MIG/TIG/Stick Welding Quick Questions and Answers

MIG/TIG/Stick Welding Quick Questions and Answers

Table of Contents > 1. MIG Welding Frequently Asked Questions
2. Stick Welding Frequently Asked Questions
3. TIG Welding Frequently Asked Question
4. Final Thoughts

Welding is a reasonably complex topic you can spend hours and days talking about, and you might still need to catch something. So, if you are a new welder or a beginner just looking to fuse two pieces, you might wonder where to start.

That's why we compiled this comprehensive FAQ article about the three most popular welding methods - MIG, TIG, and Stick welding. Even though we won't thoroughly explain each technique (don't worry, we have detailed articles about each), we'll answer some of the most frequently asked questions you need to know before embarking on a long journey of becoming a welder. 

MIG Welding Frequently Asked Questions

We will start with MIG welding, also known as Metal Inert Gas welding or Gas Metal Arc Welding (GMAW). Today, this is one of the most popular methods among beginners and new welders due to its ease of use, so we will start with some frequently asked questions.

5G Pipe MIG Welding
5G Pipe MIG Welding
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjmMk3DpnS0

Q: Is MIG Welding hard to learn?

A: MIG welding is a semi-automated process, which means you set the voltage and wire feed speed, and the machine keeps it consistent throughout the process and automatically feeds the wire. That makes MIG welding significantly easier to control, master, and learn compared to other methods. MIG welders typically produce a forgiving arc that is more resilient to poor welding technique and MIG gun manipulation.

Q: What type of metals can you MIG weld?

A: You can MIG weld virtually all conductive metals, but welders commonly use a MIG welder to join mild steel, stainless steel, and aluminum.

MIG Welding Stainless Steel
MIG Welding Stainless Steel
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXUwlgatMUU

Q: What metal thickness can you weld with a MIG welder?

A: Most hobby MIG welders can produce 10-250 amp output, which means you can weld 24-gauge up to 1/2-inch in a single pass. Remember that welding thin materials or thicker plates with MIG can be tricky, so other methods are recommended.

Q: Can you MIG weld without shielding gas?

A: MIG welding uses a bare wire that requires external shielding gas to protect the molten weld pool from contamination. That's why you must use shielding gas when MIG welding, and if you don't have one, you can use self-shielded Flux core wire and switch to Flux core welding within your MIG machine.

How does MIG Welding Work?
How does MIG Welding Work?
Source: https://fractory.com/mig-welding-explained/

Q: What is the best shielding gas for MIG welding?

A: The shielding gas choice in MIG welding will depend on the metal you are welding. Most MIG welders prefer a mixture of carbon dioxide and argon gas, known as C25 or 75% Argon and 25% CO2 when welding steel. If you weld aluminum, you will need an inert gas such as pure argon.

Q: What is the most common mistake when MIG welding?

A: Even though MIG welding is straightforward, welders often leave a stick out too long or short and use the wrong travel angle or parameters, which creates a series of defects in the welds. MIG welding requires around 1/4" stickout and a 5-15 degree travel angle with moderate travel speed.

MIG welding requires around 1/4" stickout
Source: https://fsmdirect.com/personal-touch/`22

Q: What is the contact-tip-to-work distance (CTWD) in MIG welding?

A: CTWD in MIG welding is the distance between the tip of your torch and the base metal. The distance will vary on the given metal, and if it is too short, it can cause burnbacks. If it's too long, it could cause weld discontinuities and excessive spatter.

Q: Why are there holes in my MIG weld?

A: Holes in the weld are a defect known as porosity, resulting from gas becoming trapped in the weld metal. It commonly results from improper shielding gas coverage, mostly the improper shielding gas flow, lousy regulator, or contaminated gas cylinders.

Porosity in MIG Welding
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82LQ2cMoE5c&list=PL52lqKDQaoDgSVHmumQ9Caixov8YTlTmv

Q: What are the limitations of MIG welding?

A: MIG welding is not known for its performance on thick plates. Even though you can weld up to 1/2" metals, MIG produces lesser penetration compared to Stick welding. Additionally, even though the MIG weld quality is decent, you cannot get high-quality welds like with TIG welding.

Q: Do you pull or push when MIG welding?

A: Most welders prefer pushing a MIG gun when welding. Pushing offers a better view, produces good gas coverage, and allows you to direct wire into the joint better. Pulling usually causes deeper penetration and a narrower bead with more buildup.

Pull and push when MIG welding

Source: https://www.wcwelding.com/mig-welding-tips.html

Q: What is the best MIG welding wire?

A: If you are MIG welding steel, ER70S-6 MIG welding wire is an all-around choice that will cover most of your needs. A wire diameter of .030-.035" is a good start for most hobbyist welding on medium-thickness metals.

YesWelder ER70S-6 MIG Welding Wire

 YesWelder ER70S-6 MIG Welding Wire 

Q: Why does my MIG wire tangle or jam?

A: Smooth wire feed is crucial for consistent MIG welding results, so check your feed system to see any interruptions, tangling, jams, or birdnesting. Drive rollers, a tensioner, and a liner are responsible for your wire feed, so make sure they are working correctly.

Q: Is MIG welding equipment expensive?

A: A MIG welder and the MIG consumables and accessories are typically not so pricy, which is one of the reasons GMAW is so popular among hobbyists who don't want to spend a fortune. Machines such as YesWelder MIG205DS-B provide excellent value for the money spent.

MIG-205DS-B Multi-Process MIG Welder

 MIG-205DS-B Multi-Process MIG Welder

Q: Can you MIG weld aluminum?

A: You can MIG weld aluminum, but the aluminum wire is soft and hard to feed with a regular gun and liner. You will need a dedicated spool gun that runs at higher speeds and shortens the path between the wire spool and the gun's tip. Alternatively, you will need a graphene liner to provide better feed without tangling or birdnesting.

Stick Welding Frequently Asked Questions

The stick welding process, or Shielded Metal Arc Welding (SMAW), is one of the oldest welding methods and is still used today as the industry's workhorse. Most welders prefer it due to its low cost/high penetration value, as it allows you to finish the job efficiently and quickly. Let's see the frequently asked questions about stick welding.

Stick Welding Process
Stick Welding Process
Photo by @walker_branded_ (TikTok)

Q: Is Stick welding hard to learn?

A: When it comes to mastering the technique, Stick welding is somewhere between the easy MIG and harder TIG welding. This is a manual process (often called Manual Metal Arc welding or MMA), which means you set the amperage and manipulate the voltage by reducing or increasing the arc length. As a result, you might need some time to master the technique.

Q: What is the main advantage of Stick Welding?

A: Sick welding uses self-shielded electrodes protected by a layer of flux that forms a protective barrier on top of the weld and allows you to weld without using a shielding gas. As a result, you can successfully weld outdoors without a risk of poor shielding gas coverage or contamination of the weld.

Outdoors Stick Welding
Outdoors Stick Welding 
Photo by @ar.elite.welding.academy (TikTok)

Q: What is required for Stick welding?

A: To Stick weld, you will need the essential welding equipment, including a Stick welder, some electrodes, and protective equipment. The stick welder includes an electrode holder and ground clamp, and all you need is some electrodes as a filler metal and protection in terms of welding helmet, jacket, and gloves.

Q: Is Stick welding equipment expensive?

A: One of the reasons many welders prefer SMAW is the low price of both equipment and consumables. Stick welders such as YesWelder ARC 205A won't break your bank; you only need some electrodes to start welding.

YesWelder ARC-205DS-PRO

 YesWelder ARC-205DS-PRO

Q: What metals can you Stick weld?

A: Stick welding can weld a wide variety of metals, including steel, iron, aluminum, copper, and nickel. However, most welders use it to weld carbon steel or structural steel.

Q: Is Stick welding AC or DC?

A: Stick welding is one of the methods that can successfully utilize DCEP (DC+), DCEN (DC-), and AC current during the welding. Most welders prefer DCEP as it produces more penetration and a stable arc; DCEN is used when welding thin materials or vertical welding, while AC welding is typically used when arc blow occurs.



Q: Is SMAW better for thick or thin materials?

A: Stick welding is preferred when welding medium to thick metals. Unlike MIG or TIG welding, you can weld over 1/2 inch plates in a single pass and up to 3/8 inch. Stick welding is often used for even thicker metals but as part of the multi-pass operation that requires beveling the pieces and using multiple passes.

Q: Do you push or pull when Stick welding?

A: Always pull (or drag) your stick welds. Pushing the electrode can trap the protective slag inside the weld pool, which will cause weld contamination, and that's the last thing you want.

Pull While Stick Welding
Pull While Stick Welding
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nnr3-2-GlYA

Q: Can you Stick weld through rust or paint?

A: Stick welding is the most forgiving when it comes to surface contaminants, and it is known for its performance on light layers of dirt, rust, or paint. However, there are certain limitations. Welding through thick layers of contaminants can cause improper penetration, more spatter, porosity, and harmful fumes, so it is always a good practice to clean metal before welding.

Clean metal before welding

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FF_9qGJnXRU&t=529s

Q: What is the hardest part of Stick welding?

A: One of the most challenging aspects of stick welding is electrode manipulation and application. You can use simple stringer beads when welding thin materials and simple joint configurations. However, you will want to weave in triangular, Z, zig-zag, or other motions when there are larger gaps or outside the flat position. Mastering the proper manipulation is often reserved for a professional welder.

Q: What is the best Stick electrode for beginners?

A: While there are various electrodes on the market, many beginners will learn to use an E6013 stick rod in their welding classes. E6011 is another excellent welding electrode for beginners because it has a low arc voltage and is easy to use.

E6013 Rod Stick Welding
 E6013 Rod Stick Welding 
Photo by @weld3350 (TikTok)

Q: What are the safety protocols when Stick welding?

A: Stick welding is often carried out at a higher amperage compared to other welding processes. Therefore, it produces more heat, intense light, and spatter, so protective equipment is crucial. Wear a leather jacket, thicker gloves, and a welding helmet with higher shades when Stick welding.

Q: What are the limitations of Stick welding?

A: Stick welding is unsuitable for thin sheet metal or exotic metal alloys. While it produces strong and high-quality welds, this method generates more spatter, heat, and radiation, which affects cleanliness and weld appearance.

Stick Welding Effect before Cleaning
Stick Welding Effect before Cleaning
Photo by @thomas_deen (TikTok)

Q: How do you get the highest quality Stick welds?

A: The key to successful and strong arc welds is bringing the CLAMS together in one welding moment. This means you need to adjust and combine Current settings, Length of an arc, Angle of travel, Manipulation, and Speed of travel for the best results.

TIG Welding Frequently Asked Question

Last but not least, we will talk about the TIG welding process or Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW). This is one of the most complex welding processes, but it will produce the highest-quality welds, especially in critical applications and when welding exotic metals.

TIG Welding on Aluminum
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WvrJPn713Y&t=27s

Q: Is TIG welding easy to learn?

A: TIG welding is one of the hardest welding methods to learn. Like Stick, this is a manual welding method, meaning you must control the process manually. But what makes TIG welding techniques harder than other processes is the fact you are using both hands. You have your torch in one hand, and in the other, you hold the filler rod. You melt the weld joint with a torch and then dip the filler metal as you move. Adjusting the parameters and mastering the move and dab technique can take time and patience, but the final results are well worth it.

Q: Can you weld everything with TIG?

A: TIG welders can be used to weld steel, stainless steel, chromoly, aluminum, nickel alloys, magnesium, copper, brass, bronze, and even gold. Welders often prefer TIG when welding exotic and hard-to-weld metals where other processes come short.

TIG Brass Welding
TIG Brass Welding
Photo by @john_welder_uk (TikTok)

Q: Does TIG run on AC or DC?

A: A TIG welder or TIG welding power supply can use both AC or DC currents when welding. DC is typically used when welding steels, while AC welding is preferred when welding aluminum or other exotic metals with an oxide layer.

Q: Why do welders use TIG welding?

A: TIG welding provides excellent control over the heat input and allows welding at a low welding current, which can help you weld even the thinnest or most delicate metals without burning through, distortion, or warping.

Q: Can you run TIG without gas?

A: No, TIG requires an inert shielding to protect both the tungsten electrode that heats up and the molten weld puddle from contamination. TIG welding is a clean process that requires pure and high-grade shielding to keep the welds from contamination.

How does TIG welding work

How does TIG welding work

Source:  https://www.codinter.com/en/tig-welding-a-complete-guide/

Q: What is the best shielding gas for TIG welding?

A: Most TIG welding is carried out with 100% Argon inert gas shielding. You can add 25% helium when welding thicker metals to get better penetration, but you shouldn't use CO2 since it can react with non-consumable tungsten. You can add small amounts of oxygen or nitrogen when welding stainless steel, but only up to 1-5% of them.

Q: When should you use a gas lens?

A: A gas lens should be used in critical applications that require increased shielding gas coverage. The gas lens reduces turbulence and provides lengthier, undisturbed gas flow.

TIG Welding Aluminum with Gas Lens
TIG Welding Aluminum with Gas Lens
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HsZZmVXYgw&t=14s

Q: Do I need to clean metal before TIG welding?

A: TIG welding is all about cleanliness, so you must remove all the contaminants from the surface before welding, including dirt, rust, paint, or mill scale. You need to remove oxides with a stainless steel brush when welding aluminum. The cleanest surface is before the welding and the highest quality welds are produced.

Q: What type of tungsten is the best?

A: Most welders prefer 2% thoriated tungsten (red tungsten) when welding steel, but due to health risks during grinding, a 2% lanthanted (blue tungsten) is a suitable alternative. When TIG welding aluminum, pure tungsten (green) or zirconiated tungsten (brown) electrodes are typical choices.

TIG Tungsten Electrode Color Chart

Source: https://www.weldingis.com/gtaw-welding/

Q: What is the best tungsten size?

A: The tungsten size will depend on the specific application and metal thickness, but a good all-purpose electrode with a 3/32-inch diameter should be an excellent choice for most welders.

Q: Can I weld aluminum with DC TIG?

A: Welding aluminum with DC TIG is not recommended due to the oxide layer that forms once the surface is exposed to oxygen. Aluminum oxide has a much higher melting point than aluminum underneath, so welding over it can cause burn-through. AC current provides a cleaning action that removes oxides, so aluminum should be AC TIG welded.

Q: Is TIG welding better for thick or thin metals?

A: TIG welding provides excellent heat control and is suitable for welding thin materials or sheets. Even though it lacks the penetration for thicker steel, with micro TIG, yo;u can weld in the .005 to .020-inch diameter range.

TIG Welding Thin Steel Tubing
TIG Welding Thin Steel Tubing
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=is0BP39XZLw&t=126s

Q: What are the limitations of TIG welding?

A: TIG welding typically is not recommended when welding thicker pieces. In addition, it requires a lot of time spent on weld preparation, cleaning, and adjusting parameters, so it is only sometimes cost-effective in high-volume industrial applications.

Q: Why is TIG so expensive?

A: TIG welding equipment is arguably more expensive than MIG or Stick. TIG welders are complex welding machines that allow you to control the entire process, from start to end, and often include advanced features that increase its overall price. Slow welding speed and more detailed weld preparation increase the overall cost of the welding. However, you don't have to spend a fortune on a good TIG welder; you can opt for YesWelder TIG200P AC/DC, which will provide all the advanced features you need at a reasonable price.


YesWelder TIG-200P-ACDC-PRO


YesWelder TIG-200P-ACDC-PRO

Final Thoughts

Welding truly is a complex profession that requires time and patience to master, but understanding the basics and fundamental issues behind each welding process is crucial to becoming a good welder. Our comprehensive but straightforward list of frequently asked questions about the most common welding methods is the proper knowledge to get you started.

Understanding the ease of use, advantages, and limitations of each technique is crucial in learning what to focus on during your learning, but also in troubleshooting your issues. However, welding is not something you can learn only by reading the tips and tricks. Each project, machine, or electrode is unique, so get out there and start laying your beads until you get everything right!


👏 You may be interested in the following:

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

    1 out of ...