Finally Learning to TIG Weld Part 1


I hate to admit it but I don’t know how to weld. Sure, I know a lot about welding, the various processes, the equipment you need–  especially the high performance TIG welding accessories at  I even know a bit about plasma arc welding and cutting. But ’til now it’s all been book learnin’ and talking to a lot of knowledgeable people.

Finally I got a short one-on-one lesson in TIG Welding from Arc-Zone’s own Joe Welder (aka my boss, Jim Watson).  Wow. What an eye opener that was! 

A AD1-5 Diversion 165.qxd:A DC7-0 SRH-444.qxd

 And fun.

First off, let me assure you, that contrary to popular belief, Welding is NOT for dummies.  You have to keep a lot of things in mind. And if you want to be any good, you’ll have to understand about electricity, metallurgy, a little geometry, joint fit up, and then there’s the hand-eye coordination that takes practice. And more practice.

Safety First.


Even though with TIG welding you don’t see sparks flying, you still need eye protection. We did not have one of the super slick fancy electronic welding helmets in stock so I had to go old skool and flip my lid up and down.  

At least the helmet looked good– the orange flames matched my long-sleeved  cotton t-shirt perfectly.

And check out these gloves. They’re the Firefly TIG Gloves made for women who weld, which means the sizing is smaller.  I was suprised at how well I could maneuver the TIG Torch and the filler rod.



Here’s Jim showing me the proper way to hold the TIG torch.  It’s heavier than it looks,  and this was a WP-20 water cooled TIG torch.  Though the torch body  itself only weighs 3 oz. you’ve got to take into consideration the weight of the cables and hoses which makes it a little awkward and it feels heavier than it really is.  Because this is delicate work, you’re using all those tiny muscles in your hand, wrist and forearm.  Of course I’m a bit of a wimp, I’ll admit it.


I let Jim set up the machine.  This is a basic Miller Machine upgraded with a Cool Kit so we can use the water cooled TIG Torch.  

First he opened up the Argon bottle-  slowly so as not to “shock” the flow meter.  

Next he plugged in the water cooler. It was a little noisy, but not too bad.  Kinda comforting to hear the hum and gurgle since the welding machine itself was so quiet.

Then he checked that the work cable was grounded to the work bench…  


Jim got me a coupon to practice on, 308L Stainless Steel, and some 1/16″ diameter  308L Stainless steel rod.  We cleaned the material with EZ Wipes to make sure there was nothing to contaminate the weld and mess it up (I figured I could do that all by myself without any help from dirt).  

Jim turned the machine to Electrode negative 150 amps, and I was ready to roll!

NEXT POST:  See the results…..


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