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How to Use a Tig Welder for Advanced Metalworking Projects?

How to use a TIG welder

What does TIG welding stand for? It’s the acronym for Tungsten Inert Gas welding and its importance in Metalworking cannot be understated. It can be used in various areas of the process such as to weld metals e.g. copper and titanium and also, metals which are not similar and knowing how to use a TIG welder will aid you in knowing how to make tricky welds such as circular-shaped or curved welds.

In order to ensure smooth welding process, you should attempt to know how to use TIG welder which should be considered top priority when and if you be ready to use the machine and enjoy it to the fullest for different purposes. Here, you may learn some more ideas that what you would in the basics. So, keep reading.

An Introduction to the Machine

Before you get started on using this machine, you must know how it functions. Typically, TIG welder is used by welders during the entire welding process and it works on any kind of metal such as stainless steel or aluminium. The welder needs things, a welding rod, and a heat source. The heat source acts as a torch which melts the rod into the metal so as to connect two pieces.

During the entire process, tungsten inert gas is blown by the welder into weld in order to keep it safe from any particles or stop it from contaminating the air. TIG welding allows for a clean and precise weld the welder can easily control. You must metal used in this process is clean, in order to avoid any sparks, smoke or fumes.

Tools Required in the Process

A wide range of tools is used in the welding process by the welder which includes but not limited to the following: the welding machine itself, welding rods and heat source. Other materials needed include:

  • Welding machine (of course you need a quality model)
  • Welding rods
  • Heat source
  • Tungsten which creates the heat that melts the rods and joins the metals together.

Physical Qualities Required by the Welder

Due to the nature of this type of job, as it requires much strength, the welder must possess some physical qualities such as;

  • Strength for lifting heavy pieces of metal
  • Stamina for working in unfavourable conditions as they are required to stand on their feet all day
  • Hand-eye coordination required to operate the rod and torch simultaneously

You should also know that to be a welder, you can receive formal education from high schools, tech schools, and even welding schools though you need no requirement to be employed. On completion of education, TIG welders can be issued welding certification by American Welding Society which in turn requires additional training but ensures legitimacy in the business.

What Is a Tig Welder Used For?

As earlier mentioned, TIG welder can be used for a variety of tasks with welding of metals its sole purpose. The TIG welder also has Ac and DC capabilities. We will now look at the various metals that can be welded with the TIG welder.

1. Weld Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is thin metals so using TIG weld on them might prove tricky but not impossible. After you get the right machine for the process and have all necessary protective clothing, just follow the steps below;

  • Make sure to use argon-carbon dioxide as a shielding gas so s to protect and strengthen your weld
  • Identify the type of steel you have. They are of three types: Austenitic, Martensitic and Ferritic as each is used for different purposes
  • Make sure the filler metal is in tandem with the base metal so as to get the best result.
  • Clean the metal with a wire brush or acetone so as to remove impurities on the metal
  • Make sure the metal is firmly secured to the welding bench with fixtures put in place to ensure the steel doesn’t slip out of position
  • Next, insert the sharpened tungsten rod into the turn then put on the gas
  • Make sure the setting of the welder switch is in DC mode so as to ensure smooth welding
  • Turn on the torch and put it over the edge of the joint (2.5cm above) and at a 750 angle
  • Begin heating the touch by constantly pressing the foot pedal. Make sure the metal is rightly positioned to melt and fill the joints
  • As the steel begins to melt, make sure to push the bead of the liquid along the joints
  • After this, wait for the metal and touch to cool down which will then solidify the joints
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2. Weld Aluminium

Aluminium is a lightweight material and taking it through the welding process requires skill and precision so as to ensure that the bonding of two metals is strong. You must make sure that you use the right tools and work patiently. Setup your workspace, assemble your materials, put yourself in motion then follow the following steps;

  • Make sure the TIG in use is of AC capability (alternating current) and not DC (Direct Current)
  • Have an aluminium filler rod in hand so as to bond the two pieces of metals
  • Use shield in the form of a canister argon gas
  • Wear protective clothing and footwear which should be long sleeve and 100% cotton material as well as thick
  • Use safety equipment such as helmets and gloves to avoid burns during welding
  • Make sure you carry out a safety check on your equipment before turning on
  • Ensure all hoses and connection are in place
  • Clean the aluminium to remove thin coats of aluminium oxide
  • Clean the filler rod with an abrasive cleaning pad and acetone
  • Make sure joints of the TIG welder are firmly clamped together
  • Preheat the aluminium at a temperature of between 3000F-4002F
  • Brace the torch with your hand but make sure it is not lit
  • Hold the filler at a 900 angle so that the filler and tip don’t come in contact to avoid contamination
  • Move the torch in along the welding path of the entire metal. You can practice first with simulations
  • Next, set the amperage of your welder higher than you expect to use and higher than that of the aluminium’s thickness
  • Extend the tungsten electrode in line with the exact diameter of the nozzle of the torch
  • Press the button of the torch so as to create an electric arc
  • In case your touch doesn’t have a button, you can use the foot pedal to create the arc
  • Next, create the puddle by melting the workpiece and add filler rod at the joint then move to the next portion of the weld
  • Make sure you allow the metal to cool down a little before you continue the weld
  • Push the puddle slowly and continue adding the filler as you go and at an even pace
  • Once you have finished, remove your hand from the torch’s button or take your foot off the pedal
  • Finally, ensure that your aluminium is allowed to completely cool down before you touch it.

3. Work with Anodized Aluminium

This metal is the hardest to weld and this is because it is aluminium that has been treated thus has thick layers of oxides on its surface and also has a high melting point of 11000F because of its soft base tough the oxide material is very hard. In order to weld this type of metal, you need to remove the oxide layer without the metal base burning.

This material does have its own advantage as it is lightweight, cheap, attractive and highly resistant to corrosion making it most suitable for all environmental conditions. Anodized aluminium is of four types namely: Standard, Bright-finish, hardened and coloured.

There is a special technique used in welding anodized aluminium and it is called “bumping” which is used to remove the oxide layer without heating the weld pool. Unlike the rest, this method does not require a foot pedal

After selecting the right equipment, you are ready for the process

  • Get your touch and put it at an amp less than 200 if air-cooled while the water-cooled torch requires more amperage
  • Use argon or an argon/helium combination as the shielding gas as well as created or thoriated tungsten. Pure tungsten can also be used
  • Grind and regrind the tip of the metal when preparing tungsten
  • The power source should be of Alternating Current (AC)
  • After this, the metal should be at room temperature for the process so as to avoid condensation
  • Make sure the metal is free from dirt and any form of residue to prevent defects
  • After the whole process, allow the metal to cool down before touching it.

4. Weld Magnesium

Magnesium has some similarities with aluminium when it comes to the method of using TIG welding. It is done through the following steps:

  • Get all protective equipment
  • Clean your magnesium with acetone or carbide to remove impurities
  • Use filler rods
  • Preheat the rods to a temperature of about 3000F
  • Use the same machine setting as for aluminium with argon and helium acting as the shielding gas
  • Light the touch and increase amperage until it puddles lightly.
  • If the puddle is not clean, stop the process and clean with wire brush and repeat until the puddle is clean
  • After the welding process, make sure it’s cool before touching it

5. Weld Other Metals and Alloys

Other metals that can be processed through TIG welding include Copper, Titanium, and other allows of metal all going through the same welding process as listed for magnesium and aluminium

Safety Measures

Welding hazards at workplaces are not strange in this type of work and welders can be exposed to extreme heat, poisonous fumes, and even dangerous chemicals. However, these dangers can be minimized if you work in the right condition and in the right environment. To cut down on these potential hazards and to ensure your safety during all these processes as well as that of the materials, welders should adhere to these rules listed below;

  • Wear appropriate face shields to protect your face from flames and smokes
  • Eye Google is also advisable to wear when the face shield is not available
  • Make sure to wear safety shoes of close-toed shoes in general
  • Make sure to wear long-sleeved shirts to protect the hands
  • Avoid wearing flammable clothing/clothes that have been exposed to flammable liquid
  • Do your work with gloves on. Don’t forget that
  • Ensure you wear ear protection so as to prevent sparks from entering your ear
  • Avoid welding anything on or near surfaces that have been cleaned with chemicals
  • If in error you burn yourself, make sure to rinse in cold water immediately
  • Before turning on the machine, make sure it’s dry and there is no water on the floor

Just like MIG welders, TIG welders are perfectly safe to use if the right steps are followed. Once you know how to weld with a TIG welder; you will be as to carry-out several welding activities.

About the author

Brent Butterworth

A Professional Woodworker & Custom Furniture Builder

Brent lives in Wisconsin and is a woodworker, custom cabinetmaker, interior consultant, and a freelance writer who got the opportunity to write several magazine articles for different publications on home improvement and woodworking. He’s always amazed at the depth and breadth of woodworking all over the globe, and feels proud to be a part of this great effort. Brent has built everything one can imagine, from unique art furniture to different types of home furniture to canoes and even a sailboat.

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