So you've finally decided to take on an intimidating welding process—tungsten inert gas (TIG) welding. You want to get started on the right foot and learn what tools and equipment you need.
You've come to the right place.
We've laid out a quick TIG welding equipment list to serve as your reference once you hit the store. This list isn't exhaustive, but it’s enough to get you started on practicing the TIG welding fundamentals.
First, you'll need the basics—your welding equipment.
To get started with TIG welding, you need the core TIG welding setup. That means you'll need a TIG welding machine and a TIG torch.
The welder, or TIG welding machine, regulates the energy supplied to form an arc. When looking for a TIG welder for sale, you should consider its amperage range and its voltage. If you're just starting out, it's best to get a machine that has a low amperage range so that you can practice learning a good puddle technique without melting through your workpiece.
Your torch is a central tool to the welding process, and you need to make an informed choice if you're still starting out. A great TIG torch should complement your current skill level, but it should also challenge you to elevate your skills.
Get a low-cost starter torch with industry-standard parts. It should be versatile to work on any welding machine and should support its amperage range.
You will need two essential supplies to get started with TIG welding. It is best to have an adequate stock of these supplies so that your welding project wouldn't grind to an unnecessary halt. These are your gas mixture and your filler rods.
The two main shielding gas mixtures for the TIG process are argon and helium. You can add nitrogen and hydrogen to the mix depending on the type of base metal you're working on.
When you get to the intermediate or advanced level, you'll become more familiar with your gas mixture, but if you're starting out, it's best to consult your supplier and let them know the type of base metal you're working on.
Your filler rods serve as a “filler” between the two base metals you're going to join together. The rod fills a gap in the two base metals by supplementing the weld pool enough without melting the two base metals so much. That way, you get a smooth, even surface when the weld is done. Plus, it produces a stronger joint.
When you're TIG welding, having the tools to support the entire welding activity is crucial so that you can work with efficiency and do more. These tools measure, refine, or give you information to help you produce a high-quality weld. Here are some of them.
The foot pedal lets you control the amperage that the welding machine gives out. Controlling the amperage means controlling the intensity of your arc. The more intense the arc, the better it can weld thick metals.
Work leads and ground leads have one purpose: they direct the flow of electric current for it to become productive. They also prevent short-circuiting and keep you safe from electrical shock.
On the other hand, hoses are the medium where gas, air, and water flow from the cylinder to the torch. The gas shields the arc and prevents contamination from outside elements. The air or water cools down the torch for it to continue welding for extended periods.
The flow meter is a piece of support equipment that provides information on gas pressure, content, and gas flow rate. Knowing this information is vital in determining the quality of the weld.
Measuring tools such as a speed square or a ruler allow you to make precise cuts and welds on metals while marking tools like soapstone or chalks let you temporarily mark an area on the metal workpiece you need to weld. These are extremely helpful for fabrication projects.
Last but not least is your safety. You should wear personal protective equipment every time you are welding. Here are the things you need before you step into your workspace and fire up the TIG torch.
When choosing a TIG helmet, consider whether you should have a helmet with or without an auto-dim feature. Nowadays, however, it's best to get the ones with an auto-dim feature as it adjusts to the intensity of light produced by the arc. Check your welding machine's amperage range and cross-reference it with the helmet's specifications.
The best welding jacket should protect your entire upper body from neck to hips. In addition, it should be resistant to heat and electricity. It should keep your temperature at tolerable levels in case your workspace becomes heated as a result of welding for long periods.
Similarly, your pants should also protect your whole lower extremities from the hips down to the ankles. It should have the same heat, spatter, and electricity resistance as your jacket. The fabric should be made of cotton, and it should be loose and comfortable to wear.
Apart from heat, fire, and electricity resistance, your gloves should fit nicely on your hand. For TIG gloves, the fingers should have enough flexibility to move because you'll be doing many precise welds with both of your hands. So try moving your hands when you fit a welding glove and check if it's comfortable.
The feet are also subject to the risk of falling spatter or grounding. The best welding boots should have premium leather and a strong toe cap to repel any falling object. Please get a steel toe cap, although it may be a bit expensive.
The list of tools and equipment laid out above is meant to be practical. We recommend that you purchase them all first before getting started on any TIG welding. Missing any components on the list could prevent you from working smoothly on any TIG projects you want to start or, worse, endanger the people around you.
We've got you started on what to look for, but part of the learning process is asking people you interact with as you purchase these things. They will give you expert-level knowledge on each of the tools and equipment we discussed.
Now take this list, go out there, and have fun shopping!