic. The balsa wood is still used to make a box around the eyes to seal out all the light out which otherwise would start reflecting from the shading lens.

Since balsa is imported and fairly soft material, pine is also used in some parts of the mask to reinforce the box.

The outer part that is protecting your face from sparks and UV rays and is usually made from a single piece of phenolic which makes it probably the lightest welding hood. Some guys have even take it one step further, creating a carbon fiber pancake welding hood, and as you can tell, in that case, the protective part is made out of carbon fiber, which means it is even lighter than the original one. 

What About the Design?

old welding shield

In my opinion, the design of this mask is absolutely brilliant! It is not just lightest welding helmet type on the market, if you have ever welded outdoors, near other welders or under bright light you know how difficult it is to work if the light reflects from your shading lens right back at you. Well, you can forget these problems if you are using this mask.

First of all, almost all the pancake hoods are handmade and designed to be customized by the user. Most of the helmets sent out by the vendors come with a piece of sandpaper so the balsa box can be shaped according to his or her face. In that way, removing all the pressure points, the mask will perfectly fit, keeping all the light out while being surprisingly comfortable.

Secondly, it has a side shield which is designed to protect the left or right side of your face, depending on if you are left or right handed, from the sparks and harmful rays. If you are a right-handed welder, then protective, the shield is located on the right side and if you are left-handed the opposite applies.

Furthermore, thanks to the lightweight design, you can wear the mask as a pair of goggles with protective shield. The hood comes typically with a 2 inch wide adjustable headband that secures the balsa box with the shield to the head. As a result, it has really good airflow and it is really easy to wear and work in awkward positions for hours.

Last but not least, for most mmasks it is possible to use an electronic darkening lens or buy one with a flip-up lens, which makes the mask even better.

Why Would You Use One?

 As I said earlier, they are very popular among pipeline welders. They have good airflow which is great if you have to work in hot conditions and when the sun is beaming in the sky, the sealed balsa box provides the best glare-free vision possible. All of these features makes this welding helmet irreplaceable part of equipment if you are working outdoors.

If you are considering buying one for yourself proceed with caution, some welder say that once you use pancake welding hood you never go back, and I can definietely relate to that.

This one is my favorite and you can get one from Amazon for a fairly reasonable price.

Extra tip: don’t forget to wear a welding cap while shaping the balsa box.