How To Set-Up and Use a TIG Welder?


TIG Welding is both an exciting and rewarding procedure for enthusiasts and professionals. If you are a novice as a TIG welder, it is understandable that you are feeling challenged. It needs knowledge along with skills of coordinating the motion of both hands simultaneously.

TIG welding is considered as an easier process for welding metals. Knowing how to set-up and use a TIG welder will give you the solution of many stresses. So, to get rid of cracked items and to get the best outcomes from your project, read it out.

How Does a TIG Welder Works?

If you learn the technology behind TIG welding, it will make your welding experience better. A TIG welding process mainly requires three things. They are heat, shielding, and filler metal. The heat is generated by electricity transmitting through the tungsten electrode to create an arc. The shielding arrives from a solid tank of gas that flows to the weld area to ensure protection from the air. The filler metal is the wire that is spooned by into the arc and melted for welding.

The first step is to turn on the gas flow, then press the foot puddle to begins an arc. Once the arc begins the workpiece starts to melt by manually dipping the wire.

1. Get Dressed Up

The welding process deals with heat and electricity. It can cause skin burns and harmful accidents. Wear thick leather gloves and flame-resistant shirts along with a helmet and closed-toes shoes for ultimate protection.

An Auto-Darkening helmet can protect your eyes with its advanced technology. It becomes dark automatically to the necessary shade when the light is banged. It will allow you to see what you are welding even in sharp light.

2. Choose the Electrode

As the name remarks, “Tungsten Inert Gas Welding", the small tungsten rod is the main element in the electrode. Unlike other typical electrodes, it does not burn up like a filler rod. They are non-consumable and produce the arc for welding.

Tungsten Electrode Type

By choosing any amount of alloys, you can match a particular metal for welding. 4043 alloy is used mostly to weld aluminum. However, if your task requires color matching, 5356 will satisfy you than most others. In the case of welding steel, function a thin copper-coated filler material

Just by adding a small percentage of other metals, the electrode is able to build the desired arc characteristics. The common metals that are widely used around the world are Cerium, Lanthanum, and Zirconium.

A pure tungsten rod comes with a green-color tip that is best for welding aluminum and magnesium. 1/4 % to 1/2% Zirconium Tungsten has equal properties to pure Tungsten that comes with a brown colored tip. A range from 1% to 2% Thorium Oxide can weld almost any metal including carbon steel, nickel, stainless steel, chromium alloys and many more. They come in yellow and red colored tips respectively.

Tungsten Electrode Diameters

Every electrode comes with choices in size according to diameter. If you ask me which the most critical part of the process is, know that deciding the size of the electrode. It depends on the shape of the tip and the amperage rating. In most cases, 1/16 to 1/8 inches electrode diameter works well.

3. Shaping Tungsten Electrodes

Based on what you are welding, the tungsten can be sharpened to a point or ball shape. Tungsten comes in the form of a rod with a square-cut end. Users have to shape them as the task requires. It can be rounded, pointed or and tapered with a ball end. This will provide a detailed and more directed arc.

Pointed Electrode

For welding ferrous metals, a pointed tip is ideal. A grinding wheel or electrode sharpener is perfect for shaping a pointed electrode. By using a fine-grit wheel, you can sharpen the electrodes perfectly. Grind around the perimeter of tungsten by rolling in a radial direction slowly and lightly. For better round figure, don't grind straight toward the ends.

Rounded and Tapered Ball End Electrodes

In the case of welding non-ferrous metals like magnesium or aluminum, rounded or tapered ball end electrodes delivers better performance. By heating the tip up with direct current, you can make the electrode round. You have to melt them until you get the proper size ball at the end of the electrode.

Experts recommend grinding the electrode to a balled tip for AC welding and a pointed tip for DC welding.

4. Insert the Electrode into Its Collet

First, loosen the screw of the holder and unscrew it. Then insert the rod in the right place and screw it back. You have to place the tip 1/4" away from the protective sheath.

5. Plug TIG Torch

The ceramic nozzle is a common component that all TIG torches have. It is used to direct argon and cooling themselves.

There are two types of TIG torches available, Air Cooled and Water Cooled TIG torch. Choose from one of them that you prefer for your machine.

Air-Cooled TIG Torches

The air-cooled torch is the most practical yet inexpensive. It creates high heat to produce an arc.

Water Cooled TIG Torches

On the other hand, Water Cooled torch is the most efficient type of torch. It needs a water cooler and extra maintenance to cool down the TIG torch. It is more like a radiator in a car. In this process, to cool the water, a fan blows air in it.

Holding TIG Torch

Hold the torch at about a 75-degree angle and don't put up the tungsten more than 1 /4-inch off the metal. Keep the tungsten touch away from the metal if you don't want to taint your material.

6. Polarity Settings

A typical TIG rig used 3 main electricity connections, AC, DCEP, and DCEN.

AC refers to Alternating Current like the current in your home, that flows in different directions. For aluminum, AC works better. The form of a positive and negative ration of the AC is penetrating. It can change the depth of the weld.

DC refers to direct current that flows in one direction, like the current in your car. DC, Electrode Positive is utilized for balling the tungsten tip or stick welding. For welding steel DC, Electrode Negative is recommended. This creates a shallow weld that is more favorable for sheet materials.

Based on the type of metal you need to weld, select the polarity. For welding aluminum, set the welder on DC and for welding steel or other metals plugged it on the DC Electrode Negative setting.

7. Choose Shielding Gas

Shielding gas is used to safeguard the welding area from any air that can pollute the weld. Argon and helium are the most common gas that is used for welding as they don't alter the qualities of the weld joint. Pure argon works well if you want to weld aluminum. It is suitable for almost all purposes of metals. it will provide a finishing exactly how you want.

Different types of mixtures are suitable for particular metals. By adding carbon dioxide with argon, you can weld steel. However, if you want to weld thicker metal, you must use a blend of argon and helium.

8. Set up the Shielding Gas

After choosing gas, you must remove the cap. Then shift the valve rapidly to clean trash out of the threaded valve trunk. By twisting regulator, screw the regulator on and nut tight. Ensure that the pressure nut is backed off counter-clockwise. Set the gas hose with the cylinder valve to pass the gases into the machine. If any wheezing sounds come out, tighten the covers carefully.

Now, set the flow of gas and adjust them by twisting the cylinder regulator. Fix them based on your projects. Usually, the rate remains between four and 12 liters per minute.

9. Set the Amperage

If you want to learn what regulates the control over the welding process, know that it is amperage. Amperage would be higher according to the thickness of metal. If you get more operative by a foot pedal, you will be able to leave the more amperage.

Set the amperage as your work requires. Notice which amperage matches your task and melts the metal quickly. Some basic guidelines for amperage set-up are as follows:

  • For 1/16 Tungsten choose an amperage range between 50 to 100 amps.
  • For 3/32 Tungsten choose an amperage range between 80 to 130 amps.
  • For 1/8 Tungsten choose an amperage range between 90 to 250 amps.

10. Prepare Metal and Welding Table

Clean your aluminum metals with a wire brush to scrub the body for welding. For welding carbon steel, prepare it by grinding or polishing it. However, in the case of stainless steel, wipe it with any solution. To get a perfect welding finishing, cleaning welding rods with acetone is also important. Know that welding in a rough place creates a weak bond.

Arrange a metal top table or metal plate table to clamp your metals. It will assist you to keep them in place.

11. Foot Puddle

The foot pedal is utilized to control the heat at which temperature you are welding. When using TIG welding, it needs a push in the puddle in the opposite direction. Keep practicing the foot pedals to control the heat. A weld puddle with ¼ inch width is important to maintain consistency throughout the weld. It helps to provide a detailed and smooth finishing weld. Continue this process until you have finished welding the entire area.

12. Different Types of Welds

Fashion an easy fillet weld

Start fillet weld with your TIG welder that will join two metals at the right angles. Control a weld puddle at a 45-degree angle to a 90-degree corner. If you notice it from the side, a fillet weld should look like a triangle.

Weld a Lap Joint

Make a weld pool between two overlapping pieces of workpieces and the surface of the lowest metal. When blended together, dip filling rod into the puddle.


Put together a T-joint to attach two pieces of metal at a right angle. Place the torch into a right angle to ensure that the heat directly faces the flat surface of the metal. Extend the electrode and carry a short arc beyond the ceramic cone. Now keep the filling rod at the horizon parts where two metals unite.

Melt a corner joint

Heat up the two corners of workpieces and place the weld pool in the center point of two metals. Know that a corner joint requires a substantial amount of filler rod as the metals do not exist side-by-side.

Create a butt weld

Keep the weld puddle at the center of two pieces of metals where they will meet. As they don't extend over, it needs more skills to weld. After completing your butt weld, reduce the amperage to avoid scattering.

Expert Tips

Congrats, you are ready to go with your welding machine. But let me share a few more TIG information to make your welding job easier.

  • While welding, always keeps the tungsten away from workpieces. If somehow it gets touched by tungsten, you will receive different colors with degraded characteristics tungsten.
  • Keep a support base in the table near you of your hands or wrists. Having decent assistance for your hands or arms is important for moving the torch with detailed control.
  • Unscrew the rear cap and slide out the tungsten. Get on to the assigned grinder and clean the ending parts of the tungsten. Shape the end as you prefer and dip the tungsten many times to practice.

Final Words

In this article, I discuss how to set-up and use a TIG welder with additional information as much as I can. If you carefully read them, it will provide you a good understanding of TIG welder. Know that a good TIG machine is capable to weld up to 1/4-inch aluminum and 3/8-inch steel or stainless steel.

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