TIG welding 101, a tutorial
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    Administrator pirate56's Avatar
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    Default TIG welding 101, a tutorial

    I will start a second thread with TIG Q&A to keep the information easier to read, so post questions there.

    I thought it might be helpfull to those of you who want to weld your kits but have never welded or haven't TIG welded to do a how to on it. To some it seems to be an exotic unlearnable skill, however it is easy once you get the hang of it. It requires practice and good hand / eye coordination.

    T = Tungsten, the metal used for the electrode to make the arc
    I = Inert, meaning it will not combine with the weld metal,
    G = Gas, normally Argon, used to shield the arc and molten metal from Oxygen

    Common terms:
    ARC, the electric flame used to weld.
    Amps, the power setting that you are welding at.
    Bead, the weld
    Collet, the collar that holds the tungsten in the torch.
    Current, also used in place of amps to refer to power setting.
    Cups, the ceramic nozzle surrounding the tungsten tip.
    CFM, cubic feet per minute, used to measure the gas flow through the torch.
    Electrode, the tungsten rod used to create the arc, they come in several varieties, pure and
    2% thoriated are the most common.
    Filler, the rod or filler metal used to weld.
    Flow meter, the regulator and indicator to set the argon gas flow.
    Gas, the argon used to shield the arc.
    Ground clamp, the second part of the welding circuit to make the arc.
    High Frequency, a high frequency current that is superimposed on the welding current to start and stabilize an arc.
    Post flow, a term used for the gas that continues to flow after the arc is stopped, it cools the weld and tungsten.
    Puddle, the spot of molten metal created with the torch where filler is added
    Regulator, a device used to reduce and regulate the welding gas from the gas cylinder.
    Scratch start, a method of starting an arc without high frequency.
    Torch, the electrode holder.
    UV Radiation, this is created from the arc when welding, you must wear protective clothing to be protected.

    Safety:
    You are working with electricity, high pressure gas, heat and strong UV radiation. safety should never be ignored
    Use gloves, eye protection and have a fire extinguisher handy. The Argon bottle containds gas at 2,000 psi and can be dangerous if mishandled.

    TIG uses a non consumable electrode to create an arc shielded in an inert gas bubble. It is a clean and very precise method of welding that produces clean, solid welds. It is slower and cleaner than stick, MIG or flux core wire.
    There is no slag or spatter.

    This tutorial is based on using a HF TIG without High Frequency. there is a review of this machine on this site.
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    Administrator pirate56's Avatar
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    The regulator reduces the pressure of the welding gas from bottle pressure to about 15 psi. It also sets the flow rate, with a #5 nozzle you should be between 15 to 20 cfh. Insufficent shielding gas will cause the arc to sputter and the weld to oxidize and burn up the tungsten.
    when welding it is important to not be in a drafty area as it will blow away the shielding gas and cause problems.
    There is also a regulator with a different style flow meter, it is a column with a floating ball, they work well and are more precise, but are more expensive.
    When installing the regulator open the gas valve and let out a short blast of gas to clear the connection, this keeps dirt from clogging the regulator. When you are done welding turn off the gas valve on the bottle, if left on all the time you will lose your gas.
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    Administrator pirate56's Avatar
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    The Torch holds the tungsten electrode and nozzle cup. It has a regulator valve on it and can be used to control gas flow. The HF welder has an automatic gas valve so the valve on the torch should be fully open.
    Collets are used to hold the tungsten in the torch, you need the proper size to fit the tungstens you are using. They will deform after a while so having spares on hand is a good idea. they are only about $2.00 ea.
    The cups come in different sizes, #5 & #6 should cover all your welding needs, they also are cheap have a couple extras on hand.

    Tungstens come is several diameters, 3/32" is good for most applications. They also come in plain and 2% thoriated. the 2% are better, thay last longer and don't crater, they are not much more expensive than plain tungstens.

    The tungstens are ground to a needle point and need to be reground when the point dulls or you get weld on them, when they are dirty you don't get a good arc.
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    Administrator pirate56's Avatar
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    Personal protective gear.
    Welding mask, this is a very important piece of equipment both for good visibility and eye protection. While the arc is not as bright as stick or MIG, it produces a lot more damaging UV radiation, so good eye protection is imperative.
    A shield should be light weight , they come in a variety of styles and a good basic one can be had for about $20.00
    Lens selection is important as you need good visibility. there are 3 types of lenses,
    Dark glass, the cheapest and least desireable. they do not show color and makes welding harder.
    Gold coated, more expensive than plain glass, but the best in my opinion, they allow you to see in color and give good visibility. A #8 shade is good for TIG.
    Auto-dark, they are trick, high tech etc, they are also expensive, need batteries and don't afford the best visibility. you can't see color with them either.
    Clear lenses, these go over the welding lens and protect it, they are cheap, and should be replaced regularly, as they distort from the heat., decreasing your visibility.

    Gloves,
    TIG requires dexterity, a good set of leather TIG gloves is worth the $15.00 or so that they cost.
    If you buy leather glove keep them clean, don't use them to handle greasy or oily stuff.
    You can also get cotton gloves, but they are not heat resitant.

    Long sleeve shirt, TIG produces a lot of UV, thoriated tungstens increase the amount, ,so wear a long sleeve shirt when welding.

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    Administrator pirate56's Avatar
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    Filler Rod,
    There are numerous types of filler rod available, the most common is copper clad steel, this is best to reweld a receiver as it will finish close to the receiver metal.
    For practice I would recommend a mild alloy rod, it flows easier than plain steel. the draw back for doing a receiver is that it will blue / parkerize a different color.
    You don't want a thick rod, as it also acts as a heat sink, use about .050"

    The most important thing when getting started is to have a bench and chair that you can sit comfortably and rest your forearms on. this will help you get the hang of controlling the torch. A steel top bench is prefferable, however a wood top will work if you set your work on some metal rails to keep it off the bench.
    The torch should rest in your hand in the welding position, lay the welding cable in your lap and run it on your arm so the torch is in position by itself and you are not fighting the cable.


    Getting started,
    The tecnique for TIG is to strike an arc and move the torch in a small circular motion to create a puddle of molten metal, the filler is dipped into the puddle and will flow to the heat, like solder. the torch is then moved forward and the process is repeated. the finished weld should be behind the torch, you want to avoid dipping the electrode into the puddle and touching the electrode with the rod. Practice will show the proper distance to keep the electrode from the work, listen to the sound the welder is making it should be constant.
    For practice, set the welder at about 4.5, and get some scrap plate to lay some beads on, once you are able to maintain a constant arc and lay an even looking bead you can do joints.
    It is important to weld on clean metal, so remove rust, mill scale etc before welding.
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    Administrator pirate56's Avatar
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    Finally got around to laying down a couple of beads so you can see what your welds should look like. A welder once told me"Welding is like sex, it is all about using your rod to achieve maximum penetration."
    Penetration is the key to a good weld, if the metal just lays on the surface it will not be as strong as one with deep penetration.
    The first photo shows the top of 2 beads, one on the surface and the other on a seam.
    The base metal should be melted on both sides of the weld and the filler applied to the puddle. the weld should look smooth and even with a minimum of undercutting at the edges.
    The second photo shows the bottom of the welds, notice the metal has been meltedthrough. the seam could have used a little more heat and filler. if you have a wide gap to fill back it with copper to keep air from the weld.
    Now go practice!!!!!
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    Gunco Veteran AK Builder FloridaAKM's Avatar
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    Very good tutorial, Pirate56. I deal with this every day at the chemical plant that I work at. We have several certified welders who do this all day on 316L process pipe and they make x-ray certifiable welds that look great. As you say, it takes practice and good equipment. Keep up the tutorial for all to learn by.

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    That clearified alot for me thanks.

    Great tutorial!

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    Mystic Knight of the Sea Pogo's Avatar
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    I have a question Pirate. I'm using a Argon/Helium mixture with my MIG. How would that work with the TIG?
    We have met the enemy, and he is us!

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    Gunco Irregular Grendeljaeger's Avatar
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    Thanks so much!!! I tried to get on at the MG42 forum but I emptied my junk mail and my forum verification was in it . My wife wants to learn to TIG weld!!
    Gunco member #11


    “it is dangerous to be right in matters about which the established authorities are wrong” Voltaire

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