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  • tig welding experience.

    I bought a cheap 200amp inverter welder. I was told they are fine for tig welding. I bought the regulator argon bottle and tig torch to go with it.
    This is a scratch start. This is where my problems start. When I try to start it it sticks like crazy. It is driving me mad. It sticks so bad that I need to bolt the workpiece down because the part sticks to the gun and then when I try to get it loose the part starts getting real hot and invariably lands up flying across the workshop when i try to break it free.The only way I seem to get it to start is if i start an arc on a carbon brush.At least it helps me to get going. When I get it going on a flat piece of steel my weld is not to bad. I tried on a piece of stainless pipe 38mm in od and 1.5mm thick and it acts more like a plasma cutter even on low amps. What am I doing wrong
    Will a automatic helmet make me a better welder because I am battling to try to start an arc and see what I am doing? Will a cheap one be bad for your eyes. Is there a big difference in the high frequency and scratch arc or is it just down to technique
    I would hate to have bought all this to find out that there is a huge learning curve with tig.

  • #2
    All of my TIG experience is with square wave machines so I'm limited on the inverter versions regarding starting the arc. However one should be able to hold the torch more or less flat to the work then rotate the electrode in order to start the arc.

    As to an auto helmet, get a good one. You have one set of eyes, so take care of them. I found a Speedglas on Craig's List for about 1/2 the new price, so look around.

    As far as burning through, it simply sounds like you had the amps set too high. In addition I recommend becoming comfortable with simpler joints before jumping on pipe & tubing.

    Start with just laying a bead (no filler) on a flat piece of mild steel. Once you have that down do it again with a filler. Next would be a butt joint followed by a lap joint and then a T joint.

    If you know how to OA weld the learning curve should not be too steep. You may also want to look into some welding DVD's.


    • #3
      I am also curious to know if One can get a lens made so you dont need to where glasses under your helmet. Also curious to know how to anchor pipes together so you can weld em straight. Also does any one have any photos of how a jig can be made to spin the pipe so that if I ever get good enough to weld i can spin the pipe while i weld. Although at this stage it doesnt feel like I will ever get there.


      • #4
        I'd strongly suggest you to use a HF start machine to learn TIG. Its challenging enough with a dedicated TIG welder, so there is no reason to multiply your frustration with a castrated machine.

        And I second Dr.Stan's suggestion to start with AO. It'd help immensely.

        As for pipe welding, I'd go there only after you're comfortable with plate. It's not going to happen overnight (or over a few months, for that matter).
        Last edited by MichaelP; 08-06-2011, 07:29 PM.
        WI/IL border, USA


        • #5
          I think I have the same machine and have had the same results.

          Am waiting anxiously for someone who finally figured out to use that little red piece of uh.... machinery.
          VitŮŽria, Brazil


          • #6
            Originally posted by plunger
            I am also curious to know if One can get a lens made so you dont need to where glasses under your helmet.
            One should ALWAYS were safety glasses under your helmet for as soon as you lift it your eyes are exposed to hazards from grinding, chipping, wire wheeling, etc.

            As to a fixture, look into some magnets including adjustable ones. There are also welding turntables available although most welders fab their own. Some go as far as motorizing them with a variable speed drive.


            • #7

              You need to be careful about using magnets for fixturing. The magnetic field can totally disrupt the welding arc, making it impossible to weld. This is variable, depending on the strength of the magnetic field and it's proximity to the arc.


              • #8
                I've spent several multiples of hours today perusing the following site:


                He makes it look so easy. I also discovered today that the 3.5 minutes run, 6.5 minutes cool down for my Harbor Freight Tig welder is no problem as I get nowhere near 3.5 minutes before it's time for me to regrind my electrode yet again.

                The good news is that I can actually see the puddle with the tig, unlike the mig. The bad news is that was about the only good news. There are way, way too many variables with this welding stuff, and you can't take any shortcuts with TIG.

                Welding and women seem to have a lot in common.

                P.S. I ordered a universal fit catalytic converter for my wife's van from Summit Racing yesterday about 4:20PM. FedEx delivered it before 3PM this afternoon. This was one time I would rather something was late as I am really not ready yet. That's why I was wanting to get this TIG thing figured out.

                P.P.S. This really isn't a hijack. The link has lot's of TIG videos and tips.
                Last edited by Mike Nash; 08-06-2011, 10:39 PM.


                • #9
                  Cup size, tungsten size, CCs of gas, Gas diffuser it all makes a difference besides the type of machine your using.


                  • #10
                    Try this site. It has some good starter info.




                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Mike Nash
                      Welding and women seem to have a lot in common.

                      In general women have better fine motor control than men. It really shows up in TIG welding.


                      • #12
                        First off, there is no such thing as scratch starting a tig. Miller calls it a Lift-Arc start, because thats exactly what youre doing. Youre very momentarily/rapidly bringing the tungsten as close to the stock without actually touching it as possible. Then, youre lifting the torch (save calling it a "gun" for the poop gun migs that you shouldnt be using until long after youve mastered every single other process) slowly and only very slightly to get the specific arc length required. Its not a stick. At no time should your tungsten touch the stock, and if you need to resharpen the tungsten in under ten minutes of run time, youre probably doing something wrong. Also, you really should have a dedicated grinding wheel for sharpening tungstens. Using wheels that have been grinding on steel will embed the steel in your tungsten and make for a pretty lousy arc.

                        I would highly suggest taking a class at the local community college. Tig welding isnt the most difficult to learn (IMHO and those of many weldors, MIG is), but it will severely shorten the learning curve and allow you to learn things you likelly never would otherwise. That being said, pipe is usually the last thing you want to learn to weld on. With tig, usually you start by simply fusion (no filler) butt or lap welding two pieces of sheet metal together, progressively getting thinner on the stock to teach yourself to control the arc before adding any filler. Then you learn to add in as little filler as possible, and move into structural shapes involving out of position welding.

                        Many individuals think they know what a good weld looks like, and thereby can teach themselves. I would highly discourage it as much of the info you see on the net or read does not thoroughly explain concepts or show technique. Also, the appearance of a weld has very little to do with its strength, and learning to judge a weld is something that you really do need an experienced set of eyes to teach you.
                        "I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer -- born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace, and propelled by compressible flow."


                        • #13
                          Hi Plunger

                          I was also a Durbs boy at one stage - I used a 140 amp inverter with tig setup for years before succumbing to a AC/DC "proper" tig welder. It is worth getting a hands free helmet - borrow a mate's to check for ease of use and quality - you don't need to spend too much - they should all conform to a standard, again, check with a welding mate - they'll likely steer you right. I used to know a guy by the name of Clive who was an Ace tig welder in Pinetown - just up the road from BP resins in Henwood road. Man, he could weld!!

                          Anyway - I wear strong reading glasses - 2.5 x for welding, normally, 1.5 x for reading - It helps see the puddle clearer, esp on A/C but that won't affect you on a D/C machine.

                          Get yourself a small piece of copper to scratch start on - I used a section of 15mm plumbing pipe that I'd flattened - and I placed that on the part in order to start smoothly - thinking about it now - it may be an idea to have a small magnet inside the pipe before you flatten it - that way you could stick it in any out-of-postion welding situations....

                          As far as pipe is concerned - use a section of Angle - perfect alignment unless the pipes are differing dia. - if you want to turn the pipe to tack evenly - weld a brace onto the angle and cut away the center portion to allow the bead to free to turn without fouling the "V".

                          I did a lot of work with my little tig setup - my mate Guy took it over from me when I left - he is still running it in Howick!!!

                          Good luck


                          • #14
                            might sound obveous but you are using electrode Negative, what you describe sounds like electrode positive?
                            What electrode? white or green perhaps?


                            • #15
                              sounds like amps are way too high. if the tungsten is sticking that bad, and
                              it's cutting like a torch -- make sure the current adjust knob hasn't spun on
                              its shaft.. keeping you from getting as low as you think you are.

                              scratch start should be very easy.. if you're learning, scratch start on the
                              surface itself .. copper etc is good idea but make it as easy on yourself as
                              possible at the get-go.