Newbie can't see TIG weld pool

I am having trouble getting a good look at my weld pool when TIG welding. I know I am doing something wrong, so here's my technique in detail. I am sitting at desk height. Using a Speedglas 9002x shade

12/13 with a 2.5 mag lens. I normally wear progressive eye glasses and this power seems to allow me to see at any angle. I usually start on the right of a horizontal (ex. butt weld) and move the torch over to the left as the weld progresses.The problem doing it strictly from left to right is that the torch moves in front of me and obstructs the view. To compensate, I have started to align the torch travel and subsequent weld along a gradual line from higher right to lower left. This, in theory should give me a good look at the entire travel of the torch. Admittedly, I put my head in close (about 10-12 inches) to see what's happening and soon after start, the area seems be much too bright and undefined to really see what's happening. I also occasionally get some reflected light in the helmet which makes it even more difficult to get a good view. I am relatively new to TIG and didn't or don't know what to expect, but I need to find out techniques for a good unobstructed view of things. Could my head be too close? Torch handling? Angle of torch? Height of table? Some things to look out for? Thanks, Mike, in St. Louis
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Hi, I'm in the St. Louis area, too, and a relative newbie to TIG.

I have an off-brand auto-dark helmet, and I like to run it around 9 (on the dial, which I have no way of knowing how calibrated that is). You don't say what material, but I'm guessing aluminum. The problem with aluminum is that is melts before it gets to even dull red heat. I know this because I have watched aluminum being poured, and it looks just like mercury. So, unlike welding steel, the weld pool will not glow! That bit of knowledge took me a while to acquire!

So, you have to look for a difference in the surface texture of the material to know where the molten pool is. You say you are using a 12/13 glass and it is too bright? One trick is to extend the electrode enough so you can put the torch handle between your eyes and the electrode tip. The arc and the glowing electrode tip will still illuminate the work, but you don't want the tip of the electrode and the arc visible! You can't see the very center of the arc, but if you hold the torch right, you can see the weld puddle pretty well. You may have to lighten up the shade a bit when doing it this way. If you look at the arc itself, it will wash out everything to the point you can't discern the weld pool.

When you get the hang of it, you really don't need to see the puddle that well, mostly you are looking a little ahead of it, to keep yourself on the proper track. Also, you will start to move faster and faster as you develop the trick of backing up with the torch and dabbing the filler rod into the pool, and then advancing again. I'm still developing these skills. I've gotten mild steel down, but still learning stainless (not too bad) and aluminum (pretty rough, still.)


Reply to
Jon Elson

I can't give you any magic bullets.

What I can tell you from 32 years of welding is to find your own comfortable position. When you weld, one of the most important variables is comfort. Whether or not you are reaching. Trying to hold on with one hand. Welding towards yourself so that when you get a ways into the weld, you run into your chest. All sorts of things will affect a weld. Welding is like drawing. If you got something in your hand or pressing on your hand other than the pencil, the drawing isn't as easy.

Before you strike an arc, see if you can make it to the end of the weld unobstructed. Make sure you aren't pulling or pushing or holding onto something that will make you tired and start to get shaky before the end of the weld.

This goes for all types of welding, not just TIG. Make an imaginary pass, and visualize what you will be doing. Allow for that long TIG filler rod sticking out and bend or shorten if necessary.

You might even try doing it without electricity to see what is getting in your way. Do it with the flip visor up if you have one, or without a helmet.

Do that, and you will probably answer most of your own questions.



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Great comments. If it helps, I can't see the entire TIG pool, only the front/leading portion. The cup is hiding the rest. It makes a big difference in how far the tungsten is protruding. When I started, I let the electrode protrude quite a bit to see what I was doing. Recently, I've been able to reduce it without causing myself trouble. Your comment about brightness is curious. I am at my desk right now, but I don't recall anything being particularly bright when I am TIG welding. I keep my head in pretty close (6-12") and don't have a problem. Unhelpful, I am sure, but maybe something to compare against. I do have a problem with focus, though. My focal range is fairly narrow and I have to carefully move my head along as the puddle moves to keep everything focused. Good luck.

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Have you tried a lighter shade? I wonder if what you're interpreting as too bright is instead your eye focussing on the arc, which you can see, as opposed to the puddle, which is too dark. I find as my eyes age I tend to use a lighter shade than what's recommended. I typically use a 9 or 10 shade for run of the mill stuff, from perhaps 75 to 150A, and will switch to an 11 or 12 when welding aluminum over

200A. I've got a 7 for fine low current work,
Reply to
Ned Simmons

Your lens 12/13 is to dark plus any time you mag. an object you need to ad more light.I have a speedglass also and its to dark for tig welding . Cut back to a 10 shade or less .

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This reminds me. I haven't seen Ernie around here for a while. He give up on newsgroups?


Reply to
Just Me

He had an absolutely HORRIBLE accident with a press brake, and lost several fingers. For a guy who works with his hands as much as he does, that is a real nightmare. It may be hard for him to type as well as he used to. He was on, sporadically, after the accident. He was very helpful on TIG topics. He posted to sci.,engr.joining.welding on Jul 22, so he is still around. Probably just cut back his net time.


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Jon Elson

You'd really struggle to see anything with a 12/13 filter in your visor for sheet metal TIG welding. If memory serves me right, a 9 filter would be what I use when welding 0.9mm (about 35thou of inch) stainless with less than 30A.

If your visor filter shade is too light, your get the message gently because you can't see right when welding or when you take the visor off - but that is due to slightly too bright light and not highly dangerous UV, which is stopped by the glass of the filter, regardless of how dark / light it is.

But yes, if you are doing sheet metal with any normal TIG, you will want a 9 or 10 AWS filter. Your current choice is way out.

With TIG you have the advantage that with being a very clean process you can keep your visor cover slips and the filter itself spotlessly clean. You should actually have a lovely relaxed full view of the welding area - you should be able to sit back and enjoy the experience.

Some additional points as you learn to fly TIG:

I remember as an absolute newbie getting all crossed up including in trying to see what's going on. Was especially getting tangled up trying to fillet weld. Fillet is easiest for most processes (MIG, stick) but more difficult with TIG. With TIG in fillet, you are trying to get the torch into the corner, the shroud is blocking the view, you have to get the tungsten in close, you have two surfaces to crash it into, you have to get the filler rod under the tungsten without crashing the filler into the tungsten, if you overfill and the metal flows fast in a big front it can wash up and touch the tungsten. It can get very exasperating. But it will come together with practice. And all with cricking your neck trying to see what's going on under the shroud.

With TIG, it's so clean you can sit relaxed at a table, so easy to put in practice.

The advice "with TIG you weld at the lowest current at which the weld can be run" will serve you well. The experienced folk may be able to control with a bit more power on for fast run speed, but for you, probably take pride in really neat small cool welds run quite quickly with a small heat input (in kJ per mm of weld). The other advice I would offer myself, something which worked for me was "let the machine look after you; control the amps on the machine so you floor the foot pedal and just control the starts and stops". When you know what a good weld looks like, then you can give yourself "headroom" with the current setting on the machine and control on the pedal. As I said - that worked for me. Was controlling on smaller and smaller currents as I improved my technique, taking of an amp or two at a time and getting able to control delightfully small neat welds.

At the time I was learning TIG, I kept a running diary

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exasperation at times and my elation at passing standards are the point I am making.

Richard Smith

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I don't mean to be facetious, but is the lens darkening properly? It sure sounds like it's not turned on or something..

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Yes I remember his accident, and that he posted a few times after that. Just hasn't been as frequent as he used to be.

Ernie, if you're reading this. Give us an update on the hand.


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Just Me

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