Newbie tig welder

So I finally got a machine, what I would like to know is what spares you think I should keep around. I already got %2 Thoriated tungstens, and pure tungstens in 3/32, is that what I need for aluminum and steel say about 1/8" thick? What excersizes should I try to start out? I have both gas welded and stick welded some in the past so tig seams like a good thing to start now.

Thanks in advance,


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Well Ernie you were right, I abused the hell out of the tungsten. Didn't do so good today. I started out just pushing the puddle around (mild steel) and that was fine. Then I went to add filler and it was as though the rod was to big. I kept contaminating the tungstgen.

Tell me if you think this machine is set up right: Thermal Arc 185tsw Max Amps set at 140 Pre Flow 1 Second it's the most the machine allows I think

100% argon at 15cfm 3/32" 2% thorated tungsten with a #6 cup 4 seconds post flow on an air cooled torch.

Also what's your opinion on chemical sharpener? I only have one bench grinder and I don't want to have to switch wheels everytime I go to use it. Ok or junk?

Thanks, going to practice more tomorrow :)


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For steel and aluminum.

1 amp per 0.001" of thickness for a butt weld.

For stainless steel use 30% For copper use 200% For bronze use 50%

For an inside fillet add 30% For an outside fillet subtract 30%

Fine. that is just to purge the hose.

I usually run 20-25 cfh for a standard collet body.

10-12 cfh for a gas lens.


too short. You want at least 10-15 seconds of postflow to protect the tungsten as it cools.

Yech!!! It works, but not nearly as well as a grinder.

Go to Home Depot and buy a 6" bench grinder for $20. Put a coarse Silicon Carbide wheel on one side and a fine aluminum oxide wheel on the other. You will be much happier. Remember to point the tungsten up while grinding. Proper taper is about a pencil point.

TIG is 10% foot pedal control.

30% torch control and 60% filler metal control.
Reply to
Ernie Leimkuhler

TIG gas lens is screen above cup that breaks up turbulant shielding gas flow. Turbulant gas flow is great in engines for mixing fuel air. Turbulant TIG shielding gas flow in cup mixes air into shielding gas limiting distance cup can be held away from puddle and still get good welds.

Reply to
R. Duncan

I meant 30% less.

Reply to
Ernie Leimkuhler

Don't get discouraged! I still have some problems with dipping the tungsten due to depth perception problems but I went through half a box of tungstens in the first two weeks I had my machine. I'm still using the other half box 10 years later.


Reply to
Ted Edwards

Ok thanks again, I will increase the post flow time to 10-15 seconds and increase my flow rate to 20-25cfh. Now that it has been mentioned that would explain why the parent metal was unuseually blue I mean really blue. I got some 1/8" scrap flatbar to practice on tomorrow.

Thanks for the tip on getting a cheap bench grinder, I was thinking of that but don't have much room. Just going to have to break down and get one anyways :).

So my question now is if I have the same setup with 1/8" thick flatbar do I set the machine at 125amps or should I go over that somewhat so I have a little extra power should I need it?

Thanks again...


Reply to

if it is hot rolled steel, blue-gray in color, you will need to grind off all oxides before TIG welding.

1/8" = 0.125" = 125 amps for a flat butt weld

+30% (about 40 amps) for a fillet weld ends up at 165 amps.

Real simple math.

Reply to
Ernie Leimkuhler

Thanks ernie, I will look at these later.

Regards, sniffer.

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Well just an up date, the second time out I did quite well. This time I tried butt welds on 1/8" flat stock. I did pretty well considering it's only my second time with a tig torch in my hand. Beads were a little big and un-even but I will work on that. I couldn't break them apart when I was done so I had good penatration. Only dipped the tungsten 3 or 4 times in 6" of running beads which is 50% better than before. Anyways thanks for the help I will keep playing with it until I get it right. I am having problems seeing the puddle and the tungsten am I correct in thinking it should stick out of the cup about the thickness of the tungsten? I mean I have a 3/32 tungsten and I assume it should be sticking out 3/32 right?



Reply to

You can get more length on the tungsten. If I recall, the recommended stick-out is about 2 times the tungsten diameter. Try it with 3x the diameter and see if that works. One beauty of a gas lense is that the stick-out can be much, much greater.

(I think you are in trouble. I know you think you can quit any time you want but that's what they all say. You are addicted, bud, and it is best just to admit it up front.)

Reply to
David Todtman

On a standard collet body, the tungsten should stick out about 3 times the diameter of the tungsten.

3/32" x 3 = 9/32"

On a gas lens collet body it can extend up to 6 times the diameter of the tungsten.

3/32" x 6 = 9/16"
Reply to
Ernie Leimkuhler

i know they make magnifying glasses for inside your helmet so you can see your puddle and weld area easier.

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Magnification can also be a hindrance. If you have to nod to drop your hood, your alignment might go away, and the beginning of your weld may be one inch from where you intended. The moving around and popbottle glasses effect may disorient you and cause you to blow your cookies in your helmet. I would suggest using an autodark lens.

I never got used to the helmet magnifiers, and used cheapo WallyWorld reading glasses. Buy the plastic ones. Spatter sticks to glass, but not plastic................ go figger. I always thought plastic was softer, and had a lower melting point. But I learned the previous fact on my expensive bifocals, so I can attest that spatter clings far far better to expensive glass bifocals rather than cheap Walmart reading glasses.


Reply to
Desert Traveler

It's not because I cannot see, in fact I have average vision. It's the fact that I have this tig torch in my way. I had the tungsten way to short and couldn't see around the cup. Now I know 3x the thickness and it will have me a whole lot more room to see the puddle. I only had it 1x out and well the cup was right in the puddle.

So that brings me to the next question. I didn't realize it but I sort of melted the cup somewhat. Not a lot but there isn't a perfect cylinder shape anymore. How bad can it be, before I need to replace the cup? There pretty cheap and all but if I am going to melt another I would rather not go through a couple. I know I shouldn't have it that close but I did... go figure leave me alone with a piece of equipment and I will break it.

I really am having a blast with tig. I wish I had tried it a lot sooner. I did make one good bead the other day. Could not break it in the vice with the big hammer. Bent it 90 deg and back and 90 the other way and back. So I cut it in half with a hacksaw. Great penetration also. Not able to duplicate it though. Either too cold or not feeding the filler right etc. I need to get a more comfortable work place as I think that is really holding me back in feeding the filler.

If anyone has any suggestions on what I should try I am all ears. First I just pushed the puddle around with the torch, then I tried to add filler and didn't do so well. Then I tried a butt weld with no filler and that was fine but low penetration. Now I am trying to do a butt weld with filler... just gotta keep practicing...

As always I am grateful for the help.

Reply to

You can cheat the tungsten out even further in a fillet weld sicne the gas will naturally get concentrated by the pieces of metal. So in a fillet weld you can slide it out to 4 times the diameter. You will find this helps quite a lot on fillet welds in thin metal.

Alumina (pink) cups last quite a long time if they are treated well. They don't have to be perfect to work.

Here is an exercise to practice when not welding.

Level 1

Take a 3/8" steel washer. Place it on a piece of white paper. Take a nice sharp pencil. Place the tip of the pencil against the paper inside the washer. Now start swirling the pencil tip around the inside of the washer to draw a circle on the paper. Keep circling the inside of the washer, while nudging the washer across the paper. Try to end up with the washer traveling in a straight line across the paper. You should end up with a long swirl pattern acrosss the page. Keep parcticing until the swirl pattern is even and in a straight line.

Level 2

Same setup, with one change. Once again slide the washer across the page while swirling the pencil tip around the inside of the washer, but now DON"T touch the paper with the pencil tip. This means being able to hold the tip of the pencil within a 1/16" of the paper without touching it and without lifting out of the washer.

Level 3

Do Level 2 while standing next to the table without any part of your arm resting on the table.

Level 4

Move to a 1/4" washer.

This exercise comes from a welding textbook from 1929, and it still works quite nicely to train your muscles for floating the torch.

Normally I do not swirl the torch while TIG welding, but this still works as an exercise.


Now as to feeding the filler metal.

Hold the filler metal in your prefered hand. Grasp it as if it was a pencil you were using to write with. Now open your hand while still holding the rod. You now are holding the filler metal as you should.

Feed the rod through your hand by alternately grasping it between the side of your thumb and the knuckle of your pointer finger, and the tips of your pointer and index fingers. It should feed like an inch worm.

This is a very relaxed way to hold and feed the metal. You apply the metal to the weld by tapping the end of the filler rod in the leading edge of the puddle. a drum.

Reply to
Ernie Leimkuhler

And just another data point -- try working out a little with some weights -- I'm not kidding.

After I started working out regularly I found that my ability to hold a steady torch improved significantly, as did my free-standing shooting.

It seems that (at least in my cae) stronger muscles don't shake so much and you end up with better fine motor control.

For welding (and shooting) uppper body/arm exercises seem to be all that's needed. Curls, bench-press, arm raises, etc.

It only takes about 10 minutes three or four times a week and you'll really notice the difference in just a couple of weeks.

-- you can contact me via

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Reply to
Bruce Simpson

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