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--Diane Keefe, author of Daily Lifelines for Teens & Preteens, St. Louis, Missouri

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TIG Welding Technique

I received a request off of YouTube following one of my other ?how to videos? on welding. Somebody was looking for some pointers on technique; specifically, they wanted me to talk about how I TIG weld.

Let's begin with the basics: this is the torch. This is the tongue stem that you see in the end of it. This is where the arc actually happens.

What I want to show you, on this piece of metal, is how to start the arc and how to keep the arc going; how to make a puddle, and flow along. I?ll try to talk with my safety helmet down. I don?t know if you?ll be able to hear me or not, but we?ll try.

With the TIG, because you run it with a foot pedal, instead of like the MIG with the finger control, you have to do is get close to your metal, and then push on your pedal and the arc will start. Then you can sit there and work along.

With a MIG welder, you always lead the puddle. You don?t do that with TIG. With TIG, you push the puddle or, you lead the puddle along this way and push it along.

Let me just start an arc, and you can see how that works. I?ll try to talk about it as I weld.

As you can see I don?t have a lot of molten metal going on because I haven?t pushed down on the pedal very far. If I push it all the way down, you can see we?re starting to get a little molten puddle going on where the scrap metal is starting to melt away.

As I bring my rod in and go right to the edge of the molten metal puddle, I?m working along with my torch and melt that rod at the same time, where I can start a weld going along. It?s a very slow process compared to MIG welding. It takes a little bit of hand-eye coordination, and you have to remember to slow down. Just go easy. Then, just lift up on the pedal and the arc goes away.

Let me get another piece of scrap stainless steel left over from a metal sculpture I've been working on. I?ll weld the two of them together, and you can see how I would do that. First, I'd better put on my glasses. Glasses actually help with TIG, to let you see the weld a little bit closer. That way you can make your work a little cleaner and neater.

I?m going to turn it this way just a little. Here we go again. I start the arc and you can see both pieces of metal starting to get molten, so I go in and I add a little filler rod to it. Now I?ve got a weld going.

You just have to keep the molten puddle moving along, try not to burn through, and just keep adding your filler rod to it. Work it back and forth; trying to keep the heat even on both pieces. And that?s how you do it.

Actually, there?s a lot more to learn. This particular piece of metal is lying on the workbench here in the studio, so it will take longer to heat up than the piece that's out in the air. As you?re welding on this piece, it?ll have a bigger tendency to burn through or just get totally molten and then the whole thing falls out and you end up with a big hole to fill in.

It takes a lot of practice, but it's not as hard to do as people make it out. TIG welding is really pretty easy once you just get the hang of getting the arc started, and adding filler metal to it and working along. Once again, it just takes practice.

I hope that helps. Bye!

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