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Tig welding aluminum.... Total rookie here...

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  • Tig welding aluminum.... Total rookie here...

    I'm completely new to this... I've been tig welding just mild steel for about a year. I walked into a welding shop and bought a mig welder and a tig welder, brought them home and thought to myself "what have I done?"... I've never welded anything in my life... not even shop class. Anyway, now I'm trying to get aluminum tig welding down and I'm having a little trouble. I'm trying to do some really nice corner welds on 1/8" aluminum sheeting. It's 5052 aluminum with the coating on it. I clean everything really well, but I still have a horrible time with the starts of the weld. I close out the weld real nice by backing off the pedal, but the starts look horrible. Does everyone else start on the corner where the two plates meet or do you start in the middle and work you're way out to the edge? Anything you can do to help would be great!! Oh, and I'm using 3/32 filler with the same size tungsten. Pure tungsten. I really would like to make these welds look nice... please help...



  • #2
    i found a quick hit with a SS wire brush realy helps the starts. also dont be afraid to put some heat into it. when you first start out on cold aluminum it realy sucks up the heat.
    i have found as soon as i get a puddle started i hit it with some filler to get the 2 sides to conect. and feed the filler in dont just tap it or dab, you realy gotta shuve it in there. add about 2X what you would with steel. othere than that its just about seat time and getting the feel for it. it will come with time just keep at it.
    welcome aboard.


    • #3
      What I do is start not at the edge but about 1/8" in from the edge. Get the puddle started, dip, and then back up one "dip" to get the edge, then go forward with the bead as usual.

      Starting at the very edge is tough.

      I don't know if what I'm doing is the right way, but it works for me.

      The 3/32" tungsten and filler size sound right for 1/8" Al -- that's what I use. How many amps are running at and what machine do you have?

      I use lanthanted tungsten with my syncro 200. It won't hold a super sharp point when welding Al, but the point forms a ball only ever so slightly, just sort of blunts a little. Works for me.

      Oh and don't be afraid to post some pics. 3 out of 4 of my beads look like crap too -- there's always that one that comes out really nice that makes it all worthwhile.
      Last edited by phila.renewal; 05-19-2007, 07:15 AM.


      • #4
        I'm using a Syncrowave 350LX set at about 130 amps, no pulse, 7-8 on the balance, but I'm using pure tungsten. I think I figured out one of my problems today... I turned up my gas flow a bit and got much better results. I get pretty good beads but still need to work on the starts where I stop to let the metal cool. I'm pretty proud of my stopping points, but I really want to get that fatter bead look. Mine are still kinda small but decent looking. The stuff I was welding on today was 3/32" aluminum... Would 1/8 filler give that fatter look if I run a little more amperage? Should I be pulsing it? I'm not having problems with burn through. I could probably get a little more penetration from the looks behind the weld. Before I was having problems getting it to flow and take in the filler but I think I solved that with higher gas flow.

        I really appreciate you're help!! You're 100% right about the sweet success of getting just one bead out of 100 tries... If feels great!!

        I'll try posting some pics tomorrow of some welds and maybe you could point out some flaws for me..



        • #5
          give it as much heat as you can without burning threw, and add lots of filler. dont be afraid to give it some heat, a quick back off on the peddle will cool it fast. but remember as you go along the matereal will keep some of the heat and start to get hot so you will need to drop back a lil on the heat when doing long runs,anything over about 1" and you will start to see the heat build up haveing an efect.
          sounds like you have reached the point where TIG is getting fun insted of frustraiting. still lots to lern but it will be a lot more fun now.
          now if i could just get some time to go play with mine some more, i still havent tryed the Stick side yet.


          • #6
            These are some of the welds I've made.. Any advice would be great.. I know I need to work on my starts and finishes.. but let me know what you think..

            Fun4now... I've played with some 7018 quite a bit and loved that, but it was a really friendly rod... haha.. 6011 was a real good time.. talk about a mess.

            Thanks for the info... I'm having a blast with this.
            Attached Files


            • #7
              Um, yeah well OK. Those beads look pretty fantastic (compared to most of mine).

              I have nothing else to say.


              • #8
                i gotta agree, only thing i can see you should do diferently maybee is not start right on the corner, but rather continue threw it so you dont have 3 starts in one spot or start & stops all on the corner. it will look a lot nicer if you run the bead threw the corner as its easyer to restart on the strait and not have it look like a start/stop point.
                as for the stick tryals, i got some sticks a wile ago, dont even remember wich ones they are i think they are 7018's but wouldnt put any $$ on that as i just cant remember that far back, well i cant realy remember much from yesterday eather but you get the idea,
                i realy want to give it a try. it just seems like when i do make it out to the shop i have too many things i have to do and not enough time to just play with some stick's.
                heck the only reason i got off my butt and even built any thing with the TIG part was when i almost tipped over my cart with my MIG welder, my plasma cutter, and my TIG welder all on the same cart. at that point i made it a priority to make seperate carts and got a chance to do a lil TIG welding wile building my TIG cart out of aluminum. fun project that realy helped me improve my TIG welds. although a bit more $$ i think every one should build there TIG carts with the TIG welder out of aluminum. its good practis, a lot better than doing coopons, i had stopped practising TIG on coopons due to boredum so the cart project go me welding with it again.
                i'll post some pic's if i ever get around to trying some stick.


                • #9
                  I've got to agree with you on the coupons... They really are kinda pointless, but I hate to spend the time cutting and fitting nice aluminum just to get all freaked out when it comes to laying a bead on it and messing up perfect aluminum. I'll be starting an aluminum project here real soon... I just need to work past that fear and just relax and weld it.


                  • #10
                    I just need to work past that fear and just relax and weld it.
                    yep, thats what i did, i needded it so i just sat down and did it. needless to say some welds are better than others and i blew a few holes threw but no biggy i had the TIG there to fix it.


                    • #11
                      Welds look really good, the only thing is watch out for the crater at the end of the weld - just keep adding the wire as you slope out to avoid the shrink hole. This is especially important if you're making tanks etc as they can lead to pinholes/leaks.

                      Good work - Well Done!


                      • #12
                        First tig welds.... .....They look pretty good to me period, let alone first ones!
                        i've been welding aluminum for about 3 years and still can't get a consistent ripple like that, they look good


                        • #13
                          Gas flow presents an issue at corners. When you weld up to a corner or start at one, the flow of gas gets split up, taking off in different directions on the planes of the panels. The turbulance caused by this can swirl air into the weld area and cause contamination. If you weld lots of corners like that, cabinets etc, try switching to a gas lens so the shielding flow is more uniform and spread out. This has worked well for me in the past.


                          • #14
                            Jonnytig... I thought about that gas flow thing the other day.. that's why I turned up the flow a bit. I've been shopping for some gas lens but my local Airgas crew is stumped when I ask about them... Wierd eh? I've seen them but don't know where to find them.. How do you go about getting a fatter more widely stacked bead along 3/32 to 1/8" aluminum. I've seen a guys tig welds before and he builds race car tanks for his own stuff and they all had a larger more spread bead stack on them... It was gorgeous. You've been very informative.. thanks a million..

                            HMW... these are the best welds I've done so far... I had some real beauties before this... hahah. I'm sure you could imagine. I've tigged steel and stainless a little bit, but this is my first week on aluminum. It's been way interesting... this makes tig on steel seem even easier!!


                            • #15
                     has gas lenses. i got some CK ones with clear cup and creamic cups off e-bay. just gotta look around on e-bay for a bit to find them. they are a bit expensive in my opinion but what can you do about it right. after all what in TIG isent expensive. i would think most of the on-line places woud have gas lenes.
                              i have not tryed one yet but these look interesting.
                              Last edited by fun4now; 05-21-2007, 09:04 PM.


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