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TIG Welding: How to Feed the Wire

Kevin Caron: I received an email the other day from one of my YouTube subscribers who said he just learned how to TIG weld, and he's gotten the whole torch thing down, can hold it, stay a nice, even distance away and can hold a nice bead. "But", he asks, "how the heck do you feed the wire with this particular welding tool?"

He goes on to explain that sometimes he gets the wire across the tip of the torch and that results in a big shock. He also said that sometimes he drops it; what kind of advice can I give him?

To begin with, I explained to him that I'm not certified and I am a self-taught metal artist, so this is not professional advice - this is my advice. There are a couple of different ways that I like to feed the wire when I'm welding and creating a metal art.

In one method, I hold it between these two middle fingers and against my thumb, and I can feed that right in as I'm going along, and I can keep a smooth feed going as I'm sitting there welding.

Another way that I find myself doing it sometimes (and I'll show you this in a minute); I'm working along and I've got my puddle going. I'll weld my rod right to my work, and then back away with my torch just a little bit so I can slide my hand backward up on my rod a little, then come back, cut my rod loose again and go back to welding, and just keep feeding it in.

Some guys like to get a little puddle going, and then dab the wire, or the rod, into it. They like to sit there and dab it in as they go. I think that makes it a little lumpy; then you have to go back and smooth it off again and clean it up and it makes a little more work, I think.

What I've found that works great for me is to get the puddle going, get my rod right to the edge of my puddle, and just pull it along right in front of the puddle as I'm working; as I move it along. You'll see the rod will start to melt, and actually start to stretch and pull out as I'm moving along. Then the torch will suck in whatever rod it needs; whatever little bit you need to go.

Let me get a helmet on and I'll try to show you all of this. Hang on.

Let me show you the dab method first. Look over here. Notice how once you get your puddle started, then you can bring your filler rod in, add a little bit to it if you need it, and that's the kind of weld you get right there.

Now let me show you the way I do it, where I just kind of pull my rod along in front of my weld.

Here we go.

I get my puddle started. Then you can see the rod get molten right in front of it. It can pull the metal in as it needs it.
If you look here, you can see the little stack of dimes that they always talk about as being the sign of a good weld, a good cosmetic weld.

On this sample, you can see that this is where I was just kind of dabbing the rod in as I needed it; whereas this sample is where I let the arc pull the rod off as it wanted, as I was working my way along.

That's how I do it. Hope that helps. See you next time.

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