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How to Decide Whether to Use Your MIG Welder or TIG Welder

If you have both a TIG welder and a MIG welder, how do you know which one to use when?

Kevin shows the AHP AlphaMIG 250 MIG welder and his Everlast PowerTIG 255EXT. With a MIG welder, you pull the trigger and it welds until you let go. It's quick, but it's dirty. There's smoke, there's spatter, something you have to go back and clean up.

TIG welding is so much cleaner. Done correctly, there's nothing to clean up. DC TIG welding, especially on lower amperages, is also much quieter than MIG welding. With MIG welders, you have snap, crack, pop, hiss - a lot more noise.

Next, Kevin shows spatter from a MIG weld on one of his railroad spike ocotillos. If he was going to paint or powder coat it, he'd have to grind or chip off all those little balls because they look terrible with a finish on them. If the sculpture is rusted, it will look OK.

But for this project, MIG is the right choice, because you need the other hand to hold the spikes as you add them. That's much harder to do with TIG, other than tacking, because you need one hand to hold the torch and the other for the filler rod.

Kevin then shows another sculpture he is working on, Desert Dancers. It was all welded together with TIG. Aside from where he ground the metal just to get a clean weld, there was no need to grind afterward.

Those are all cosmetic welds. But what about structural welds?

Where the metal pad outlines are welded together, Kevin doesn't want the welds to break. This section of the sculpture - one of 5 parts - is relatively short compared to the other sections, and strength is critical. He feels TIG gives him a better control over his arc. He can turn the amperage up higher and make his tungsten sharper to get better penetration into the metal.

Then there are the functional considerations. If you are welding in tight places, the TIG torch - especially the really small ones - can get into places MIG welder torches just can't get into.

Kevin hopes that helps. He's ready to go back to work, but you might want to hang around for another moment to hear Kevin Caron clear his throat genteelly ....

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