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 Post subject: TIG welding
PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:57 pm 
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Location: Livonia
I'm well into the second half of a 15-week class at Schoolcraft College in GTAW.

I have to say that this is one of the most challenging things I've ever learned to do. It is NOT something where you can just sit down and start welding stuff together. The only prior experience I have is in some rudimentary stick welding, and I was creating fairly serviceable welds within about an hour of practicing with that.

With TIG, it probably took about 3 class periods (3-4 hours each) before I could lay down a bead on a flat piece of aluminum stock that the instructor would sign off on. We're not talking about joining anything together here, just laying down a bead!!

Next up was doing an aluminum butt weld, and the instructor finally signed me off on that after probably another four class periods (12-15 hours of weld, after weld, after weld, after weld, after weld...). I think that was a mercy move because none of the welds was truly acceptable for their entire length. I'd get a weld that was perfect for maybe two inches out of 6 on a weld here and there, but nothing that was 100%. Butt welds in TIG are really really hard as you need to get full penetration without burning through the plate (this is all 1/8" stock). Certification requires that the bead on the backside of the stock on a butt weld not extend more than 1/8" above the surface, and I'd either not get full penetration at all, or I'd get penetration with a visible gap, or I'd penetrate so much that I'd get a huge glob of aluminum sticking out of the backside of the joint.

On to lap welds, outside corner welds, and T-welds. I did much better on these, since they're easier overall and I was really starting to get the feel of coordinating my right hand, left hand, foot and watching that molten puddle while moving and dipping at a constant rate, not too fast and not too slow.

Last night I finally got signed off on the aluminum T-welds, and graduated to steel which is altogether different from aluminum (and thankfully much easier). The instructor kinda let me slide on the T-weld as he'd been criticizing the fact that the angle of the bead wasn't 45* and thus evenly distributed between the two pieces. I was holding my torch too close to the vertical plate making the angle of the bead too steep. The one he signed off on (see below) was good in terms of my temperature control, and the consistency of my speed of advance and dip rate (note the nice consistent "C" shaped ripples in the bead) but as you can see, I'd erred too far in the other direction, and the bead is too flat rather than too steep. The end of the weld isn't great either.

I have to say this class has been a lot of fun. TIG is extremely exacting, but if you are into the "feeling" of things - like the bite of a chisel into wood or a stroke with a sharp saw, or planing a surface - this is something to try, because it's all "feel" - the sound of the arc, the shape and consistency of the puddle, the smoking of your calfskin TIG gloves as you near the end of your filler rod while trying to stretch it to the end of the current bead! :mrgreen:

I don't know what I'm going to do with this skill, though I've always wanted to build a bike frame, or maybe even a tadpole trike, but TIG welders are stinkin' expensive - even a cheap air-cooled model that is versatile enough to do aluminum (which means variable-frequency AC as well as DC) will set you back around $1000.

Attachment:
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>>--Steve Sawyer->>
A bad day working with tools is better than a good day doing most of the other things I have to do.
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 Post subject: Re: TIG welding
PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 3:14 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 30, 2013 8:51 pm
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Location: Warren MI.
Yeah TIG welding is pretty cool I tried it a little bit at a shop I worked at, But never had too much time to really get use to it.

At this shop I pretty much ran a Bridgeport all day, I would machine aluminum parts with extra material left on (oversized or undersized depending if it was an OD. or ID. piece) that would then go to the welder's for welding. We had 3 people that did the welding and depending on which one welded the parts the clean-up work (squaring-up) could be anywhere from a few thousands to as much as 1/8”

There was one of the welder's (20+ years welding experience) that could weld pop cans together! He use to take stainless steel shavings from the lathe & thin walled tubing & make cool looking Christmas ornaments for the gal's in the office. With the thin-wall tubing & the ribbon type shavings from the lathe, The heat transfer between the two would create elegant looking colors of blue, green, & purple.

Doug


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 Post subject: Re: TIG welding
PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 3:15 pm 
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Obsessed
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Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2004 1:40 pm
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Location: Ann Arbor, MI
That's why I finally broke down and sold my TIG machine...despite wanting to learn, I figured that realistically I'd never have the time to devote to learning properly AND staying proficient (much the same reason I never pursued a pilots license!)


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 Post subject: Re: TIG welding
PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2015 8:48 am 
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Location: Farmington Hills
Steve,
Have you tried a Spool Gun for Aluminum in your class? My Mig will take a spool gun but, I was not sure if it was worth the extra money. Have not seen any reviews positive or negative about them.


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 Post subject: Re: TIG welding
PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2015 9:36 am 
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Jacob Nothstine wrote:
Have you tried a Spool Gun for Aluminum in your class? My Mig will take a spool gun but, I was not sure if it was worth the extra money. Have not seen any reviews positive or negative about them.

I'd never heard of a spool gun until you mentioned it, but in looking it up, they seem to be for MIG welding, not TIG.

TIG is very similar to acetylene torch welding but with a much more precise, higher-technology torch. Given the proper technique for most TIG welds - dipping the filler rod into the leading edge of the puddle - I don't see how you could use something that fed the filler rod at a constant rate. You could still "dip" it I suppose, but I'd really rather do that with a thin piece of 1/16" or 3/32" wire than a big gun! :D

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>>--Steve Sawyer->>
A bad day working with tools is better than a good day doing most of the other things I have to do.
blog: http://www.stephensawyer.com


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 Post subject: Re: TIG welding
PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2015 5:22 pm 
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Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Spool guns are great for folks that own a MIG welder (that's compatible) and only occasionally need to weld aluminum...but they'll never replace the quality or precision of a TIG welder. Flip side is, the learning curve is A LOT shorter for a spool gun, and the cost much lower if you already own the MIG.


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 Post subject: Re: TIG welding
PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2015 1:35 pm 
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Eastwood had a email today about TIG welding

http://www.eastwood.com/blog/eastwood-c ... nt=1EM2953


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 Post subject: Re: TIG welding
PostPosted: Fri Oct 09, 2015 2:57 pm 
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Location: Grand Blanc
That's awesome, but I would never have trained so hard if I hadn't planned on buy a TIG welder as well.
You've got to buy one now that you have the skill. Otherwise... isn't this just a waste?
Didn't the class cost money and time?

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 Post subject: Re: TIG welding
PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2015 4:00 pm 
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panofish wrote:
That's awesome, but I would never have trained so hard if I hadn't planned on buy a TIG welder as well.
You've got to buy one now that you have the skill. Otherwise... isn't this just a waste?
Didn't the class cost money and time?

$1000 isn't in the tool budget right now - too many other things ahead of it on the shop re-design and expansion project. Besides, kinda dumb to go and buy a TIG welder and let it just sit around and collect dust. I figure I'll make the investment when I have a suitable project to work on that makes it worthwhile to make the investment.

Also, my son is probably going to be buying himself a TIG welder at some point, and being a professional, he'll probably buy a much better unit than I'd ever dream of buying, and I can just borrow HIS when I need it! :)

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>>--Steve Sawyer->>
A bad day working with tools is better than a good day doing most of the other things I have to do.
blog: http://www.stephensawyer.com


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 Post subject: Re: TIG welding
PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2015 4:30 pm 
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Cool... so you actually will have one eventually. :)

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 Post subject: Re: TIG welding
PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2015 7:37 pm 
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Location: Trenton, Michigan
Steve Sawyer wrote:
Besides, kinda dumb to go and buy a ... and let it just sit around and collect dust.


Huh? :roll:

Steve.


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 Post subject: Re: TIG welding
PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2015 8:44 pm 
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SteveStram wrote:
Steve Sawyer wrote:
Besides, kinda dumb to go and buy a ... and let it just sit around and collect dust.


Huh? :roll:


What am I gonna do with it?

I might make a stand for the bench grinder, but probably not for at least six months, and might just end up buying one instead. A bike frame might be in my future too, but can't see starting that project for a couple of years. Yah - it'd probably collect dust for awhile...

Besides, I don't have much in the way of metal cutting tools other than an angle grinder, so I'd need to invest in more than just the welder! :)

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>>--Steve Sawyer->>
A bad day working with tools is better than a good day doing most of the other things I have to do.
blog: http://www.stephensawyer.com


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 Post subject: Re: TIG welding
PostPosted: Wed Oct 14, 2015 12:42 pm 
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Joined: Fri Aug 05, 2011 4:17 pm
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Location: Farmington Hills
I have a few welding projects if your looking for something to weld. :)


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 Post subject: Re: TIG welding
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2016 10:06 am 
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Joined: Sat Jan 15, 2005 8:29 pm
Posts: 16
Location: Temperance, MI
I built this all aluminum trailer and all of it was Tigged. I never had any classes but I did have a guy at work do all the main connections in this trailer. I then did all the simple stuff. It was a fun project and took a lot longer than I expected. I purchased my TIG machine at a industrial auction. When I wired it into the shop, the calculations said it could draw about 110 amps full running. I had 100 amp fuses in the disconnect and was welding some 3/8" aluminum at full bore and blew the fuses. Changed them to 125 amps and never blew again.



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