Stringin’ Beads


TIG Welding 101

Skill Level: Advanced

More so now than ever people are taking the plunge and buying their first welder. Of course, there is the skill that it takes to use one properly, but that comes with one thing only: practice! TIG, Heliarc, or gas tungsten arc welding is basically glorified and refined oxy/acetylene welding. You have a torch in one hand and filler material in another, but you add a foot pedal for heat/amperage control. The cool thing about TIG welding is the control you have over what you are doing. The end results you get when done right are nice, tidy, strong welds that don’t need to be ground down or covered up. A TIG weld is also much more workable than a hard MIG weld if you are interested in doing any custom sheetmetal work.

Technology has caught up with TIG welders, and the old big and heavy transformer machines are becoming a thing of the past with new inverter technology. Compared to a transformer machine, an inverter TIG machine is much smaller and lighter, uses much less energy, and is more versatile, especially when it comes to AC (alternating current) operations for welding aluminum. Plus, you’ll need a bottle of argon shielding gas, and of course, a helmet and TIG welding gloves, which are thinner than MIG gloves so you have more dexterity with both the torch and filler rod.

This is a very brief introduction to DC (direct current) TIG welding, which is used for most metals other than aluminum. One of the best things you can do to learn TIG welding besides getting lots of practice is ask friends and professionals for tips, and even just strapping on a helmet watching someone weld can really be a big help.

“When you have too much heat, move too slowly, or don’t have enough filler rod, the metal at the edge of the weld is undercut and is not ideal.”