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TIG welding is a form of welding that uses a tungsten electrode to join metals. It’s the best welding process for thin-walled metal such as jewelry. It’s an excellent alternative to other welding processes such as gas metal arc welding (GMAW) because it provides a smoother weld with less porosity.
That said, TIG welding can be a tricky skill to master, but with enough practice, you can produce top-notch welds that your friends and family will be proud of.
In this article, we will look at easy TIG welding tips and tricks to help in your path to becoming a professional welder!
The 14 TIG Welding Tips & Tricks to Get You Started
1. Select the Correct Tungsten
Tungsten comes in several different sizes and shapes. There are many variables to consider when selecting a suitable one for your welding project.
If you’re using an AC/DC machine, use DC tungsten. It can handle higher currents than AC ones. Also, avoid using high-frequency (HF) tungsten if you’re using an inverter-style machine. It’ll damage the tungsten electrode.
Usually, red tungsten is used for steel, while green tungsten is for aluminum. Try traditional electrodes first before deciding on the tungsten electrode you’ll use.
Consult with your equipment manufacturer or distributor before purchasing any tungsten electrodes. They may have some recommendations based on your setup and needs.
2. Ensure that Everything is Clean
It may seem obvious, but ensuring the work area is clean and contamination-free will help prevent problems later. It means removing dirt, grease, oil, and other contaminants from the surface of the materials you’re welding.
Use a wire brush or scouring pad to remove any loose material before starting your welding project. It’s worth investing in some cleaning products specifically designed for TIG welding.
Additionally, ensure you also clean your base metal and rod using a degreaser. Then, scrub it using a wire brush. Don’t use the same brush on different metals.
3. Don’t Melt the Filler Rod Directly
Many people assume that if you want to melt a filler rod, you should hold it directly against the puddle created by the tungsten electrode. But this isn’t recommended as it can damage your tungsten electrode tip and even create unwanted porosity in your weld bead. It also makes your weld weaker.
Hold the filler rod several inches away from where you’re working on each pass until there is enough heat. Remember that the torch melts the base metal, while the molten puddle melts the filler material.
4. Always Wear Protective Gear When TIG Welding
TIG welding involves using an electrode made of tungsten or carbide. It heats up when electricity passes through it. The heat melts the base metal you’re welding together, creating a bond between two pieces of metal.
This process can generate sparks that can become embedded in your skin or clothing. So, always wear protective gear. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) includes heat-resistant welding gloves, a helmet with eye protection, and a heat-resistant welder’s jacket.
Also, you need lung protection or a welding respirator to protect your lungs from the welding gasses. Ear plugs or muffs and welding boots are crucial, too.
Image Credit: ads861, Shutterstock
5. Grind Your Tungsten Well
One crucial part of TIG welding is grinding your tungsten well lengthwise and making it as even as possible. This means making sure that there are no sharp edges or burrs on the end of your tungsten; these can cause porosity and other problems in your finished welds. The grinding wheel also wears out fast if you don’t do it right.
Grinding the tungsten opposite or incorrectly can produce an unstable arc. You need a tungsten sharpener or a bench grinder to grind tungsten.
6. Use Minimum Power When TIG Welding
When you first start with TIG welding, it can be tempting to crank up the power on your welder so that you can make your weld fast. But this is not recommended because it causes more spatters. Spatter leads to poor-quality welds or even makes the weld burn through.
So, use a lower power setting you can handle. Also, ensure you have learned better techniques for achieving good results with fewer spatters.
The best way to learn how much power you need on your TIG welder is by practicing different techniques on scrap metal. This way, you’ll find what works best for your material and process.
7. Use a Suitable Shielding Gas
As a beginner welder, the first thing you should do in TIG welding is to ensure your shielding gas is suitable for TIG welding. The shielding gas protects the molten metal from oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen in the air.
It ensures that the molten metal doesn’t burn up before solidifying on the metal surface. If there are too many of these gasses in the atmosphere, it can cause oxidation or even fire!
So, choose a shielding gas that contains 100% argon or a mixture of argon and helium. A shielding gas protects your weld puddle from oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen during its cooling phase.
The cooling phase is when you stop feeding wire into the torch tip and when your weld cools down. Also, don’t use helium alone as a shielding gas. It can make it challenging to TIG weld. Adjust the shielding gas between 15 and 20 cubic feet per hour to weld safely.
8. Maintain the Torch Angle and the Rod
The torch angle is a crucial factor if you want to get an excellent weld with the TIG welding technique. It determines how much heat you’ll apply to the base material and how much penetration you get in your weld.
Always keep your palm on top of the electrode to maintain a consistent torch angle and keep it in place while welding and prevent it from sliding down the tungsten tip.
Another alternative is keeping the torch angle at 20º or less. Also, ensure you feed the rod into the welding pool. If you don’t do all these, the rod may begin melting before it gets to the welding pool.
9. Choose Larger Rods When TIG Welding
When you are TIG welding, you will notice that many different sizes of tungsten rods are available. Some people think smaller rods produce better results than larger ones, but this isn’t true! Larger rods will give you better results than smaller ones. These are mostly used on farm machinery or heavy equipment.
A larger rod is easier to feed with and it produces less spatter and slag build-up in the puddle. It makes it easier to see what’s happening inside your weld puddle.
As a beginner in TIG welding, start with 1/16 to 1/8 inches rods. Usually, ordinary TIG welding rods have a diameter of 1/16 or 3/32 inches. Always use thinner welding rods for thin metals and thicker rods for thick metals.
10. Reduce the Arc Steadily
You need a foot paddle to regulate the current flow through the welding rod. It helps you produce the heat you need for TIG welding. It also gives you more freedom of movement when welding. You don’t have to always keep both hands on the torch. This allows for more precision in forming a bead and gives you better control over its shape.
The foot paddle also allows you to release the arc steadily. It means that you should not try to go from a large to a small arc immediately.
Instead, work your way down slowly, allowing the weld pool to shrink. Shutting down suddenly may cause cracking. Ensure the foot paddle is around ¾ of the way down.
11. TIG Welding Needs the Utmost Concentration
If you’re new to TIG welding, you’ll find that concentration is a crucial factor when producing a high-quality weld. Always focus on your work piece.
You must be careful when making your welds and take time to keep the arc stable. That’s the only way to ensure that your welds are going where they should. The slightest distraction could cause an incomplete arc and result in poor welds.
Also, there are high chances of burn-through or porosity in your welds. That’s why it’s recommended that beginners attempt TIG welding only under supervision. Afterward, they can perform TIG welding on their own once they develop an instinct for how long each weld will take.
12. Ensure You’re Welding in a Well-Ventilated Workplace
TIG welding is a safe process, but it produces fumes. So, it’s crucial to work in a well-ventilated area. Set up your TIG welding station outside or near an open window if possible. This way, any fumes produced can escape from the area fast and easily.
Ventilated workplaces help circulate fresh air, lessening the toxicity of welding fumes to the TIG welder.
13. Find Ways to Support Your Hands
TIG welding is more delicate than other types of welding. It needs more finesse. One thing that makes it challenging is that you need to hold your torch with one hand and manipulate the rod with the other hand.
If you’re just starting with TIG welding, your hands aren’t used to holding onto a metal rod while trying not to get burned by sparks flying everywhere. It can be challenging if you don’t have a good way to support both hands.
Firm support for your hands will enable you to move the TIG welding torch accurately.
Image Credit: Aumm graphixphoto, Shutterstock
14. Clean a Contaminated Tungsten Electrode Instantly
One of the most common problems with tungsten electrodes is contamination. It happens when you leave your tungsten electrode in contact with the base metal for too long.
The tungsten electrode can also get contaminated with bits of slag, rust, or foreign material that can affect your weld quality. Using a wire brush or a bench grinder, grind away any remaining scratches on the surface of the tungsten electrode. Then, wipe it with acetone.
Alternatively, you can replace a contaminated tungsten electrode. As you begin TIG welding, you should have a couple of pre-sharpened tungsten electrodes on your working table or bench.
TIG welding is a craft that takes both persistence and patience. The process of creating quality welds can be lengthy. It involves using several tools compared to other types of welding.
If you’re a beginner TIG welder, these tips and tricks will allow you to take on basic TIG welding jobs and do them to perfection. Remember to practice and don’t be afraid to try new things.
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Featured Image Credit: guteksk7, Shutterstock
- 1. Select the Correct Tungsten
- 2. Ensure that Everything is Clean
- 3. Don’t Melt the Filler Rod Directly
- 4. Always Wear Protective Gear When TIG Welding
- 5. Grind Your Tungsten Well
- 6. Use Minimum Power When TIG Welding
- 7. Use a Suitable Shielding Gas
- 8. Maintain the Torch Angle and the Rod
- 9. Choose Larger Rods When TIG Welding
- 10. Reduce the Arc Steadily
- 11. TIG Welding Needs the Utmost Concentration
- 12. Ensure You’re Welding in a Well-Ventilated Workplace
- 13. Find Ways to Support Your Hands
- 14. Clean a Contaminated Tungsten Electrode Instantly
- Final Thoughts
Can I teach myself to TIG weld? ›
The bad news is that you should not attempt to learn TIG on your own. More bad news is that many welding programs have been radically slimmed down or cut completely. The good news is a few community colleges still have intro classes that allow you to learn the basics in a relatively short period of time.How long does it take to become a good TIG welder? ›
Once you have all the required skills and experience, it takes an average of 6-12 months of job training to become a tig welder. The national average salary for tig welders is $38,192, but with the right certifications and experience, they can make up to $49,000.What is the easiest TIG welder to learn on? ›
1. Best Welder for Beginners—YESWELDER TIG-205DS HF TIG/Stick/Arc TIG Welder with Dual Voltage and Foot Pedal. This compact TIG welder is ideal for anyone just starting out or welders who are interested in learning the craft of TIG welding.What is the easiest weld to learn? ›
MIG welding is generally the easiest type of welding for a beginner to learn. MIG welders use a feed wire that runs through the machine at a preselected speed. This makes the process relatively fast and produces consistent welds.Do you push or pull a TIG weld? ›
While push and pull both work well for MIG welding, with TIG, always use the push method. TIG welding requires extreme care and precision. Don't be afraid to take time. For best results, ensure the cleanliness of the surfaces welded.When welding do you push or pull the puddle? ›
Put in simpler terms, you should be pulling the rod towards you when using any welding process that produces slag. This includes submerged arc welding, electroslag welding, flux-cored arc welding and shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), more commonly known as stick welding.Why can't I see the puddle when welding? ›
Get a Wider Lens
Most welding helmets can have the lens swapped out for different sizes or darknesses. If the problem is that there is not enough field of view, then the fix may be to just swap it out for a wider lens. This way, the user will be able to see much more of the weld as they work.
A 15-degree angle is a good starting place, although some welders prefer a bit more or less. If you hold the torch at 45 degrees (or more), you're losing a lot of the coverage from shielding gas, and the flatter angle will make the puddle longer than it is wide.What is the correct gas flow for TIG welding? ›
The optimal gas flow rate for TIG welding varies by the combination of consumables and atmospheric conditions. GTAW flow rates are typically between 10 and 35 cubic feet per hour (cfh). When the shielding gas exits the nozzle, it has a different velocity than that of the atmospheric gases surrounding it.What angle should TIG torch be? ›
The work angle should be a 15 to 30 degree angle. Maintaining a 15 to 30 degree work angle will help the force of the arc to keep the puddle from drooping.
What are 3 disadvantages to TIG welding? ›
- Travel speeds and deposition rates are relatively low, increasing weld cost.
- A high degree of operator skill is required to produce quality welds.
- Process is not easily automated.
Because these types of jobs require specialized skills and can be potentially risky, contract welders can earn well over $100,000 in a year.Where do TIG welders make the most money? ›
Location impacts how much a tig welder can expect to make. Tig welders make the most in Wyoming, Washington, Alaska, North Dakota, and Oregon.What should a beginner welder know? ›
- 1) Safety should be considered first. ...
- 2) Set up consumables well. ...
- 3) Cleanliness is significant. ...
- 4) Different welding processes. ...
- 5) Know the input voltages. ...
- 6) User interface. ...
- 7) Material.
However, if you're working in a shop where a wide variety of projects come in, a more expensive unit with more power will make it possible to weld thick pieces of metal. More affordable TIG welders will not have enough power to create welds on thicker metal and will be a source of tremendous aggravation.Why is TIG welding so difficult? ›
TIG welding is known as one of the hardest types of welding because it requires more coordination and practice than other forms of welding. The process includes a foot pedal controlling the arc length, one hand supplying the sacrificial rod, and the welder's other hand aiming the electrode at the work surface.Can I teach myself to weld? ›
Can I teach myself to weld at home? It is helpful to learn in-person from an instructor to provide feedback, and with that, you may learn more quickly than teaching yourself at home. However, it is possible to learn welding at home through videos and online tutorials, with plenty of practice.What is the hardest weld to learn? ›
Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding is widely considered the most challenging welding process to learn. The sheer complexity of the technique requires more practice and focus to master than other less-technical welding methods. TIG welding also results in some of the strongest and sturdiest welds in the industry.What is a beginner welder called? ›
MIG Welding (Beginner)
MIG welders are among the best type for beginners, as they're designed with a wire welding electrode on a spool that is fed at a pre-selected speed through a welding gun. As a semi-automatic or automatic process, gas metal arc welding (GMAW or MIG), is the easiest to learn.
Simply put, NO, you can't Tig weld without Gas! Gas is required to protect both the Tungsten Electrode and the weld pool from Oxygen.
How far should TIG electrode stick out? ›
Electrode stickout – The electrode stickout from a nozzle should be from 1 to 3 times the diameter of the electrode, as shown in the graphic. If it is too short, there will not be enough access to the part. If it's too long, there will be insufficient gas coverage, and a higher start arc voltage will be required.Do you hold TIG torch with dominant hand? ›
Unless you're a member of the 1 percent who are truly ambidextrous, you probably feel very comfortable TIG welding with your dominant hand and not so much with your other hand.Should I weld up or down? ›
For material thicker than sheet metal, vertical welding generally should be performed uphill. Welding thinner sheet metal can be performed downhill because less penetration is needed, and the faster travel speed produces cooler temperatures that prevent burn-through.Should you cool a weld with water? ›
In order for the weld to be successful and the MIG gun to be cooled, the gun must have some sort of cooling system. MIG guns typically come either air-cooled or water-cooled. Water-cooled guns tend to be the choice of professionals, since they are more effective and allow them to get the job done more quickly.Do I weld from top to bottom? ›
Vertical welds can be done in either vertical up (moving bottom to top in the weld joint) or vertical down (moving top to bottom in the weld joint). Vertical up is typically more common, especially on thicker materials.Why do welders lose their eyesight? ›
Exposure to infrared light can heat the lens of the eye and produce cataracts over the long term. Visible light from welding processes is very bright and can overwhelm the ability of the iris of the eye to close sufficiently and rapidly enough to limit the brightness of the light reaching the retina.How long can you under water weld for? ›
They potentially work 10-12 hour shifts for up to 9 months at a time. However, offshore underwater welding is seasonal work since it is often too dangerous to work in winter conditions.How big should the weld puddle be? ›
Foot Pedal Control
Practice controlling the heat with the foot pedal to see the weld puddle increase and decrease. Ideally, you want your weld puddle to be about 1/4 inch wide. Keep your puddle size consistent so it doesn't grow, shrink, spread or narrow while you are welding.
On stainless steel for example, any color in the weld or HAZ shows that an oxide layer has formed, which can affect corrosion resistance. The darker the color is, the thicker the oxidization. The colors follow a predictable pattern, from chrome to straw to gold to blue to purple.Do you TIG weld with AC or DC? ›
DC is used for TIG welding Mild Steel/Stainless material and AC would be used for welding Aluminium. The TIG welding process has three options of welding current based upon the type of connection. Each method of connection has both advantages and disadvantages.
How much does a bottle of argon cost? ›
|Size||Initial Cost (full)|
|40CF||$230 to $260 (example)|
|80CF||$290 to $320 (example)|
|125CF||$350 to $400 (example)|
A good starting point is 20 to 25 CFH. Keep an eye on the weld surface and the area around weld toes. If you notice porosity, increase the flow.Do you need 100 argon to TIG weld? ›
So, in short, TIG welding needs pure argon to protect the tungsten electrode, and MIG welding works best on a 75%/25% argon/carbon dioxide mix to get good weld penetration and flow.What shade do you need for TIG? ›
On the other hand, DIN levels of 8 or higher are recommendable for TIG welding, depending on the arc length. Generally speaking, the higher shade numbers ranging from 8 to 13 are designated for welding tasks, while the lower shades that allow more light to pass through are intended for other projects.Do I need a water cooled TIG torch? ›
A larger torch with a lot of power will need to be water cooled if you want to weld for any length of time, while a smaller torch can be air or water cooled.Should a TIG torch be positive or negative? ›
Polarity refers to the direction of current flow when welding. All DC TIG welding (steel, stainless, etc) is done on DC- polarity where the TIG torch is connected to the negative (-) terminal and the earth lead to the positive (+) terminal.What metals Cannot be TIG welded? ›
- Titanium and steel.
- Aluminum and copper.
- Aluminum and stainless steel.
- Aluminum and carbon steel.
When welders don't properly protect their eyes from the arc, they commonly suffer welder's flash, or photokeratitis, a condition caused by exposure to intense ultraviolet radiation resulting in temporary blindness and extreme discomfort. More extreme eye injuries can result in permanent blindness.Which weld is stronger MIG or TIG? ›
TIG welded joins are typically stronger than those produced by MIG welding. This is because the narrow, focused arc created by TIG welders offers better penetration of the metal. In addition, the TIG weld beads, when applied correctly, contain few holes and other defects that can weaken the weld.Can welders make $100 an hour? ›
Depending on the job they undertake, they can make up to $120 per hour if it's difficult to complete. Some jobs may require the welder to be at sea for 30 days. Education requirements: A high school diploma and GED is required, along with two to five years of experience with welding on land.
What weld pays the most? ›
Rig welders are some of the highest-paid welders, averaging about $77,000 per year, but they often work long hours under challenging conditions. Since mistakes in these types of welding jobs could spell disaster, only the very best welders are considered for these sought after positions.What makes you the most money in welding? ›
The highest paying welder jobs are in industrial construction. Pipe welders, tube welders, rig welders, underwater welders and combo welders are the highest paid of all welding jobs. The type of welding is important and so is the industry. The top welder salary can be over $200,000 per year in industrial construction.Can welders make 200k a year? ›
Yes, a welder can make $200k.
While the median salary of a welder is $42,000 a year or $17 an hour, there is one welding job that pays $200k a year. A rig welder is a key player in the oil industry.
- Pipe welder.
- Aerospace welder.
- Military support welder.
- Underwater welder.
- Certified welding supervisor.
Some commercial divers' underwater welding salaries can hit up to $300,000+ annually. Why the large pay range? Most underwater welders receive pay by the hour or project.Is it possible to teach yourself to weld? ›
Can I teach myself to weld at home? It is helpful to learn in-person from an instructor to provide feedback, and with that, you may learn more quickly than teaching yourself at home. However, it is possible to learn welding at home through videos and online tutorials, with plenty of practice.Is it hard to TIG weld? ›
TIG welding is known as one of the hardest types of welding because it requires more coordination and practice than other forms of welding. The process includes a foot pedal controlling the arc length, one hand supplying the sacrificial rod, and the welder's other hand aiming the electrode at the work surface.Should I learn TIG or MIG first? ›
MIG welds work well with larger projects with thick metals that need longer, continuous runs. Control: TIG welders need to have experience with timing and balancing materials in both hands. MIG is typically easier to control and is better for beginners.Which is easier to learn TIG or MIG? ›
MIG welding is much easier to learn and master than TIG welding. TIG welding requires the use of two hands, one to move the welding torch and the other to feed the filler rod into the weld pool. Plus, there is often a foot pedal with which you can control the amperage.Is welding a lot of math? ›
Needless to say, math is critical in the field of welding and proves itself to be very necessary for a welder to do their job successfully. Knowing whole numbers, fractions, decimal conversion, geometry, formulas, trigonometry, and other math skills make a welder invaluable to their team.
Can you weld with no experience? ›
If you have little to no welding experience, don't sweat it! No one expects you to be a good welder right from the start. However, you will need your high school diploma or GED and have a valid driver's license before you can become a welding apprentice.What are common TIG welding mistakes? ›
Holding too long of an arc increases overall heat input and the potential for distortion. It also widens the weld bead while decreasing penetration, and affects weld bead appearance. Practice holding a consistent arc length to improve heat input control and improve weld bead quality.Do you push or pull when TIG welding? ›
With TIG welding, use argon gas whether joining stainless steel, aluminum or steel. While push and pull both work well for MIG welding, with TIG, always use the push method.Is TIG welding stronger than stick? ›
That's why TIG welds more metals than any other welding method, making it the most versatile welding process. The TIG-produced welds are cleaner, stronger, and of higher quality than what's possible with MIG, flux core, or stick welding.What is the highest paid welding job? ›
Rig welders are some of the highest-paid welders, averaging about $77,000 per year, but they often work long hours under challenging conditions. Since mistakes in these types of welding jobs could spell disaster, only the very best welders are considered for these sought after positions.Is it better to weld aluminum with MIG or TIG? ›
Generally, two processes are used for aluminum welding: GTAW (TIG) and GMAW (MIG). Most welders in the business will say TIG is the better option for welding aluminum because it allows for better results on lighter gauge materials. When done correctly, TIG welding aluminum can produce quality welds.