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Saying hello and asking for help- My tigs look like caterpillars

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  • Saying hello and asking for help- My tigs look like caterpillars

    I first want to say hello and express gratitude for all the contributors that make this such an enlightening place.

    My name is Anthony and I am a woodworker that is getting more and more excited about metal and have just purchased my first Tig machine after my local Makerspace went out of business.

    I have watched a ton of videos and read through forums about technique and form, but I still am really terrible. I really want to get some proper training, but wanted to get some fundamentals down first. I would love any help you might be able to provide to get me headed in the right direction.

    Questions: Should I stomp on the pedal or very slowly ramp up? And once you get a puddle going, is there much variation in the peddle until the end of the bead?

    I have attached two photos of my practice beads. Why are my beads so plump and look like ugly caterpillars? I realize there are a ton of variables that could cause this (and I have included my settings below) but is there any general things I should be working on? I occasionally get a flatter bead, but I don’t know what I am doing differently from one to the next with no settings changed.

    Finally, the miller settings calculator suggestions 12” per minute based on my mild steel thickness. I know I am going far too slow( It probably takes me 45 seconds to a minute to do a pass on these 2-2.5” wide pieces ). Some of my worst looking welds occur when I move more quickly and the filler metal really doesn’t seem to penetrate. Any tips on improving traveling speed while still getting actual adhesion?


    thanks again and if this is too basic of a question for this forum, I would love suggestions on where else I should post.


    Settings:

    Mild steel 3/32nd - ground to remove mill scale

    tungsten: 2% Lanthanated 1/16”

    filler: 3/32

    torch cup: 5/16

    Amp: 90

    gas flow:11cfh

    Attached Files

  • #2
    There are some superb tig welders here--I'm not one of 'em! I'm sure some of them will be along soon. If you post your location, there may be someone who would connect with you and give you some pointers. Assume you've found Jody's welding tips and tricks. And if you want to be really impressed, look at FusionKing's Facebook page, Outback Aluminum Welding. Awesome stuff.

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    • #3
      Thanks for the quick response Aeronca41. I have added my location to my profile, but I currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have loved Jody's videos and I will check out your other recommendations. Thank you

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      • #4
        Looks like you're on the right track.

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        • #5
          Looks to me like you're not propping and trying to free hand it.

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          • #6
            Thanks Grizzly
            Ryanjones: You are certainly right- I don't know how to prop. I attempt to use my wrist against the edge of the table to keep me going in a general straight line, but I notice that i seem to put to much weight on my torch-hand and get stuck. Is this just more practice or am I missing something?

            Thanks for the comments

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            • #7
              You have to relax and don't lean on your torch hand. Ideally, you should be able to slide your torch hand along whatever it is you're welding with ease. Your probably leaning over you work too much and using your arms to hold you up. True, sometimes that is unavoidable, but it's not good for practice.

              You can use anything to prop on. I use the wood handle of my steel scrub brush a lot. You must steady on something to keep a consistently tight arc. Tightening up your arc and keeping it the same will drastically improve your weld characteristics.

              Also, don't have a white knuckled death grip on the torch. I generally hold mine like a big pencil and as close to the torch head as I can all the while not cooking my fingers.

              Practice on short runs first, like 2-3", then move up to 6" or so.

              And get a tig finger or three. They're well worth the money. Fortunately for me, my LWS stocks them. Thank you Jody and thank you coastal welding supply in Beaumont Texas.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Acquired Taste Living View Post
                Questions: Should I stomp on the pedal or very slowly ramp up? And once you get a puddle going, is there much variation in the peddle until the end of the bead?
                Neither and both. Each situation is different. Sometimes a slow ramp is better, sometimes a near instant ramp up is better. But that being said, for practice on flat plate, you should ramp up at such a speed that you achieve your desired puddle width in roughly 3 seconds.

                I have attached two photos of my practice beads. Why are my beads so plump and look like ugly caterpillars?
                Are you sure your steel is 3/32"? If I have to guess that is more like 1/8"? If so, a 90A setting is a bit lower than I'd recommend. Try setting it to about 120Aish. With the 90A limitation, you are likely not hot enough to properly melt the base metal AND the HUGE filler rod you are using. Dump that telephone pole filler rod you're and use 1/16" filler rod. Large filler rod takes disproportionately large amounts of current to properly feed it into the weld pool. Each dip wicks heat out from the puddle, and thus doesn't flow out the way you imagine it to. Together with the fact that you are [likely using very little current], well you get the idea. You need 3/32" filler rod when you're up and over 1/4" plate.

                HTP Invertig221 D.V. Water-cooled
                Eastwood MIG175 w/spoolgun
                Eastwood Versacut40 Plasma cutter

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                • #9
                  Ryan Jones- Thank you! I did some more practice last night trying to lighten up on the grip. Wow. I really need to work on that. White knuckles and a death grip kick in particularly the longer my beads go. I also did some propping which helped. Thanks again

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                  • #10
                    Oscar Jr- Really helpful feedback. Ill continue to play with ramp up speeds, but that general 3 second rule is much quicker than I have been doing (Im probably closer to 8 seconds) so great to know.

                    You are spot on about the plate thickness being 1/8th and not 3/32. Not going to lie, that is pretty embarrassing for me. Lesson learned, I really should measure rather than just assume.

                    "Dump that telephone pole filler rod" haha got it. What a great image. Thank you. I can't wait to try your suggestions and have the settings accommodate my actual material thickness.

                    I really appreciate the feedback

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