Learn to walk the cup.
Thought I would write this for people that are looking to take their tig welding skills to a new level and become a true Tig Ninja.
Using this technique I am able to tig as fast as I can mig and achieve 100% penetration and 100% fusion on a weld the first time, everytime.
So, you think you are a good Tig welder, using your cute little foot pedal and slowly adding filler metal, working it into your piece. Your welds
look like a "stack of coins, layed out" and your are proud of this and you should be. But, a time comes when it becomes nessesary to man up and
take it to the next level. Learning to walk the cup on your tig will enable you to produce better welds, consistantly and make you more of
a qualified applicant for that Tig job that you are dieing for.
Step One- DITCH THE REMOTE!!! Get rid of your remote, weither it be a foot pedal or a rocker switch, you need to figure out how to set your machine
up to run CONSTANT CURRENT. Lift arc, strike arc, whatever it may be, learn how to set your machine up to do it. You will learn to control the arc
with a combo of speed, filler metal size, amount of metal added, and the tip of your torch.
Step Two- SHARPENING!!! Sharpen your tungsten to a point using a cordless drill and a bench grinder. You can also use a tungsten grinder if you have that available
to you also. Then you have opitons. Some people prefer to blunt the nose or point of the tungsten to approx. 1/4 the tungsten width. This will force
the arc in a direct path to your work. Or you can just leave the point there. This will let the arc "wave" over the piece on the direction that you
point it. The angle that you grind the tungsten will also vary the amount of "wave" that you will have. A more pointed tungsten will wave more, but will
naturally erode at much faster rate than one that is shallower.
Step Three- SETUP!!! I personally think that a #6 cup and a Gas lense on the torch will give you a better starting point for learning. The #6 is broad enough
to let you weave the torch back and forth untill you learn the proper wrist movement. A gas lense is a pita to get use to, due to that fact that it
is like welding with a 20lb donkey dick, but it defuses the gas much better and results in much less of a chance of porosity and/or spitback.
Insert your tungsten in the torch and leave it approx. 1/8th out of the cup. This can be played with as you learn. You will find what works for you and
doesn't. Also set your machine to (give or take, as all machines are different) 75 to 80 amps.
Step Four- GET READY!!! Start with two 1/8" plates that are beveled down to 1/32" at the ends and tacked together. Now that you are all set up, place your cup on
the piece of metal to be welded. Angle your torch at a 45 degree angle to the piece but don't let the tungsten touch the piece. Now strike your arc, and "weave"
the cup across the metal. Imagine your walking a heavy barrel across the floor or walking a pop can across a table. Start slow and let the heat build up
in the metal. You will begin to see the metal form what looks to be a kernal of corn in front of the tungsten, with a dancing "eye" in the middle of it.
This means that you are getting good penetration into the metal. Continue to walk the torch across the piece, varying your speed so you can mantain
that molten kernal. You will feel the cup start to gain traction on the metal as it heats up. If you lose the kernal, slow down. If you start to leave
tracking marks in the metal, speed up. Don't apply pressure to the torch, let the cup walk on the surface. Pressure will cramp your hand and you will
slip off the piece.
Step Five- Filler Rod!!! Now, that you have gotten used to walking the cup (you probably got pissed about 1052 times learning this) it is time to
add the other hand into to equation. Filler rod can be added during the initial pass or, if you are welding something thick, you will do a root pass
and then a cap pass. A root pass is the what was explained in step four, getting the metal 100% fused together. Then a cap pass is added, which is
the same concept but with the addition of filler metal. Begin by placing your torch at the appropriate angle and place your filler metal directly in
front of the tungsten. You are not going to move the rod but weave it into the weld. Strike your arc, and weave alittle untill you have a small pool
of metal started and then add the filler rod. If the rod balls up on you, then you do not have enough heat built up yet. Continue to walk the cup
across the piece in the direction of the filler rod. When you are done the weld, instead of looking like the "stack of coins", will look like the
belly of a snake. If it doesn't, don't get discouraged, it all takes time.
Now that you know how to become a Tig Ninja, you can tig weld in any position, not just staight down on a bench. It will take some time to learn to
do this, (trust me) but in the long run you will be happier tig welding than before. I don't even hardly use my mig as it is just easier, and faster
for me to just to use the tig. And I don't have to worry about a shower of sparks. Hopefully this will help even one person here, and maybe even become
a sticky, who knows. If anyone has any questions about tig or metalurgy of any kind feel free to PM me or post it and I will answer it to the best of
my ability. I am certified to weld stainless steel process pipe, (we actually follow closer to nuclear code than process) so stainless is kind of
a specialty of mine (derusting, welding, whatever.) Enjoy!!!