5 Tips To Master To Improve Your TIG Welding Skills
Today, TIG welding is considered the most versatile technique for joining metals, making it an excellent choice for various fabrication and repair tasks. As a result, it is a valuable skill for both professional welders and hobbyists.
As TIG welding is an incredibly versatile technique, there is always room for improvement and learning. The more knowledge you acquire, the more proficient you will become, regardless of the project, materials, or obstacles you encounter. Here are five tips to enhance your TIG welding skills:
- Get to know your machine
- Take time to get the fundamentals right
- Get comfortable with different materials
- Go beyond the basics with gas lenses and pulse settings
- Choose the right gear
For professionals, this can be the deciding factor between having a steady stream of work and struggling to find any available projects. For hobbyists, this can enable you to reach a level where you can tackle any welding project as a DIY task.
The Rules of the Rod
It’s a pretty bad pun, we know! But before we dive into the tips that are going to help you get a lot better at TIG welding in a very short amount of time, there are a few things that we need to discuss.
First, this list will assume that you already have some familiarity with TIG welding. If you’ve never welded before and you’re trying to get things figured out while you’re tracking the shipping on your first machine, you’ll need to do some prep work before you try out any of the tips in this article.
This is important for at least two reasons:
- Safety: Similar to other power tools, TIG welders can pose a risk if not handled correctly. It is crucial to familiarize yourself with the general safety guidelines for welding and the specific safety requirements outlined by the manufacturer of the machine you are operating before commencing any welding task.
- Clarity: In order to ensure that this article is beneficial to the widest range of readers, we will assume that you have a basic understanding of common terms and fundamental materials.
Secondly, the information presented in this list will primarily concentrate on what is effective for the majority of welders in typical situations. However, it is possible that you may have encountered scenarios in the past where the guidance we offer may not have been applicable or suitable.
Due to the versatility of TIG welding, there may be instances where a specific exception to the general rule applies. If you have any such advice, we welcome your input. Alternatively, if you require such advice, there are numerous online discussion forums where seasoned welders share their experiences and provide answers to each other’s queries.
Now, let’s get started with the task at hand!
As previously mentioned, we will presume that you possess a fundamental understanding of TIG welding in the guidance that ensues. However, this does not imply that we anticipate you to hold an associate’s degree or professional certification.
We will encompass everything from the fundamental aspects of machines and materials to more sophisticated pointers for enhancing your technique and evading prevalent errors.
It is implausible for us to encompass everything you must know about TIG welding in general, let alone what you must know to address every particular circumstance.
However, upon concluding this list, you will possess adequate knowledge to execute work of professional quality in most scenarios, and you will be aware of the inquiries to pose when you require further information.
Tip #1: Get to Know Your Machine
Merely being able to identify the TIG welder’s location in the workshop when someone inquires does not imply that you are acquainted with the machine. Even if you can ignite it and produce a neat-looking bead on a specific material, it is far from claiming that you are familiar with your machine’s strengths and limitations.
The majority of TIG welding machines available in the market nowadays provide a vast array of functionalities. To configure your machine to operate at its best for a particular task, regardless of what it is, necessitates investing some time in comprehending it and experimenting with various alternatives.
Having knowledge of whether your machine is transformer-based or inverter-based can eliminate guesswork while attempting to diagnose a common error, such as welds lacking fusion on the root.
After that, familiarize yourself with the available options for adjusting the settings on your machine, such as:
- Gas Flow
Once you are aware of the options your machine provides, you can concentrate on how those options contribute to an optimal configuration for the various materials you may encounter while working.
Dealing with unfamiliar materials can cause significant stress for both professional welders and hobbyists. However, if you are familiar with your machine and have established the basics of your configuration correctly, working with a new material can be as simple as referring to a filler metal chart.
With that said, let’s explore some suggestions that will assist you in getting the fundamentals right on the first attempt, every time.
Tip #2: Take the Time to Get the Fundamentals Right
The process of configuring your welding machine and materials involves numerous minor details that you may not even consider, or how you can improve them, let alone how enhancing those minor aspects can significantly impact your outcomes.
Before activating your welding machine, there are several measures you can take to ensure a successful outcome. After examining them in greater depth, we will devote some time to examining the basics of the TIG welding technique.
Setting Yourself Up for Success
- Abraham Lincoln
Irrespective of the profession, genuine experts are meticulous, systematic, and attentive to details. They prioritize minor aspects. Therefore, if you aspire to achieve professional outcomes, it is advisable to commence the process in the same manner as a professional would.
In TIG welding, paying attention to minor details is crucial, ranging from the cleaning technique of the materials to be welded to organizing your workspace before commencing the job.
To a beginner, the angle of the tungsten tip may appear insignificant. However, to a professional, it is the key to achieving robust and visually appealing welds.
A novice may perceive it as a joke or even condescension if you demonstrate how to wire brush aluminum. However, a professional understands the significance of this technique and the reasons behind it.
The list of minor details that differentiate amateurs and unskilled welders from genuine professionals is endless.
Fortunately, Weld.com has compiled some excellent videos that you can watch to enhance your knowledge.
The initial video commences with torch assembly and progresses systematically until you have produced satisfactory welds and identified common errors while working with steel. The subsequent video continues from there and focuses on aluminum welding.
The knowledge imparted in these videos is an excellent complement to the subject matter we are discussing in this section and what we will address in the following tip.
If you are prepared, let us proceed and activate the machine. Once it is operational, we must ensure that our technique’s fundamentals are as robust as our preparation work’s fundamentals.
Practice Doing It the Right Way Until That’s the Only Way That Feels Right
Even minor factors such as the angle at which you hold your torch or your filler wire can significantly affect the quality and productivity of your work.
Thankfully, there is a simple rule to remember – the 15° rule. However, inexperienced welders may find this rule confusing. As per the rule, you should always hold your torch at a 10-15 degree angle from the vertical. It is essential not to confuse this with your filler wire, which should be held at a 10-15 degree angle from the horizontal.
Once you’ve got your angles right, you can begin to focus on other basics like:
- Forward Motion: In contrast to stick and MIG welding, TIG welding operates in a single direction, which is forward. If you are transitioning to TIG welding from another technique, you must first become accustomed to this before focusing on anything else.
- Travel Speed: This will determine the width of your bead. Getting the right speed and getting to the point where you’re steady and consistent is key to doing good work.
- Puddle: The width of your bead is determined by this factor. Achieving the appropriate pace and attaining a level of stability and consistency is crucial to producing high-quality work.
- Terminating the Bead: This is particularly significant when welding aluminum since you must taper out to prevent the formation of cratered ends and cracked welds.
The basics that we have covered in this section will assist you in becoming a dependable and proficient welder. If you implement them while familiarizing yourself with various materials, your welds will start to stand out from the rest.
Tip #3: Get Comfortable with Different Materials
As mentioned earlier, TIG welding is the most adaptable welding technology available. Therefore, why not be prepared to benefit from it? What is the point of having a machine that can weld nearly any metal if you are only comfortable working with one?
TIG welding gives you the ability to work on:
- Carbon and low alloy steels
- Stainless steels
- Nickel alloys
- Cobalt alloys
- Copper alloys
If you can think of a metal that you might need to weld that isn’t on that list, chances are pretty good that a TIG welding machine will be up to the task.
The ability to weld various materials and comprehend how to connect different materials is the type of expertise that distinguishes certain TIG welders from others. However, the materials you are welding are only a portion of what you must understand about materials.
Tip #4: Expand Your Horizons — Go Beyond the Basic Set-Up
When configuring your TIG welder, there are numerous options available to you. Additionally, there are just as many accessories and specialized tools that have been created and introduced to the market in response to specific challenges that welders encounter on the job.
Assuming that you are aware of all the options for the fundamentals we discussed earlier and have become comfortable combining them in the appropriate ways to meet the demands of any task, there are still two relatively common techniques that you must become familiar with: Gas Lenses and Pulse Settings.
1. Gas Lenses: “A gas lens enhances shielding gas coverage and is critical for any TIG welder looking to improve their skills! This is an excellent video that demonstrates how to enhance your welding.” Gas lenses can be used on any material, but they are particularly beneficial when welding stainless steel.
2. Pulse Setting: We have saved the discussion of pulse settings until now because it appears to be the most contentious issue among welders who are knowledgeable about their craft. The general consensus is that if you have a solid foundation, pulse settings can be extremely beneficial in specific situations. However, pulse can also be a crutch that allows you to get away with poor fundamentals.
Tip #5: Choose the Right PPE and Other Gear
Once you have spent enough time welding to become proficient in the fundamentals covered in the first three tips, you will be able to distinguish between gear that merely gets the job done and gear that truly works for you.
Professional welders spend between 8 and 12 hours each day in their gear, so the difference between functional and comfortable gear can significantly impact their outlook on life.
If you are a dedicated hobbyist who is still reading this article, you likely understand that welding for fun is not as enjoyable when your gear is not suitable for you.
Most skilled TIG welders agree that a thinner glove should be chosen for the filler wire hand than for the torch hand. Additionally, it is worthwhile to consider your helmet and lenses, jacket, boots, and other components that make up your kit.
Some professional welders are required to wear head-to-toe fire-resistant clothing on certain job sites, which adds another layer to consider.
Ultimately, selecting clothing and equipment that make you comfortable will make your work more enjoyable, keep you fresh during long days, and make it easier to appear and feel professional while on the job.
If you are already among the top 25% of TIG welders and want to distinguish yourself within that group, selecting equipment that is functional, comfortable, and helps you maintain a professional appearance even in challenging situations is one approach to achieving that goal.
Improving your practical and theoretical knowledge can significantly enhance your welding skills, just like any other skill. This knowledge can be beneficial in various ways, such as addressing unknown projects and issues, making hotfixes, or improving results. Therefore, I recommend utilizing this resource to delve deeper into mastering TIG welding.
Becoming an excellent TIG welder is similar to becoming proficient in any other skill. During the learning process, you may encounter individuals who appear to be much better than you, causing frustration. However, it is essential to remember that everyone starts somewhere.
The key to success is to establish a solid foundation of fundamental skills. If you master these skills, maintain their sharpness, and avoid complacency, you will become an exceptional TIG welder.
While developing your fundamental skills, avoid being distracted by the latest trends. Stay focused on building your skills.
Once you have reached a level where others recognize your exceptional skills, you can concentrate on the minor differences that set you apart from other skilled welders.
Remember, even the most skilled welders acknowledge that there is always room for improvement. Stay humble, continue learning, and assist those who are not as advanced as you.