I got the occasion to try a tig welder lately and I am EXTREMELY impressed. I have been toying with stick before (I am not doing this professionaly) and the results have been less than satisfactory. Although the welds hold quite well, I found stick incredibly messy (splater and flux everywhere)... and this was with a DC inverter mind you.
Now, I try a TIG torch on the inverter and it was like night and day. Almost silent, clean, like I would be able to lit my tiny personnal sun at home at move molten metal with it. Mind you, suddenly I can see the puddle and move it! I can joint 2 sheets of 1,5mm steel and if I see a hole coming, actually fill it! Really, really great, process. I should stop now, because I am going to be lyric about it.
First, I would like to thank everybody in the group, especially Ernie Leimkuhler, for all what has been written here in the past years. I used google to read back much of it and it helped a great deal.
Second, I have a few questions that I did not find an answer for in google:
-the small inverter has only "lift arc". I need to start by touching the electrode on the metal: is that normal that it sticks to it? Or should I just try to scratch the elcectrode (posts are inconsistent about this).
-after welding, the electrode is still pointy and shinny, but it also looks like it has melted a bit (it has a bulb above the point). Does this mean it has melted when I touched the piece for starting? Does this means it got contaminated and has steel on it? It should be big enough for the 50 A I am using, BTW (1mm) and the bulb shape does not seem to affect the arc stability.
-how long do the electrodes keep anyway? How often should they be reground, supposing I do not dip them in the puddle?
Last but not least, I am a little bit worried because everybody seem to agree that TIG is difficult and I find it actually a lot easier than stick. No flux in the way, much less blow through, I can much better control where the heat goes and using the rod to cool things down is quite usefull. I read about the "typical beginner's mistake" of a too long arc, and keep my arc as short as possible. Still I am a bit concerned that I am doing something wrong: is there something else I should pay attention to? I know I should really try to find a course, but due to time and distance constraint, this will not be easy and in any case will take some time.
I am so much impressed, that I am considering buying a welder with HF start, but I'll ask questions about that in another thread.