Tungsten Inert Gas welding, commonly referred to as TIG welding, is one of the most challenging welding processes to master. A lot of practice is needed for you to learn it. But the weld quality you get from TIG welding is well worth it.
16 Tig Welding Tips And Tricks
Here are 16 useful tig welding tips for beginners. These tig welding tips and tricks will help improve your TIG welding.
Clean the surface
TIG welding does not work on a rusted, dirty, or painted surface. But instead works on immaculately clean surfaces. Before turning on your TIG welder, ensure the base metal is clean. For aluminum and stainless steel, I use a stainless brush. The basic rule of thumb is the more time you spend cleaning the base metal, the better the quality of the weld will be.
Choose the right electrode
TIG welding derives its name from the tungsten electrode used. Tungsten electrodes come in two main types, green and red. Green tungsten electrodes are used for welding aluminum, while red tungsten electrodes work best on steel.
Some people use purple e3 bands, tungsten electrodes for all metal types. However, stick to green and red if you are new to TIG welding.
Choose the right rod size
One of the things that make TIG welding challenging is the fact that you have to hand feed a filler rod to the weld pool. Picking the right size rod is crucial. If the rod is too thin, it may end up melting before hitting the weld pool.
This is a very common occurrence. Ideally, for thick metal, use thick rods and for thin metal use thin rods. For instance, for 1/8 inch thick metal use rods of a diameter of between 3/32 inches and 1/8 inches.
If you are a beginner, 1/8 inch thick metal is the best to practice with. Try and avoid any sheet of metal that is less than 1/8 inch thick.
Grind the tungsten electrode correctly
Tungsten is a sensitive metal. Before using a tungsten electrode, it needs to undergo a grinding process. When grinding your tungsten electrode, ensure you are doing it lengthwise. A tungsten sharpener is recommended for grinding tungsten electrodes. However, you can use a bench grinder. On condition that you don’t use the grinder on any other type of metal.
Re-grind the electrode if it touches the weld pool
One of the most frustrating things about TIG welding is that the wire should not come into contact with the weld pool or filler rod. If this happens, it becomes contaminated and will affect the quality of the finished work. When the electrode comes into contact with the weld pool, you must re-grind it. This is the process of removing the impurities or cleaning the rod. Also, it may be a good idea to have several electrodes for such scenarios
Use the right shielding gas
TIG welding like MIG welding requires a shielding gas to protect the weld pool. Helium and argon are the two most used shielding gases in TIG welding. However, a mixture of the two can be used. For beginners, argon is recommended for welding either aluminum or steel.
Torch angle should be 10 degrees or less
Another common mistake made is too much torch angle. This causes the heat to deflect and melt the rod before it hits the weld pool. The results in the rod forming a blob into the weld puddle. The torch should be angled at a 10-degree angle or less. This way, you can feed the rod to the weld puddle.
Wear thin gloves on your rod feeding hand
TIG welding requires you to use both hands. One hand holds the torch while the other holds the filler rod. Wear a thin glove in the hand that you are using the feed the filler rod into the weld puddle. The reason is that you need to have a maximum feel of the rod while feeding it to the weld puddle.
Don’t end the arc suddenly
In TIG welding, a foot peddle is used to control the amount of current flowing through the rod. This translates to the heat input. Standard practice dictates you put the foot pedal about ¾ of the way down. This way, you can easily reduce the arc slowly. Do not shut down the arc suddenly as this can lead to cracking.
Choose the right polarity
One of the most critical tig aluminum welding tips has to do with aluminum as a metal. This non-ferrous metal has a naturally occurring oxide coating. The latter melts at a higher temperature than aluminum metal.
When welding aluminum, it is recommended you use Alternating Current (AC). AC helps in the removal of this oxide layer, something that DC current is unable to do. Read the difference between ac vs dc welding for better understanding.
Wear protective gear
Specific tungsten electrodes have been known to emit low levels of radiation. When welding using a TIG welder, ensure you have a respirator on. The respirator is to protect your nose and mouth. Also, since TIG welding is predominantly done inside, it should be done in a properly ventilated room.
Welding stainless steel
Stainless steel is one of the metals you are likely to be welding using a TIG welder. One important thing to remember is that stainless steel does not do well with high temperatures. When starting check the weld coloring to check for overheating. If the weld has a golden or salmon-colored finish, then the heat input is just right.
However, if the finish takes a dark to dirty gray color, then chances are it is overheating, and the material may warp. To prevent overheating of stainless steel reduce the amps.
TIG welding is a process that will require 100% concentration. Thus try and minimize interruptions while welding. It is also important to keep ready tungsten rods just in case as well as ready filler rods.
Aluminum requires plenty of heat
Unlike stainless steel, aluminum requires plenty of heat. This means for welding aluminum, especially thicker sheets of the metal you need a machine with higher amperage. A 110v tig welder might not be the best for welding aluminum sheets.
The right polarity for steel
For welding steel, you can use either Direct Current Electrode positive or Direct Current Electrode Negative. These two polarity settings yield different results. DCEP 30% of the heat is concentrated on the workpiece, while 70% is concentrated on the electrode.
The opposite is true for DCEN, where 70% of the heat is concentrated on the workpiece, and 30% is concentrated on the workpiece. DCEP current is recommended for welding thinner sheets of metal.
Always follow welding safety first. When welding anything using a TIG welder, remember to put gloves, wood or something non-conducting on the welding table. This will help protect your hands from shocking hazards.