Discussion in 'Workshop Tips and Secrets / Tools' started by Chris In Marshfield, Aug 1, 2016.
Welding, so fun! Excited for you, fresh clean welder, oh boy, you're gonna have a blast.
I picked up a welding helmet, a jacket, and a bottle of Argon today. Lord help us all! :nervous:
You might start out with just burning in on flat plate with no filler rod used, and then go to doing the same thing on the edge of two pieces of metal that are clamped together vertically. Just practice keeping the torch as vertical as possible to the weld (it won't be 90 degrees) and work on maintaining the distance from the tip to the weld without getting it in the weld. You will put it in the puddle quite often, but just try to get comfortable with your hand/eye coordination. That's a good way to start without having too many things going on at the same time.
I agree – start on flat plate and get used to the discipline of maintaining distance and rate (as well as learning the patience to reposition more frequently than for other methods – at least for me). If you’re transiting over from limited/hobbyist O/A experience (or starting raw), I think the best DVD I’ve seen is the new EAA DVD on TIG… Best is to have an practiced TIG welder at your elbow, but that didn’t work for me so I bought just about all the popular TIG DVDs… In fact I've never seen anyone else TIG in person...
One of the features I really liked about the EAA DVD is the guidance for how you work through match-ups that aren’t perfect (many of us aren’t tube-n-fabric A&Ps after all), burn-throughs and the like… A lot of the guidance I see says something like, “do it perfectly and it’ll be alright...” but the EAA DVD seems aware that for some of us (well, me…) perfection is a goal seldom achieved…
Nice to see this size of TIG is becoming more popular…
I ordered a couple of scrap metal boxes from Wicks yesterday. Timely advertisement that showed up in my email.
There should be plenty of opportunities to goof things up in that box!
The EAA DVD looks like a winner. May have to pop over and pick one up. Faster to drive over and get one that to wait for it in the mail.
10 hour drive one way from here; might be faster than the mail, but sure is a lot of work.
PM me your address. I have multiple books and videos. I'll put that in tomorrow's mail for you.
You're the best! PM inbound.
Here's what I'm sending you. Each one has something unique to offer.
If you have any of these already please let me know.
I have a couple of these, but happy to keep them together. The gas welding resources (Tin Man, EAA Gas Welding... I think) are in my library. Definitely looking forward to the EAA TIG one. Covel does awesome stuff, too. Ive seen one of their videos on building a bomber seat with aluminum, a bead roller, and hole punches. Crazy cool.
I'll send it out
One thing about all this Tig welding. There is a mystique surrounding Tig welding that tends to keep many people from trying because of fear of failure. Its like many other things in life that seem intimidating at first, and the persons concerns make it more difficult than it should be. Its like taking your first (only) driving test. Remember how worrisome that was, but now that you have experience and confidence, its simple.
The thing to remember about welding with Tig is that its simply a source of heat for melting two or three pieces of metal together. At first setting the controls will seem complicated, but a little reading and video watching will simplfy what you need to do, and the settings will (initially) become somewhat standard. You will just turn your machine on and begin to practice welding with no setting change.
So, the initial phase of getting started will consist of turning the machine on and setting your controls.
Simply set it for DC since you are practicing on steel.
Adjust it for the maximum AMP setting you will need.
Put a properly sharpened 2% Cerium electrode in your Torch (as you can weld most metals with it, it eliminates a variable you have to deal with)
(Miller recommends a sharp tip on both steel and aluminum with an inverter type machine. The Lincoln is a "transformer" machine, so a sharp tip is used on steel and a balled tip on aluminum)
Turn your Argon gas on, step on your pedal and allow some gas to flow thru the hose to the tip, then adjust the Argon pressure to about 15 FPM while you are stepping on the pedal. (Again, the use of straight Argon covers both steel and aluminum welding, so one more variable you don't have to think about)
The important thing to remember is that most of the problems with TIG welding have now been solved because you have the machine "Set Up".
At this point, JUST REMEMBER that all you are trying to do is to apply heat to a couple of pieces of metal. There really isn't any magic involved and you need to "RELAX" and accept the fact that at this point all you are trying to do is to apply heat with a very controllable torch. DON"T LET ANXIETY MAKE THIS A DIFFICULT THING TO DO, just like the drivers license test. No one is watching, its just you and a simple little tool that's going to apply some
heat and make a straight line. Try to keep the torch reasonably vertical and make a straight line. You will quickly see the results of using too much or too little, or moving the tip too close or too far. Just keep playing with it and then move up to welding the edges of two pieces with no filler rod.
Just "DON'T GET CAUGHT UP IN TRYING TO OVERTHINK AND REMEMBER TOO MUCH STUFF" just concentrate on the simple task of trying to melt two things together until you begin to feel comfortable doing it. You will quickly see what is about right and what works. Don't get frustrated, you will resharpen your tip many many many times.
Hint: I bought a cheap 2" Belt sander and dedicated it to sharpening only Tig electrodes so it doesn't contaminate the tips.
Most of your problems will NOT be solved with machine set-up. Sorry, that's just wrong.
At one point in my life I had many certifications. These were required to work in power plants. My welds were xrayed, inspected, and destructive tests were mandatory.
Setting up a machine is nothing compared to what you are faced with going forward. Welding is a free form art and your biggest contribution to a poor weld will be feed rate. Period. This requires practice. Period.
As you work your way around a thin wall tube you will discover inconsistencies in the appearance of the weld bead, and you have to be good at reading the weld bead to know what works and what doesn't.
A stack of dimes is an expression that's used frequently in tig welding. That look is not required but does tell a story of a welder who has mastered feed rate. The dime look exists because the feed rate and filler input is so consistent the freeze lines are visible and evenly feed. A freeze is what happens every time you stick filler in the puddle and pull it away. The filler cools the puddle every time you stick it in.
It's easy to hold the torch at proper depth. It's easy to stick filler in a pedal consistently. You challenge will always be feed rate, or movement of that torch.
I've been to two welding schools and both schools had us do drills to practice. Simply floating a torch and moving forward is poor welding, drills build muscle memory. An example of a drill would be a "forward & back, forward & back, forward & back". 1 step forward and 1/2 of that step back.
I could write until I'm blue in the face, it won't help. You jest need to practice consistently and regularly. Like any art.
I know you mean well with what you are saying, so I won't take any offense. The point that I was trying to make is that when someone first starts welding they can be overwrought with making a simple task way too difficult. What I was saying is that when just starting out, the weld machines settings and controls will seem difficult to a new inexperienced welder. If they try to think too much about it, then they get confused. I'm saying that a few basic settings will easily get a novice up to the point of trying to weld, and at that point he has solved one part of the equation. Now he can forget about "do I have everything optimally adjusted for perfect welds" and realize that he only needs to concentrate on hand/eye/foot co-ordination and FORGET the other distractions. Remember, my suggestions are directed ONLY at someone trying get started, not someone who is an accomplished welder. Everything you said is accurate, but at this point in the welders training he is not going to be stacking dimes, so he shouldn't concern himself with doing so. Many welders never get proficient with making the beautiful stack of dimes every time, but they still make welds that will penetrate and hold.
Please don't imply that anyone who can't make a beautiful weld every time isn't executing a useable weld. Not everyone has the time to devote to staying perfectly proficient or obtaining perfect muscle memory. I agree that practice is the BEST thing a welder can do, but if Chris is caught up in trying to make "stacks of dimes" right from the git go, it will only make the learning process more frustrating and he may give up like some others have. While "setting up" a machine may be nothing to you, you should remember that many people don't even attempt to buy a TIG welder because they feel its too difficult and has too many dials.So, again I say, everything you said is correct, but lets not put too much on the plate . There is plenty of time to improve, but you have to get thru the baby steps first.
You need to reread what I wrote. Not only did I say a stack of dimes isn't required but I explained why that happens.
Pretty clear. Over 30 years of welding critical structures, I would never imply he should try and stack dimes. But it tells a story, visual clues and destructive testing are the only means of knowing where you are and where your skills are headed.
Thanks to you both for your insights. I'll try not to get too technical with it. Like you said, experience is what makes you good. Getting a feel for the heat is going to be my biggest thing. Knowing that I have a foot pedal to control amperage is a huge bonus, and knowing when I can/should back off a bit if things get hot. Time and practice will make me better. Time to get started!
Random photo pulled off of Google.
In school my old instructor would have us build boxes, and I mean lots of boxes. Label each one in order and your goal is to make each box better as you progress. Put them on a long shelf in order so you can monitor progress. This is the difference between self instruction or just wandering around with a torch.
Welding is a process. A process is made highly efficient by using a system. Don't just practice for the sake of practice, practice with intent.
Knock out a 100 3" boxes and practice with purpose and you'll see amazing improvement.
A 3" box with teach you proper fit-up, tack welding with accuracy, heat control, feed rate, etc etc. When I look back I would say this was by far my favorite drill.
3 boxes a day for a month straight.
I had this in mind, although I was wondering how bit to make them. I've got more than enough 5052 for my fuel tanks. Perhaps I'll cut off a couple of 4-foot strips, and then cut them into box parts. That'll be great practice for fuel tank construction.
Ditto with steel, if I can find some scraps of 4130.
Practice on mild, turn up the heat a little once your on 4130. Otherwise the same. Material is really irrelevant in steels.
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