Picture of TIG and MIG Welding and Notes
TIG Welding is one type of welding amongst a few choices you have - MIG, Stick, Oxyacetylene, etc.

TIG can be used to weld copper, titanium , even two dissimilar metals, and is handy for making tricky welds (e.g. s-curves, or welds on round things)..

TIG generates heat via an arc of electricity jumping from a (tungsten metal) electrode to the metal surfaces you intend to weld - usually aluminum or steel.

TIG stands for Tungsten Inert Gas, after the tungsten electrode , and the sheath of inert gas (argon or an argon mixture) surrounding it.

Big thanks to Mose O'Griffin, who narrated, taught, and demonstrated.

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Step 1: Choose the Electrode

Picture of Choose the Electrode
Your TIG is likely to have the right electrode in it already.

For aluminum, the best choice is a pure tungsten rod .

You can alternately choose from any number of tungsten alloys (including thoriated tungsten - which is radioactive!) which are uniquely suited to welding particular alloys of metal.

For reference, this example uses the specific alloy 6061 Aluminum (the "steak and potatoes" or "normal" type of aluminum)

Step 2: Grind the Electrode

Picture of Grind the Electrode
Grind the tungsten rod to a point.

Do this, especially if the rod is a brand-new cylinder and doesn't have a pointed or rounded tip yet.

The tip will become rounded due to heat as you weld.

Lincoln recommends a balled tip for AC welding, and a pointed tip for DC welding.

The pointed tip will give a smaller, more directed arc. The arc will tend to dance around, when from a rounded tip.

Step 3: Insert the Electrode Into Its Collet

Picture of Insert the Electrode Into Its Collet
Unscrew the back of the electrode holder, insert the rod, replace back.

The tip of the tungsten electrode should be about 1/4" away from the protective sheath, but not much more.

Skip this if you already have your electrode ready.

Shown below are two different types of electrode holders.

avmrj2 years ago
Hi, just for complementing, there is a leather gorget also available for protecting the neck. Sounds medieval, but it's true :)
dla8882 years ago
Hmm... your 'ible looks very very similar to stasterisks...
VadimS dla8882 years ago
looks like a direct copy to me, really people.
Good basic write up - just a couple comments:

The radioactivity of Thoriated Tungsten is a non-issue. If it's the best electrode for the job, use it and dont worry about it. Thoriated Tungsten works great with 4130 alloys.

Pure Tungsten is *not* always the best choice for Aluminum. I prefer 1.5% Lanthinated Tungsten for the sole reason it performs equally well with both steel and aluminum for multiple alloys.

If possible, when grinding the tip it should be directed away from the point to avoid driving impurities into the electrode. Definitely do not grind the tungsten perpendicular plane of rotation of the grinding stone - your arc may get unpredictable wander
allen_idaho3 years ago
I agree with Sleepismything92. Your welds need improvement. I've been welding for a little over a decade now and am certified in Arc, Mig, Tig and Flux Core.

Another thing to consider is that while pure tungsten is recommended for aluminum, I find that I get much better results with 2% Thoriated. You can use it for pretty much any type of metal.

Also, you missed a step when setting up the gas. Usually you are going to want to set the gauge to about 25 cfm if you are welding indoors with little to no wind. If you are in more of a windy environment, you can crank it up to around 40 cfm. And always remember to try and block the wind as much as possible.

When you are making your weld, there are two primary methods. Freehand and walking the cup. I prefer freehand beads but it is good to know both.

The other thing is that you seem to have missed talking about Mig welding entirely.
Im a tig welder, and i can manage to make a very strong weld while at the same time having a very appealing appearance. On your picture of the aluminum welds in the last step, you don't even have complete fusion in the welds. You should try using slightly more heat, with your high frequency set all the way to full penetration, then dip the rod in more frequently