TIG welding takes practice, practice and more practice to get really proficient. It’s a skill, an art form and a science, so don’t feel too bad if your first efforts don’t turn out perfect. There are a number of things you can do to help yourself, though, so if you’re a TIG newcomer and want to raise your game, here are some helpful hints.
1. Keep it clean
TIG welding, more than other types of welding, relies on a supremely clean surface to make sure you get a clean join. A good tip is to use a separate stainless steel brush for aluminium and steel and make sure the brush itself is clean or you’ll be laying down deposits as you go. Clean religiously, it will help you no end with the weld itself, and make sure your welding tools are up to the job.
2. Choose your tungsten carefully
Green tungsten is generally used for aluminium and red for steel. That isn’t always the case and some prefer to use red tungsten for everything, it’s down to you to experiment and see which works best for you. Make sure you use the right thickness of tungsten, too. If it’s too large, you may have to use too much heat to strike an arc. Too small a diameter can mean you damage it with too much heat.
3. Touch the tip, you have to regrind
If you touch the tungsten tip into the puddle, you simply have to regrind it. If you don’t then the arc will wander off course and the weld simply won’t be the smooth and stylish effort it should be.
4. Keep going
Make sure you don’t have to stop for menial tasks. When you’re in a groove you want to keep going so you can maintain your rhythm and not get distracted. Keep spare, ready-ground tungsten, have all the pieces you intend to weld cleaned and ready to go, and keep more filler rod than you think you need at hand.
5. Grind your tungsten
Make sure your tungsten is correctly ground, as many beginners simply don’t do this right and pay the price with an unpredictable weld and, ultimately, a clumsy weld. If you don’t have a purpose-built sharpener, use a bench grinder and only use it for the tungsten, or you can suffer with the contamination that is almost inevitable with an all-purpose grinder.