Newbie can't see 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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Right to left travel would be normal for someone who is right handed. A little angle, like you have used, helps to see what is going on. Torch is going to be slanted a bit away from direction of travel, not straight up and down.

12/13 shade seems too dark to me unless you are running high currents like on thick aluminum. I think you may be getting in too close. 10 or less shade should do it for TIG on steel.

Reflections off the inside of the lens can, indeed, make it harder to see. You can change you orientation to the reflected light or even make a flap to go over the back of your helmet. Even if you fix that, autodark lenses are worse for reflections than regular ones. There are more internal reflections because there are more layers in the lens the light that comes in from the front has to pass through.

Magnifiying lens in helmet may be more hindrance than help. I used a 2x lens at one time. Now I just wear cheap reading glasses, same diopter as for near vision on my bifocals. Better to see the big picture clearly than zoom in too tight on the weld pool.

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One test I use is, if I can see the tip of the tungsten then the shade is right. Another way to say this would be, if the arc is so bright I can't see the tip of the tungsten then I need a darker shade. Although I do have a autodark weld lens, I also have a standard helmet with a lens made of glass. The autodark lens is very useful, but the glass provide a much better optic.(view)


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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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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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"footy" wrote: (clip) I used a 2x lens at one time. Now I just wear cheap reading glasses, same diopter as for near vision on my bifocals. (clip) ^^^^^^^^^^^^ I agree wholeheartedly--even more so, kuz I wear trifocals. Bifocals and trifocals force you to hold your head at a certain angle to focus. With a helmet on, you may be fighting the line (s) in your specs without knowing it. You may also be forced to angle your head in such a way that you get too much light inside the helmet. The diopter correction that fits in the helmet is another pair of air/glass surfaces that collect dust and degrade your vision.

I buy cheap reading glasses at the flea market for about $3 a pair, and throw them away when they get scratched up.

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Leo Lichtman

My favorite is to wear my contacts, then wear 2.25 cheap reading glasses. I can function with just the contacts most of the time, and when I actually need to see something, I put on the specks. And, too, the reading glasses/contacts combo doesn't jump like my bifocals do. And I don't have to hold my head at an unnatural angle to see through the bottom of the bifocal ........ I can look straight ahead.


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Good comments, Steve. I had Lasix (sp?) surgery last year, 20-20 or better in my right eye, nearsighted in my left, they call it monovision, allowing you to read without corrective lenses, and still have 20-20 in one eye. It was nearly impossible to see the weld pol with my right eye, and even my left eye needed about +2.25 for TIG welding.

So my solution was to buy two identical framed reading glasses, different powers, and swapping lenses around to offset the surgery... the +2.25 on the left and and a +3.00 for the right....WOW what a difference that made. I'm usually only wearing thtem for short periods, during the actual welds. Now if I can only keep better track of those particular reading glasses as I work on my projects, I'll do fine.


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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 do the same..with reading glasses from the 99c store. And I keep dark towel handy for putting over the back of my head and mask if the reflections are coming in on the back side of the lens. Which they do if you bend over to weld.

I use 2.5x reading glasses...


Liberals - Cosmopolitan critics, men who are the friends of every country save their own. Benjamin Disraeli

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try Shade 9 for DC TIG 80 amps or less, shade 10 for 80 - 180, shade 11 for 180 - 300

If welding on AC for aluminum: shade 10 for 80 amps or less, shade 11 for 80 - 180, shade 12 for 180 - 300

I don't see how it is possible for the arc to be too bright if your hood is set to 12/13, unless it isn't triggering to the darkened state. If you are obscuring the arc with your hand then the hood may be triggering back to the light state.

Angling the weld so it is running a little towards you will make it easier to see what is happening.

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Ernie Leimkuhler

is set to 12/13, unless it isn't triggering to the darkened state. If you are obscuring the arc with your hand then the hood may be triggering back to the light state>>

Too bright was a poor choice of words. More like everything is washed together with very little disctinction of the weld pool. I appreciate all the input, I'll try all the suggestions as I put in more practive time. Thanks!


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