If you have some welding experience and you're thinking about upskilling, then Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding is your next step. TIG welding expands the range of what you can do with metals. To guide you on how to get started, we've created this checklist for the essential items you'll need to buy.
Here's a list of the basic TIG welding tools and equipment you’ll need to start.
When you skim through listings to find a TIG welder for sale, choose the one that has both Alternating Current (AC) and Direct Current (DC). Choosing both AC and DC for a TIG welder will allow you to work on different types of metal with ease.
Amperage is another thing you should look for when you buy a TIG welder. If you're looking to experiment with welding different metal thicknesses, get a high amperage machine. There are 400-amp units for sale but as a rule, your minimum should be 140-amp for a quarter-inch thickness and 250-amp for half an inch.
Lastly, consider the number of pulses per second the TIG welder can produce. You will want to get one with a higher pulse rate if you're working with intricate joints and thin metals. The higher the pulse rate, the cleaner the weld.
Because TIG welding involves precision, you're going to want to learn how to control the amperage on your welder to get that clean weld. The foot pedal lets you do that. It helps you control the intensity of the torch's heat and avoid mistakes such as punching a hole on a thin metal sheet when you're not supposed to. When you're looking for a foot pedal, it's preferable to have a wireless one. The wires on the foot pedal are a trip hazard, especially if you tend to walk around in your workshop.
In TIG welding, you'll be needing tungsten electrodes to create an arc that welds the metal piece you're working on. Part of the TIG pre-welding process is forming the tungsten electrode tip according to the requirements of the metal you're going to weld. A grinding wheel does this job. This equipment will let you sharpen the tip of the tungsten electrode so it can produce the right arc for the weld.
Once you’ve purchased all the basic equipment, you'll have to shop around for TIG welding supplies. These are the consumable parts of your welding equipment that you'll have to buy repeatedly. These supplies will be like bullets to a gun: without them, your welding equipment is useless. Purchase the following items to get started.
Gas cylinders produce the shield that protects the molten pool of filler metal weld from being exposed to oxygen in the air which can cause spatters.
When choosing a gas mixture, you can go with 100% Argon if you're mainly welding aluminum metals or any non-ferrous metal piece. If you want good-quality welds, a mixture of argon and carbon dioxide is recommended. The optimum mixture should be 75–95% argon, and 5–25% carbon dioxide.
When it comes to gas cylinders, it all depends on how frequently you weld. Cylinder sizes range from 40–125 cubic feet. Make sure that the cylinders you purchase meets ISO requirements for safety and quality.
Tungsten electrodes are an essential supply to conduct TIG welding. They produce the electric arc, which results in a welded metal. You can't weld without them. But if you're still learning how to TIG weld, you will make mistakes that contaminate your tungsten electrodes, such as hitting them with the filler metals. In other cases, you'll have to regrind the tungsten because you sharpened it incorrectly. That happens. So you're going to want to purchase a pack of ten or more pieces just in case you need new ones.
These rods are consumable and become the metal that's welded into your piece. It's that metal that joins several metal pieces together and closes any openings in between. That's why it's crucial to choose a good quality filler rod for your TIG welding sessions. When buying a filler rod, consider whether it's susceptible to cracks and if the filler material has excellent tensile strength on the final weld. Lastly, check your filler rods’ finish for aesthetic purposes.
TIG welding accessories make welding convenient. This list contains all the essential things you'll need in your workspace, before you’ll actually need them. Buying several of these items will save you the hassle of having to improvise while you're welding.
Marking or drawing accessories are essential because they allow you to cut, join, and put boundaries on your metal piece. Marking accessories help you create metal angles and bevels smoothly and give you a benchmark on where you should and shouldn't weld. Soapstones are an excellent starter marking accessory you can purchase.
When you're welding a piece of metal, you tend to use your hand to grip the piece before you weld it. Your grip can be unstable and the metal can slip, which will ruin your weld. Buying heavy-duty welding magnets will help you secure the metals in place as you work on them.
Some metal pieces are so thick that a welding magnet can’t hold them. That's where welding clamps come in. They hold up thick metals securely on your work table and lock them in place so you can focus on welding them precisely.
To weld angles correctly, you’ll need to get a precision tool to join two separate metal pieces together. Speed squares or squaring tools will help you make precise measurements, and you can even use the tool to combine two metals at a ninety-degree angle.
Pliers There will be instances in your welding wherein the metal you're working on gets too hot to touch, even with welding gloves. Pliers will come in handy in these situations as they allow you to remove the heated metal piece safely.
It's important to keep in mind that this isn't an exhaustive TIG welding accessories list. Different skill levels may require additional tools depending on the scope or complexity of your project. On the other hand, this list tackles everything you need to get started.
As a side note, before you buy these items, be sure to invest in personal protective equipment specific for TIG welding as it is a hazardous process. Most importantly, don't forget to have fun welding!