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"Kevin ... understands that sculpture is about rhythm and movement.... He has an intellectual engagement, a sense of making the sculpture work ... using the principles of design that have been time-honored through art history."
--Michael Stack, Professor of Art, Pima Community College East Campus, Tucson, Arizona

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How to Weld Thick Metal With a TIG Welder

Kevin is setting up his new Everlast PowerTIG 251Si multiprocess welder for TIG welding some railroad spikes. He's working on one of his Shitake Agaves, so he thought he'd give the welder something heavy to chew on.

On the panel, he has it set on high frequency start, standard TIG - no pulse - 150 amps, and 4T because he's using the welding torch trigger instead of the foot pedal. He's set the welder to 1 second of upslope and 1 amp to start, 1 second of downslope, and 4 amps to stop. He pushes the button to put his settings into preset mode, and he's ready to go.

Why is Kevin using TIG welding for this project? He wants to check out this new machine at some higher amps to see how it does, test the cooling capability of the machine, and to see if he can hit the duty cycle. He also likes TIG welding because it's clean, basically smoke free and quieter.

If you look on his workbench, you can see the mess he made when he was using this welder to MIG weld the base of the sculpture. There's lots of spatter and debris you just don't get with TIG welding. With TIG, you get a nice clean weld - a nice clean joint so you don't have to clean it up. That's helpful with this part of the sculpture, which is sticks up above the base and will be more visible, so he wants nice, clean welds. He used the MIG welder for the structural, unseen part of the sculpture.

Kevin puts on his safety equipment and tacks the two railroad spikes together. The tack looks pretty good, although you can see where the gas hadn't quite purged out of the torch at the beginning. He runs another bead on the side of the spike and is able to get a puddle going. He says he probably could bump up the amperage a bit from 150 to 165, but he gets a nice looking bead with no holes or porosity - just the way it's supposed to turn out.

Lessons learned: be sure you get all the rust off the metal to get a good, clean solid weld. Also, the machine seems quite capable of welding heavy metal.

Kevin is ready to get back to working on this sculpture, but you might want to stick around just to see why you need to switch those cables when moving from MIG to TIG welding ....

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