3 MIG welders tricks: how to become a better welder and how to pick the best welding equipment. Use the smallest tungsten that will get the job done. Use the smallest tungsten to get the job done. …within reason. Another way of saying this is don’t just use a 1/8” electrode for everything. There are jobs where a 1/8” electrode is great like for welding 3/16” thick aluminum. But what if you are welding on the edge of a .030” turbine blade? A .040” electrode will be plenty to handle the 15 amps and will give much better starts than even a 1/16” electrode. Too large an electrode can cause an erratic arc and contamination…and A bad start where the high frequency tries to arc up inside the cup and off the side of the tungsten can easily melt off a thin edge and scrap an expensive part. 2% thoriated or lanthanated tungsten electrodes hold up at high amperage better than most all other electrodes. When welding at higher amperages, often times you can use one size smaller electrode by using 2% thoriated or lanthanated. And that is a good thing.
Put a glove, block of wood, folded up heat resistant cloth or something non-conductive on the welding table to rest your arms or elbows on and to protect your arms from shock hazard: Do you enjoy getting shocked? Me neither . tig welding aluminum with your high frequency switched to continuous means that the high freq is always looking for a path to follow. So even resting your forearm on the metal table can let that high frequency current bite you just when you least want it, like right when you are near and edge and you are being extra careful not to melt the edge away and then ZAP!. Who needs that? Put a glove, block of wood, folded up heat resistant cloth or something non-conductive on the welding table to rest your arms or elbows on and to protect your arms from shock hazard. Also do whatever it takes to rest your torch hand on a steady object. Again, a block of wood, a balled up tape ball etc can all be used to give you something to rest your torch hand on.
The arc is shaped like a cone, with the tip at the electrode and the base on the metal being welded. The closer the electrode is held to the metal, the smaller the base of the cone — but as you pull the electrode farther away, the base (and puddle) gets larger. If the puddle gets too large, gravity will simply pull it away from the base metal, leaving a hole. This is why thin-gauge metals are especially challenging for beginners. Perhaps the most important skill needed for TIG welding is moving the torch in a controlled manner, with steady forward movement, while keeping the gap between the tip of the electrode and the base metal consistently small — usually in the range of 1/8 inch to 3/16 inch. It requires a lot of practice to precisely control the arc length, keeping it as short as you can without allowing the electrode to touch the base metal or filler rod.
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Before you get started, conduct online research to see what the best practices are for the specific wire you have or contact a trusted filler metal manufacturer. Doing so not only tells you what the manufacturer’s recommended parameters are for your diameter wire, but also what the proper wire feed speed, amperage and voltage is, along with the most compatible shielding gas. The manufacturer will even tell you what electrode extension or contact-to-work distance (CTWD) is best suited for the particular wire. Keep in mind that if you get too long of a stickout, your weld will be cold, which will drop your amperage and with it the joint penetration. As a general rule of thumb, since less wire stickout typically results in a more stable arc and better low-voltage penetration, the best wire stickout length is generally the shortest one allowable for the application.