3 Plasma cutters advices: how to become a better welder and how to select the best welding equipment. For DCEN welding on steels, 1/16″ will work in the 20 to 100 amp rage as long as you prep it right. If you are using 20 amps, you will need a needle sharp point to get good crisp arc starts. At 100 amps, you might not want quite a needle sharp point or you might be putting a smidge of tungsten in the weld. You need a blunter taper. Some charts extend the range to 150 amps for 1/16, but I think that’s way too much. Why not just swap to a 3/32 at that amperage.? 3/32″ is good from about 65 – 200 amps. And 1/8″ 2% thoriated electrodes are good in the 85 – 300 amp range. ( Drop all these numbers by about 30% for A/C) Using helium mixed with the argon will also change the recommended currents because the arc is hotter with the same amps. These recommendations are from down and dirty experience and don’t come from a chart. Most charts I have seen tell you a 1/16 tungsten is good all the way to 150 amps…Please.
For TIG welding, the metal needs to be clean; no rust, scale, paint, etc: TIG welding is not nearly as forgiving as Mig or stick when it comes to dirty metal. For TIG welding, the metal needs to be clean; no rust, scale, paint, etc. that means hot rolled steel needs to be ground to shiny bright metal…not just polished over. Welding hot rolled steel without grinding will make you look bad. Don’t do it if there is a chance someone might see it. Windy conditions or drafts in the welding area and you will lose shielding coverage and get pinholes/porosity in the weld . If you have to TIG weld in windy conditions, you are going to have to spend some time making wind breaks out of cardboard, plastic, or whatever you can get. TIG welding will just not tolerate much of a breeze much less a gust of wind. And please don’t try to TIG weld with a coat hanger or gas welding rod. They will bubble and hiss.
The arc is shaped like a cone, with the tip at the electrode and the base on the metal being welded. The closer the electrode is held to the metal, the smaller the base of the cone — but as you pull the electrode farther away, the base (and puddle) gets larger. If the puddle gets too large, gravity will simply pull it away from the base metal, leaving a hole. This is why thin-gauge metals are especially challenging for beginners. Perhaps the most important skill needed for TIG welding is moving the torch in a controlled manner, with steady forward movement, while keeping the gap between the tip of the electrode and the base metal consistently small — usually in the range of 1/8 inch to 3/16 inch. It requires a lot of practice to precisely control the arc length, keeping it as short as you can without allowing the electrode to touch the base metal or filler rod.
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For the best control of your weld bead, keep the wire directed at the leading edge of the weld pool. When welding out of position (vertical, horizontal or overhead welding), keep the weld pool small for best weld bead control, and use the smallest wire diameter size you can. A bead that is too tall and skinny indicates a lack of heat into the weld joint or too fast of travel speed. Conversely, if the bead is flat and wide, the weld parameters are too hot or you are welding too slowly. Ideally, the weld should have a slight crown that just touches the metal around it. Keep in mind that a push technique preheats the metal, which means this is best used with thinner metals like aluminum. On the other hand, if you pull solid wire, it flattens the weld out and puts a lot of heat into the metal. Finally, always store and handle your filler metals properly. Keep product in a dry, clean place — moisture can damage wire and lead to costly weld defects, such as hydrogen-induced cracking. Also, always use gloves when handling wires to prevent moisture or dirt from your hands settling on the surface. When not in use, protect spools of wire by covering them on the wire feeder, or better yet, remove the spool and place it in a clean plastic bag, closing it securely.