TIG Welding Tips For Beginners And Seasoned Welders

TIG Welding Tips For Beginners And Seasoned Welders

Table of Contents > 1. Why is (Tungsten Inert Gas) TIG Welding Considered Challenging
2. 13 TIG Welding Tips & Tricks
    2.1 Clean The Surfaces Before TIG Welding
    2.2 Get Comfortable Before Welding
    2.3 Use The Correct Tungsten Electrode For The Job
    2.4 Use The Right Shielding Gas
    2.5 Check The Shielding Gas Coverage
    2.6 Choose The Right Filler Rod
    2.7 Don't Feed The Filler Rod Directly Into The Arc
    2.8 Maintain A Consistent Arc Length
    2.9 Pay Attention To The Angle Of The Torch
    2.10 Always Push When TIG (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding)
    2.11 Control The Heat
    2.12 Slowly Finish The Weld
    2.13 Take Care Of Your Tungsten Electrodes
3. Practice Is Crucial For High-Quality TIG Welds
🧐TIG Welding Tips For Beginners And Seasoned Welders FAQ

Gas Tungsten Arc Welding, or TIG welding, is one of the most complex welding methods, but it yields the highest quality welds. However, in the search for perfection, many welders fail or struggle to reach the desired quality.

That's why we'll present some essential TIG welding tips for both beginners and intermediate welders that can help you perfect your welding technique and get the most out of the TIG welding process. From the heat control, cleanliness, and the technique being used down to the skill of the welder, each piece of advice can help you in your TIG welding adventure.

TIG Welding Process on Pipe
TIG Welding Process on Pipe
Photo by @hunterneal40 (TikTok)

Why is (Tungsten Inert Gas) TIG Welding Considered Challenging

Each welding process has its ups and downs; some are better at welding aluminum, some at welding outside, and some are easy, but TIG welding is considered the hardest to master and perform. Unlike MIG welding, TIG is a manual process, meaning you must manually feed the filler rod and manipulate the torch.

The first issue comes from the detailed weld preparation, including the cleaning and part fit-up. TIG welding requires sparkling clean surfaces and good part fit-up to achieve high-quality welds, proper penetration, and avoid defects.

In addition, the TIG process is one of a few methods that require both hands to weld. You hold and manipulate the torch in your dominant hand and filler material in another hand. As you move and melt the base metal with your torch, you feed the filler metal with your other hand.

Stainless Steel TIG Welding Process
Stainless Steel TIG Welding Process
Photo by @bryansnz (TikTok)

This is just the tip of the iceberg, as TIG welding is more than cleaning and welding. It requires time, practice, and patience to get everything done correctly and get that desired TIG weld quality. That's why we'll pay more attention to the advice and tips required to get there.

13 TIG Welding Tips & Tricks

Now, let's look at the essential tips and tricks for mastering TIG welding. Here are the 13 TIG welding tips that can help you if you are a beginner TIG welder, but even those who are seasoned can learn something new.

TIG Aluminum Welding Process 
TIG Aluminum Welding Process
  Photo by @thatwelderguyr33 (TikTok)

1. Clean The Surfaces Before TIG Welding

TIG welding is all about cleanliness; even small amounts of rust, dirt, grease, or paint can contaminate the weld puddle. Therefore, before turning on your TIG welder and welding, ensure the surface is “squeaky” clean. Contaminants can create porosity in the weld or contaminate the tungsten electrode for further use.

Use an old rag and a degreaser for dust, dirt, or grease. However, if there is a higher level of contamination, you will need a wire brush or grinder. When brushing the pieces, make sure you have a separate brush for steel, stainless steel, and aluminum. Using the same brush for two different metals can contaminate the surface.

Clean The Metal Surface Before TIG Welding
Clean The Metal Surface Before TIG Welding
Photo by @boosteds2000 (TikTok)

2. Get Comfortable Before Welding

Welding is not always performed in a comfortable position, especially in on-field jobs. However, if you are welding at home, you can create more suitable welding conditions. Since you will be using both hands when TIG welding, try to get as comfortable as possible before welding.

The key is to find support for your hands or arms during the welding. This will allow you to move the torch with precise control. Many welders set up special support bars that will enable them to rest wrists, forearms, or even elbows during the welding.

Comfortable Position for TIG Welding

Photo by @wdcolon (TikTok)

For some out-of-position work, the best way to provide control over the torch is to rest a shoulder on something. Even though this could be better, it's better than having no support at all. Even placing a hip against something stationary can offer some support and improve the manipulation of the torch and welding rod.

3. Use The Correct Tungsten Electrode For The Job

Non-consumable Tungsten electrodes in TIG welding transfer the heat into the weld joint, but there are various types available on the market. Choosing the right tungsten electrode is crucial for achieving the desired heat transfer, penetration, and arc stability, and the choice will vary for different applications.

TIG Tungsten Types
Source: https://www.weldfabworld.com/tungsten-electrodes/

When DC TIG welding steel or stainless steel, most older welders prefer a 2% thoriated (red tungsten) electrode; however, due to health hazards when grinding thoria, most switched to a 1,5 or 2% lanthanide (blue or gold tungsten) electrode. Both will produce consistent results and a stable arc when welding steel.

Meanwhile, aluminum welding or TIG welding aluminum alloys require a pure tungsten (green tungsten) electrode. As an alternative, many welders also use a zirconated (white tungsten) electrode when TIG welding aluminum and magnesium alloys. These will form a balled tip that occurs and transfers heat when AC TIG welding.

4. Use The Right Shielding Gas

Unlike Stick welding or Flux core arc welding processes, TIG requires an external shielding gas to protect both tungsten electrodes and base metals from atmospheric contamination. Once atmospheric gases such as nitrogen and hydrogen reach molten metal, they can cause a host of problems, including (but not limited to) porosity and cracking.

Due to the nature and composition of non-consumable tungsten, TIG welding requires high purity and inert gases such as argon or helium. These non-reactive gases will provide unmatched protection and ensure cleanliness throughout the process. Unlike MIG welding, you cannot use reactive gases such as CO2 (carbon dioxide). Still, in specific applications (mostly on stainless steel), you can use limited amounts of oxygen or nitrogen (1-5%) to increase pool fluidity.

Pure Argon Shielding Gas

Pure Argon Shielding Gas
Photo by Emilian Robert Vicol on Pixabay

5. Check The Shielding Gas Coverage

If you have a suitable gas for your TIG welding application but still notice porosity, you should check the gas coverage. Similar to other welding processes, shielding gas comes from the cylinder, and set of gas hoses, and even the smallest leaks can affect the protection levels. Ensure the cylinder is clean and there are no potential hose issues.

Porosity in TIG Welding
Porosity in TIG Welding
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86SFehuBlBI&t=9s

If the problem persists, you should check the parts of your TIG torch. The shielding gas comes from a collet body that produces a decent turbulent pattern that is good enough to protect most carbon steel. However, high gas flow can create turbulent forces that suck in the atmospheric contaminants inside the weld.

In critical applications and welds that are vulnerable to oxidation, you should use a gas lens kit. This kit produces predictable, laminar shielding gas flow that provides much better protection of the weld, which is critical in achieving good weld quality and proper coverage.

TIG Welding Aluminum with Gas Lens
TIG Welding Aluminum with Gas Lens
Photo by @grumpyweld (TikTok)

6. Choose The Right Filler Rod

TIG welding can be carried out as a fusion process, where two pieces weld and fuse only due to the heat of the arc, and this is typically the case when welding delicate or thin pieces. However, when TIG welding thicker materials, you must create a gap and fill it with a filler rod.

The filler rods are consumables such as MIG filler wire or Stick electrodes, and they come in various compositions, sizes, and lengths. When it comes to composition, the filler rod should always match the properties of the base metal. The lengths are standardized, while the general rule is to use a filler rod with a diameter one size smaller than the thickness of the base metal. As a beginner, you can start with 1/16 to 1/8" steel rods such as YesWelder ER70S-6-5LB TIG Welding Rod.


YesWelder ER70S-6-5LB TIG Welding Rod


YesWelder ER70S-6-5LB TIG Welding Rod

7. Don't Feed The Filler Rod Directly Into The Arc

One typical mistake many beginners make is feeding the filler rod directly into the heat of an arc. A filler rod is added to the puddle of molten metal as the weld progresses. The welding arc melts the base metal and creates the weld puddle where you feed the rod.

If you feed the filler directly into the arc, you risk accidentally touching and contaminating the tungsten electrode. Contaminated tungsten can create an unstable arc and cause inclusions, so you must re-grind it, which can be time-consuming.

Don't feed the filler rod directly into the arc and touch  the tungsten electrode.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qyjt3ndOOZc

8. Maintain A Consistent Arc Length

An arc length is the distance between the tip of your electrode and the base metal. In TIG welding, you control the length by holding your torch closer or further to the base metal. 

What is an arc length?


As a rule of thumb, the TIG welding arc length should be consistently small — usually in the range of 1/8 inch to 3/16 inch. Consistency is crucial, so you should keep the distance between the tip and base metal uniform through TIG welds, which can be challenging to a beginner.

Similar to the filler rod, you should avoid touching the base material or filler with your torch. This can contaminate the electrode, so the arc cone becomes misshapen, making it difficult or impossible to aim the arc precisely. The process can heat the contaminants on the electrode and may spit out impurities, further compounding problems.

contaminated electrode
Contaminated Electrode
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwdREabxSgE

9. Pay Attention To The Angle Of The Torch

Torch angle is also integral to achieving solid and everlasting TIG welds. A 15-20 degree travel angle is a good starting point for every beginner, but you can adjust it as you weld. Leaning the torch at this degree will help you see the puddle and feed the filler rod easily. A high angle will create a highly focused arc with poor shielding gas coverage, while a flatter angle will make the puddle longer than it is wide.

Also, pay attention to the work angle. The work angle is the angle between the weld axis and the electrode axis, and on flat butt welds, your torch angle should be 90 degrees. On filet welds, where pieces are perpendicular, the work angle is usually 45 degrees. Travel speed should be consistent since moving too fast can create a lack of fusion, and going too slow can create burn-through or overheating.

The Angle of the Torch for TIG Welding

Source: https://www.en.hongky.com/guides-of-tig-welding

10. Always Push When TIG (Gas Tungsten Arc Welding)

TIG welding is always done at a push angle, even though some welders occasionally pull the torch. A push angle means your torch is over the weld, and you push the weld pool along the joint.  

Pull the torch While TIG Welding
Pull the torch While TIG Welding
Source: https://www.mig-welding.co.uk/tig-technique.htm

Pushing produces better penetration and shielding gas coverage since your gas supply is pointed toward the new weld. In addition, you feed the filler rod inside the newly formed puddle, producing better penetration and fusion.

Suppose you pull when TIG welding; your shielding gas is now cooling the weld you have just completed rather than protecting it. You feed your wire at the end of the weld puddle, which can create lower penetration and improper fusion. Even though you can get away with pulling, such as out-of-position welding, or you just couldn't be bothered moving into position, pushing is always preferred with TIG welding. 

Push when TIG welding

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKgLYjannAQ

11. Control The Heat

TIG welding produces excellent heat control options, which is why it is often used when welding thin metals. When adjusting the heat when TIG welding, finding a sweet spot where the amperage is high enough to melt and penetrate the pieces but not to burn through them or cause other defects such as distortion or warping is crucial.

TIG Welding Effect on Thin Sheet Metal
TIG Welding Effect on Thin Sheet Metal
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AicYjxOdI6A

Finding the best settings and minimum power for the given metal will take some time and practice runs. However, once the welders master adjusting the machine, the results are highly satisfying. 

The excellent part about TIG welders, such as YesWelder TIG200P AC/DC, is that they will allow you to precisely adjust amperage in every stage of the welding or use pulsing when welding delicate metals such as aluminum or nickel alloys. If you notice issues during the welding, you can use a foot pedal to adjust the heat according to the given conditions of the molten puddle and weld overall.


YesWelder TIG200P AC/DC


12. Slowly Finish The Weld

Poor weld finishing is also one of the mistakes many new TIG welders make. Even if you get everything right up to the end, finishing the weld fast can cause defects such as porosity or weld crater. Completing the weld too abruptly can cause a lack of shielding gas protection or improper filler metal fusion. This creates either a larger hole known as a weld crater or small holes known as porosity.

Weld crater in TIG Welding
Weld crater in TIG Welding
Source: https://www.fabricatingandmetalworking.com/2011/09/10-common-tig-problems-and-solutions/

Both can be easily avoided by reducing the heat and spending more time at the end of the weld. That way, you provide good shielding to the end of the weld and provide more time required for the filler rod to fill the hole appropriately.

13. Take Care Of Your Tungsten Electrodes

Even if you choose a suitable tungsten, you will still need to prepare and maintain it. Tungsten grinding is an essential step, and it can determine the depth of penetration, the width of the weld, and how much of the base material is affected by heat.

The sharpness of the point means that there is less surface area over which heat can dissipate. Blunt tungsten grind angles can distribute heat across a wider area and are less subject to spitting. Many believe superior penetration is due to the ability to withstand the necessary heat.

Sharp Tungsten Electrodes Tip

Sharp Tungsten Electrodes Tip
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=LTb9HLoWTWA

During the welding, you will sooner or later contaminate the tungsten. It can occur due to mistakes or high heat that cause it to spit inside the welding joint. As soon as you notice the first signs of contamination, it's essential that you replace the electrode immediately in order to avoid poor arc stability, inclusions, or arc wandering.

Practice Is Crucial For High-Quality TIG Welds

Achieving the highest-quality TIG weld is not an easy task, as you'll need to find a perfect balance between weld preparation, the right equipment choice, parameters, techniques, and weld finishing. Since TIG is a manual welding method, you'll have to spend quite some time practicing and perfecting each aspect.

Understanding how to TIG weld and reading the tips are the first and crucial steps in mastering the welding technique and achieving critical welds on a different material thickness. However, nothing can beat the proper practice, and that's something that you'll need to work on personally. So, without further ado, grab your torch and practice welding.

🧐TIG Welding Tips For Beginners And Seasoned Welders FAQ

1. Why and how to clean the surfaces before TIG welding?

TIG welding requires pristine surfaces to prevent contamination of the weld puddle and tungsten electrode. Clean thoroughly with a degreaser and rag for light contamination, or use a wire brush or grinder for heavier buildup. Always use separate brushes for different metals to avoid cross-contamination.

2. What are the recommended torch angles and work angles for TIG welding?

Beginners should start with a 15-20 degree travel angle, adjusting as needed. This angle facilitates the visibility of the weld puddle and easy filler rod feeding.

Work angle is important, too; for flat butt welds, aim for a 90-degree torch angle, while for fillet welds, it's typically 45 degrees. Consistent travel speed is vital to prevent a lack of fusion or burn-through.


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